May 2017

NSCE Senior Ensemble – A Phenomenal Year
This has been a phenomenal year of concerts for the NSCE Senior Ensemble.  Our 16 talented musicians hit the ground running at our annual Fall Retreat at Camp Capilano. This was a very productive session and a great opportunity to work with musician Michael Viens who has joined us for several performances throughout the year.  Under Claude, Jay, Will and Kirin’s leadership, the Ensemble was able to prepare an impressive amount of material to be played during our very rewarding Winter Concert Series.  Our annual concerts at the Terry Fox and Centennial Theatres were a huge success (click here to see highlights). We were fortunate to have dancers from the De Danaan Irish Dancers join us. The Junior Ensemble also had a strong presence on the big stage. It’s especially exciting to play for a full house and very appreciative and loyal audience right here on the North Shore! This year, we also had a special opportunity to take our fantastic Christmas Concert on the road to the Chilliwack Cultural Center and the ACT Arts Center Theatre in Maple Ridge. Both venues were new to us and we were warmly welcomed in both communities. Maple Ridge sold out weeks before the show date!
The focus at our Winter Retreat was to learn new repertoire (including the Brandenburg Concertos, plus our own version “The Black Brandenburg”) in preparation for a fantastic collaboration with the Lions Gate Sinfonia at Centennial Theatre in January.  We also prepared some traditional Quebecois tunes for the Festival du Sucre D’Erable in Nanaimo.
St Patrick’s Day is always a busy time for the Ensemble and this year was no exception.  We played at the Vancouver CelticFest, at Play, Pie and Pint in North Vancouver, and at a St Patty’s Day party for Scanline VFX in Vancouver. We also played at a pre-concert party for Ashely McIsaac, in exchange we were treated to free concert tickets!  It was a treat to hear this iconic Canadian fiddler play live at the Kay Meek Center!
We have also had the opportunity to support a number of important causes through our music. We collaborated with the Pro Arte Dancers at the Team Finn Variety Show and also at Hope on a Grand Scale, both at the Kay Meek Center. At Musical Tapestry, a fundraiser for a Syrian Refugee family, we were among a talented line-up of musicians from around the world!
Our commitment to the mentorship program and the involvement of passionate young adults has stepped up apace this year with greater participation by Brienne Powers, William Chernoff and Kirin Lamb in exciting new directions.  Brienne, an NSCE alumnus herself, has been instrumental in the development and growth of our two younger groups, preparing them technically for the more rigorous junior and senior ensembles with the very capable assistance of NSCE alumnus Andy Lang Wong.  Will and Kirin, wonderfully talented and professional musicians themselves, have a growing impact on both the junior and senior ensembles, bringing new vision and a fresh perspective as their involvement continues to grow. 

The Senior Ensemble has several great concerts coming up in the next couple of months. Please join us for some more great music!


May 6 – Richmond Celtic Festival, Gary Point Park 5:30 – 6:10
May 19 – 21 Galiano Island Tour
May 27 – BC Boys Choir Collaboration, Highlands United Church, Edgemont
May 30 – NSCE Open House, Upper Lynn Valley Elementary
June 3 – Vancouver Children’s Festival (NSCE Junior Ensemble and some Seniors)
July 1st – tbc
July 12 - NVRC Live and Cultural Event, Lynn Valley 6:30 – 8:00pm
July 20 – NVRC Live and Cultural Event, Civic Center 6:30 – 8:00pm

The North Shore Celtic Ensemble – Graduate Bio’s

Roses to Claude and Jay from this year’s graduates!
We have five fine musicians and friends that will graduate and transition to new adventures.   Each of these members would like to share a BIG ‘thank you’ to Claude and Jay for their encouragement on and off the stage over the years.  In conversation with these graduates, they expressed a deep appreciation for the special times making music together, sharing music with others and learning many valuable lessons along the journey. From the graduates to Claude, Jay, Will, Kirin and the many friends made along the way – Merci & Thank you!  We asked our graduates what they had to say about their favourite experiences with NSCE, advice for others and future plans and here is what they had to say………
Raunie Mae Baker joined the NSCE eight years ago and has enjoyed every moment. When asked to reflect on her favourite experiences with the Ensemble, she said the 2016 Scotland tour were definitely highlights.   She enjoyed everything about it – the music, people and places!  Raunie is excited to continue her photography career.  She is already an entrepreneur that has established a small photography business. She plans to continue her work and studies in both photography and videography. Her words of wisdom to future members of the ensemble: “just play and have fun”.  She suggests that musicians enjoy playing and be confident - “don’t be self-conscious about showing up and enjoy the opportunity to play for others.” Raunie has enjoyed the opportunity to develop important friendships with others and she wants others to know that NSCE is a great place to meet new people and make great friends.
Jérémie LeClair has been with the NSCE for over seven years and has lots of great memories! This includes experiences with friends from Juniors, friends from Seniors, the recent ‘Seasonal Jam’ concert series and the 2016 Scotland Tour.  He said that the tour was “a great opportunity to travel with friends, explore, meet different people, learn about different musical styles and create original music.” Jeremie will be staying locally next year to attend Cap U for Human Kinetics and pursue his other passion, field hockey.  He plans to study in the field of Exercise Science with a special interest in Biomechanics. His advice for others musicians is “make the effort to be a part of the group – it is worth it!”. He says that it is an amazing group of people and by playing in the group you help yourself and help others.  He plans to keep playing music with friends in the future.
Teagan Dawson is an enthusiastic musician that has been with the NSCE for six years. She has many favourite memories including the fun backstage at intermissions and the moment’s right after a show when everyone is still full of energy. The concerts in Scotland were of course other important favourites! Plans for next year include studies at either UVic or CapU with a focus on Geography, Global Stewardship and the Environment as three important areas she is interested in.  She wants to keep playing the violin and looks forward to meeting up with others to play.  Travels are also on her wish list, with a hope of returning to Scotland sometime to explore further. Teagan suggests to young musicians that “when in doubt, don’t be afraid to fake it on stage! She wants musicians to remember that the audience loves it when you look happy on stage, “go out, be happy and have a good time!
Danielle Rowlands is a dynamic musician that has been with the NSCE for over nine years.  She has adored every moment of the ensemble, from making friends to creating great concerts.  As Danielle reflected on her experiences with NSCE, she said that the tours big and small were special highlights. You may see Danielle around town next year riding her four legged friend “Paddy”. Danielle plans to stay locally so that she can spend time riding while studying Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. She is interested in pursuing a career related to human health and wants to keep playing music along the way. Her words of wisdom for other musicians joining the ensemble are “have fun and do not the let the audience scare you, they are there to have fun with you!”.
Andrew Roberts has enjoyed seven fun years with the NSCE. Andrew is a lively musician that loves hanging out with friends of the ensemble. He has a long list of special adventures on and off stage that he has enjoyed including adventures while on tour with the ensemble. Some of his favourites include escapes with Sam and Michael in Montreal, playing Ultimate in Scotland and meeting people from around the world during the International Aberdeen Youth Festival and Skye Music Festival.  His plans for next year include some travel to visit with family overseas and a return to the North Shore to study at Cap U in Health Sciences. Andrew is clear that he does not want a ‘desk job’! He wants to be busy – emergency room nursing may be part of his future. He suggests that when new musicians come into the ensemble they enjoy learning the music and be prepared to “have a blast” !
The North Shore Celtic Ensemble is returning once again to perform on Galiano Island on Saturday May 20th at the South Community Hall.  The ensemble has been performing every year on Galiano since 2009 and can’t wait for what promises to be another foot stomping and sold out show!  Visit the NSCE at  for details.  Tickets available at Galiano Island Books.
Thanks and All the Best to Jay Knutson
Valued colleague and co-founder of the NSCE Jay Knutson has retired after a 17-year partnership that saw the NSCE grow from an after school musical get-together into the full-blown non-profit organization that it is today. Jay’s tremendous experience, his flamboyant style and his guitar ‘chops’ contributed greatly to the unique sound and the direction of the group.  Jay made a tremendous contribution to the growth and development of the senior ensemble in its many incarnations over the years.  We wish him the very best life has to offer on his idyllic island in the sun.

Revised NSCE Faculty Roles

With the retirement of Jay Knutson, the NSCE Board has revised the organizational structure of the ensemble. Will Chernoff, Kirin Lamb and Brienne Powers, already integral members of the NSCE, have stepped into more prominent roles.

Will Chernoff has assumed the newly created role of Associate Artistic Director. As such, he has primary responsibility for coordinating the rhythm section. He supports Claude in composition and arrangement of new material, development of new self-produced shows and instruction of all NSCE players.  Will brings his eclectic bass style to the NSCE while adding jazz sensibility to "West Coast Celtic" since 2014. He is known for combining quiet, scholarly discipline in rehearsal with joyful movement on stage. “Frisbee”, says Will, “has been a symbol of the attributes we try to promote at every rehearsal and performance: effective communication, mobilization of one's attention, and physical presence.”

Brienne Powers continues as Assistant Artistic Director, with responsibility for developing and delivering a standardized technical curriculum for the Intro and Novice Ensembles. She leads community outreach and engagement for these groups as well as recruits new entry level players.  Trained in Celtic and classical violin, Brienne joined the NSCE at the age of 10 and she hasn't left yet! In 2009, Brienne transitioned from student to teacher to head the NSCE's newly created novice programs. Drawing on her dramatic and choral background, Brienne also integrates voice and a strong performance foundation into the program.  Brienne has the continued assistance of Andy Lang in leading the entry level ensembles.

Kirin Lamb continues in her role as Musical Assistant to the Senior Group, where she arranges and directs piano accompaniment and vocal material.  Kirin brings her extensive experience in Celtic music to the NSCE. She got her childhood start with the Coast String Fiddlers of Roberts Creek, BC. Kirin loves to blend folk traditions with other styles and holds a Diploma in Jazz Piano from Capilano University.  Kirin tells NSCE players, “Never forget that the friends you make, the music you play, and the experiences you have in the NSCE will last you a lifetime. Make the most of it.”

Claude Giguere, as Executive Artistic Director, continues to supervise and mentor all of these supporting directors and musical assistants. Claude continues to have overall responsibility for the artistic direction of the NSCE and maintenance of the ensemble’s high standard of artistic excellence.


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