Cham­pi­ons of mu­sic

Work­shop planned to pro­mote mu­sic ap­pre­ci­a­tion

Northern Pen - - Saltwire Wheels - BY THOM BARKER SPE­CIAL TO THE NORTH­ERN PEN

The In­ter­na­tional Gren­fell As­so­ci­a­tion (IGA) has been cham­pi­oning health care, ed­u­ca­tion, re­li­gion and so­cial ser­vices for more than 125 years. Now, the ven­er­a­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion has turned its at­ten­tion to en­hanc­ing ac­ces­si­bil­ity to mu­sic on the North­ern Penin­sula and in Labrador.

En­ter Joe Don­aghey and Joanna Pohl.

Don­aghey, a clas­si­cal gui­tarist, was hired by IGA to head up phase two of its mu­sic pro­gram with the ti­tle mu­sic cham­pion.

“Isn’t that the coolest ti­tle, ever?” asked Pohl, co­or­di­na­tor of the Ice­berg Fes­ti­val, who is help­ing Don­aghey to put on a pilot work­shop in St. An­thony.

Ten­ta­tively, the pilot, which will be a mu­sic ap­pre­ci­a­tion work­shop, is set to take place in early De­cem­ber. Dates have not been fi­nal­ized as Don­aghey and Pohl are work­ing with Memo­rial Univer­sity and lo­cal mu­si­cians to co­or­di­nate sched­ules.

The planned for­mat is to have the mu­si­cians play a short set and talk about why they chose their in­stru­ments and the genre of mu­sic they play and how those things fit into the con­text of lo­cal and New­found­land mu­sic.

Don­aghey him­self will be the first guest mu­si­cian.

His choice of clas­si­cal gui­tar was kind of ac­ci­den­tal.

“I wanted to do mu­sic pro­duc­tion, but one year I just for­got to reap­ply,” he ex­plained. “I could play gui­tar, so I found the only pro­gram in On­tario (Cam­brian Col­lege) that did gui­tar and I got in, so I have six years of clas­si­cal gui­tar un­der my belt now.”

In fact, in ad­di­tion to his ad­vanced diploma from Cam­brian, Don­aghey has two de­grees from Memo­rial Univer­sity, a bach­e­lor’s and a de­gree in mu­sic com­po­si­tion.

He said he is now happy with his slip up.

“Learn­ing an in­stru­ment gives you in­cred­i­ble dis­ci­pline, which I don’t think I would have got­ten with record­ing to the same de­gree,” he said.

Don­aghey and Pohl want to turn the pilot into a whole se­ries of work­shops on dif­fer­ent top­ics, for St. An­thony and other com­mu­ni­ties on the North­ern Penin­sula and in Labrador.

Mu­sic ap­pre­ci­a­tion was the nat­u­ral place to start, Don­aghey said.

“Al­ways hav­ing mu­sic around from a young age, re­ally in­flu­enced where I am now,” he ex­plained. “Get­ting that point across, what mu­sic can do, even if it’s not ob­vi­ous, it cer­tainly shapes who you be­come.”

Al­though they will be bring­ing in oth­ers to help present the ini­tia­tive, Don­aghey also wants to make sure there is lo­cal in­volve­ment.

“I think keep­ing lo­cal mu­si­cians in it is im­por­tant,” he said. “I don’t want to push that out, I want to keep that and also open up things to other in­flu­ences.”

Pohl’s in­volve­ment also came about some­what ac­ci­den­tally.

Orig­i­nally from this area, she wanted to move home and get in­volved with the Gren­fell legacy, so she went back to col­lege and was hired by the town to co­or­di­nate the Ice­berg Fes­ti­val af­ter grad­u­at­ing.

Also from a mu­si­cal fam­ily, Pohl was look­ing for a way to tie that per­sonal legacy in with the Gren­fell legacy. Don­aghey hap­pened to get an of­fice a cou­ple of doors down from hers at the St. An­thony mu­nic­i­pal build­ing and they got to talk­ing about work­ing to­gether.

In the short term, she said, they have bit­ten off what they can man­age for the mo­ment, with as­pi­ra­tions of hold­ing reg­u­lar work­shops and per­haps even in­cor­po­rat­ing a tourism com­po­nent to it.

In the long term, the plan is much grander.

“We want to have a per­ma­nent space and de­velop an arts and cul­ture cen­tre here that serves the Great North­ern Penin­sula and Labrador,” she said. “There’s a lot of in­ter­est and a lot of sup­port in that long-term con­cept.”

The first phase of the mu­sic pro­gram was con­ducted by MUN pro­fes­sor Dr. Tom Gor­don, who worked in Nain with brass bands, a legacy of Mo­ra­vian mis­sion work in north­ern Labrador.


Joe Don­aghey per­forms at Memo­rial Univer­sity dur­ing his grad­u­a­tion recital in April.

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