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Music festival ready to make another splash

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 06:00 am

FESTIVAL PARTICIPANT – ESSMY student Jacob Kryger, 15, plays Ghanaia on the marimba. He was playing the Mattias Schmitt composition at a Rotary breakfast to give Rotarians a sense of the talent in St. Albert.
FESTIVAL PARTICIPANT – ESSMY student Jacob Kryger, 15, plays Ghanaia on the marimba. He was playing the Mattias Schmitt composition at a Rotary breakfast to give Rotarians a sense of the talent in St. Albert.
CATHY HERON/Supplied photo

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St. Albert Rotary Music Festival
April 7 to 17
Red Willow Community Church, Salvation Army Church and Community Centre, Sturgeon Valley Baptist Church, St. Albert United Church, St. Albert Evangelical Church and Arden Theatre
Admission: Free

Every year the St. Albert Rotary Music Festival makes a big splash. Where else do an estimated 2,000 young performers feature the very best of what they do?

Now in its 37th year, the festival might consider expanding its name to St. Albert Rotary Music and Performing Arts Festival.

The 10-day festival has always focused on music in its countless incarnations – strings, jazz, musical theatre, bands, choirs and light opera or vocals.

In a first of many, organizers are introducing a hip-hop master class at the Arden Theatre on Thursday, April 17.

“We’re trying to keep the festival current and attractive to young people in the community. Members of the board thought this form of dance would help to get a lot of boys involved, and hip hop is a contemporary type of dance that is relevant to both boys and girls,” says Maryan Threndyle, festival coordinator.

Current board chair Alan Murdock helped usher traditional dance genres into the festival in 2002. However, once Art of Dance closed its doors last year, the number of dance entries at the festival plummeted significantly, and organizers shifted to a more creative, contemporary approach, noted Threndyle.

Leading the hip-hop master class is Los Angeles based Kenya Clay. Born and raised in California, she has immersed herself in the West Coast hip-hop culture as both a dancer and choreographer.

Her dance credits include stints with Nelly Furtado, Black Eyed Peas, Willow Smith and a world tour with Mary J. Blige. She’s performed on Glee, at the MTV Movie Awards and the Super Bowl, and her career is just getting started.

“She’s been involved with so many big names, but she’s also interested in teaching and sharing her enthusiasm with young people,” Threndyle stated.

The festival kicks off in unison at six local venues. Red Willow Community Church hosts piano while the Salvation Army Church and Community Centre makes way for piano and vocals.

St. Albert Evangelical Church anchors strings and classical guitar even as St. Albert United Church arranges for choral singing. Sturgeon Valley Baptist Church presents musical theatre and the Arden Theatre is hosting all forms of dance.

“This is really what our festival is about – young people finding a voice and working together towards the performing arts.”

One of these young voices is Jacob Kryger, 15. The École Secondaire Sainte Marguerite d’Youville student is a multi-instrumentalist who makes a point of performing every year at the festival.

“It gives me a chance to play and get adjudicated on how I can do better. I can apply it (judge’s comments) to what I’m doing and it should make my playing better,” Kryger said.

A student of ESSMY’s rock and pop program, he also plays piano, percussion and guitar. When Kryger auditioned with Edmonton Youth Orchestra two years ago, he was automatically placed in the Senior Orchestra percussion section playing timpani.

As the festival rolls around, the young musician has rehearsed a snare drum solo, a piano pop piece and a contemporary jazz piece made famous by the great Oscar Peterson.

Last year Kryger won his first scholarship sponsored by SPT Drilling and it’s had a lasting effect.

“It’s showed me that all the work I put into it paid off.”

Everyone who participates receives a certificate of recognition. As well, organizers present $12,000 in scholarships and awards.

The top awards are the $1,000 Lyle Moore Scholarship, the $500 Rose Bowl Scholarship, the $500 Marsha Stanton Award and the $400 Elsie and Bill Filipchuk Bursary for Musical Theatre.

The awards ceremony is celebrated with Encore!, a live music event where some of the festival’s top talent display their skill and ingenuity. Colin MacLean returns as master of ceremonies.

Encore! will be held Tuesday, April 22 at the Arden Theatre. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Arden box office at 780-459-1542 or online at

Kryger added, “I would recommend the festival to anyone. I always find it to be a benefit because of the adjudication and you get to perform. It’s an overall good experience for anyone.”

For a complete schedule of events visit


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