Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Celtic Tenors - Pure Joy

Daryl, Matthew and James
The Celtic Tenors
Friday, November 20, 2015 at 7:30 pm.
Port Theatre, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada
Tickets: 250-754-8550
(The first of three Special Concerts presented by the Vancouver Island Symphony - without the orchestra)

Pure joy!
An interview with James Nelson of the Celtic Tenors
By Rosemary Phillips

Fabulous! Wonderful! Excellent! Phenomenal! Refreshing! Uplifting! Funny! Personable! They really connected with the audience! They were so good we didn’t want them to leave! - And so say hundreds of reviewers (on Ticketmaster) for the Celtic Tenors (Matthew Gilsenan, James Nelson and Daryl Simpson) and their recent block-buster tour with Celtic Woman through Australia and across the United States.
The phone rang promptly at 9 a.m., right on schedule, and there was James Nelson, founding member of the Celtic Tenors (1995), taking time to casually chat, in his gentle Irish brogue, about the group’s latest adventures and upcoming return to the Port Theatre in Nanaimo on Friday, November 20. It was like talking with an old friend, catching up on all the latest news since our interview of 2012. (To read a previous article – titled ‘Perfect Harmony’ - and a wee review - visit: .)
Over the phone the excitement in James’ voice was noticeable. “Tomorrow we sing in Lafayette. We have never performed in Louisiana before. Now we can claim to having sung in 48 states in the US. At the moment I’m sitting looking over the skyline of New Orleans. Last night we went to listen to music. Today we’ll be going to Bourbon Street in the Old French Quarter for lunch, and tonight we are joining members of Celtic Woman at a Halloween Party – a completely alien concept to me. We’ve even got costumes!”
What a year: For the Celtic Tenors, 2015 has been extraordinary, as they travelled the world with their own show, released their latest recording, then joined Celtic Woman on tour. “It seemed like an ideal situation,” continued James. “It’s a bit different for us to be an opening act for others. Years ago we opened for Dionne Warwick and Air Supply, so it’s been a while. We have half an hour and feature some of the songs from our album Timeless, and finish with Nessun Dorma. Then, at the close of the show we join Celtic Woman for The Parting Glass, in seven-part harmony. It’s a rousing end.”
When they (Celtic Tenors and Celtic Woman) sang together at the end of the show, the entire crowd was spellbound. – Ticketmaster Review
Doing what they love – in harmony: Matthew, James and Daryl, all classically trained, Celtic crossover tenors, undoubtedly Ireland’s finest, love to sing – in harmony. And have fun! “We sing the big tenor numbers, but we also do songs from our homeland, and other Celtic countries and a bit of pop music,” said James who does most of the harmony arrangements. “We present a complete mix of everything... and some in our own language.”
New record label: “Last year we signed on with Decca Records Australia through Universal Music. It’s the second signing with a major label in our careers. This year we released Timeless. It’s a very harmony-led album. The first song is Calypso by John Denver. The record company suggested it and we are really glad they did. We love it. It’s such a feel-good song. There are also songs by Dolly Parton and Bob Dylan, songs we grew up with. One favourite is In My Daughter’s Eyes. It’s just the most perfect song about anyone who has a child. We are doing it every night on this tour, and the audience loves it.”
The highlight for me was hearing them (Celtic Tenors) sing “In My Daughter’s Eyes” – beautiful. – Ticketmaster Review
“We also have a new Christmas album. We weren’t singing Christmas songs for the Celtic Woman tour, but the Christmas CDs were the biggest seller - they sold like mad!”
Now with 12 recordings and two PBS specials under their belts and over a million albums in sales (three platinums) these world-class tenors have, over the years, reached No. 1 Chart positions in Ireland and Germany, No. 2 in the UK, the top ten in US Billboard and Canadian charts and most recently charted No. 4 in Australia.
Much more than music: There’s so much more to the Celtic Tenors than concerts. Matthew is raising a family, with three children, and Daryl has now become a parent. Daryl continues his work with the Omagh Community Youth Choir, bringing young people together to promote peace and reconciliation through music. Meanwhile, James carries on with his project in Kenya. “I help raise funds for housing for children orphaned by AIDS. Besides being part of the building team I also teach music and do solo performances with the children. Many of those children are now in university. Two have received their diplomas as chefs, and others as primary school teachers and nurses. It’s lovely to see this with the children we have known. And a few of our tours have been linked to the Mercy Ships project out of Vancouver. It’s so nice to be doing something for others.”
Facing life: In addition, James, like many, has an ailing aged parent. “My dad has Lewy Body dementia. He’s gone through some awful phases. He was so incredibly fit until recently but is deteriorating. It’s so hard.”
Courageously living his truth: “I have always been very private about my life, but once the same-sex marriage referendum was passed in Ireland in May of this year, I was asked to tell my story. I was raised in a different era. I had been living a lie and tried to hide it for decades. The funny thing is that I came out to my close friends and colleagues 25 years ago, yet one or two of my close friends never knew. As a writer (Nelson’s Column for the Sligo Weekender) I already had the story in my head, so I wrote it and had it published. It was like therapy, and a release. I thought I would have a few negative responses - I was ready for that. But there were none. Not one negative. The response from people in letters, in e-mails and on Facebook, has been amazing. When we are on tour, radio stations have often asked, ‘Are you married?’ This year, in Australia, we did an interview with their main gay radio station. It was wonderful to just be myself.”
Returning to Nanaimo: “After a quick trip back home to Ireland we tour Canada and the US in November and December with our own show. And joining us on stage at the Port Theatre will be Colm Henry, our music director and pianist. All of us just love Vancouver Island.”
Presented by the Vancouver Island Symphony, as the first of their Special Concerts (without the orchestra), this will be the Celtic Tenor’s third appearance at the Port Theatre; the first was soon after the theatre opened, and the second in 2012 as a fundraiser for the VIS and to help Nanaimo celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Painting the Irish landscape: Three tenors – one voice – like painting the Irish landscape in song – and evoking the very soul of the Emerald Isle - Matthew, James and Daryl will whisk the audience away into a world of pure joy and perfect harmony in a concert sure to please every palate. I know – I’ve seen them perform - LIVE!
Tickets are available by calling 250-754-8550.
For more information about the Vancouver Island Symphony visit:
For more information on the Celtic Tenors, formal biographies, videos and recordings visit: and visit James Nelson on Facebook.





























Monday, July 20, 2015

SYMPHONY BY THE SEA - 2015 - Vancouver Island Symphony

One, Two, Three – POP!
An interview with Calvin Dyck, director Symphony by the Sea
By Rosemary Phillips

 Violinist Calvin Dyck, also known as the illustrious concertmaster for the Vancouver Island Symphony (VIS), and a man of many hats, is embarking upon yet another big adventure – the programming and directing of the third summertime pops concert - Symphony by the Sea, scheduled for Maffeo Sutton Park in Nanaimo on Saturday, August 8 at 6 p.m. - rain or shine!

Yes, the Hats are Back (Calvin) and the Guy with the Tie (fabulous tenor and storyteller Ken Lavigne) for another great outdoor performance. At the time of this interview Calvin was diligently finalizing the program so he could go away for a short holiday. “This week Heather and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary,” he said, lovingly putting on his family-hat. “Our children, Christine and Andrew, are now almost-adults. We’d like to squeeze in a little vacation before the concert.”

But, back to Calvin in his producer-hat and his focus on the upcoming concert, the music, and talented guests which include Ken Lavigne, pianist child-prodigy Kevin Chen, the Vancouver Island Symphony, O’Connor-O’Brien School of Irish Dance, the return of the Paper Bag 1812 Overture – and surprises! Calvin’s aim is to always make music exciting, entertaining and enjoyable for every age and taste.

Symphony by the Sea:

Ken Lavigne is a real crowd pleaser. He is loved by audiences for his soaring, honeyed tenor voice, his choice of popular songs, his adventures and courage to follow dreams, and his natural, humorous banter. “He will be singing Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera, plus favourites like Nessum Dorma, Granada, Funiculì Funiculà,” explained Calvin. “And, because he’s fulfilling another dream and heading to the Sydney Opera House in Australia, he’ll be having the audience join in for a sing-along version of Waltzing Matilda. For added fun, we will be continuing the new tradition of giving away Ken’s tie - and one of my hats.”
Kevin Chen, a ten-year-old short, shy, child-prodigy pianist and composer, has been a solo guest artist with orchestras since he was seven years old. “He will be performing movements from Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 (made popular in the 1960’s by the movie Elvira Madigan) and the world premiere performance of his Symphony No. 3. I just got it in the mail the other night. Tom Lee is bringing a grand piano all the way from Victoria specifically for Kevin and this event.”
In 2013, Kevin was named one of CBC’s Top 30 Hot Canadian Classical Musicians under 30 - and he was only eight. Added Calvin, “This spring he made his debut with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and this fall Maclean’s Magazine is featuring Kevin for their 110th year edition as they present 110 Canadians, one for each year.”
One, Two, Three – POP! The return of the Paper Bag 1812 Overture - “After last summer’s wonderfully successful performance we are bringing the Paper Bag 1812 Overture back, by popular demand. I’ll be demonstrating the ‘One, Two, Three – POP’ right before intermission, then volunteers will hand out about 3,000 lunch bags throughout the audience so everyone can join in and help make a very satisfying Paper Bag Cannon Boom during the grand finale.”
(You might want to have a practice at home if you have any lunch bags. It’s surprising how loud the pop can be.)
More pops music - “The VIS will be opening with the Light Cavalry Overture, which will be delightful. The O’Connor-O’Brien School of Irish Dance will perform to Lord of the Dance. In addition to Ken’s powerful selection of songs, we will be playing the Mission Impossible theme, Seafarer by Haydn Wood, the Blue Danube Waltz by Strauss, a few surprise pieces, and Lara’s Theme from the movie Dr. Zhivago, in memory of Omar Sharif who passed away on July 10.”
Sponsors - Calvin is forever thankful for the support he receives. “We couldn’t put this concert on without help from our performance sponsors and audience. Windsor Plywood, Columbia Cabinets, Rotary, and the City of Nanaimo have been such huge supporters from the beginning. This year Thrifty Foods is on board with food for sale. This is a first and we are really pleased to have them join us. Of course, we gratefully accept donations from the audience to help defray the costs of the event.”
Calvin Dyck:
Calvin’s first performance with the VIS was for Symphony on the Green on Gabriola Island. “When I was recruited to play it was for a two-year contract. I said ‘no’ and agreed to one-year.” Calvin then paused and chuckled, “This is my 16th season. Where do the years go?”
Symphony on the Green became Symphony in the Harbour and is now Symphony by the Sea. And just as the VIS and its programs have changed and evolved (first under the baton of Marlin Wolfe then Pierre Simard) to become a jewel of a professional regional orchestra, so has Calvin grown into a dynamic musician and director who turns everything he touches into wondrous success.
Besides fulfilling his role as concertmaster with passion and joy, he has been integral in introducing new ventures and concert ideas for the orchestra. “I really enjoy working with Pierre, and, unlike a top-down organization, the VIS, Pierre and executive director Margot Holmes, empower musicians to run with their own ideas,” added Calvin. “They have been very supportive in bringing back the summer pops concert and in giving me the opportunity to conduct the orchestra for these shows. The first year was a bit of an experiment, as I did it mostly myself, assisted by Ken, the guest artists, and musicians who took a reduced fee to help make it a success. There were 1800 in the audience. Last year the crowds came back and brought along friends, and we counted about 4000. This year it’s going to be an even greater success!”
So come on down and pop a paper bag at Symphony By the Sea - Be sure to come early and reserve your patch of grass, enjoy the Sea Walk, kids’ park and beach; venture along the beautiful waterfront and wander into Downtown Nanaimo and exquisite shops. Make it a total family day followed by great entertainment, awesome music, and as always with our sensational Calvin Dyck – hats and SURPRISES!
For more information on Symphony by the Sea phone 250-754-0177 or visit
For more extensive information about Calvin and his many hats, including director of the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra and Virtuosi, visit and

Monday, March 30, 2015

From Pierre with Love - with the Vancouver Island Symphony

Pierre Simard
Photo by David Cooper Photography
The Vancouver Island Symphony presents
From Pierre with Love
Guest Artists: Ariel Barnes – Cello
Dorothy Chang - Composer
Symphonic Choir, Patricia Plumley, Director
Conductor: Pierre Simard
Saturday, April 18, 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, 125 Front Street, Nanaimo BC
Tickets: 250-754-8550

From Pierre with love
“Here is my 20th Anniversary gift - music which I deeply cherish!” - Pierre Simard

Words alone cannot describe the fantastic season of spectacular music, rousing programs and full-house audiences as the Vancouver Island Symphony celebrates 20 years of professional orchestral music. The music says it all, especially in the explosive season finale in which the popular and passionate artistic director Pierre Simard presents From Pierre with Love at the Port Theatre on Saturday, April 18.

The gift: “This is a concert filled with a panorama of music I would bring to a desert island. It is music that I love,” says Simard, who is absolutely thrilled with how this celebratory season has unfolded, and how it has reconnected with people who, over the years, have been associated with the orchestra. “I wanted to find pieces that started with my love for them but also related to the VI Symphony and who they are. It is my gift to the orchestra, its musicians, patrons, staff, volunteers, supporters, friends and community.”

The music: Imagine harmonious auditory pictures of life, legends, wondrous landscapes, gracious flowing waters, celebration and triumph!

- Water - “We have done shows with the theme of water, so it was natural to perform two pieces about rivers; The Moldau by Bedrich Smetana, and Siegfried’s Rhine Journey by Richard Wagner,” says Simard.

- World Premiere – And in continuing with the VI Symphony’s Legacy Project, Simard will conduct the world premiere of a new and delicious concerto for the soulful cello titled Invisible Distance composed by Dorothy Chang and performed by Ariel Barnes.

- Choral Spectacular - Simard also has a passion for choral conducting so the Symphonic Choir (directed by Patricia Plumley) will perform the Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart and the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Aida by Verdi, the most beautiful choral music known.

- Party Music - Every party needs dance music and here Pierre has chosen Polovtsian Dances from the opera Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin, recognizable in parts as Stranger in Paradise.

- Explosive Fireworks - Bringing a magnificent and rousing close to this 20th season is Tchaikovsky’s sensational 1812 Overture with fireworks, cannons and church bells. Says Simard, “Throughout the world this is the one single piece of music associated with celebration.” Music as fireworks! What a party!

Tickets: Come celebrate! Come meet the musicians. Meet Simard and guest artists at the Pre-Concert Talk. Tickets are available at 250-754-8550.

For more information visit:
Celebrate 20! - An Awesome Party - Keeping Music LIVE!

For additional information visit and


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tonight... Piaf - world premiere with Vancouver Island Symphony

Festival Nanaimo presents
Tonight… Piaf
Produced by the Vancouver Island Symphony
Guest Artists: Joëlle Rabu, Actor and Singer; Nico Rhodes, Pianist and Arranger
Conductor: Pierre Simard
Saturday, March 21, 2015, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, 125 Front Street, Nanaimo
Tickets: 250-754-8550

Magnifique! Tonight… Piaf
World premiere for Joëlle Rabu and son Nico Rhodes
Second show added!

Excitement is building - as Nanaimo artists Joëlle Rabu (actor-singer) and son Nico Rhodes (composer-arranger-musician) prepare for the world premiere of their brand-new, powerful and emotionally-packed, fully orchestrated presentation of Tonight… Piaf. On Saturday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Port Theatre, Maestro Pierre Simard will direct the Vancouver Island Symphony for this electrifying performance. And because of the overwhelming response to date, a second show has been added at 3 p.m.

It’s been 25 years - since a pregnant Joëlle Rabu first co-wrote the original show Tonight… Piaf as an intimate and dramatic re-enactment of Edith Piaf’s final North American performance in 1961 at New York’s Waldorf Astoria. Joelle was five-months into her pregnancy when the show was premiered at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Says Joelle, “One more month and the dress would not have fit!”
Since then, Joëlle and her musicians have toured the show from coast to coast. In tow - the child, her son Nico Rhodes. Now Nico has taken on the mammoth task of transforming the stage show into a full-scale musical for orchestra. In addition, he will be appearing on-stage with his mother, in character, as Piaf’s pianist/arranger.

Joëlle Rabu – Critics have hailed Joëlle as being Piaf in voice and style. However Joëlle, who was brought up “a la française” on Vancouver Island by French parents, with a lust for life, joie de vivre, and with the songs of Piaf engraved in her heart, believes there was only one Piaf, and considers it a privilege to perform her songs, and to be accepted by the public who knew her. Joëlle’s passionate voice, her profound knowledge of the life of Piaf, and her skillful acting have made Tonight… Piaf a show that has astounded public and media alike. And with the magnificent sound of full orchestration – this too will be a historical performance!

Nico Rhodes – Raised on tour with his singer-mom, lighting-designer-dad and a quartet of musicians, Nico’s natural skills as a musician and arranger were certainly enhanced by osmosis. By the time he was 16 he had already won several classical piano and jazz saxophone competitions, and since the age of 17 he has been a highly successful director-arranger for musical theatre. His debut in orchestral writing was for Rick Scott’s My Symphony which was launched by the VI Symphony in 2014. He then immediately began work on orchestrating his mother’s long-time hit show and the music that has been with him since birth.

Not to be missed - The life and music that is Edith Piaf, the acting and vocal talent that is Joëlle Rabu, the masterful musicianship that is Nico Rhodes, and the sensational sound that is the VI Symphony – now bring that all together – experienced LIVE – it can be nothing but magnifique!

Tickets: $42- $74 / Students $20 / eyeGO $5. Available at and by calling 250-754-8550.
More information – can be seen at and For information about Joëlle and Nico’s latest CD Full Circle, and Tonight… Piaf, visit


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Nanaimo BAR NONE

Festival Nanaimo presents the 2nd Annual
Nanaimo BAR NONE Variety Show
Showcasing Supreme, Scrumptious Nanaimo Talent
Produced by the Vancouver Island Symphony
Presented by Thrifty Foods
Saturday, March 14, 2015, 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, 125 Front Street, Nanaimo
Tickets: 250-754-8550

Supreme Nanaimo talent – BAR NONE!

Take sensational Nanaimo talent layered with rhythmic, smooth and silky sounds of musicians and singers, luscious visions of dancers, lights, colour, sets, costumes and action, and the tantalising taste of delectable world-famous Nanaimo Bars, chocolates and ice-cream, and you have the supreme blockbuster Nanaimo BAR NONE, a delicious family show at the Port Theatre on Saturday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Produced by the Vancouver Island Symphony (and part of the fabulous Festival Nanaimo), Nanaimo BAR NONE will appeal to all ages and all tastes. Says popular producer, director, violinist and entertainer Calvin Dyck; “I’m really excited about the different art forms. There’s really good variety - like the layers of the Nanaimo Bar. It’s the fabric of Nanaimo life!”

First layer – Combine the following crunchy, sublimely chocolaty ingredients: the energetic Vancouver Island Symphony Symphonic Children’s Choir, led by Patricia Plumley; the graceful senior Tempo Dance members performing ‘Dark Paradise’; the dynamic Weber Clarinet Quintet; award-winning 13-year-old singer Lilu Scott; clarinetist Christopher Lee, a recent graduate of the Juilliard School of Music; and jazz pianist Patrick Courtin tinkling the ivories.

Second Layer – For the creamy-sweet filling, blend: outrageous humour and virtuosity of the VIS Quartet and ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’; sensational rhythms of Miss Nanaimo Ambassador (Leora Gueulette) tap-dancing to ‘Stuck In the Middle with You’; soft sounds of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet and Telemann String Quartet; hot tapping Tempo Dancers; and passionate voices of the Malaspina Choir. Add a reading or two by Nanaimo’s poet laureate, Naomi Wakan, then sprinkle in moments of joy, celebration, laughter, wonder, rapture and pride – and spread evenly.

The topping – Ah well, we can’t give it all away but we can reveal a huge, spine-tingling, all-cast grand finale, chugging along with the Royal Hudson. Meanwhile there are surprises, and, like the delight of real Nanaimo Bars, Nanaimo Bar chocolate and Nanaimo Bar ice-cream (all available at intermission), this show has to be experienced LIVE to be savoured. The audience will be left craving more – BAR NONE!

Tickets Tickets for this scrumptious experience are; students, $15, general $24, and eyeGo $5, and are available online at Festival Nanaimo passes ($108) are available by calling 250-754-8550.



Monday, February 9, 2015

Motown Meets Gospel - LifeBridge Benefit Concert

LifeBridge Benefit Concert
With guest artists: Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir
And sensational Abbotsford singer – Crystal Hicks
Saturday, March 7, 7 p.m.
Silent Auction, 6-7 p.m.
Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church
2285 Clearbrook Road, Abbotsford
Tickets: $20 at Level Ground Church Office (604-854-8181) and House of James

Motown meets Gospel
for LifeBridge Benefit Concert
“Heal the world, make it a better place”… Michael Jackson

Take the infectious hand-clapping, toe-tapping, finger-snapping energy of over 90 singers in the Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir, the thrilling voice of Abbotsford’s very own Crystal Hicks, and rhythms of the Good Noise band, all under the direction of Gail Suderman, and you have a rocking, raising-the-roof evening of Motown influence and Gospel music for the LifeBridge Benefit Concert on Saturday, March 7 at 7 p.m. in the Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church at 2285 Clearbrook Road.

Keith St. Jean, director of LifeBridge Recovery Ministries, an organization that bridges the gap between community, church and those in recovery, says, “Last year’s concert was fantastic. People were and are still talking about it.”

While the concert is a fundraiser for LifeBridge, says St. Jean, “Most importantly, it tells our story. LifeBridge helps people on the road to finding their life, their spiritual direction, and provides a foundation for their future. We all desire meaning and the ability to find someone and something we can trust in; and we all need love, to be loved, to love. How do we heal the world? One corner of the world at a time, even if it’s only one person - then we have helped make the world a better place.”

Motown meets Gospel: Says Suderman, “The songs we have chosen for this concert support all that LifeBridge is doing, responding to people’s daily needs, looking after our fellow human. The lyrics are awesome! It’s Motown meets Gospel – Motown with a Gospel flavour.”

Says St. Jean, “I’m really excited! These are all on my own playlist!”

They couldn’t be more perfect: Stevie Wonder’s ‘Have a Talk with God’; Billy Preston’s ‘That’s the Way God Planned It’; a riveting, heart-melting, spine-tingling medley of Michael Jackson’s ‘Heal the World’ and ‘We Are the World’; and Jackie DeShannon’s super hit, ‘Put a Little Love in your Heart!’

A special tribute: Suderman adds, “Andrae Crouch changed the whole face of Gospel music. He passed away just a few weeks ago, so we are adding a tribute to him with some of his favourites.”

The Good Noise choir: Now in their 11th season, the Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir has performed many benefit concerts for charitable organizations and has shared the stage with Barbra Streisand, David Foster, Holly Cole, Dee Daniels and Jim Byrnes, to name a few famous artists. The choir has also appeared on many television shows, like ‘Gospel to Go’ for Vision TV.

Feel good music: Suderman explains, “One of the reasons why we are and do what we do, and how I choose the music, is to bring a sense of love and hope for everyone. The audience was wonderful last year in Abbotsford. They sang along, with tears in their eyes – that’s just one of the reasons why we said we’d love to come back. And, we are having a lot of fun preparing the music!”

You can hear and see the choir perform on video at, then come along and see them LIVE! There’s nothing like the real thing!

Silent Auction: To help in raising funds for LifeBridge there will also be a silent auction. The doors open at 6 p.m. with time for viewing before the show and during intermission.

Tickets: Are $20 and can be purchased at Level Ground Church Office, 31216 King Road (phone 604-854-8181) and House of James, 2743 Emerson Street, Abbotsford.

For more information visit: and

Monday, February 2, 2015

Life, Laughter & Love with Natalie Choquette and Calvin Dyck

Presenting Life, Laughter & Love
A lighthearted Valentine’s concert
Natalie Choquette, La Diva comedienne
Calvin Dyck, violin
Carmen Hollett, piano
Friday, February 20th, 7 p.m.
Matsqui Centennial Auditorium (City Hall)
Tickets: ($22 plus tax and fee) at House of James & King’s Music
Who could ask for anything more…
Life, Laughter, Love… and Dessert!

Smooth! Creamy! Decadently divine! The most exquisite ingredients imaginable are coming together on the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium (City Hall) stage on Friday, February 20th, at 7 p.m. for a delicious evening of Life, Laughter & Love.

Like world-class confectionery bakers, the hilarious and outrageous Natalie Choquette (diva comedienne and soprano extraordinaire) returns to Abbotsford to team up with Calvin Dyck (popular director, producer and violinist), and pianist Carmen Hollett, to present an evening filled with sensational music, joyful laughter - and desserts.

Desserts you may ask? Says Natalie (a globetrotting multi-linguistic entertainer whose incredible talent and stage-wardrobe can leave you gasping for breath), “Calvin and I thought Valentine’s and sumptuous food go hand in hand – so we are performing beautiful music from around the world with a theme of love – and desserts.”

Imagine: Silky, soft and sweet Crème Caramel of France accompanied by La Vie en Rose, the luscious Flower Duet from Lakmé, and Salut D’Amore; then savour velvety Dulce de Leche (Portuguese candy of milk) with the tango Oblivion and Por una cabeza (made popular in the movie Scent of a Woman).

Imagine: A bite of America’s scrumptious Whoopie Pie (cream-filled chocolate cake) and relish in My Funny Valentine, Tea for Two, I Could Have Danced All Night, and Serenade for Sonja; then crunchy mouthfuls of Apfelstrudel (a German and Austrian pastry that just oozes with apple) and the melodies of Heidenröslein, Im Chambre Séparée, Kreisler Libeslied and Schon Rosmarin.

Imagine: A tempting Russian Vatrushka (sugary yeast-bread pastry) together with toe-tapping Otchi Tchornia, Moscow Nights, Katyusha, Somewhere My Love (from Dr. Zhivago), Dark Eyes and Czardas; then melt with Italian Gelato (ice-cream) while listening to Si, Mi Chiamano Mimi from La Bohème, Mattinata, and O Mio Babbino Caro; and finally, the most famous Viennese culinary specialty, the oh-so-delectable Sachertorte, and a sensational medley from Sound of Music.

Extra toppings: Sprinkled between musical delights are stories garnished with love, humour and drama – served with highly enjoyable audience participation. Says Calvin, “I love what Natalie does, how she draws you into the story – she has a way of transforming a concert into a dramatic experience.” Not wishing to leave the audience wanting, Calvin adds, “While we are not able to offer all these amazing desserts, there will be special sweet treats at intermission, door prizes, and of course, surprises!”

Chuckles Natalie, who has wonderful memories of loving audiences in Abbotsford, “It’s so exciting when you know the people there; you already love them ahead of time.” Then she adds, “We will be able to have our cake and eat it too! Who could ask for anything more?”

Tickets: Be it love of life, family, friends, or that special someone, Life, Laugher and Love will be a totally satisfying musical and gastronomical adventure for all. Tickets are $22 (plus tax and fee) at House of James and King’s Music.

For more information and videos about Natalie Choquette visit: then come and see her LIVE.
For more information about Calvin Dyck visit


He Sings, She Sighs with the Vancouver Island Symphony

He Sings, She Sighs
With the Vancouver Island Symphony
Guest Artists: Ken Lavigne, Tenor
Nadya Blanchette, Soprano
Conductor: Pierre Simard
Presented by the Cowichan Symphony Society
Thursday, February 12, 7:30 p.m.
Cowichan Performing Arts Centre
Cowichan Tickets at 250-748-7529
Presented by the Vancouver Island Symphony
Friday, February 13, 7:30 p.m.
Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, 747 Jones Street
And Saturday, February 14, 2015, 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, 125 Front Street, Nanaimo
Qualicum and Nanaimo Tickets: 250-754-8550

Put together the heart-warming charm of tenor Ken Lavigne, the passion and creamy voice of soprano Nadya Blanchette with the Vancouver Island Symphony under the baton of Pierre Simard - and WOW! He Sings, She Sighs – we melt!

On Friday, February 13 at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, and on Saturday, February 14 at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo (both at 7:30 p.m.) the VI Symphony presents He Sings, She Sighs, a Valentine special filled with drama, romance, amusement, and the most melodic arias and songs you can imagine, filled with seduction, love, fantasy, pleasure and desire – a real adventure for the heart.

He Sings: You just can’t help loving Ken Lavigne, one of Vancouver Island’s favourite performers. His warm, pure and silky tenor voice touches the soul. With his relaxed, huggable and genuine stage presence, humorous banter, passionate dreams and perfect choice of popular and favourite songs, he charms his way into the hearts of audiences wherever he performs.

She Sighs: And where there’s love, there’s soprano Nadya Blanchette; passion, seduction, femme fatal, ingénue and Carmen all rolled into one. With her rapturous, warm, creamy voice she sings everything from great arias to Broadway favourites. Her charisma, contagious humour, spontaneity and versatility enchant audiences around the world.

This is love: Be it love of life, love of family, friends, or that special someone, says Ken, “It’s a great show with beautiful music, weaving our own stories, and those of the music. It’s a concert that will appeal to all lovers. We are singing duets and solos from West Side Story, South Pacific, Moulin Rouge, and on the operatic side, from Tales of Hoffman.”

Says Nadya, “It’s a romantic event celebrating love with exquisite music and immortal songs that we have embraced over the years. There will be vignettes, playful comedy and romance in a rapport between Ken and I, the Baton and the audience as we sing these emotional and theatrical melodies. It’s a wonderful happening around love.”

Tickets: For Thursday, February 12 in Cowichan Valley, at 250-748-7529; for Friday, February 13 in Qualicum and for Saturday, February 14 at the Port Theatre at 250-754-8550 or online at

For more information visit
Celebrate 20! – An Awesome Party – Keeping Music LIVE!

For information about Ken Lavigne visit:
For more on Nadya Blanchette visit:


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Russia: Love It or Leave It

Russia: Love It or Leave It
Featuring Calvin Dyck, violin and Betty Suderman, piano
Sunday, January 25th, 1:30pm
United Mennonite Church
2277 Enns Road, Black Creek
Tickets: (250) 337-2204 or at the door $20/15

Virtuosic duo cooks up Russian passion

Take a bowl full of thrilling music, mix it with heart-gripping stories, add touches of passion, dashes of humour and sprinkles of outlandish hats, and you have the delicious Russia: Love It or Leave It” being presented at the United Mennonite Church, 2277 Enns Road in Black Creek, on Sunday, January 25 at 1:30 p.m.
The artists: Calvin Dyck, virtuosic violinist, gifted storyteller, wearer of many hats, and well-known in the area as the popular concertmaster of the Vancouver Island Symphony, will be joined by gifted and virtuosic pianist Betty Suderman in a program filled with beautiful, energizing and exciting music of Russia and the Ukraine.

A tasty program: From Gypsy and powerful Russian favourites to familiar classics, Calvin and Betty captivate the audience with the dramatic and tantalizing Dark Eyes; highlights from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet; the gentle Vocalise; passionate Lara’s Theme from Dr. Zhivago; music by Stravinsky and Beethoven; and Vehrlos und Werlassen.

Scrumptious stories: “Short vignettes between sets of music tell of the composers and their lives, the emotional tale of the Mennonite migration from Russia and the Ukraine, and our own personal family histories,” said Calvin as he excitedly explained how his and Betty’s families came to Canada, and how during his last tour of the Ukraine he nearly didn’t make it back to Canada with his golden violin. (But we’re not going to give that all away… you’ll have to go to the concert to find out how and why.)

“We want to reflect a bit on history, both to remember and to be thankful for this country,” added Calvin. “Most Canadians have a migration story – and so there is a connection here for most of us.”

A toe-tapping topping: Calvin (wearing the appropriate hat) and Betty conclude this luscious concert with the vibrant Czardas. “I just love Gypsy music,” said Calvin. “It’s in my blood!”

Tickets: $20 for adults, $15 for students, are available at the door or by calling (250) 337-2204.