Inspiring youth to engage and connect with communities and make a difference through music is what the North Shore Celtic Ensemble sets out to do with each performance.
The group of 14 to 17 year olds are performing at the Children’s Showcase this Sunday at the Cleland Theatre at the Penticton Community Centre.
“We don’t just want to do a show this Sunday, we want to engage the kids in the audience. Kids speaking with kids is a great combination, there is definitely a magical aspect to it.” said Claude Giguère, co-founder of the ensemble. “Some of the feedback we get from families have been that their kids see our kids play and now they want to do it because it becomes something tangible for them now they have seen it.”
The ensemble will explain the music they are performing, why they are passionate about the instruments they play and flex their skills for them.
“The violin, for instance, is associated very much with classical music but it can also play rock and the kids will show tidbits of that. We have a recorder player who loves Lord Of The Rings and she has a potpourri of music she will perform from that,” said Giguère.
Founded in 1999, The North Shore Celtic Ensemble is a whole new kind of music experience.
With foundations in Celtic music, their repertoire now reflects a wide range of musical influences including jazz, classical, folk and contemporary.
“We started to add things we really liked or the kids would bring them to rehearsal so we have soundtracks to movies to things like the Beatles to Cajun music. The kids also write their own music in workshops we host throughout the year and we put those tunes into our sets too,” said Giguère. “This combination of things is all part of the fun of being in the ensemble.”
The North Shore group will have about 20 fiddles on stage with a flute, keyboardist, guitar and percussion instruments. Some of the musicians also dance, rising the energy of the performance just a bit more.
“On Sunday we are playing with the Penticton group Fiddlekidz so eight of them with Liz Lupton will come on stage. We have traded music and we are excited to get them on stage with us. It should be fun,” said Giguère.
The North Shore Celtic Ensemble performed at the Aberdeen International Youth Festival in the summer, which invites groups under 30 years of age from all over the world to play. The ensemble travelled to small communities playing and collaborating with other musicians. Performance though is just one aspect of the group. Giguère said the vision is to connect and make a difference with their music. One way they do this is by associating themselves with charities from the North Shore area, performing free concerts in small groups for organizations such as the hospice.
“Performing is just the tip of the ice berg for these young musicians. We want to encourage kids to be part of a social endeavour so they see the incredibly positive impact that the music they do has in their community. I think this is where it takes on a lot more meaning,” said Giguère.
The North Shore Celtic Ensemble performance is at 2 p.m. with doors opening at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for the series of four shows ( including The Real Cooligans on Jan. 12, Peter and The Wolf on Feb. 9, and Robin Hood on April 27), or $12 for individual shows at the door.
Tickets available from the Tumbleweed Gallery in Penticton, the Penticton & Wine Country Visitor Centre and the Beanery Coffee Co. in Summerland.