It is amazing how such a small city has given me a wealth of musical education.
—Christopher Byman, clarinettist
You know you're doing something right when the success rate is so high.
Either that, or there is something in the water. That appears to be the case in Brandon with its strong track record of churning out high calibre classical musicians.
For the fourth year in a row, Augustfest will feature performances from local and international musicians, many of them arriving jetlagged to take part in the five day concert series.
SCENE asked four of these busy Generation Y musicians how their individual Brandon experiences shaped them as musicians.
Jesse Plessie (Geordie Waddell)
pianist and composer originally from Lethbridge. He studied performance and composition at the Brandon School of Music. He was recently one of 15 pianists invited from around the world to study for a
week with Norma Fisher, one of the most respected piano
pedagogues, at the Royal College of Music in London.
"While I was working on a Master of Music degree at Brandon University I made so many lifelong friends and future collaborators - people with such a variety of strengths and many of an extremely high calibre.
I'm thankful that Brandon is very close to Winnipeg because I call the WSO New Music Festival 'Second Christmas.' Both times I went to the festival I had the opportunity (through my involvement with the Brandon University New Music Ensemble) to meet and play for composers I respect to the extreme (and was of course reduced to a blithering fanboy).
Megumi Masaki (my piano professor) and Patrick Carrabre (my composition professor) continue to be an admirable mixture of inspiring and butt-kicking."
Gillian Carrabre performing at Bluesfest 2013 (Ottawa Bluesfest)
violinist, studied in Calgary and Montreal and will soon graduate from the University of Ottawa. She has performed across Canada and in Italy and has also been experimenting with popular music.
"Growing up in Brandon was an enriching musical experience for me. I come from a family of musicians and was often lulled to sleep by my mother's late night practicing, typically something contemporary so I am no stranger to New Music.
Brandon also has an excellent Suzuki program run by Robert Richardson Jr. which I was involved with from the age of three. The camaraderie and support within the musical community of Brandon is overwhelming, and is without a doubt what initially fueled my passion for music making."
Christopher Byman (Wendy McCallum)
is a clarinettist and composer who has performed across Canada.
"It is amazing how such a small city has given me a wealth of musical education. The 'Brandon experience' started in high school for me when I would make the trek out to perform at the Brandon Jazz Festival. I just finished my graduate studies in clarinet performance at Brandon University.
Over six years of living in Brandon, I formed friendships with professors, colleagues, peers and local musicians. Since the city is a growing arts community, I have had the privilege of working with artists who have come in for various festivals and workshops (Brandon University New Music Festival, Brandon University Clarinet Festival).
The Augustfest concert series allows musicians from the westman area a chance to pay homage to their roots. Primarily it has been the people in this community which have shaped my musical values and taught me what it means to 'successfully' create music."
Ariel Carrabre, cellist (Courtesy Augustfest)
studied cello with Yegor Dyachkov at McGill University for four years. He's about to start his master's degree at the University of Ottawa.
"Brandon is a very active musical community to grow up in. Having big name musical talents such as James Ehnes come over to my house as a kid was also pretty inspiring.
My primary cello instructor, the WSO's principal cellist Yuri Hooker, was a graduate of Brandon University. I've taken part in many music festivals in the community over the years and hope to continue to do so in the future."
Augustfest runs from August 12-16. Hear Jesse, Gillian, Christopher and Ariel perform at "Music of the Echoboomers" August 15 at 7:30 p.m., in Lorne Watson Recital Hall at the School of Music in Brandon.