The journey to the 2020 BC Performing Arts Festival

An Interview with Tim Plait : This is the first in a series of features on the 2020 Performing Arts BC Provincial Festival, which Cranbrook is hosting

By Ken Matthias

For the aspiring young pianist, singer, or dancer, being selected to perform at the provincial level can be the moment an interest in the arts begins to evolve into a viable future, says Tim Plait, local piano teacher, performer, and accompanist. This is the story of Plait’s journey to Provincials, and what the Provincials actually are.

Cranbrook has been chosen to host the 2020 Performing Arts BC Provincial Festival, proposing an attendance of 650 of the most promising young talent in the province along with their families. It is an exciting and rare opportunity for the Kootenay region to host such a prestigious festival. Converging annually, select delegates from thirty-three Regional Festivals around the province perform at extremely high levels alongside their peers. These select delegates will have performed at their local, regional festival and will have been recommended by that year’s adjudicator as having the ability to compete at a provincial level.

As Tim Plait found out early in his life, being awarded top honours in a discipline does not guarantee a chance to perform at Provincials. Age, technical skill level, maturity, and other factors are also taken into account when considering if someone is truly ready to participate on the provincial stage. Plait won the East Kootenay Performing Arts Festival’s Senior Piano Award at age sixteen, but was not considered to advance to Provincials until he was nineteen.

Growing up in beautiful Kimberley, British Columbia, Plait began his musical career under the tutorage of Arne Sahlén, who would teach and encourage young Tim for many years. Tim’s interest and passion for music took him to Vancouver Island where he achieved three diplomas as an Associate of the Victoria Conservatory of Music in 2003 (A.V.C.M.: Piano Performance, Piano Teaching, Accompanying).

In 2004, Plait’s childhood instructor Sahlén’s passion for humanitarian work took him overseas. He asked Tim to take over his students while he was away. One year turned into seven years of teaching, which was followed by marriage, and a one-and-a-half-year adventure living and studying in Germany before returning back to Canada, and back to teaching, performing, and accompanying in the region he grew up in.

Plait remembers the thrill of traveling to, and attending such a big event as Provincials, “it was an exciting opportunity to be around others my age with a phenomenal level of skill. I did not see it as a matter of winning or losing.” Plait continues, “Someone may be considered a big fish back at home, but at Provincials, they get a chance to be around others with the same, or even a greater ability.”

Over the years, the provincial and regional festivals have evolved into encouraging and equipping experiences for the young performers. Seasoned and professional adjudicators provide expert and helpful advice over every performance given.

All of the young performers sit and are encouraged to enjoy hearing their peers perform. They all listen to the adjudicator’s comments together, learning not just from their own evaluation, but the others as well.

Plait gives some advice to all the participants in this year’s Performing Arts BC Provincial Festival, “When listening to the adjudicator’s comments, remember… you have already made it here. Obviously, you have done a lot right. The adjudicator is simply making some suggestions to get even better.” Plait says,

“You may not agree with everything that is said. That is okay. Listen for some really good advice that can help you grow.”

The Performing Arts BC Provincial Festival will be held at various venues and churches around the city on June 2-6, 2020. The public is welcome to attend any of these daily class performances for an inexpensive admission fee. Public Provincial Highlight Concerts will be held at the Royal Alex Hall on June 4, and at Key City Theatre on June 5-6. These will be ticketed events with limited seating. For more information and schedule as it becomes available, go to ekperformingartsfestival.org.

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