Kara Labelle is one in four thousand

George Bonner Middle School student Kara Labelle will be taking part in three separate disciplines in this year’s Cowichan Music Festival — speech arts, voice and band. - Peter W. Rusland
George Bonner Middle School student Kara Labelle will be taking part in three separate disciplines in this year’s Cowichan Music Festival — speech arts, voice and band.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

You could say Kara Labelle is busier than a one-arm piano player.

But she’ll need both hands during duty on piano, and in three other stage categories, during the 64th-annual Cowichan Music Festival involving some 4,000 valley students.

“I have something everyday of the week after school,” said Labelle, 12, between piano lessons at teacher Trisha Daniell’s studio.

The sewing student, Barre None ballet and jazz dancer, and soccer player is preparing for festival action — between Feb. 11 and March 6 — in speech arts, voice, and blowing trumpet in George Bonner Middle School’s band.

“The festival is good because there’s lots of categories, and it’s a community thing.

“You also get feedback from the adjudicators.”

CMF 2013 is Labelle’s second year after reciting the lengthy poem The Cremation of Sam McGee — by former Cowichan resident Robert Service — last year.

The Grade 7 Bonner student will offer four poems, including a scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

“It’s the scene where Juliet’s sending Romeo a message, though her nurse.”

The soprano, studying voice with Iris Cooke-Chislett, will also sing four pieces in English: Ice Cream from Anne of Green Gables; Handel’s The Birds No More Shall Sing; folk song Little Red Bird; and the Canadian number Gloria Deo.

She enjoys theatre and acting “but sometimes songs are more complicated, and change notes.”

Labelle — whose favourite subjects are math and science — also aims to audition for Bonner’s May show Once Upon A High School.

Playing trumpet is simpler than piano, she said, because “trumpet’s just three keys, so it’s pretty basic, and mostly mouth work.”

“I can transfer music-reading skills because they both use the same patterns, but with trumpet you only use the right hand.”

In festival piano pieces, Labelle will perform Carroll’s From The Cliffs, and Burgmuller’s Ballade.

She cheered instruction with Daniell.

“She makes it interesting by telling me lots of history,” Labelle said, citing Beethoven as her favourite composer.

“Kara works hard and listens carefully, then helps the other class, too,” Daniell said.

Piano competition means memorizing each piece (“You play them a lot, then realize you’re not even looking at the page”), and scattering butterflies.

“I’m usually tense because I’m nervous, but (workshop teacher Susan Burgh) told me to relax because it gives better sound.”

Festival sights and sounds offer dance — tap and ballet to musical theatre — instruments (woodwinds, brass, bands), and strings, piano plus vocal classical and musical theatre.

Meanwhile, Labelle’s aims to gain her Grade 10 level of piano, en route to medical school.

“It would be neat to help people.”


Your ticket

What: Cowichan Music Festival

When: Feb. 11 to March 6

Where: Various venues, plus highlights nights

Tickets: $2 a session, season’s pass $25. call 250-748-7529.

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