Nelson's Allison Girvan sings at the Capitol this weekend
The multi-talented Allison Girvan may be best known for her work as a director of local vocal ensembles, but this Saturday she’ll be the one doing the singing.
Girvan will be featured in a rare solo performance called Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home as part of the Nelson Overture Society concert series. She’ll sing works by composers Kurt Weill, George Gershwin, Adam Guettel and Ricky Ian Gordon who blend elements of classical song and musical theatre in their works.
“Each song is a small story told by the vocalist with the accompaniment of a small ensemble,” Girvan explains.
She’ll be joined on stage by pianist Christoph Martens, upright bassist Mark Spielman and her husband/violinist Don Macdonald.
Though Girvan admits that she’s more comfortable directing than being in the spotlight herself, there’s something that continues to pull her towards performing.
“I enjoy the rehearsals and collaborating with other talented artists,” she says. “The performance the audience sees is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s everything leading up to it that I really love.”
The last time Girvan sang at the Capitol was in her role of Persephone in the locally produced opera KHAOS. It’s more common for her to be there directing the 65-member Corazón youth choir or running the Summer Youth Theatre program.
“I wasn’t born to perform,” she says. “I think I was put on this earth to help other people find their feet in music.”
She says the time she does spend on the stage is a good reminder of just how brave people are who do it regularly.
“I think it makes me a better director to understand that experience and how terrifying it can be,” she says.
Girvan started her musical training as a clarinet major at University of Victoria, which she quickly gave up and switched to a voice major (“I think that made a lot of people in the clarinet world very happy,” she jokes).
She met Macdonald in university and after graduation they moved to Vancouver together where he worked in the film industry writing music scores and she sang on studio recordings for TV and commercials.
Shortly after the birth of their first son, Gabriel, Macdonald was offered a job teaching music at Selkirk College, which prompted the family to move to Nelson in 1996.
Girvan, having never been to Nelson, expected the move to a small town would be awful for her career — but in fact the opposite was true.
“I had no idea the arts culture that exists here. I was shocked,” she says.
She began teaching private lessons, directing small ensembles and became involved with the Summer Youth Theatre program.
She started Corazón nine years ago, and the success of that program lead to the recent inception of Latido del Corazón for singers who have aged out of the youth ensemble.
Girvan released her first solo CD, Resonance, in 2007 and is currently working on her sophomore album to be released this fall.
Both her sons — Gabriel and Dune — are involved in local theatre. Gabriel will head off to university next year with plans to study musical theatre, but in the meantime Girvan jokes their home studio needs more sound proofing because, “he sings in it non-stop.”
In addition to watching her own kids develop in their craft, Girvan says she’s enjoyed seeing the many alumni of Corazón grow up into confident and capable adults.
“I think the music and the skills you gain performing are good practise for everything you would want to do in the world,” she says.
Allison Girvan’s sold out performance at the Capitol Theatre goes this Saturday at 8 p.m.
The Nelson Star is giving away two pairs of tickets to this show through a contest on our Facebook page. For details on how to enter, click here.