Lapp’s circle of life (and the joy of it)

In Concert

Joy of Life Festival featuring Daniel Lapp, Louise Rose, the B.C. Fiddle Orchestra, Joy of Life Choir and more

When: Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. (doors at 7)

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Where: First Metropolitan United Church, 932 Balmoral Rd.

Tickets: $10-$20 (one concert), $15-$35 (two concerts) at joyoflifefestival.ca, Ivy’s Books (2188 Oak Bay Ave.), or 250-597-2713

Note: Kids five and under are free

If there’s an event that will benefit young musicians while simultaneously paying tribute to the music of his youth, Daniel Lapp is more than happy to organize it.

Even if it means stretching himself to the point of near exhaustion.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Lapp said Tuesday while travelling via ferry between his homes on Pender Island and in Victoria.

“But at the same time, it’s starting to become more and more clear to me where my heart lies. My passions are stronger than ever and the motivation is there. There are not enough hours in the day.”

This weekend, Lapp, a noted fiddle instructor and choir director, unveils his latest community creation under his House of Music Society banner: The Joy of Life Festival, a two-day event featuring the work of his many current and former students and collaborators, who number in the hundreds.

The Prince George native is playing, performing and organizing this weekend at the First Metropolitan United Church.

He will be on stage for the majority of both nights, leading his Joy of Life Choir and B.C. Fiddle Orchestra through their paces. He will also be fiddling alongside one of his groups, Folkestra, jamming with an all-star Celtic contingent.

The fiddle concert on Friday will celebrate Fishcakes & Oranges, the latest CD by the B.C. Fiddle Orchestra.

There’s also a keen interest in his Saturday program, which will see pianist, jazz singer and choir director Louise Rose on stage with Lapp for what is being advertised as their first-ever proper performance together in Victoria.

“Both of us being in this city for so long, our paths have crossed lots of times,” Lapp said. “But we have only played together a little bit, usually at a benefit both of us have been asked to be at.”

Rose and Lapp did work together two weeks ago, along with Lapp’s longtime bandmates Danuel Tate (organ), Kelby McNayr (drums) and Rick May (bass), at a trio of performances on Pender Island.

Lapp, who also directs the Pender Choir, threw everyone together for a series of concerts that Lapp described as “magical,” in part because of Rose’s involvement.

If their Pender performances were anything to go by, Lapp said music fans are in for an extra-special treat Saturday.

“Rick and Kelby and I sat at the side of the stage watching Louise, jaws on the floor. She’s one of the heaviest jazz piano players that any of us had ever heard. What really impressed me was her incredible rapport with the audience. She knows how to connect with an audience.”

The same could be said of Lapp, one of the city’s most beloved performers. He’s adept at all sorts of music and instruments, including trumpet, which he studied at the University of Victoria.

But his passion remains the fiddle, which he learned to love while growing up in Prince George.

He is hoping to write a book about B.C.’s fiddle history, which was relatively obscure until the mid ’70s. “It wasn’t just happening here, it was happening in Ireland as well. The music was also lost there, too.”

Lapp’s mother, Charlotte, who grew up playing fiddle music, eventually joined forces with other like-minded individuals in hopes of preserving the culture, Lapp said.

“When I was a teenager, there was maybe five or six of us playing the fiddle. But my mom’s generation started to get organized, and that’s when the B.C. Old Time Fiddlers Association started.”

The fondness for the fiddle began to spread to the younger kids, Lapp said. “In almost every little pocket, there were a few young guys or girls that were playing. An awareness grew.”

Lapp is now at the top of the chain in B.C., in terms of those spearheading the fiddle renaissance.

Among his former fiddle students is a clutch of Grammy- and Juno-nominated Greater Victoria performers, including Tania Elizabeth, Adrian Dolan, Patrick M’Gonigle, Adam Iredale-Gray and Dougal Bain McLean, along with sibling pairs Kendel and Tyler Carson, Ivonne and Kalissa Hernandez, and Qristina and Quinn Bachand.

Some of them will be on stage this weekend at the Joy of Life Festival. Those not able to make it will surely be called upon next year, Lapp said, to help with the B.C. Fiddle Orchestra’s 20th anniversary.

“It’s staggering, this town. I’d say there isn’t a community in the country that has so many top-notch fiddle players that represent such a great diversity. There might be as many in Halifax, but they are going to be Maritime, Cape Breton-style.

“Out here, there is such a neat approach to the music. We’re at a key point of forging a West Coast style, which will be unique in the world of fiddle.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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