It’s Spring… Huron Waves is on the Move

It may seem a long stretch to connect Hollywood with Huron Waves, but the other night when I was watching the Oscars, I heard a winner say something I strongly believe: “Musical education isn’t just about creating incredible musicians, it’s about creating incredible citizens!”

That winner, Kris Bowers, co-directed the top short documentary, The Last Repair Shop, about an instrument repair shop in the Los Angeles Unified School District where four individuals bring old and damaged instruments back to life for young people who would not otherwise come to appreciate the joy of music-making. Here’s the trailer for the documentary: https://twitter.com/bgproudfoot/status/1757462030091698683?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

But where, you ask, is the relevance to our music festival? Well, that L.A. activity to bring music into schools and that philosophy on the benefits of music in the lives of the young are precisely what the Huron Waves Board and I were discussing as we made a recent decision about one facet of our 2024 programming in June. (There’s more to be unveiled, for sure, as the season approaches.)

Last year’s presentation of GAIA, the earth revolving as a 6-metre inflatable installation, attracted over 2,000 young people with their teachers, and as I watched the students’ fascination with the world as they had never before seen it, there were times when I wondered if I were seeing a future astronaut among the classes. That experience challenged me to create for the young the same interest for music itself, to foster the same influencing and lifelong outcomes, through music, that Mr. Bowers identified in his acceptance speech.

So, one of Huron Waves’ resolutions in June will be to take music directly into regional schools, an initiative that also answers our concern for the absence, or at least the down-sizing, of arts education. Furthermore, Huron Waves on the Move will support teachers from schools without funding to hire buses to bring students to our home base, Trivitt Auditorium in Exeter. And as with GAIA, if we can find patrons who share our views and who will offer their support for the plan, we will offer this program without any cost to the schools. (Details for your way to help with our goal are included below.)

Meet Voyageur, a unique, genuine six-string guitar, whose very construction reflects the story of Canada presented by its originator, Jowi Taylor. Huron Waves is offering Voyageur and Jowi Taylor to schools and public spaces in Huron County and southwest Ontario for 65-minute assemblies and meetings to hear Voyageur’s (and Canada’s) story that concludes with a performance pocket when one or two or three individuals in the room can play the instrument. There are also opportunities for participants to have their pictures taken with Voyageur.

Voyageur’s formal name is The Six String Nation: The Story of Canada, an absolutely appropriate title since this instrument is a musical quilt of our country, literally built of 64 pieces of wood, stone, cloth, metals and natural materials sourced from notable Canadian sites or events or donated by famous citizens.

For instance, a strip from the sacred Golden Spruce of Haida Gwaii forms the top face; parts of Paul Henderson’s hockey stick from the 1972 Canada/Russia Summit Series, a Wayne Gretsky stick, an old Montreal Forum seat (#10, row G, section 321) and gold from Maurice Richard’s 1955-56 Stanley Cup ring are all in the instrument as are fragments of caribou antler, moose shin, mammoth and walrus tusks, whale baleen, St. Boniface oak, Mastodon ivory, muskox horn and nickel ingots. So is wood from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Cavendish house, a schoolroom where Louis Riel studied, the Parliament Buildings Centre Block oak door, a Pier 21 rafter, the Maid of the Mist II and the Bluenose.  Even the carrying case reflects Canada with cloth from a dance costume for Karen Kain, Don Cherry’s pants and a piece of the original Stratford Festival tent. All these inserts, and others, Jowi will identify and describe when he conducts each presentation for our audiences.

As Jowi Taylor himself has written, “From sea to sea where I have presented Voyageur, countless citizens have added their own definitions of what it means to be Canadian, through music…and this living instrument.”

Huron Waves believes young people and schools should have the opportunity to know the joy of music and the stories of Canada, hopefully encouraged through their own experiences with this unique instrument. That’s why we’ll be …on the Move in June as one aspect of our 2024 Festival.

If you, our readers and patrons, know of a school where Voyageur would be welcome in June, as soon as possible please contact our General Manager, Carolyn Young, at carolyn@huronwavesmusicfestival.ca

If you, our readers and patrons, would like to support Huron Waves in bringing Voyageur to Southwest Ontario, please donate online at huronwaves.ca/donate/ or for other options, contact Carolyn Young carolyn@huronwavesmusicfestival.ca.

Huron Waves on the Move is only one facet of our 2024 season, June 1-21. I look forward to sharing more exciting news about the festival soon.

Till we’re together again…remember that Music Connects Us.

John A. Miller, Artistic Director

JohnMiller@HuronWavesMusicFestival.ca