A sojourn is a temporary stay.
An upcoming series of four half-hour concerts at the Capitol Theatre, entitled Sojourn, features four emerging musical performers who are in Nelson for a while but will probably be moving on.
“Their development as young musicians dictates that they stay in one place long enough to collect experience and tools to then propel them into the next of their endeavours,” said Sojourn co-ordinator Allison Girvan of the Capitol Theatre.
Two of the sojourners have recently graduated from the music program at Selkirk and the two still have a year to go.
Singer-songwriter-violinist Grace Clark and jazz pianist Yohaan Gandevia will perform back-to-back half-hour concerts at 4 p.m. on April 23.
Singer-songwriter-musicians Juliana Kopp and Sapphire Guthrie will do the same at 7 p.m. on the same day. All four of them will be joined by supporting musicians.
Grace Clark, 21, is a singer-songwriter and violinist raised in Yellowknife.
Her grandfather was Métis and she grew up in a musical culture in which the fiddle plays a big part. She started playing it as a child and the northern fiddle tradition still shows up in her music.
“I try to channel my roots and where I came from, and where I grew up,” Clark says. “That’s why I try to include some fiddle in my songs, because I think that’s a really big part of who I am, and who I am as a musician.”
She moved to Nelson to take the Selkirk College music program on the recommendation of her fiddle teacher, and during her time here also sang in Corazón and Lalin.
Clark graduated this year and has been accepted into the music program at Concordia University in Montreal. But first she’s going home to Yellowknife, where she will take up her regular summer job of teaching canoeing.
“Canoeing and being outside in the summer really helps inspire my music,” she says. “Water really plays a big part in my songwriting, the meaning and traditional connections to water.”
Yohaan Gandevia, 26, grew up in India and started studying classical piano at age 14. His father and grandfather were musicians, but did not play European classical music.
During his studies, despite performing recitals and receiving awards, he often had an uneasy feeling.
“I knew deep down that this is not exactly what I get happiness from,” he said.
“Then one day I was looking at a bunch of videos on YouTube, and I stumbled upon this Italian jazz pianist who was playing a jazz standard, and I thought: What is this? What’s happening here? I had this instant connection — this is what I want to be playing.”
He says there is a jazz scene in India but it is not what he calls “authentic jazz.” After trying to learn from YouTube videos, he concluded, “OK, I need to take this further. I need a teacher.”
Gandevia studied in Paris for two years at the Bill Evans Piano Academy, then decided he wanted to come to Canada, specifically to study with David Restivo at Selkirk College. He’s just finished the first year of the two-year program.
Sapphire Guthrie, 18, moved from Mexico to Nelson when she was nine and dove into various performance activities here.
“The Capitol feels like a little bit of a second home at this point,” she says, “between choir performances and musical theatre, even dance performances when I was really young.”
Guthrie says she has been singing for as long as she can remember and started writing songs when she was eight or nine. As part of a Grade 8 project at the Waldorf school she took two of her songs to a producer in Nelson and recorded them.
For four years she sang in Corazón and Lalin, where she says she learned about harmony and was exposed to music from many parts of the world. (Girvan will be her back-up singer in her Capitol performance.)
When she finished Grade 11, Guthrie only had two courses left to graduate from L.V. Rogers Secondary so she enrolled full time in the first year of the Selkirk College music program while she was doing Grade 12. She’s completed two years at Selkirk now and intends to do a third.
Asked what she writes songs about, Guthrie’s answer covers a lot of ground: “Nature, emotions, political affairs, that sort of thing.”
Juliana Kopp, 21, moved to Nelson from her home in London, Ont., to take the Selkirk music program, from which she just graduated. She’s been accepted into the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she will start in the fall.
When Kopp was in Grade 12, she entered a local battle of the bands contest even though she didn’t have a band. She quickly recruited two friends, they wrote some songs, and came third in the contest.
“A lot of people really liked us as a band because we sang in three-part harmony, and we’re really good at writing cool harmonies.”
That band continued under the name Triad until Kopp moved to Nelson.
Her ability to write harmonies and chord progressions, Kopp says, stems partly from her early childhood classical piano training and her time spent in a high school choir.
She often performs as a solo artist but loves singing in larger groups, as she did at her recent Selkirk College graduation showcase concert.
“I really like singing with a full band. I really like being able to just sing on the mic and move around the stage. It seems more energetic when there’s like a whole band playing and supporting you.”
Tickets for each of the Sojourn shows are $15 and can be purchased at capitoltheatre.ca or at the Capitol Theatre box office.
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