It's taken a lot of drive from youthful musicians and their director, support from the community, and the sale of hundreds of hand-crafted, woolly hedgehog toys. Now for the first time ever, a musical ensemble from the Sunshine Coast will participate in the 13th annual Whistler Music Festival April 26 to 29.
The Sunshine Coast Youth Orchestra is comprised of 10 musicians, aged 13 to 19 years, under the direction of conductor Kathleen Hovey. They are Hanna Crudele, Louis Dillon, James Flemming, Simon Gidora, Sarah Mitchell, Felix Rankin, Julie Shibasaka and Anne Sturdy on violin, Oliver Gidora on viola and Stephanie Schweighardt on cello. Two are new to the group and some have studied their instruments for most of their young lives.
The Youth Orchestra has been accepted to perform and compete at the Festival whose mission is to provide active learning through participation of student and teacher. In addition to performing and listening to guest artists at a gala, the kids will be adjudicated and receive coaching. They will also get to meet musical players from all over the world — thousands of them.
"Along with the work there'll be some time for fun," said Hovey.
Hovey notes that this is the only group on the Coast that performs primarily classical and light classics. They also perform regularly with the West Vancouver Youth Band String Ensemble under the direction of Edette Gagne. The combined group of 30 musicians will be known as the West Coast Youth Sinfonia.
"It's such a huge undertaking," Hovey said, with an overall cost of $7,000 for Whistler Festival participation fees and accommodation. So far they have raised funds by performing and making crafts. The soft, woolly hedgehogs hand-made by Hovey and other volunteers have been a surprise hit — over $1,900 worth. They will be for sale again at a forthcoming May 12th concert in Gibsons. Local organizations such as the Gibsons and Sechelt Legions, Rotary, Lions and Clayton's have also chipped in to help with fundraising.
Meanwhile, the group is not sitting idle. Last week they participated in the three-week local Festival of the Performing Arts by playing a lively and fiery Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 5 for the audience and for the festival's adjudicators.