Obsessions Octet perform at Rochester International Jazz Festival


Obsessions Octet, one of Edmonton’s premiere jazz bands, attends one of the best parties in North America.

The octet, led by Juno-nominated composer Kent Sangster, is playing at the Rochester International Jazz Festival on Saturday, June 25 under the banner of the inaugural O Canada Series.

“It’s a great opportunity to show what we play best,” said violinist Johanna Ciapka. “It’s a unique and unusual situation and we’re thrilled and honoured. There are some big shoes to fill and we’re anxious in a positive way. But excited as well.”

Just before flying out to the American jazz hot spot, the octet plans to share their sets with Yardbird Suite audiences on Monday, June 20.

“It will be fantastic to play to the whole house. And it will be great to have that special vibe to play to our favourite audience who we represent.”

St. Albert cellist Ronda Metzsies, bassist John Taylor and violinist Neda Yamach are part of the octet’s core and eager to start the festivities.

As one of the world’s leading international music festivals, Rochester celebrates its 15th edition with 1,500 artists from countries including Canada, Japan, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, France, Cuba, Russia and Brazil.

Several of the heavyweights include Grace Potter, Erykah Badu, Chick Corea, Chris Botti and Greg Allman.

“To give you an example of their success, at the Edmonton Jazz Festival we sell 150 passes. They sell 3,500 before the lineup is announced,” said Sangster.

With the Eastman Conservatory of Music used as prime venue and New York City practically on Rochester’s back door, the festival is able to attract many of the Big Apple’s jazz greats.

Sangster credits producer/artistic director John Nugent’s salesmanship and innovations for the festival’s ongoing prosperity.

As part of the novelty, Nugent already presents two international series – the Made in U.K. series and the Nordic Now series.

Through the assistance of Canadian federal government grants, Nugent added a third this year – The Oh, Canada! Series. Ten bands or artists – one from each province – have been invited to perform as musical ambassadors.

The octet will select a mixture of music from early Astor Piazzolla covers to Sangster’s originals and a few surprises thrown in for good measure.

As an added bonus Obsessions Octet two performances at the Rochester Club will be recorded by a PBS crew and aired at a future date.


O Canada Series
Obsessions Octet
Monday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Yardbird Suite
11 Tommy Banks Way
102 St. and 86 Ave.
Tickets: Advance $22 for adults, $15 students/seniors or $25 at door. Call 780-420-1757 or at tixonthesquare.ca


About Author

Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.