A Juno-nominated children’s entertainer will share the stage alongside the Vancouver Island Symphony as he performs his wide array of catchy tunes about reading, animals and hygiene.
Will Stroet’s March 26 show at the Port Theatre will be the third iteration of his symphony show, having only performed it with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra previously.
The afternoon presentation will showcase classical pieces woven with original material of similar themes – such as with Flight of the Bumblebee followed by Stroet’s Make Friends With an Earthworm.
He said some of his original material really comes to life with a full orchestra behind it, particularly one of his favourite songs about a group of kids riding their tricycles around a neighbourhood like a “triker gang.”
“When I do it with my band, it really rocks. And then when I do it with a symphony, it’s kind of like this epic power song,” he said.
Stroet said his biggest inspiration for songwriting comes from children and that song topics are potentially endless.
“With kids and with music … it’s not just fun but it’s also a neat way for kids to learn. And that’s always been a really big part of my motivation and my career,” he said. “Obviously engaging the kids and making it fun, but also finding ways to have messages that teach them something. And they kind of don’t even realize they’re learning.”
As a lover of wordplay, word puzzles and crosswords, the musician’s favourite part about songwriting is creating whimsical and playful lyrics injected with humour. He also enjoys writing for a young audience as it allows him to explore different styles and genres of music since children don’t typically have preconceived notions over musical taste.
“It’s not about, ‘Oh I like rock and roll but hate country music,’ which I think as we grow, is kind of sad … For a lot of people, their identity gets tied in with certain styles of music,” he said. “It’s more, ‘Does it make them dance? Are they engaged? Is it fun?’”
As a former music teacher for a French immersion school in Vancouver, teaching and singing songs in French is a significant part of what Stroet does as an entertainer. He emphasized the importance of children learning additional languages while they’re young as a means of opening cultural doorways.
“Learning a language is sort of a doorway into all the other parts of culture, whether it’s music or food or traditions. And it’s something I really love … When you speak other languages … you can connect with people where they’re coming from instead of expecting them to connect with you and where you’re coming from. So there’s tons of value there,” he said.
The entertainer has created over 100 videos, in French and English, that can be found online at either www.willsjams.com or on his YouTube channel ‘Will’s Jams.’
As well as being nominated for a Juno for Children’s Album of the Year in 2017, Stroet has won a West Coast Songwriters Award for Best Children’s Song, a Kids Music Award, and has been nominated multiples times for Western Canadian Music Awards’ Best Francophone Recording. His original works have played on CBC Kids, Universal Kids, KidoodleTV and Sensical TV.
His upcoming Nanaimo show at the Port Theatre starts at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 26. Tickets can be purchased at www.porttheatre.com.
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