Jaeden Izik-Dzurko outside the Roots & Blues Festival Office after receiving his scholarship cheque from board member Steve Atkins. The Salmon Arm Folk Music Society sponsors and annual scholarship for a student from the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District who is going on to post-secondary education in the fine arts. Contributions to the scholarship fund can be made to the Roots and Blues Festival and there will be an opportunity for festival patrons to make donations at this year’s weekend festival. -Image Credit: Tracy Hughes/Salmon Arm Observer

Festival supports Salmon Arm pianist’s journey to Julliard

When you think music schools there’s one name that stands out above the rest.


And that’s exactly where a Salmon Arm pianist is headed — with a part of the financial costs being contributed by the city’s premier music festival.

Jaeden Izik-Dzurko, 18, is this year’s recipient of the Roots &Blues Fine Arts Development Scholarship.

The award is open to a graduate of School District #83 who is going on to post-secondary education in the fine arts field, either in a performance or production capacity.

“It’s a really great honour,” says Izik-Dzurko. “The community and Roots & Blues has been so supportive, it makes me feel really good to be representing Salmon Arm on a larger musical stage. The amount of support that this community has given, I couldn’t ask to live in a better place. It is partly because of this support that I am able to move forward with my dream at Julliard.”

The $1,000 scholarship is part of the Roots & Blues board’s commitment to community engagement and supporting the fine arts in our area,” says Steve Atkins, board member. “We have a commitment to performing arts in this community and supporting students like Jaeden is a big part of that.”

Izik-Dzurko has a long history with the Roots & Blues Festival.

“When I was two months old, my parents decided not to go (to the festival) because I was so little. But they could hear the music from the house, so there’s a picture of me in a crib, with them dancing to the music in the driveway,” he says. “I haven’t been to the festival in the past couple of years because I’ve been at summer music programs or things, but as a child I would always come. It was just part of my musical experience.”

Now, Izik-Dzurko is preparing for the move to New York City to start at the world’s most prestigious school of the arts. This week he heads to Vancouver to spend three days recording performances at the Vancouver Academy of Music, and then heads to the Big Apple.

“It is going to be strange going from living in a community of 15,000 to a city of 17 million,” he says.

While he considered schools in Toronto, Ohio and Philadelphia, Julliard won out.

“It’s an incomparable school,” he said. “What tipped the balance was the generous financial support I’ve been able to put together from the school and from scholarships like this one. Plus is it a rare opportunity to be accepted into the studio of my current teacher’s teacher. She is already calling me her musical grandson.”

Izik-Dzurko says while becoming a touring concert pianist is seen as the pinnacle of a career, he is keeping his future plans wide open.

“I just was to live a life immersed in music. That is what would satisfy me.”

Atkins says the board is looking for donations at the festival to supplement the scholarship fund with a view to creating an endowment fund assist in providing a stable funding base to support future scholarships. Donations will be collected on site at this year’s festival.

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