With multi Juno award winner Phil Dwyer on the same bill, Kwalikum Secondary School jazz program students had plenty of inspiration for their performance on Friday, March 2 at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre and once again proved why they continue to win awards when they performed at their annual benefit concert for the program.
Directed by Dave Stewart and Dan Craven, students from the KSS junior and senior bands as well as the vocal jazz group provided top notch entertainment for the first part of the evening. The evening also included a three-course gourmet meal with a Spanish Moroccan theme created by chef and musician Trevor Hooper.
The concert was presented by the KSS Fine Arts Society with proceeds benefiting all students of the KSS Music Program.
Dwyer, with a few of his friends hand-picked from the West Coast jazz scene, rounded out the night performing classic Canadian hits with a jazz twist. Joining Dwyer on stage were Jillian Lebeck on piano and vocals, Vince Mai on trumpet and flugelhorn, Joe Poole on drums, Andre Lachance on bass and David Sikula on guitar. The seasoned musicians played music from Dwyer’s CBC Radio 2 commissioned Canadian Songbook Project.
Dwyer has been involved with the KSS fundraiser since its inception and the highly acclaimed musician who calls Qualicum Beach home admitted the KSS music program is near and dear to his heart.
“My wife and I have been involved in this event since it started. I like to support it. It is always good to get involved with young people playing music,” he said.
Dwyer’s wife, Theresa Whitely-Dwyer, was so impressed with the student talent Friday night she offered one student a music bursary on the spot.
Grade 12 student Austin Buerge, who nailed it with his solo performance in a funked-up version of Amazing Grace performed by the vocal jazz group, was offered a bursary from the Bill Dwyer Memorial Fund to take vocal lessons with Village Voices director Rosemary Lindsay.
Buerge, who joined the vocal jazz group in Grade 10 said he has been serious about singing for about a year now and he is thrilled with the offer.
“I’m pretty stoked about it. I know regardless of the genre, I will surround my life with music … it is my passion,” he admitted.
When asked about his future in the music industry he said after he graduates he would like to move to Vancouver and pursue a music career.
“I will try it for a year and if nothing happens I will apply to a college for music … I am just going to roll with it.”
He said outside of jazz and choir he likes a lot of styles of music including independent rock and a bit of metal music on the side.
“I am also working on dance music on my computer. I am kind of everywhere right now,” he agreed.
The vocal trio of Kyle Gorenko on guitar, Clayton Twa on base and Julian Telfer-Wan on trombone which opened up the extraordinary evening of jazz will be performing tonight, March 6 at the Thalassa Restaurant at the Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf Course.