Classical Sarah Hagen brings her funny autobiographic show, Perk up, Pianist! to the Vernon Performance Centre Sunday, Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. (Photo submitted)

NOCCA performances fundraiser for youth in arts

Sarah Hagen not only tickles the ivories, she tickles funny bones

Kristin Froneman

Special to The Morning Star

When acclaimed classical pianist Sarah Hagen returns to Vernon Sunday, she’ll not only be tickling the ivories, she’ll be tickling funny bones.

Known as the charming host of Morning Melodies, the classical music series that was held for a number of years in the Marie Fleming Hall at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre, Hagen is returning to the centre for two reasons:

First, she’ll host More NOYSE (North Okanagan Youth Showcase of Excellence) Sunday at 2 p.m. Then, that evening, she will take the main stage with her new show, Perk up, Pianist! Both are presentations of the North Okanagan Community Concert Association (NOCCA).

For the latter show, audiences shouldn’t expect hushed interludes. Instead, prepare to laugh as Hagen breaks all stereotypes of a classical concert being stuffy or elitist by injecting comedy into her performance.

“After compiling material for many years, I began writing the show in 2016 while taking some time away from the stage as a concert pianist,” said Hagen, who is now based in Toronto. “I have been touring it through various fringe festivals across Canada and am very excited to bring it to the main stage in Vernon for the very first time.”

A self-confessed writer of uneducated wine reviews for her blog, Artist Wines!, and an enthusiastic tap dancer, Hagen has been compared to famed pianist/comic Victor Borge.

Not only is she an accomplished award winning classical pianist who has performed as an accompanist and solo artist all over the world, she has developed a show that harnesses her other talent – comic timing.

In Perk up, Pianist, she peppers her performance with personal and amusing anecdotes, playing the part of a touring classical pianist who must remain optimistic in the midst of challenging and often ridiculous situations.

“She wanted to keep the show presentable so that her mother would be able to attend, so Sarah has requested a PG-13 or a mature subject matter rating,” said NOCCA president Paul Maynes, who caught Hagen’s show in Edmonton. “This is definitely a show that ladies can relate to and that men will enjoy too. Give yourself a treat and a good chuckle.”

Before Hagen takes the stage, she’ll introduce the talented youth who have been auditioned to perform at NOCCA’s second ever youth showcase.

More NOYSE features pianist Brandon Schmor, cellist Holly McCallum, violinist Libby Wyse, the Jacob Soucy Quartet (trumpet, keys, drums, bass), vocalist-guitarist Shaughnessy O’Brien, vocalist Jax Dolman, violinist Marcus Coetzee, dancer Jonathon Fraser Monroe, dancer Tiernen O’Keefe, and the Inter Contemporary Dance Group from Accentz Dance Studio.

Both More NOYSE and Perk up, Pianist! are fundraising performances to establish a performing arts scholarship fund for youth in the North Okanagan.

Separate from the NOCCA season, tickets for MORE NOYSE are $20 for adults, $15 for NOCCA subscribers, and $10 for youth 18 and under. Tickets for Sarah Hagen’s Perk up, Pianist! are $30 for adults, $25 for NOCCA subscribers and $20 for youth. Tickets are $40 for adults, $30 for NOCCA subscribers and $20 for youth to attend both events as long as they are purchased at the same time. Get them at the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, More information is available at


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