Visit any music or dance school in the North Okanagan and it’s apparent how many youth are pursuing the performing arts.
The North Okanagan Community Concert Association (NOCCA) is about to highlight just some of those creative and talented students with the inaugural North Okanagan Youth Showcase of Excellence, or NOYSE, Jan. 31.
“This is your opportunity to hear and see how bright the future of the performing arts in the North Okanagan can, and will be,” said NOCCA president Paul Maynes.
NOYSE began back in November when young performers were called to audition at the Vernon Jazz Club for judges Trudy McGrath, Brian McMahon and Brenda Dewonck.
“Young performers from Lake Country to the Shuswap will amaze the audience with their level of talent. Our judges would have auditioned for another five hours, the entertainment was of that high a calibre. You might want to consider the youth as young professionals, they are that good,” said Maynes.
The young artists will perform in a professional-like engagement at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre. In addition, each performer will receive an honorarium from the NOCCA.
Grant money has been provided by B.C. Arts Council through the B.C. Touring Council, while all proceeds from ticket sales will go towards establishing a scholarship fund for future young performers in the North Okanagan.
The inaugural event features dancers Jonathan Fraser-Monroe (theatrical), Hana Friedman (modern), as well as ballet dancers Aria Izik-Dzurko and Kendra Jones-Munk.
Cellists Holly McCallum and Anastasia Martens, guitarist Brent Matterson, vocalist Megan Van Den Maagdenberg and pianists Brandon Schmor and Jaeden Izik-Dzurko will also perform.
Helping to launch NOYSE is B.C.’s own virtuoso pianist Ian Parker as master of ceremonies.
Parker is no stranger to the North Okanagan, having performed with both the Okanagan Symphony and as a solo artist for the NOCCA at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre.
Born in Vancouver to a family of pianists, Parker’s credentials are extensive. He began his piano studies at age three with his father, Edward Parker, and later attended the Juilliard School in New York City, where he attained both bachelor and master degrees, and studied with piano professor Yoheved Kaplinsky.
While at Juilliard, the Canada Council for the Arts awarded Parker the Sylva Gelber Career Grant, which is given annually to the “most talented Canadian artist.” He has also performed across the U.S., Western Europe, Israel, and throughout Canada on tours with Debut Atlantic and Jeunesses Musicales du Canada.
In addition to emceeing NOYSE, Parker’s association with the NOCCA has included helping the association in its search for a new nine-foot grand concert piano to replace its aging Hamburg Steinway.
Parker has “test driven” the new Hamburg Steinway, originally built in 1978 and previously owned by the Kultur Casino Saal in Berne, Switzerland and by concert pianist Thierry Gudel, who brought the piano with him to Canada in 1995.
The cost of the new piano is $86,000, including a complete rebuild, refinishing, delivery and voicing. Most of this is being covered by NOCCA’s piano fund – a result of many years savings – as well as a fundraiser, where individual piano keys have been sold to patrons to meet a shortfall of $10,000.
“The piano key fundraiser is now at 78 of the 88 keys, i.e. only 10 keys left,” said Maynes, adding the Steinway is currently undergoing refurbishment and should make its debut later this year.
NOYSE takes place at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Sunday, Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults and $10 for ages 18 and under and are available now through the Ticket Seller at 250-549-7469, or at www.ticketseller.ca.