Community

Music festival welcomes first time and returning performers

TYLER KILLORAN, 5, participates in the Pacific Northwest Music Festival for his first time this year. - MARGARET SPEIRS
TYLER KILLORAN, 5, participates in the Pacific Northwest Music Festival for his first time this year.
— image credit: MARGARET SPEIRS

EVERY YEAR, the Pacific Northwest Music Festival welcomes newcomers, who may become seasoned veterans.

Tyler Killoran, 5, steps onto the festival stage for his first time this year in speech arts.

He’s excited and not nervous at all about reading the poem “Drinking Fountain” in front of an audience, which could include his grandparents, says his mom Julie, who hopes he has fun.

Speech arts teacher Judy Tessaro helped him along the way, says Julie.

“It’s (speech arts) a good way to start,” says Julie.

“It’s not like dance where you need a couple years of class first. Anybody can do speech arts.”

Tyler, and his Suwilaawks kindergarten classmates,  perform two songs at the festival as well.

Julie says depending on how Tyler does and likes it, he may return to the festival again next year.

Music teacher Fiona Robertson started performing at the festival at six-years-old when her parents put her in to encourage her to develop her music skills to the best of her ability, she says.

“As I grew older, it became clear to me that I wanted to pursue personal music excellence and that is what brought me back year after year. Now, I am highly motivated to help young people to develop their musical skills as they move towards musical excellence.

“I have been given a great gift from the adults and teachers that inspired me. Now, it is my turn to refine my skills and give it back to the next generation,” she says.

Robertson competed in piano as a child and in choir classes in elementary school, she says.

Then she went into band from Grade 6 to Grade 12, playing clarinet, and percussion when requested by the conductor.

“As an adult, I have entered many children’s choirs in the Festival and have had piano students participating since 1985,” she says.

“Recently, I have started to teach voice lessons and have entered students for the past few years in the voice classes.”

And this year, she’s entered five vocal classes herself, including music theatre, where she will sing “Thank you for the Music,” a tune by ABBA.

Robertson placed second in every class she entered at the festival.

“This helped to teach me that ‘excellence is a habit, not a destination,’” she says.

“When I see my students succeed in the music festival, I see the excellence come full circle. That, is why I keep coming back year after year. I also tell my students that the audience is there to encourage you to do your best. They want to hear the beautiful sounds that you are creating – so, create them!”

Held at various venues around the city, this year’s edition of  the Pacific Northwest Music Festival comes to a close with a gala performance this Saturday at the REM Lee Theatre.

See City Scene for more gala details.

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