Jennifer West teaches Year 4 French in Vancouver. But teachers, we know, have time between lessons and Jennifer is using it to launch a new chamber concert series. Here’s what she tells Slipped Disc:
This autumn, Vancouver becomes home to a brand new classical music series with a unique approach to presenting recitals! Müzewest Concerts is the newest recital series to arrive in the Lower Mainland. Jennifer West, a Grade Four French Immersion teacher, was appointed artistic director of this organization in early August. She then teamed up with fourth-year UBC oboe student, Diana Chan. This undertaking has taken a great deal of energy and determination from the young artistic directors. They have had to fundraise to cover costs and their starting budget was in fact, zero dollars! Not to be dismayed by the financial challenge, the group has organized a small series of intimate classical concerts, the first of which will be on Friday, November 15th at West Point Grey United Church, starting at 7:30 PM. It features the international prize-winning Russian pianist, Alexander Karpeyev.
Müzewest is different from other concert series in two ways: affordability and a focus on music education. Firstly, the artistic directors of Müzewest felt that while there are many classical musical events in Vancouver, the ticket cost prohibits many people from enjoying those concerts. Müzewest is committed to keeping ticket prices affordable so that it is not a financial burden for people to attend recitals – recitals which are still of an extremely high caliber. In a city like Vancouver where cost of living often restricts people’s entertainment budgets, it was critical for the directors of Müzewest that culture still be available for all socioeconomic backgrounds. For this reason, tickets range from $7 to $20.
Secondly, the artistic directors of Müzewest believe strongly that music education helps to shape the social, intellectual, and emotional development of young people. Each artist that performs with the Müzewest series plays a free concert in a local public school. Also, each artist does a Masterclass in which students come to perform and receive feedback in a public setting. Both of the artistic directors had their lives shaped by amazing music instruction and feel passionately that early exposure to this music can transform a student’s life.
For the artistic directors of Müzewest, classical music is not simply a form of art to be enjoyed. For Ms. West and Ms. Chan, classical music can transform lives. Because of the transformative beauty and power of classical music, Müzewest believes strongly that the audience should not be restricted by the cost of a ticket. A community can be enhanced and can grow closer together by having shared musical experiences. Müzewest’s mission in Vancouver is to help create community in the urban environment through such events.