The Festival of Canadian Arts, featuring local performers and Canadian content, returns for the 12th year with two very different events.
Presented by Howe Sound Performing Arts Association, Youth in Performance opens the Festival on Thursday, Nov. 18; Bruce Henczel and the Insansa Percussion Ensemble follow on Friday, Nov. 19.
The 2004 Star Search winner, 14-year-old Ali Milner of Whistler, headlines the youth variety show. Ali is a member of the Vancouver Children's Choir Cantate, one of the world's top children's choirs. As a soloist, she has performed at various galas including the Circle of Care hosted by HRH Prince Andrew in spring 2003 and the YWCA Women of Distinction dinner in Vancouver. Ali will sing three songs she has composed about issues that matter to youth.
The Mamquam Intermediate school choir, under the direction of Anne Thomson, has been busy rehearsing "Mountain, Sea and Sky", a song about the eagles of Howe Sound. Anne has choreographed delightful actions for the children that match the images in the song.
Kaelen Jarvis, a talented composer and 2004 Star Search winner in the band category, performs one of his own pieces called, "Lover's Lament."
Dancers from the Howe Sound Dance Academy, under the direction of Shalimar Blanshard, present three numbers that are sure to delight.
Young pianists have traditionally been the backbone of the Festival of Canadian Arts. As one teacher noted, after so many years of hearing each other perform, students now request favourite pieces and the "colourful" 20th and 21st century pieces no longer sound so different.
The Friday event at the Festival, A Christmas Fantasy with Bruce Henczel and the Insansa Percussion ensemble is something completely different. The concert celebrates the music and rhythms from around the world as well as the release of Bruce's second solo CD, Insansa: Christmas.
Henczel, a former resident of Squamish, is the winner of the 2002 UBC Concerto award (given for the first time in its history to a percussionist). His concerts are a fun and fascinating mix of instruments and styles. From African hand drumming to 1920s xylophone rags and Argentinean tangos, the music and rhythms appeal to all ages.
He has performed with the Vancouver Symphony, with the Vancouver Instrumental Chinese Music Ensemble and as a featured soloist in the 2004 Whistler Music Festival where he performed an xylophone concerto with the Kwantlen College Wind Symphony.
Rick Philips of CBC Radio 2, Sound Advice, gave Bruce's first solo CD, Bruce Henczel's Insansa: Pure Joy, a "very strong four out of five stars."
Currently, Henczel is hard at work finishing his Masters, two more solo CDs, teaching, concertizing, and working with Drum Cafe's Vancouver franchise.
Both concerts take place at 7:30 pm at the Eagle Eye Community Theatre in Squamish. The Youth in Performance is by donation. Tickets for A Christmas Fantasy are $12 and $8, available at Billie's Bouquet, Mostly Books, and Highland Video.
For information about these and other events, visit www.howesoundarts.org.