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Rotary Music Festival debuts holiday mall concert

Nearly 70 young musicians to perform in six-hour show
Aishlinn Burndred, a trumpet player who competed at the St. Albert Rotary Music Festival, will perform at St. Albert Centre Mall on Saturday, Nov. 25. JAMES WHITESELL

Every year during the holiday season, St. Albert Centre turns into a mini winter wonderland decorated with tons of greenery, twinkling lights and Christmas characters.  

This year it adds the inaugural St. Albert Centre Mall Performance on Saturday, Nov. 25. The six-hour concert, coordinated by St. Albert Rotary Music Festival, runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the food court. 

The ambitious concert has attracted close to 70 young musicians who either participated in the 2023 St. Albert Rotary Music Festival or learned about the concert through their music teachers and offered to perform. 

Joan Ritchie joined the Rotary Music Festival board with an eye to improving the way music and the festival is promoted within the community. 

“Lots of kids enjoy performing and I was hoping to provide them with an avenue where they could perform without being judged. And I was hoping to raise awareness about the festival,” said Ritchie. 

Variety is key in this concert. Musical choices range from classical, pop and rock to boogie-woogie, musical theatre and Christmas tunes on piano, flute, guitar, and trumpet. 

“One little guy is even playing something from Minecraft.” 

Examples of musical diversity include musicians such as Valerie McNiven, winner of the Senior Brass and Woodwinds Award who performs Suite for Flute and Piano Part 1. Not too far down the lineup, Emily Ma plays Rock Me Mama on guitar and Bella Bartok’s Tearing Song on piano. 

Ava Korek is introducing an original number, Girl from Your Hometown, while the guitar trio of Daniel Ionitescu, Diego Ruiz and Nathaniel Horak strum Hotel California and House of the Rising Sun

In addition to providing entertainment for shoppers, Ritchie believes this type of concert holds major hidden benefits. 

“I'm passionate about music and music education and how it enriches the lives of both performer and listener," she said. "Music is a universal language understood by all. Now more than ever, I believe that we need the common experience of music to uplift and unify us.” 

At the food court stage, Rotary organizers are setting up a board with a QR code on it. If listeners wish to donate to the 2024 Rotary Music Festival, they are welcome to use the QR code. 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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