Seven of the region’s best pianists will perform on the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre stage Sunday for a special concert to help outfit the theatre with a grand piano.
Pianorama is part of Keys to Our Success, a $100,000 fundraising campaign to purchase the concert piano for the community theatre at Oak Bay High.
“It’s an important new venue for the whole community, and it deserves a world-class piano,” notes volunteer organizer Joseph Blake, who has “lined up a handful of great, local pianists to perform on a nine-foot Steinway concert grand piano that Tom Lee Music is donating for the event.”
Toni Blodgett, Brent Jarvis, Karel Roessingh, Louise Rose, Arthur Rowe, Jan Stirling and Julia Zhu are all donating their time and talents, offering a diverse and entertaining line-up for the Sept. 11 performance, with musical styles running the gamut from classical and jazz to ragtime and gospel, Blake says.
“We are really thrilled to present this celebration of piano and community.”
Performances begin at 1 p.m., with doors opening at 12:30 p.m. Tickets for Pianorama are $30 in advance from the Scotiabank on Oak Bay Avenue or Oak Bay Recreation Centre, or $35 at the door.
Toni Blodgett – Ragtime
A cornerstone of Victoria’s traditional jazz scene for 35 years, the Saskatchewan-born Blodgett took music lessons with Toronto’s Royal Conservatory but started her professional career playing for the Cherry Bank Rib House sing-along in Victoria. After playing and recording with the Dixieland Express for a decade, she founded the CanUs Hot Jazz Band in 1991. The popular band’s Boswell Sisters-inspired vocals have been a hit with audiences locally at Hermann’s Jazz Club and across North America for more than two decades – including a performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Blodgett has also released a pair of critically acclaimed recordings of her ragtime piano playing.
Brent Jarvis – Ballad
Jazz pianist, producer, teacher and recording engineer, Jarvis was formally trained at the University of Toronto, and performs across Canada and the U.S.
Jarvis has released five albums, including his debut recording, Sequences, named best jazz album of 2005 by CJAM-FM in Windsor/Detroit and his most recent, The Medium, draws equally from be-bop, European classical music and Cuban rhythms.
His CDs Daedalus-Poetry of Dorothy Livesay and This One feature Jarvis’s original compositions and fresh approach to modern jazz.
His CD Solo Piano showcases the local pianist’s deft touch and lyrical, soulful improvisations.
Karel Roessingh – Medley
Composer, arranger, producer and musician, Roessingh has written or co-written music for more than 500 television episodes and many award-winning films, documentaries and promotional videos. In addition to performing on many recordings for other artists, he’s produced 16 of his own recordings, including several for the NatureScapes series, two jazz trio CDs and many solo CDs.
Roessingh produced Valdy’s latest CD and toured with the Canadian folk music legend across Canada, co-produced a Christmas album with Maureen Washington and is currently recording a new album with the local vocalist.
Roessingh has performed with symphony orchestras and rock, jazz, folk and country groups around the world. Outside his music life, Roessingh served two terms as mayor of the Highlands and is in his fourth term as a councillor.
Louise Rose – Gospel
Pianist, composer, vocalist, and choir director, Rose has been a central figure in Victoria’s cultural life for decades.
An ordained Baptist minister and ex-policewoman, Rose received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria in 2001 for her service to the community. She teaches, arranges and performs across North America and hosted Vision Television’s Let’s Sing Again. Rose has studied and worked with Aretha Franklin, Oscar Peterson, Ray Charles, Leonard Bernstein and Duke Ellington. In addition to her performance and recording career, Rose mentors and ministers to widely diverse groups of people in long-term care facilities, churches and schools.
Arthur Rowe – Classical
Internationally acclaimed classical pianist, professor of piano at University of Victoria since 1992 and artistic director of the Victoria Summer Music Festival, Rowe also regularly performs and records with chamber ensembles around the world. He has recorded with various artists and in 2007 released a critically acclaimed all-Schubert recording on the Centaur label.
Jan Stirling – Swing
Born in Brantford, Ont., Stirling studied classical piano from age six. Since moving to Victoria in 1980 after graduating from University of Western Ontario and Jazz Studies at Humber College, she has performed and taught piano for more than 35 years. She’s also continued to study piano with Dr. Tony Genge, Don Thompson, Alan Broadbent, Kenny Werner and George Cables. Stirling recorded her debut CD, Prisms of Light, in Toronto with Kieran Overs and Davide DiRenzo. She played every weekend for five years at the Park Pacific Hotel in Vancouver with bassist Patty Hervey-Gannon and a revolving crew of the city’s finest jazz musicians, while in Victoria, she plays solo, duo and trio combinations with Dick Smith, Joey Smith, Ross MacDonald and Al Vance.
Julia Zhu – Classical
A talented Grade 12 student at Oak Bay Secondary, Zhu started playing piano in 2005 and studied classical music through the Royal Conservatory of Music. Zhu obtained her Grade 10 Practical Piano in 2013 and throughout middle school and high school she’s played in a variety of choirs, bands and jazz ensembles, including a jazz combo that performed in last year’s Victoria JazzFest. Outside school, Zhu volunteers with the Victoria Symphony and Symphony Splash.