Series gives music lovers a ‘mini’ taste of coming Pianorama

‘Mini’ concert series runs July 10, 17 and 24 at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel

Jan Stirling performs at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel July 10.

Jan Stirling performs at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel July 10.

While the full Pianorama gala won’t take the Dave Dunnet theatre stage until September, a series of smaller performances will give music lovers a taste of what’s to come.

Pianorama is the first fundraising benefit concert for a year-long campaign to buy a concert piano for the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre at Oak Bay High.

Titled “The Key(S) to Our Success,” the project is a collaboration of Oak Bay High, Oak Bay High Alumni Association, Rotary Club of Oak Bay, Rotary Club of Oak Bay Foundation and community members, and aims to raise $100,000.

Pianorama is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. and will celebrate piano and piano-playing with seven local pianists showcasing their passion for classical, gospel, ragtime, blues, traditional jazz, bebop and modern jazz styles.

The line-up includes the multi-talented Louise Rose, pianist Arthur Rowe, Toni Blodgett, Karel Roessingh, Jan Stirling  and Brent Jarvis, and an Oak Bay High student.

But before that night, the “Mini Pianorama” series will give listeners a taste of what’s to come, featuring performances by Stirling, Jarvis and Roessingh.

“The idea is to have these really hip soirees,” says organizer Joe Blake.

“It’s a celebration of community and piano. We’re lucky to have all three of them and they’re all community-minded.”

The mini concerts run from 6 to 7 p.m. at Oak Bay Beach Hotel. While the performances are free and designed to raise the profile of the full-scale Pianorama Sept. 11, donations toward the “Keys to Our Success” fundraising campaign will be gratefully accepted, Blake says.

“(The idea is) if we do it three times, it will get things rolling for Sept. 11,” he says.

A no-host bar will also be available.

First up in the Mini Pianorama performers is Stirling, tickling the ivories July 10.

After earning her degree in classical music, Stirling studied jazz at Humber College, before moving to Victoria and studying with Dr. Tony Genge. Teaching and performing ever since, she has pared down and simplified, “finding richness and beauty in crystal tones and fewer notes,” she says.

Coming to the hotel July 17, jazz pianist and producer Jarvis has performed across Canada and the U.S. and is recognized for his lyrical ballads, Blake says.

“Every time he plays a ballad, it breaks your heart.”

With five albums under his musical belt, his most recent is The Medium, drawing on the standard jazz repertoire and new compositions and “equal parts be-bop, European classical music and Cuban rhythm.”

Previous recordings included Jarvis’s debut album, Sequences, named best jazz album of 2005 by CJAM FM in Windsor/Detroit, followed by Solo Piano.

Daedalus – Poetry by Dorothy Livesay featured entirely original music and created a new variety of standard song with words by the late Canadian poet Dorothy Livesay, and the 2012 release This One combined fresh approaches to modern jazz music, featuring primarily original material.

Also a teacher, producer and recording engineer, Jarvis has taught piano, musicianship and ensemble, and conducted master classes at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, Vancouver Island University, and at his private teaching studio in Victoria.

Performing July 24, Karel Roessingh is a composer, arranger, producer and musician who has written or co-written scores for numerous TV episodes, award-winning films, and other projects.

“He can play everything,” Blake says.

In addition to performing on countless recordings for other artists, Roessingh has produced more than 15 of his own recordings, including several for the Canadian Naturescapes series, two jazz trio CDs and many solo piano CDs.

He’s also performed with symphony orchestras and rock, jazz, folk, show and country ensembles throughout the world, in sites ranging from small-town bars to concert halls and from battleships to cruise ships.

Following the “mini” performances, the full Pianorama will fill the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre at Oak Bay High Sept. 11. Tickets are $30 will be available from Oak Bay Recreation Centre.