Have you ever felt a yen to learn the double bass?
The stately string might not be a first choice for a musical novice wading into orchestral instruments, but if one could try producing its deep soulful notes without commitment to buy, it might make the pursuit more feasible.
This year, Kelowna Community Music School is offering a basic introduction to double bass with the opportunity to try out an instrument at the school under the guidance of one of their two new teachers.
“Owning an instrument is a big barrier for people. So we’re offering this to let people try it out,” said Meagan Williams, a professional musician who joined the school this year after five years with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra.
Williams plays an interesting role in Kelowna’s cultural scene—pun intended.
After striking up with the symphony years back, a colleague recently pointed out an administrative position had opened up with Ballet Kelowna. The job offered the possibility of a permanent move from Vancouver to Kelowna and, as teaching at the community music school seemed naturally to follow, she had soon secured the trifecta of arts jobs.
Although, when she first stepped out on the Kelowna Community Theatre stage, this wasn’t an obvious outcome.
“As a freelance musician living in Canada, you often have to travel in order to find work and when I landed in Vancouver I looked for all the opportunities in B.C.,” she said. “The Okanagan Symphony was the first to respond.”
The 51-year-old symphony proved a natural fit and travellling miles to pursue music was already part of her game plan.
Williams earned her first degree at the Toronto Royal Conservatory School of Music and went on to earn the German equivalent of a master’s degree at the University of the Arts in Berlin. She played in Europe for three years, then joined an orchestra in Japan for two seasons before returning home to live in Vancouver.
Globe trotting and commuting behind her, she’s found the kind of multifaceted role in the Okanagan that will allow her to exercise the full range of skills she’s built.
“It’s a tightly knit cultural community in Kelowna,” she said. “A of the (instructors at the Kelowna Community Music School) perform with the Okanagan symphony, which is something that you don’t see all the time.”
Williams has been named acting principal bass this season with the symphony and said she hopes her students and prospective young talent will follow in her footsteps in the Okanagan Symphony Youth Orchestra program, which offers performance opportunities.
In the meantime, she will be teaching at the music school one day a week along with Stephanie Nakagawa, a soprano who grew up in Salmon Arm. Nakagawa studied UBC and went on to a doctoral program at Indiana University.
Kelowna Community Music School can be contacted at 250-860-1737 to register for the classes.