With the end of the semester approaching, the Selkirk College spotlight turns to students in the Contemporary Music & Technology Program who are getting set for the annual Year End Showcase Concert Series.
Featuring students on the cusp of graduation, the concert series is six nights of genre-spanning music that brings together budding talents on the intimate Shambhala Music & Performance Hall stage at Nelson’s Tenth Street Campus. From indie-pop and jazz-rock to psychedelic surf and blues, the 108-seat venue comes alive starting in mid-March.
“Music lovers can expect to witness talented emerging artists performing at their growing edge,” says Emily Millard, the instructor coordinating the series. “Each showcase represents a considerable process from concept to realization. Students demonstrate not only the practical skills they have gained throughout the program—like writing charts and scores, leading a band, and promoting an event—but also their individual artistic development. It’s amazing to witness their unique artistic voices emerging.”
Mixed in with studying for mid-terms and completing final class assignments, learners in Canada’s only contemporary post-secondary music program have been working diligently towards the semester-end requirement.
Each performance, composition and songwriting major take the reins for their own 30-minute concert. Supported by a production major who handles the sound during rehearsals and performances, students are required to pull a band together of peers and take care of the multitude of tasks needed to be successful under the spotlight.
“It’s the culmination of all your learning so far,” says Benjamin Warkentin, a performance major who will open the series on March 17. “It’s an individual take on what we have been doing in the program over the last two years. It’s all about you in that moment and it’s daunting, but mostly it’s really exciting.”
First picking up the acoustic guitar when he was 10, Warkentin grew up in Squamish and by the time music was offered in school he played trumpet in the school band. The 19-year-old chose Selkirk College as his post-secondary destination after searching for schools across Canada to find the right fit. Enticed by the contemporary element of the two-year diploma program, he packed his guitar case and headed to Nelson for the start of the 2021-2022 academic year.
“The small class sizes make this program very personal,” he says. “You feel like the instructors really care about what you are doing and what you are learning. It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun and rewarding.”
A dynamic performer on stage, Warkentin’s industrial-metal genre set will feature cover songs that he has been working on with his peer-based band over the last few weeks. A member of two other showcase performances with completely different styles of music, Warkentin is soaking in the lessons he is learning about what it takes to forge a career in the music industry.
“I want to learn as much as I can while I am here so that it opens up opportunities for a future career in music,” says Warkentin, who has already decided to take the optional third-year of the program after graduating this spring so that he can develop more production skills. “Ultimately for me, I would be happy to be doing a lot of music-related jobs be it production, performance, live sound. I am building a resume here and we will see what happens.”
Guiding students behind the scenes is the uber-talented program faculty who all have extensive and active careers in the music business. Millard is an accomplished composer, recording artist, producer and vocalist who returned to the Tenth Street Campus this past spring. An alumna of the program who presented her own showcase in 2006, Millard is well aware of what students are going through at this particular moment.
“I remember my showcase feeling both exciting and nerve-wracking!” Millard says. “The songs I had written took me to the edge of my musical abilities. I remember the performance feeling risky, which increased my nerves ahead of time, but also my sense of accomplishment afterward. Performing with my friends in the program gave me a sense of community and support that was really encouraging. I never would have guessed that many of us would end up touring and performing together in the years to come. It’s still fun to go back and listen to my showcase recording.”
The Year End Showcase Concert Series is open to the public with admission by donation. Doors open at 7:00 pm with the music starting at 7:30 pm. Each night features two 30-minute performances.
- Friday, March 17 – Benjamin Warkentin (industrial metal) & Dune MacDonald (blues/pop)
- Thursday, March 23 – Tirzah Vetter (singer-songwriter/pop) & Christophe Morin (psychedelic surf-jazz)
- Friday, March 24 – Hannah Ganesh (singer-songwriter/indie-folk) & Nieva Cunningham (singer-songwriter/indie-pop)
- Thursday, March 30 – Haleluya Hailu (indie rock) & Sapphire Guthrie (singer-songwriter/folk-fusion)
- Friday, March 31 – Nathan Fadden (pop-punk/alternative) & Kadin Bergen (jazz rock)
- Thursday, April 6 – Megan Carlson (singer-songwriter/folk-rock) & Yohaan Gandevia (jazz)
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