CAP JAZZ PROMISES A SENSATIONAL SEASON But what does this mean for students in other fine arts programs?
// Katie Shore

It's no secret that Capilano University is known for, among other things, a number of fantastic performing arts programs. As one of the few schools in British Columbia with an acclaimed degree in Jazz Studies, Capilano prides itself in having produced and enhanced the careers of many great musicians and teachers. In addition to this, the university runs the Cap Jazz series, through the North Shore Credit Union Centre for Performing Arts located in the Birch building. In looking at this season’s program, one can see that the school has brought in many acclaimed artists to perform, such as Cape Verdean singer-songwriter Carmen Souza, American jazz drummer Jason Marsalis, and Canadian jazz singer Diana Panton.

However, in observing the programming outside of the Cap Jazz program, there isn't as much variety. The majority of both the classical music and theatre acts are put on by the students, with the exception of the “Arts Club On Tour,” who regularly bring their productions to the Centre for Performing Arts. While this is exciting for the students themselves, it provides for less interactivity with their respective artistic communities. This leads to the question - why is Capilano focusing so much on Jazz programming? Are they depriving students from other programs, such as Classical Studies, Musical Theatre, and Acting for Stage and Screen, unique opportunities?

"Certainly a big impetus behind starting the Cap Jazz series fourteen years ago was to support the Jazz Studies program," says Fiona Black, Director of Programming for the North Shore Credit Union Centre for Performing Arts. "We've had lots of success throughout our history with many high profile jazz artists coming here.”

While there is a thriving jazz community in Vancouver, with events such as the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, a possible reason the university could be bringing in such renowned jazz artists is to create an opportunity that might not otherwise occur. “Because jazz is not mainstream, it can be a tough sell with artists who aren't so well known,” says Black. “The Cap Jazz series gets outstanding feedback from our patrons who are real music fans who know good music."

Indeed, for students who major in theatre, it is easy to go out and see a play on any night of the week. Vancouver also has many high-class orchestra venues for those interested in classical music. In focusing on jazz programming, Capilano University is giving students the rare opportunity to see these big-name acts.

Fiona Black, while admitting the university has very good connections with jazz agents and managers, denies that the Centre has a bias towards jazz musicians, saying that she is "open to new genres, for sure." This becomes obvious when looking at another prominent series, Global Roots. Black seems very excited indeed about the Global Roots series, which brings in a "mix of roots and world music artists." She also notes that the Centre for Performing Arts is looking to host more guest speakers.
Another question arises, however. Why is Capilano University, a relatively small school, trying to attract such big name acts? Wouldn't they want to be more accommodating to artists who aren't so well known? Perhaps they are trying to compare to larger schools, such as the University of British Columbia.

The University of British Columbia's Chan Centre is a formidable opponent in prestige. The Centre houses not one, but three venues - a concert hall, a theatre and a cinema. In looking at the programming for Chan Centre, they also seem to have an emphasis on world music, featuring artists such as AfroCubism and Zakir Hussain this season. However, UBC seems to be lacking where Capilano is breaking ground with jazz performances. Perhaps Capilano is aiming to put itself on the map in this category by bringing in high-class artists.

It is important to note that where Capilano shines in all of its performing arts programs is the amount of opportunities that exist for students to perform. Exit 22 is putting on four different plays this year, and the Classical musicians are holding a variety of events, including a performance with the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra. Some of the performances in the Jazz sector also feature Capilano students playing along with some of the greats.

It could be through the great connections that the school has made, or with hopes of making a name for themselves as a hub for eclectic musicians, or even due to mere chance— however, the musical programming at the North Shore Credit Union Centre outshines that of many other schools. The Cap Jazz series, raved about by students, staff, and musicians alike, is enhancing our reputation as an arts university. The same can be said about the Global Roots series. Hopefully, in time, the amount of theatre productions and classical acts coming to the school will be just as varied and prestigious.

// Katie Shore

// Artwork by Chris Dedinsky

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