Author Topic: Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival adds instruments  (Read 3545 times)

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Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival adds instruments
« on: February 26, 2012, 06:22:14 PM »
At 81, the grande dame of North American music festivals may be getting on in years, but she’s still playing young and fresh with the times.

Comprising approximately 4,000 adjudicated performances involving around 11,000 participants — not to mention, more than $55,000 in scholarship prizes to be won — the three-week Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival, which gets underway at the Jubilee Auditorium on Monday, has added two  new categories this year: Chinese Ethnic Instruments and Pipe Organ.

Recent festivals have seen the addition of musical theatre and traditional Chinese ensembles and orchestras to the Kiwanis syllabus.

According to festival executive director Mary Ross, the decision to expand instrumental category again for 2012 was almost a no-brainer, given the growing cultural prominence of Calgary’s Chinese community and the fact that the pipe organ figures prominently in music programs at both Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary.

“Pipe organ students were always conscious of the fact everybody else got to (enter) the festival, and not them,” Ross says.

For born-and-raised Calgarian Dylan Rambow, ex-rock and jazz band drummer and a relative newcomer to the joys and challenges of organ performance, the addition of the King of Instruments to the festival roster augurs well towards raising the profile of an instrument which he says has dwindled almost to the state of “dying”— at least as far as public perception goes.

“More and more of them are being built in concert halls, but fewer and fewer of us know how to play them,” Rambow says. “Nobody I know of my age is even interested.”

Too bad, because some of the historically great pipe organ repertoire can be heard reflected in today’s rock and heavy metal, says Rambow, a SAIT student who has composition on his radar once he gets his audio engineering certification.

The Kiwanis organ competitor recalls playing in a band that momentarily got stuck for inspiration.

He suggested they listen to a specific minor-key prelude by the 17th century Danish organist and composer, Dietrich Buxtehude.

“I said, ‘Just listen to the first two minutes.’”

They did.

“And sure enough,” Rambow says, “they’re all of a sudden asking, ‘Where can I find more of this stuff?’’

He adds: “A lot of my buddies don’t realize that the dance and hip hop music they’re listening to now — those sounds on their synthesizers — come (evolved) from pipe organs.

It’s simply a matter of recognizing “how great an instrument it can be,” says Rambow.   

The other new festival category, Chinese Ethnic Instruments, raises the profile of three traditional instruments from an old culture — the pipa, erhu, and guzheng (or Chinese lute, violin, and zither, respectively).

“It’s definitely a really great change,” says guzheng player Curtis Leung, a 17-year-old student at Webber Academy.

“It’s symbolic of the sharing of heritages in Canada.”

Making the trio of ancient instruments part of the Kiwanis Festival music-making fabric at a local, provincial and national level, Leung says, “gives us a chance to share our culture with the rest of Canada.”


The Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival runs Feb. 27-March 17 at SAIT, Mount Royal University, and the Jubilee Auditorium. For full schedules and information, visit

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Re: Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival adds instruments
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2012, 11:35:01 PM »
This just goes to show how flexible an instrument the pipe organ is. It can be used for everything from church music to orchestral repertoire, jazz, dance (old and new), rock of various types, trip-hop, trance... if only more of my generation realised it, and if only those who do (I'm lookin' at YOU, Matt Bellamy!) knew how to get the most out of it, using mixtures, reeds, pedals etc...


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