Last year the Friends of Nanaimo Jazz Society was forced to cancel its biggest annual fundraiser and this year the group is making up for it with a series of virtual events.
Each year the society’s Jazz Affair concert raises money to support jazz education in the Nanaimo school district and brings in visiting artists to hold workshops with students. This was unable to proceed in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Society marketing and communications coordinator Marcus Morosan said the board met over the summer to discuss alternative ways of presenting music while helping students and this weekend it’s launching its new monthly virtual concert series. Morosan said the hope is the series will culminate with an online Jazz Affair in May.
“We thought this was a great idea for us to feature some really world-class musicians, but also really our main thing is to gather donations for these kids because these kids have opportunities right now, even in a virtual space, to still get some very high-quality experiences and education online,” Morosan said. “So we’re just trying to support that the best way that we can even though they might not be face-to-face.”
On Feb. 20 the series kicks off with a performance by trumpeter and saxophonist Ingrid and Christine Jensen, Nanaimo-raised sisters who came out of the very education system that the society supports.
“Nanaimo gave so much to me as a student growing up there in the ’80s through the music programs and I think it’s in our family to support that,” Christine said.
Ingrid and her trio are performing from New York City, while Christine joins them from her home in Montreal. The videos have been edited together to create a cohesive performance.
Christine said the Canada-U.S. border has never had such an impact in her life as it does now.
“I never took it for granted that I was able to just hop in my car and drive down to New York from Montreal but it’s definitely been challenging to not be able to be in the same room making music with Ingrid,” she said. “Whether it’s between our two cities with a border or somewhere in the world, we always have places [where] we meet up and play and do live concerts.”
Morosan said inviting the Jensens to take part in the virtual series was a “no brainer.”
“We thought it was a great idea to have them first just because people know them around town and they’re just such great musicians that originated here in Nanaimo,” he said.