“Canadian Folk Sketches

“Canadian Folk Sketches

The length and breadth of musical Canada

Celtic artist Lizzy Hoyt debuts “Canadian Folk Sketches” with the Symphony of the Kootenays

Barry Coulter

Here’s a travelogue you’ve seldom heard the like of before.

One of the top Celtic musicians and folk singers in the country will be presenting musical portrait of Canada with the Symphony of the Kootenays this Saturday, Feb. 13, at the Key City Theatre in Cranbrook.

Lizzy Hoyt — an Edmonton-based singer, songwriter, fiddler and step-dancer — has had new symphonic arrangements crafted for her original Canadian-inspired songs as well as a mix of well known folk songs from across the country. These will be presented for the first time ever in Cranbrook, with “Canadian Folk Sketches,” the Symphony’s third concert of the season.

“It’s very exciting for me,” Hoyt said in an interview with the Townsman. “Not every folk artist gets the opportunity to play with a symphony orchestra. So this is very exciting for me and my trio.”

Hoyt’s trio is comprised of herself (guitar, fiddle, harp), Keith Rempel on upright bass and guitarist/mandolinist Chris Tabbert — the latter two who’ve been playing with Hoyt for about six years. “Great musicians, great people. Almost all of my touring with with them.”

It’s been a rewarding and inspiring journey Hoyt has taken in compiling this most Canadian of shows. And there is no simple definition for the rich and varied Canadian musical heritage she’s presenting. One of the challenges when talking about folk music in Canada, Hoyt says, is the diversity of regions and how the music is reflected accordingly. Newfoundland, after all, is different from B.C.

“There’s such a variety of music. It changes so much depending on where you are, or what background people are from.

“But it’s a very rich culture, when you think about all the folk music that’s in Canada. There’s so much of it and from varied backgrounds.”

Hoyt says that in a general sense, Saturday’s concert will be a folk music show, with a mix of some of the songs she has composed about Canada, as well as standard Canadian folk songs from across the country.

“Obviously I specialize in Celtic, but growing up in Western Canada there’s some influence from Country music. But we did want to make sure we touched on the strengths and variety of folk music in Canada.

“We’ve made an effort to hit every province in some number. We’ve got some songs in French, we’ve got some Métis fiddle tunes, we’ve got an Inuit lullaby on the program … We’re trying to make sure it’s a really diverse show.”

Hoyt said the show will also touch on some Canadian history, with her songs like “Vimy Ridge” and “New Lady On The Prairie.”

As to the symphonic arrangements, Hoyt herself wrote one of them. “I thought it would be a great exercise and challenge for me, and it certainly was. But as an artist it’s always fun to find something new that you’d like to learn. So I did the arrangement for ‘Land of the Silver Birch,’ and it’s a little bit of a smaller orchestra — for strings and winds — but it was a very rewarding experience. Maybe I’ll do another one in the future.”

Hoyt says the majority of the arrangements were done by a professional arranger and professional copyist. These colleagues were people experienced not only with symphony orchestras and all the instruments, also experience specifically writing charts for artists who are not classical musicians —  k.d. lang, for example.

“People finding ways between making a bridge between different styles of music and what a symphony orchestra is capable of.”

This symphony weekend will be the first time Hoyt has debuted this material — a couple of rehearsals (including the open rehearsal Saturday afternoon). And concert-goers can expect a high energy show for the evening.

“The fiddle tunes are very lively, the step-dancing is always very fun,” Hoyt said. “And on a personal note, I love to talk to the audience as well. As a person who goes to concerts I love hearing songwriters introduce their songs and give a little background about the story. I think that’s a very important part of delivering material in a live setting.”

“Canadian Folk Sketches,” with Lizzy Hoyt’s trio and the Symphony of the Kootenays, takes place Saturday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m.