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Highlights of the Festival Gala — A Musical Journey

‘Youth and Age’ bookended the first performance at the Shuswap Music Festival Gala held Friday April 29 at Nexus in Salmon Arm. The celebratory event showcased a range of young musicians on their musical journey. The youngest performer in the Festival–five-year old violinist Georgina Vrana– accompanied on piano by the much elder nonagenarian, Tom Brighouse, captured the hearts of the audience with their opening performance. 

A suite of talented musicians in strings, piano and vocal, from entry levels to the highest grades entertained the concertgoers.  Students were recognized for their achievements at every level with awards and scholarships made possible through the generosity of donors, sponsors and memorial funds. Adjudicators select the winners. The “Best of the Festival” awards go to the top performers.

Autumn Sunderland won “Best of the Fest in Strings”.  Kathy Dunfield, Shuswap Rotary Club, presented this talented 13-year old with the award. Autumn performed Elgar’s Salut d’amour Op 12 to a mesmerized audience. When the strings adjudicator heard her play this piece during the Festival, he held back tears and exclaimed that he had no advice to improve her perfect performance!

Matteo Thiessen won two top awards: “Best of the Fest in Vocal” presented by Garry Hoffat, Rotary Club of Salmon Arm, and the Mary Fowler Memorial Scholarship from the Shuswap Community Foundation. Matteo is also an accomplished cellist.

Rich Smith with Daybreak Rotary Club presented the “Best of the Fest in Piano” to Teslyn Bates. Teslyn has participated in many Shuswap Festivals and this will be her last. In the fall, she will be entering the University of Victoria to study music. Teslyn also received the Klein Family Award from Gabi Klein.  A beautiful performance by Teslyn of Chopin’s Etude Op 25 no. 7 concluded the evening of entertainment. 

Nathan King won Outstanding Senior in Piano and the Blair Borden Memorial Scholarship from the Salmon Arm Arts Council. Evje Knutson and Sadie Maddigan shared the Georgina Lazzarotto Vocal Award. Awards for Band provided by SASCU and presented by Darlene McBain went to A.L. Fortune for Best Middle School Band and to Jackson Grade 10 for Best Secondary School Band and Best Jazz Band.

The list of Festival Awards includes:

PIANO:  Outstanding Junior:  Anna-Maria Zebroff
Outstanding Intermediate:  Nico Glanville
Intermediate Duet:  Amy Milne and Aimee Glasser
Outstanding Senior:  Nathan King
Senior Duet:  Nathan King and Jenna Maclean

Concert Class:  Julianne Derochie
Level 1:  Georgina Vrana
Level 2:  Liam McBride and Tamara Mead
Level 3:  Liam Spencer
Level 5:  Brodie Maclean
Level 6:  Gideon Breugem

STRINGS:  Outstanding Junior:  Charles Weathermon
Outstanding Intermediate:  Aya Swerdelian
Outstanding Senior:  Anya Massa

VOCAL:  Outstanding Junior Classical:  Evje Knutson
Junior Musical Theatre:  Evje Knutson
Outstanding Intermediate Classical:  Sadie Maddigan
Intermediate Musical Theatre:  Sadie Maddigan
Senior Musical Theatre:  Ariel Klim   

Congratulations to the winners and to all the musicians who participated in the Festival. By next year, post-Covid-19, the Festival organizers plan to re-instate Choral in the disciplines offered. 

The Shuswap Music Festival is one of 34 regional festivals in BC. Eligible Candidates from these festivals are recommended by the adjudicators to compete at the BC Performing Arts Provincial Festival.  This year the provincial competition will be held in Virtual format.  Mayor Allan Harrison announced the candidates recommended for the BC Provincial Festival as follows:  

PIANO: Intermediate:   Teslyn Bates (Alternate: Nathan King)
STRINGS:  Junior A:   Autumn Sunderland (Alternate: Hannah Breugem)
VOCAL:  Junior Classical:  Evje Knutson
Junior Musical Theatre:  Joy Braby Pel (Alternate:  Leah Parenteau)
Intermediate Classical:  Matteo Thiessen
Intermediate Musical Theatre:  Sadie Maddigan
Senior Musical Theatre:  Ariel Klim 

Winners from the BC Provincial Festival are eligible to compete at the Canada West Performing Arts Festival in Saskatoon from July 21-23, 2022. Good luck to our Shuswap candidates as they continue their journey.

The Shuswap Music Festival is made possible by many volunteers and the generous donations of patrons, Rotary, the Shuswap Community Foundation, City of Salmon Arm, SASCU, and local businesses. Visit the website at for a full listing of donors, more about the Festival and this year’s award winners. Follow us on Facebook.