Comox Valley Youth Music Centre
Comox Valley Youth Music Centre (formerly Courtenay Youth Music Camp). Founded in 1966 by Simon Streatfeild (director 1967-9) and Robert Creech (director 1970-84) as the Courtenay Youth Music Camp, a summer residential school in the Comox Valley of Vancouver Island for members of the Vancouver Junior Symphony. Supported largely by a volunteer group, 50 students and five instructors attended the first camp at Puntledge Park School in 1967. With financial and other aid from private patrons such as David Spencer, corporate sponsors, and all levels of government, the original concept expanded to include open admission (youth and adults); the establishment of a permanent residential campus at G.P. Vanier Secondary School in 1971 (the camp relocated to North Island College in 1999 and Aspen Park School in 2002); and the granting of scholarships and bursaries from funds administered by the Courtenay Youth Music Society (formed in 1974 and renamed the Courtenay Youth Music Centre Society in 1990). Timothy Vernon was appointed artistic director in 1985. He was succeeded by Yariv Aloni in 1999.
By 1991, the Comox Valley Youth Music Centre had attracted more than 8,500 pupils from North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia; since 2000, more than 100 Rotary Club students have attended the centre through its "Adventures in Music" program. Instruction (ranging from two weeks in its first year to six weeks beginning in 1973) has been offered in orchestra, concert band, strings, piano, the "Pacific Jazz Workshop," classical guitar, harp, musical theatre, voice, opera and choral music, among other subjects. Financial difficulties led to the suspension of classical music and concert band instruction in 2008. The faculty (numbering 49 in 1990 and 16 in 2008) has included Robert Aitken, Hugh Fraser, Taras Gabora, Nicholas Goldschmidt, Irving Guttman, Barbara Livingston, Hugh McLean, Dave Proznick, Jacqueline Richard, Dave Robbins, Robert Rogers, Campbell Ryga, Robert Silverman, Gerald Stanick, Steven Staryk, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Bernard Turgeon, and Ronald Turini.
Although the Comox Valley Youth Music Centre has emphasized the teaching aspect of its mandate, it has also commissioned new works (eg, from Walter Buczynski and Harry Freedman); opened an opera school with touring productions (1973-85); offered a clinic for conductors (1974); participated in recordings (including of orchestral works by Peter Paul Koprowski under Raffi Armenian, 1980, CAPAC QCS-1491); and provided summer venues for such groups as Nexus (1974), Quartet Canada (1976), Great Lakes Quintet (1987), and the Orford String Quartet (1989). In 2005 the centre co-founded the 50-member Strathcona Symphony Orchestra under conductor Blaine Waldbauer. Concert series have included "Summer Music from the Comox Valley" (which was broadcast annually by the CBC) and the Pacific Jazz Festival (begun in 2004). While presenting guest artists such as Hermann Baumann, Angela Hewitt, Jon Kimura Parker, the Moe Koffman Quintet, Anton Kuerti and the Louis Quilico, the festival has also furnished opportunities for students and faculty to perform publicly. Alumni of the Comox Valley Youth Music Centre include Nancy Argenta, Daniel Armstrong, Gwen Hoebig, Diana Krall and Renee Rosnes.
Creech, Robert. 'The Comox Valley and the Courtenay Youth Music Centre: co-operation, confidence, commitment,' BC Music Educator, vol 27, Summer 1984
"A dream comes true with symphony," The Courtenay Comox Valley Record, 5 May 2006
"Weathering financial woes: CYMC returns scaled back," The Courtenay Comox Valley Record, 18 Apr 2008