This year a number of Wilfrid Laurier University alumni and faculty are poised for a big night at the 2014 Juno Awards. Taking place this year in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the awards will honour the very best in Canadian music.
Laurier grad Shadrach “Shad” Kabango’s latest release Flying Colours snagged a nomination for Rap Recording of the Year, a category in which his previous album TSOL shut out Drake’s Thank Me Later in 2010.
Classical pianist Janina Fialkowska, recipient of an honorary Doctor of Letters from Laurier in 2013, was nominated in the Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Ensemble category for her recording of Concerto Nos. 13 and 14 with The Chamber Players of Canada. Fialkowska has performed in orchestras around the world from Hong Kong to London. Laurier music professor and alumni Guy Few, a trumpeter and pianist, got a nod in the Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble or Soloist(s) with Large Ensemble Accompaniment category.
Finishing up at Laurier’s music faculty, Few went on to perform at venues across Canada and the U.S. Clearly no stranger to acclaim, he was a finalist in the CBC Young Performer’s Competition and the Grand Prize Winner of the CIBC National Music Festival. The Cord spoke to Few about his success and the music that’s earned him national attention.
“The Canadian Concerto Project [Volume One] is a really cool cross-over CD,” said Few about the recording that garnered the nomination.
The album brought together not only Few, his usual performance partner Nadina Mackie Jackson and Toronto based classical band Group of 27, but also Laurier professor, Glenn Buhr.
“He’s a really talented and interesting composer,” said Few about working with Buhr, who contributed to one of the album’s songs.
Laurier Artist in Residence Jeremy Bell also performs as a concertmaster on the record. Bell, with credentials rivaling Few, has performed around the world and collaborated with the likes of rap icon Jay-Z.
“There’s obviously a really strong music community at Laurier,” said Few, which explains why the school’s alumni and faculty have become a natural magnet for awards like the Juno’s.
Returning to Laurier to teach in 1992, Few brought along his versatility and experience in the music world. When asked what it takes to succeed as a musician today he said, “You have to be willing to absorb all kinds of different information … you need to be able to have a sense of language, of architecture, of food, and all kinds of different things that … influence composers.”
“Once you’ve done a lot of performing and touring I think it’s really important to give back,” he said, explaining his choice to return to Laurier as a professor. The heights he’s climbed in music make him a natural mentor for the next generation of WLU’s music grads. “I’m always really … supportive of my students and their goals,” he added.
Few also gave some advice for young musicians everywhere, emphasizing that it’s hard to find success in music without support.
“You have to start bugging the people who actually do the kind of things that you want to do,“ he said. “Whether you want to play in an orchestra or if you want to do solo concerts. You have to find people that do that and pick their brains.”
Tune into the Juno’s on March 30 to see the best of Canadian music and to cheer on the alumni that have been recognized for their work.