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The history of music

Lisa Sygutek

Apr 3, 2024

Last week you saw a list of winners from the Crowsnest Pass Music Festival. What an awesome opportunity for those to showcase their talents.

The history of music in the Crowsnest Pass really is something to be celebrated. Last week you saw a list of winners from the Crowsnest Pass Music Festival. What an awesome opportunity for those to showcase their talents.

I myself played in festivals throughout my life, both in piano, flute and with the Crowsnest Pass Symphony.

I come from a long line of musical people. My grandmother  Annie (Kubik) Sygutek sang and played the organ and accordion. My dad was an incredible singer and base player. My brother Ricky was a drum-mer.

I started piano when I was in grade one and played right up until I graduated from high school. Both Madeline Pinkney and Beatrice Costigan were my teachers. If you know anything about music you would know that these two women were iconic in producing some of the best musicians in the world.

I really wanted to play in the symphony so when I started Grade six I began flute lessons with Carolyn Habdas. She was from Las Vegas, no lie, and man alive could she teach. When I got to grade eight I showed up to join the symphony only to find that they already had too many flute players.

I was devastated until they told me that they were in dire need of French Horn players. I was all in. I have a love-hate relationship with that instrument. I think they wanted me to play it because if you can play piano, you can pretty much pick up any instrument because you can read music. No one told me that the French Horn is the most difficult brass instrument to play. I learned it though and love the sound. It’s majestic and strong.

I played in the symphony for five years. When I attended university I majored in English with a minor in music. Because I minored in music I was able to continue piano lessons and through the program was able to continue to play French Horn. I played in a brass quintet throughout my years at U of L. It was a magical time.

My story is one of music. When I’m stressed I often end up at the piano playing my favourite songs. I’m a Debussy and Chopin fan and Clare de Lune is my favourite piece.

I tried putting all the boys into piano, but they didn’t love it like I did. No one had to force me to practice; I practiced because I loved it. I took theory in my lunch hours with Mrs. Thornton who lived beside ISS because I loved it, not because my mom forced me.

I have memories of playing piano at all the festivals, Mrs. Pinkney and Mrs. Costigan in the front row, looking like the two proudest women in the room.

Before every festival, Buddy would come to my parent’s house and sit for hours listening to me play, giving me advice on how to interpret the music; how to make it mine. It was a tradition I loved more than I can put into words.

The one thing I couldn’t do well is sing. When I sing it’s as if I’m killing cats. No lie, it’s truly horrible. In the summers during university I worked at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre and Monica Field was my boss. She had a group called the Coal Dust Singers and she invited me to join. I really tried to explain to her that I couldn’t sing, but she is so sweet she didn’t quite believe me. The first practice I started singing and I’ll never forget how she sweetly said, “oh, Lisa, perhaps you should play the piano for us”. I smiled and said, “I told you so”.

So for all you parents who have fostered the love of music with your kids, well done! It’s a beautiful gift to give your children, especially if they love it as much as I did.

We have a history of incredible music in the valley, we have accomplished musicians, the likes of Kirk Muspratt, Music Director/Conductor New Philharmonic and Louise Costigan-Kerns who has performed internationally as a concert pianist, accompanist and conductor.

So thank you to all the volunteers who make our Music Festival possible as well as our local symphony. You certainly can hear the music in our valley.

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