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Man of the Month Before – John Korsrud

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

June’s Man of the Month is:

John Korsrud

Here’s a little bit about him:

John Korsrud (b. Regina, 1963) is a Vancouver composer, band leader, trumpet player and educator. In 1990 John formed his 20-piece ensemble, The Hard Rubber Orchestra. This ensemble has released two CDs, toured across Canada several times and to Europe, produced TV specials, operas, arts ice shows and avant raves. They are the recipient of the 2005 Alcan Arts Award, the largest arts award in Canada for creation. As a composer, he has been commissioned by The Vancouver Symphony, The CBC Radio Orchestra and, most recently, The American Composers Orchestra in New York that premiered his trumpet concerto at Carnegie Hall featuring himself as soloist. He has composed for almost every Vancouver dance company, and his film and documentary scores have earned him Leo and Golden Sheaf Awards. In 2001 John was awarded the Canada Council’s Joseph S. Stauffer Prize for Music, Liturature and Visual Arts, and in 2003 was the second Canadian to be awarded a fellowship to the prestigious Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbria, Italy. John graduated from UBC in 1990, did post-grad work in The Netherlands and has been a frequent participant at The Banff Centre for the Arts. John teaches at Capilano University and Vancouver Community College.

And here’s how he answered my 6 questions about creativity:

What does it mean to you to be creative?
It changes all the time. It use to be about confronting audiences and making sure after a show the performance would be with them well after it was over. I never wanted to create a show someone would forget. I was really interested in pushing boundaries, doing something new, challenging conventions. But more recently I think the economic climate has pushed me into taking much of the edge off my shows, and to make them somewhat more accessible and audience friendly. I still want to do world-class work, but I’m trying to find a healthy middle line between being exploratory and accessible.

What triggers your creativity?
Mainly, other people’s art. I still love music as much as I ever did. I love the visual arts. I have a healthy competitive side that helps me want to create the best work. I like to do most of creative work late at night. I day dream alot, then when it’s time to compose I write as quickly as possible. My sure fire method for coming up with ideas are going for long walks or jogging. I bring a pad of paper with me. If I get home without at least one good idea, I keep walking or jogging until I do.

What hinders your creativity?
Nothing really. I’m not as obsessive as I use to be. Lately I’m having lots of fun not being an artist. I’m still busy and creative, but I don’t have that obsessive tunnel-vision I use to have. So perhaps maybe I’m a little less creative and edgy, but my hair falls out a lot less and am happier. But what hinders making the visions into reality? Arts cuts don’t help. I only hire the very best musicians and artists. The world deserves this and these talented dedicated artists need to have their incredible voices heard. I try to create a forum for these artists to strut their stuff. Because I often employ musicians and rent performance spaces, etc., financial cuts to the arts has forced me to ask fellow artists to contribute and volunteer more of their time, and to find spaces and ways of advertising that require less money. You do what you have to do.

What’s the wildest journey your venturesome spirit has taken you on?
I went through a series of epiphanies from about 2002 to 2006. Going from a very dark depression, to feeling very free and grateful for everything, and understanding that I will always be happy. Today my life is very energized and fun. Like everyone, I have good days and not-so-good days, but I realize I have to practice being happy and contentment much like I practice my music. I realize I’ve been very fortunate to make a living as a musician, as an artist! My life is blessed.

We’re all very fortunate…our country has an excellent standard of living, plus we’re in the most beautiful city and province in the world.

What does being bold and provocative mean to you?
I try my best to present something people have never seen or heard before while still making a world-class musical statement.

What’s next for you?
I just finished music scoring an art gallery installation for filmmaker Brian Johnson that will be installed this summer.

I’m presently creating music for Karen Jamieson Dance’s “Collision”, part of Dancing on the Edge Festival (at the Roundhouse July 14-17).

I just returned from a scuba trip in Thailand with my partner, where I got certified and did 28 dives. We are looking for a similar trip next year, perhaps Indonesia or Egypt.

And here’s some music that inspires John’s creativity:

Gyorgy Ligeti (contemporay classical)
Art Tatum (pianist from the 1940′s)
Fletcher Henderson (big band from the 1920′s)
Amon Tobin (contemporary dance electronica)
Miles Davis album Bitches Brew (1969)
Jordi Savall’s album Tous Les Matins Du Monde (early music)
Eddie Palmieri (latin/jazz)
John Coltrane album Crescent, Arvo Part (meditative contemporary classical)
Orcar Peterson album Night Train (swinging 60′s jazz)
Frank Sinatra album Songs for Swinging Lovers (swinging 60′s vocal & big band)
Earth, Wind & Fire album All’n’All (70′s funk)
Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (1913),

Be sure to check out John’s website.

Thank you John for your sounds and drive!

To hear about the next Man of the Month, follow DollyFaye on Twitter!

Man of the Month Before – Fred Penner

Friday, March 26th, 2010

March’s Man of the Month was:

Fred Penner

Here’s a little bit about him:

Fred Penner

Fred Penner

A gentle giant with an undeniable ability to make you feel good about yourself. This musical master brings 30 years of commitment, consistency and depth to a career that blends the many genres of performing and communication.  From delivering 12 prolific CD’s to families across North America to countless energetically live shows for eager audiences; to 13 seasons of Fred Penner’s Place – CBC Canada’s TV series and Nick. Jr. (in the  US),  to composing the music for YTV’s Tipi Tales, as well as keynote presenter at numerous early childhood conferences, he has, without a doubt, established himself as a fundamental part of the North American family entertainment scene.

Fred’s visibility has allowed him the privilege and joy of using his voice to support organizations like UNESCO, World Vision, UNICEF and the Canadian Down Syndrome Society.  In 2005, Fred journeyed to Zambia, Africa with World Vision to host a program for Child Sponsorship in the Western World.

Whether it’s through cd’s, concerts, videos, books or television, his cornerstone philosophy remains the same: ” Never underestimate your ability to make a difference in the life of a child.”

And here’s how he answered my 6 questions about creativity:

What inspires your creativity?

Inspiration is constant.  I am an observer, I see and hear and am very aware of others in this world.  Using my creative nature allows me to write and perform songs that are enjoyed by my audience on many levels.  I try to create material that takes the listener to sensitive part of their spirit.  This is for entertainment and fun, but more importantly it is to follow my philosophy of trying to make a difference.

How have you reinvented yourself thru your creativity?

Steinbach Pioneer Days

Steinbach Pioneer Days

I feel that I have been very consistent over the years, again holding strong to the awareness of the value and responsibility of creating for children. Over the years I believe I have learned to be a better song writer and a better musician, but the essence of my spirit has been clear.

Based on response to your creativity, how do you involve others?

I am an actor as well as a musician and one of the keys I learned through my training on the stage is that the person in the back of the theatre should feel as connected to the performance as the person in front.  When I am on stage I move around constantly, looking into the faces of the audience members. My songs have choruses that I encourage the audience to sing.  I see what I do as a 3 way dialogue, from me to the child, from me to the parent/grandparent/caregiver, and then from the parent/grandparent/caregiver to the child as they head home.  I hope that the topics of my songs opens up communication for the family.

What is the wildest journey your creativity has taken you on?

I wrote music for Tipi Tales, a TV series on YTV and APTN (The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network ) and the foundation of the series was the 7 spiritual laws of Aboriginal teachings, really human laws and values, e.g. Love, Truth, Honesty, Courage, Respect, Wisdom and Humility.

Three seasons were created and I wrote approximately 200 plus songs. When I was in “The Zone” of writing I believe I was close to automatic writing where the flow from the creative source to words and music was direct. There was one day when I wrote about 50 songs in a 12 hour period.

Fred's Pumpkin

Fred's Pumpkin

What is your most memorable moment in the act of being creative?

Moonlight Express was a very gentle CD we recorded many years ago, and one of the more sensitive tunes I have written was called Tears. To this day I love the lyric and the chord progression, they fit together so perfectly.  The creative moment in question happened when we were actually recording the song in the studio.  It was just me and my guitar and voice.  The engineer gave me the signal to ‘go’ when I was ready, so I took a moment to focus and played the song.  It was a One take song.  I could not have done it better! It felt as though I had drifted away for a moment and the song had carried me, not the other way around.

What’s next for you?

The foundation of my career is established.  I have many sides to my abilities, the only challenge is to stay healthy and creative and be open to the opportunities.  Every few years I take on an acting role, the last one being Captain Hook in Peter Pan at  MTYP  the Manitoba Theatre for Young  People.  This was a while ago and I am looking for the next project in that direction. There is talk of another TV series, just talk, but I would love to pursue that. I have been thinking of writing something a little more autobiographical.  I continue to write lots of songs. I hope to produce a new CD this year as well.

Fred and Dolly!

Fred and Dolly!

You can find Fred here:

www.fredpenner.com facebook – fred penner

And here’s something that inspires his creativity:

Fred Penner’s Recipe:  Ugandan Peanut Butter Stew
Years ago we were given a cook book that included recipes from around the world.  It is wonderful to read about other cultures and the foods they like.  One recipe that caught our eye ( and our taste buds) was  Ugandan Peanut Butter Stew.  Other than having peanut butter and banana sandwiches and peanut butter cookies when I was younger, I don’t remember ever eating a cooked dish with peanut butter.  That made this all the  more intriguing.  I quickly became a family favourite because it was very easy to make and tasted great!, especially with some spicy cornbread.  So here it is.

Ugandan Peanut Butter Stew
Ingredients:
One whole cauliflower
5 or 6 large carrots
One large can of tomatoes ( diced or whole )
One large onion
3 Cloves of garlic
One half cup of peanut butter
Vegetable or olive oil – 3 or 4 tablespoons
Salt – one teaspoon
Cayenne – one half teaspoon or more to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot on the stove – ( medium/high ) .
Saute onions – cut into pieces, after a minute or so add the garlic pieces. Cook for 3 minutes.
Add large can of tomatoes and one can of water- stir and cook
Add Carrots and Cauliflower cuts into bite size pieces
Bring mixture to a boil add salt and cayenne then reduce heat to Medium/low – cook for 20 minutes

Mix half a cup of peanut butter with half a cup of the liquid in the pot, and then add that to the pot.
Reduce heat to low and simmer until you serve it.
It is especially wonderful with a Mexican Jalapeno Bread
Mmmmm, Goood.  Enjoy!

Thank you Fred! Life is so much fun with you in it!