Music fest strikes 62nd year

Steven Spooner watches Lori Kullahian of Burnaby perform on the piano before the Coquitlam District Music Festival started on Monday. - JANIS WARREN/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Steven Spooner watches Lori Kullahian of Burnaby perform on the piano before the Coquitlam District Music Festival started on Monday.

An American piano virtuoso with his own reality TV show is in the Tri-Cities this week to adjudicate intermediate- and senior-level pianists in the 62nd annual Coquitlam District Music Festival (CDMF).

Steven Spooner, an assistant piano professor at the University of Kansas whose TV series A Life of Music is on XOTV, started on Monday critiquing dozens of young pianists hoping to win a spot in the provincials, which happen June 3 to 7 in Penticton.

Last year’s Performing Arts BC competition in Chilliwack was a good one for the CDMF with representative Fraser Jang-Milligan taking runner-up in junior piano, Christy Yip earning an honourable mention in intermediate piano and Kelly Kim being named as runner-up in the national piano event.

This year, CDMF has recruited Alan Young — a former Lethbridge Symphony manager and music conservatory co-ordinator with the University of Lethbridge — to adjudicate the junior piano section.

Still, piano isn’t CDMF’s only forte as several dozen young competitors are also lined up for speech arts, classical voice and musical theatre (at last year’s provincials, CDMF rep Hannah Gee was the runner-up in intermediate classical voice, Sam Ellington was the runner-up in junior musical theatre and Tiana Jung took honourable mention in senior musical theatre).

And while Kevin Power is returning as classical voice and musical theatre adjudicator, Toronto character performer Kathleen Black has been brought in for the festival to hear from the speech arts participants.

CDMF president Harold Peters said registration is slightly up this year, with a rise in the vocal and speech arts categories; CDMF is one of two Lower Mainland music festivals that accepts speech arts competitors.

Peters encourages the public to take time out to listen to the performers “and see the level of talent that is in this area, no matter what their discipline.”

Over the past six decades, many youth got their start at CDMF: Among them, Canada’s first Rockette Betty McHardy; actor Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future); crooner Michael Buble; concert pianist Jon Kumura Parker; and Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City).

• The Coquitlam District Music Festival runs until April 11 at the Hyde Creek community church (2145 Nova Scotia Ave., Port Coquitlam). Admission is free. For more information and times, call 604-468-2622 or visit cdmf.ca.



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