Close to 200 SD83 high school music students were treated to a private concert with Canadian jazz and boogie-woogie pianist Michael Kaeshammer and his band at the Song Sparrow Hall in Salmon Arm on Nov. 30.
“My heart was so happy for the students, who haven’t been able to go on band trips or experience live music for the past two years. This amazing concert ignited their passion for music showed them how fun music can truly be,” commented SD83 District Music Vice-Principal Michelle Reed.
Michael Kaeshammer, who has been the opening act for Anne Murray, Ray Charles, Allen Toussaint, Colin James, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and Holly Cole, was in town for a concert sponsored by the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society, explains Reed. The multi-album award winning artist performed at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, and at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has has been nominated for seven Juno Awards and received the West Coast Music Award for Musician of the Year and Entertainer of the Year.
Reed has been working with the Folk Music Society’s artistic director, Kevin Tobin, looking for ways the district and the music society can collaborate. This collaboration led to a private concert for the students and Reed described it as magical. She said when they first arrived the students were impressed with how beautiful concert hall is and then the concert itself was amazing. “The band was so genuine with the kids. After each song the students had the opportunity to ask questions and the band members answered them. The students asked some great questions, she added.
Reed commented the Song Sparrow Concert Hall, which is a state-of-the-art acoustically designed hall and sound system with interactive LED lighting, is the creation of a former Salmon Arm Secondary music student and who graduated from Selkirk’s Music and Technology program, Craig Newnes along with Clea Roddick, who also attended the same Selkirk program. The concert hall, years ago, housed the historic Newnes Machine Shop which was owned by Craig’s grandfather and where Reed’s grandfather was a machinist.
In April there will be another collaboration as SD83 will be bringing in the band Best Laid Plans, who will also do a concert for high school students. Reed said she heard the band at last year’s Roots and Blues Concert and thought they would be great to perform at schools. To help the district, the folk music society will be providing a sound technician for the school concerts.