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Vol 38  No 11
March 16, 2006


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Memorial helps revitalize Labrador festival Music and friends

Music and friends

By Jeff Green

What a comeback.

Western Labrador was literally abuzz with music last week as more than 750 performers, budding musicians and community groups took part in the newly-revived Labrador West Music Festival ­ an event that hasn’t happened in 25 years.

In fact, the festival probably wouldn’t have even gotten off the ground if it weren’t for the steadfast support and help of Memorial University, who partnered with the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) to help breath new life in the event after such a long hiatus.

The results were amazing, said an ecstatic Linda Nuotio, manager of Memorial’s Labrador Institute offices in Lab West and the key organizer of the festival.

“It has inspired the community to understand the value and importance of music in Labrador West,” said Ms. Nuotio, who initiated the idea of the festival and went after sponsors. “It created a synergy between families. It also showed that in Labrador West there is more available than mining. The climate of the community has been altered permanently. This festival will contribute to the development of a new genre of musician in the area.”

Over a four-day period ­ from March 8-11 ­ performers were totally engrossed in music and music education. The festival, which was billed as a friendly, non-competitive event, concluded with a sold out gala concert, attended by Axel Meisen, president of Memorial.

Three well-known musicians with strong ties to Memorial provided the performers with feedback throughout the festival. Dr. Donald Buell, a professor of trumpet in the School of Music and director of Memorial’s Concert Band, Jane Steele, a per course instructor in piano, and Dr. Valerie Long, a graduate of Memorial’s School of Music who has taught at the university in the past, were adjudicators.

“Many parents were pleased with their comments,” said Ms. Nuotio. “The adjudicators were exceptional at praising the strong aspects in each performer’s work. Many classes felt more like a master class with the adjudicators educating the entire audience about performance etiquette, the style of music or history of the type of composition being played.”

Ms. Nuotio said Memorial and IOC succeeded in their goals to help bolster a positive feeling in the community, work in partnership with community groups, and to bring the educational experiences and expertise of the university to the community at large.

“Our office in Labrador West has been overwhelmed by the number of congratulatory phone calls and e-mail messages from parents, teachers and corporate sponsors who have been pleasantly surprised by the event,” said Ms. Nuotio.

“It wasn’t until the night of the gala that we could see we were truly a part of an enormous event full of magic and music,” she added. “We expect that next year’s festival will double in size and capacity.”


Hitting all the right notes

Promising musicians living in western Labrador will get the chance to continue to embrace music in a big way this summer, thanks in part to Memorial University.

Building on the success of last week’s Labrador West Music Festival ­ co-founded by Memorial and the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) ­ young performers will get the chance to learn from the best when the first-ever Labrador West Music Conservatory is held June 26-30.

In fact, it took only six hours last week for the music lovers to pluck up the 30 available seats. There is now a waitlist for event.

Memorial is partnering with the IOC to offer the innovative summer program ­ the first of its kind in a remote are of Canada.

The conservatory is designed to challenge students in a variety of creative pursuits and help foster a love of music. Students will have an opportunity to learn from a number of musicians and to gain an understanding and appreciation for music. Memorial’s School of Music will also be in Labrador West this summer to hold auditions during the conservatory.

“It is my hope that the Labrador West Conservatory program and the revival of [the]… Labrador West Music Festival will create more opportunities for young musicians in this province to gain a music education,” said Axel Meisen, president of Memorial.

Ten financial bursaries were handed out during last week’s music festival to younger participants in the festival to attend the conservatory.

­ Jeff Green

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