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North Okanagan community concert season back in tune

NOCCA gala with Janelle Fung and Marina Thibeault kicks off new year

A return to live music marks the opening season for the North Okanagan Community Concert Association (NOCCA) with two classic beauties.

Marina Thibeault on viola and Janelle Fung on piano present the gala opening concert Friday, Jan. 21, 7:30 p.m., at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre. Works by Haydn, Mozart, Clara Schumann and Beethoven will be shared by the duo.

“We are delighted to begin presenting concerts again, hope you are equally excited to return, and maybe bring a few new folks along,” said NOCCA’s Janet Parkins. “One of the things that has been emphasized by our lack of concerts during the pandemic is how important live music is to us, and how dearly we miss it.”

Named Radio-Canada’s classical Revelation for 2016-2017, Thibeault has delighted audiences across Canada, the United States and Europe with her elegant, spellbinding performances and engaging presence. An accomplished concerto soloist, she has performed with orchestras throughout Europe, Asia and North America.

Thibeault’s first album, Toquade, was released in 2017. Her 2020 Juno-nominated album, Elles, honours groundbreaking women composers from Clara Schuman to the present day. A passionate advocate for women’s rights, Thibeault has utilized the broad-ranging Elles project in various iterations to reach out to at-risk women and raise awareness for organizations that support this important cause.

Thibeault holds numerous honours and distinctions, winning first prize in the string category of Prix d’Europe (2015), the McGill concerto competition (2015), the Radio-Canada “Young Artist” prize (2007) as well as a special prize at the Beethoven Hradec International viola competition (2008).

Thibeault received her Master’s degree from McGill University and is currently completing her doctoral degree. She is an Assistant Professor of Viola and Chamber Music at the UBC School of Music.

Canadian pianist Fung has performed in concert from coast to coast in Canada. Winner of the Artist of the Year award from the BC Touring Council in 2014, her international concerts have taken her to over 20 countries on five continents.

Fung has been a prize winner in numerous national and international competitions, including the Joanna Hodges International Piano competition, the Concours OSM-Standard Life, and the Canadian Music Competition.

Fung’s interest in opera has led to collaboration with Nicole Cabell, Teresa Stratas, and William Warfield, and is currently on faculty at Highlands Opera Studio.

Born in Vancouver, Fung began her musical studies at the age of four. Her principal teachers have included Nelita True, Julian Martin and Marc Durand. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music, her Master of Music degree from the Julliard School and her doctorate for L’Universite de Montreal.

Opening the concert is lyric Soprano Sophia Friesen. Born and raised in the Okanagan, she is excited to be back singing at home after spending the last four years completing a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Victoria. With her combined repertoire of showtunes, arias, and art song, along with her work on and off the stage, Friesen is one of the most versatile emerging artists performing today.

NOCCA’s season continues with concerts Feb. 24, March 25 and May 2.

“Here’s hoping that we will all return with renewed appreciation for everything that live music has to offer,” Parkins said.

Tickets are available at or by calling 250-549-7469.

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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

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