It was an absolute pleasure to attend the NOYSE (North Okanagan Youth Showcase of Excellence) concert at Vernon’s Centre for the Performing Arts on Feb. 1. Besides providing excellent entertainment throughout the year at bargain prices, NOCCA (North Okanagan Community Concert Association) sponsors the NOYSE concert featuring auditioned talented young musicians. It was a most inspiring afternoon for this reviewer.
The program featured educator and vocalist/actor/performer Paul Rossetti as MC.
Paul used his educator skills (he is Principal at St. James Catholic School in Vernon) to interview each performer and/or group. He did this from a comfy chair and couch installed on the side of the stage. His charm and insight brought out the best in each performer.
Teslyn Bates, who is only 15, began the program with Debussy’s Au Claire de la Lune (By the Light of the Moon). She played the piece with great sensitivity and accuracy.
Six variations on a Canadian Folk Song Land of the Silver Birch by Pierre Gallant (composer not in the program; I hope I heard right) was mildly modern and very clever. She played it with confidence and rhythmic vitality. I liked it.
Angela Zeng, cellist extraordinaire, thrilled us with her virtuosity on the cello as she played Cappriccio by Tchaikovsky. Her intonation was perfect and so was her bowing technique; she showed skills far beyond her 15 years.
Gus Hansen gave us a change in style by playing brilliantly on his guitar; offering Over the Rainbow, accompanying himself singing Running Away (showing himself as an accomplished vocalist), and a stunning Corcovado as a guitar solo. One small reservation from this reviewer: the tone of the guitar was harsh. A much more mellow sound would heighten the listener’s enjoyment. The Line six amplifier appeared to have plenty of tone adjustment and the semi-acoustic guitar could be played with the neck pick up. Nevertheless Gus showed wonderful ability.
Noah Wessels, a 17-year-old pianist, immediately took charge of things by playing the Polonaise in A by Chopin. He brought out the military character of the piece perfectly. The third movement of the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven was played with authority and brilliance. During his interview, Noah revealed that he made string instruments as a hobby!
After the Intermission, we were treated to the lovely etherial sound of the VCMS vocal quartet. The four young ladies — Zaela Theissen, Alex Theissen, Julia Atkins and Ulyana Doerksen — exhibited perfect ensemble, blend and tuning during their renderings of folk melodies All the Pretty Little Horses, She Walks With Beauty and Windy Nights.
Craig Matterson, pianist, tossed off a virtuoso yet sensitive version of Bach’s Partita in C minor. There was lots of excitement in his playing; he knew his stuff. Craig then changed gears completely; offering his arrangement of the jazz standard Someday My Prince Will Come. It was stunning as he whipped up a hurricane of sound after giving us a solid foundation of the tune at the outset.
Holly McCallum, a 17-year-old cellist, offered Variations on a Rococo Theme, opus 33 by Tchaikovsky as her part of the program. It is a lengthy work full of mood swings- from melancholy to energetic- and urgent runs up to the highest notes on the cello. Her bowing skills and control were evident in the way she played the runs; ending in exceedingly delicate tones.
Roots and Strings- a duo comprised of Anna Konrad violinist, and Jackson Buller electric ukulele – ended the concert in a fun way. They offered The Fox – a medley by Nickel Creek followed by a lovely original song You Don’t Know. They also had very nice voices! To end on a rhythmic and fun note, the entire roster of performers joined the duo onstage to clap along to a lively foot stomper of a tune. What a great concert it was.
The next NOCCA concert is on Saturday, Feb. 29 at 7:30 p.m. featuring internationally-renowned pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin who is returning to Vernon by popular demand.
James Leonard reviews concerts put on by the North Okanagan Community Concert Association