"All good things come in small packages." I’ve heard this saying all of my life and although sometimes I didn’t want to agree, it always seemed to be true. I mourned my skinny legs and 56 pounds at age twelve, skinny arms while pounding out Chopin in my teens and 20’s and would give anything to have a taste of that ‘problem’ today (I’m planning a Valerie Bertinelli-esque comeback). Similarly when my husband and I were studying Piano duo in New York with fabulous piano duo teacher/performer Jeaneane Dowis, one of her many words of wisdom was to build our career in a small community where you can hone your art, survive with family and friends during those ‘thrifty’ years shall we say then move on up the circuit.
Well the small town she meant was Winnipeg and as life would have it we would invest in those words by heading eventually more North until we would arrive at the best artistic time in our lives in a town (it’s actually still called a City because at one time its population was over 10,000 and once you’re called a City you’re a city) of 6,000 people called Flin Flon. We left Winnipeg thinking that we were leaving music behind forever. You see 15 years ago when we were professional musicians (Mark with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Contemporary Dancers and myself teaching piano and enjoying being a stay at home mom with our two children) government cuts seemed to be happening all over the place and we either had to come up with a plan or live off of the kids in our old age. One law degree later led us to this northern community.
Little did we know what we were getting into. Did we gulp when we drove past the Welcome to Flin Flon Home of Bobby Clarke billboard? Yes but we soon found out that this place was also once the home of famed Tenor Jon Vickers, the Young family (Neil’s dad and grandparents), the Prices and the Goodman’s. Twenty five years earlier, music and musical theatre was HUGE in this community!
Hearing about our musical past, we were embraced. Within a few months a chorus of 40 people was formed, a year later it was up to 80 and it swells to over the 100 person mark yearly. We have performed with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Saskatoon Symphony, many amazing independent Canadian artists and 25 of our group joined in the New York premier of Scott Macmillan’s Celtic Mass for the Sea in New York’s Carnegie Hall. Alternating between classical masterworks and musical theatre productions we have also created and produced original musical theatre that have received National recognition (check out Bombertown the Musical on Youtube if you want). Our peers shake their heads in wonder. How is it possible?
We love our small community and we’re not the only ones. I’ll bet R. Murray Schaefer, Heather Bishop or Irvin Head would back me up. We love getting to the ‘big city’ to cheer on our friends but ‘no matter how humble there’s no place like home’. I CHEER ON ALL SMALL COMMUNITIES IN CANADA TO CELEBRATE CULTURE DAYS! By the way, I have to admit I now enjoy watching a few games of Hockey and a few players have joined the Flin Flon Community Choir. There’s balance in everything.
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