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Powell River year in review: Culture

Host of homegrown talent represents region
Powell River’s Lauren Huguet [left] and Jeremy Hopper
HOMETOWN PRIDE: Powell River’s Lauren Huguet [left], 15, thrilled local audiences with her performance at the International Choral Kathaumixw Awards Concert on July 6. Huguet won first place in the category of vocal solo maximum age 16. Local entrant Jeremy Hopper [right],19, also performed at the July 6 concert, accompanied by pianist Nancy Hollmann, after winning first place in his category of vocal solo maximum age 25. Robert Colasanto photos

As usual, Powell River lived up to its reputation as a centre of culture and arts. Festivals and artistic inspiration were to be found everywhere.

2018 was an International Choral Kathaumixw year, and the festival which brings musical talent from around the world did not disappoint. Hometown pride was on display at the Awards Concert when Powell River-born-and-raised singers Lauren Huguet, 15, and Jeremy Hopper, 19, both won the top prizes in their categories for vocal solo competitions.

This legacy of world-class education in the local musical program is evident in the achievements of Don James’ former student and now artistic director of the festival and Powell River Academy of Music Walter Martella. He was one of the original members of the Powell River Boys Choir, which was founded in 1974. Young People’s Chorus of New York City took the festival’s top prize, Choir of the World at Kathaumixw. It was the first time a group from North America has ever achieved the honour.

Powell River Festival of Performing Arts celebrated its 74th year. For nearly two weeks performers in six disciplines: piano, strings, vocal, speech arts, dance, as well as band and instrumental, displayed the results of many hours of practice. Another successful PRISMA (Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy) and the ever popular PRISMA on the Beach event were held this summer, drawing hundreds of families to Willingdon Beach to enjoy symphony music by the sea.

Powell River’s talented artists distinguished themselves locally and beyond. The 17th annual Powell River Film Festival featured international offerings as well as a film with proudly local associations. One of this year’s highlights was the feature film Kayak to Klemtu, directed by Zoe Hopkins, with actors Ta’Kaiya Blaney and Evan Adams from Tla’amin Nation.

The End of The Road, a documentary by filmmakers Tai Uhlmann and Theo Angell about the unique community in Lund created by a group of 1960s United States draft dodgers was shown nationally on CBC this summer. Uhlmann is a child of this community.

Local students Duncan McDonald, Steve and Elijah Carson, and Hannah and Sarah Schweitzer were chosen from auditions across Canada to participate in The Nationals at MusicFest Canada at University of Toronto.

Gitta May Nielsen returned to Powell River triumphant after being named People’s Choice winner in The Shot, a national talent competition.

Painter Luke Raffin added an award to his collection in January when his painting Morning Mist was chosen to be featured in Ducks Unlimited Canada’s 2018 National Arts Portfolio.

Martella was presented with the David Pike Memorial Award in March, marking the first time the award has been presented since 2014. Martella is the youngest person to receive it.

Filmmaker and Max Cameron Secondary School graduate Brett Harvey’s most recent release, Ice Guardians (2016), a documentary about NHL hockey enforcers, was named Best of Film by Sports Illustrated and nominated for several awards at festivals across Canada and the United States. It was released this April on Netflix Canada, where it quickly became a trending film.

Artist collaborations included Felicia Joseph and her grandmother Hana Louise Braun’s exhibition of their paintings entitled Westcoast Colours and local artists Juhli Jobi and Catnip launched their first children’s book Little Cloud; Mrs. Pea; You Pointing at Me.

Painters Luke Ramsey and Meghan Hildebrand created a mural on the exterior wall behind Powell River Public Library at Crossroads Village Shopping Centre, and Catnip, whose real name is Stefan Fogarty, also took on a giant mural on the concrete wall of the Townsite treatment plant at First Beach south of the mill.

The dream of a central community art space was finally realized in 2018 when The Art Centre, located above Powell River Public Library in the Crossroads Village Shopping Centre, opened. Tidal Art Centre, a former forestry station on Finn Bay Road in Lund, also opened this year, attracting artists from around the region and beyond.

Dwight Hall served as host venue for the fourth annual eCouture Wearable Art Fashion Show. The gala event is a celebration of changing behaviours and highlights different ways of consuming and creating.

The arts community said goodbye to blues guitarist Sam Hurrie and his wife Jill, who moved to Nelson, BC, after more than four decades on the coast, and welcomed composer and musical arranger Lesley Sutherland, who joined Powell River Academy of Music as its new youth choir conductor.

Powell River’s newest musical gathering, The Townsite Jazz Festival, launched last spring and was by all accounts a huge success. The event featured a unique blend of a professional jazz festival with university-level and high school music festivals. Students had opportunities to workshop and perform with seasoned professionals and the Max Cameron/Brooks Secondary Alumni Jazz Band was a crowd favourite.

Finally, Chor Musica celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. Originally known as Chor Pacifica, the choir was formed by former mill owner Pacifica Papers as a men’s choir for current or retired employees. It now welcomes all male singers throughout the community.

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