Young stars come to shine in Grand fashion

Kara Lazorek (above) performed Hallelujah at the YRAF Grand Concert held May 2 at The West Fraser Guild – PATH
Tyler Waugh Photo

Tyler Waugh

If this past week’s Grand Concert to close out the Yellowhead Regional Arts Festival showed anything it’s that the kids are, indeed, alright.

Whether it was local high school rock bands performing covers and original works, or Jasperite Sophia Mastrianni, who crushed a piano inspired cover of Pink Floyd’s classic Mother, the vibe of the grand concert changed ever so slightly.

“We listen to what people want and so when we were approached about bringing rock band in for this year we said absolutely. I think the response was positive and well received and I was really impressed to see these teenagers get on stage and kind of get into rock star mode,” said Jacqueline Delisle, longtime executive director of YRAF.

“With a couple of the bands performing it adds a different sound to the event. It was nice to add some variety beyond that classical focus we’ve seen in the past.”

Jason Williams, musical director with the Wild Mountain Music Festival, was at the Grand Concert and said he was impressed.

“You have youth on stage performing songs they wrote, that’s incredible … that’s what it’s all about,” he said, adding that he would love to find a way to encourage that continued youth development in the local music scene.

“That’s part of what we do, supporting local music. What I saw (that) night really got my mind working.”

The concert concluded almost two weeks of artistic endeavours, and included Kara Lazorek’s rendition of the Leonard Cohen classic ‘Hallelujah’, which earned her a perfect score from the adjudicators.

“That’s the first time in my time with YRAF that I’ve heard of somebody achieving that mark. The funny thing … she hadn’t planned on participating, she hadn’t prepared but we had a spot open up and she said OK,” said Delisle, adding that it reinforced in her the beauty of YRAF and what it offers when people take that chance and put themselves out there.

“In reality, YRAF is here to offer encouragement, and constructive ways that you can grow as an artist. There’s no Simon Cowell sitting in the corner, waiting to judge you. YRAF is here to help artists grow their skills, and to give them a glimpse of how amazing they are through other people’s eyes. We saw that with several artists this year, and it was incredible to both witness, and be a part of.”

YRAF saw participation and adjudication in several traditional disciplines like voice and piano, as well as new classics like Lego. Delisle said there’s always a bit of up and down with registration in different categories, pointing out that visual arts was removed this year due to low interest.

“It may be back, though, if there’s demand … absolutely,” said Delisle.“Registration was good overall and I believe our registration was up for out of town participants from Jasper and Edson.”