Trumpeter, pianist, composer and arranger, Alan Matheson, is a big fan of the Rotary Music Festival in Whitehorse. He feels it’s an honour to be one of the adjudicators.
“It is one of the best-run festivals I’ve worked for, and the enthusiasm and skill of the performers and teachers is inspiring to see.”
He’s back this year as the jazz adjudicator. Like the other five adjudicators, he was asked for his definition of their role.
“To adjudicate means to be a good and focused listener with open ears and to provide useful feedback to the performer so that they can get more out of their music for themselves and their listeners.”
How old were you when you became aware of music?
“I was two years old and the first music I was aware of was a Bing Crosby LP that I listened to almost every day and that I wore out in short order!
“My father was in the record business, so I had the great good fortune to be exposed to almost every kind of music that he had in the record store.”
Young Matheson had a very clear career path in mind from the beginning.
“I started on the piano at the age of six. I knew that I wanted to become a composer and decided that it would be a good thing to learn the piano since all the composers I admired (Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Stravinsky, etc.) all played the piano or a keyboard instrument.
“The trumpet (cornet, actually) came along when I was nine and I was inspired to learn to play it after discovering the music of the great jazz cornetist/pianist/composer, Bix Beiderbecke.”
You’ve been to the Yukon several times over the years for the Rotary Music Festival and for other performances and tours. What have you observed about the climate here for young musicians? Are we nurturing and encouraging enough?
If there was one thing we could do better, what would it be?
“The climate in Whitehorse for young musicians is very supportive and encouraging, with lots of opportunities for young players to expand their skills with the excellent private and public-school instructors in the area.
“My impression is that there is a great deal of nurturing and support in the Whitehorse musical community, in general, as well as good ongoing performance opportunities.
“Whitehorse is so fortunate to have so many first-class musicians and music educators in the community. I can’t really think of how you’d improve the festival since it’s so well run and managed.
“Perhaps creating an outlet for young composers and youth-led ensembles in the festival might be a possibility (if there’s time amongst all the other sessions).”
Matheson teaches trumpet and jazz piano at the University of British Columbia and teaches in the jazz studies programs at the Vancouver Community and Capilano colleges in North Vancouver.
He is the leader of his own big band, nonet and septet and has toured and played with a wide variety of groups.