Quesnel Live Arts

our journey Through the years

Residents of Quesnel and area have been afforded performing arts presentations for close to 60 years!  Earliest records available to Quesnel Live Arts indicate presentation of concerts from 1960 to 1966.  Membership ranged between 175 and 400 people with budgets ranging from $1400 to $1950. There were three performances annually, including The Canadian Opera Company. 

In 1975 Quesnel Concert Association, affiliated with Overture Concerts, was formally established. Between 1975 and 1981 this group presented three yearly concerts plus another with local performers. Victoria Symphony Orchestra in 1979 and The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in 1981 were brought to Quesnel. 

Quesnel Live Arts was formed in the fall of 1981 as a committee of the Quesnel and District Community Arts Council. The season opening concert, Anna Wyman Dance Theatre, was presented in the new Correlieu Theatre. The Grand Piano was first used in the 1983–1984 season by Holly Arntzen. During the 1980s between 4 and 6 concerts were provided and included such diverse groups as Purcell String Quartet, Vancouver Welshmen’s Choir, Ballet BC, Vancouver Opera Company, New Orleans Jazz and the Melloyds. Local artists included the Prince George Symphony Orchestra and Cantata Singers, A Legacy of Song with talented local musicians Pat Schreiber and Paul Dykstra, and a Youth Concert. 

Throughout the 1990s local artists were given opportunities to perform. This included Philharmonia West, comprised of Prince George and Kamloops symphonies with Paul Dykstra, the Cariboo Gold Big Band Brass, University of Victoria Music School students and Performers North from Judy Russel’s studio in Prince George. These were also the years that Piano Six toured and Quesnel was graced with the talents of Jon Kimura Parker, Angela Hewitt and Janina Fialkowska. 

Diversity of performance has been the goal aspired to over the last decade and more.  To this end performances have included classical music, jazz, Celtic, folk, acapella, classical guitar, brass, comedy, theatre, step dancing, ballet and others! Whether working with the BC Touring Council, northern presenters from Prince Rupert to Prince George or on its own, QLA provides performance opportunities for up and coming young artists and established performers from BC and throughout Canada.   

Quesnel Live Arts has always been comprised of a group of dedicated volunteers who value the arts and aspire to making them accessible in a small community. Presenting performances is a multi-faceted task from the selection of artists to arranging venues, meeting lighting and sound requirements, accommodation, advertising, programmes, front of house and hospitality. There is also the necessary fund raising through sponsorships and grant applications so it is all possible! Ticket sales, whether it be season ticket holders supporting a full season, or individual concert attendees, all contribute to the ongoing ability to provide a season of live arts presentations. 

Over the years QLA has contributed to the community by providing fund raising shows, performance opportunities, master classes and reduced ticket prices for local arts students. QLA has worked in partnership with local music businesses and musicians providing co-sponsorship of performances and accessing skills, equipment and technical expertise. QLA is an active member of the Quesnel and District Community Arts Council which promotes the arts in QuesnelSupport and assistance to member groups is provided as well as producing the Children’s Concert Series, other opportunities for arts involvement for children and youth and promotion of a Performing Arts Centre in Quesnel. 

Remembrances from QLA members: 

Cathy Walsh recalls productions being held in Maple Drive School and the former Baptist Church. After having Chuck Mobley Theatre available, there were still obstacles to overcome: bleachers stuck and immoveable, ramps or a forklift required to place the piano onstage. Initially Overture Concerts provided almost everything needed so when the first technical rider was received the committee had new things to figure out! The first was for comedian Tomas Kubinek who wanted a hook in the middle of the ceiling for attaching ropes so he could fly! Search and Rescue came to the rescue! Another time our piano technician rushed to Cathy’s home to retrieve a second piano bench for the Four Hands, One Piano performance. And what could be more apropos than Marie Jose Lord singing Je Suis Malade at the end of the first half, unable to complete the show due to illness. On another occasion a moment of panic ensued when the committee received word that a performer’s plane had “gone down”Such relief to know it had landed in Hinton AB due to a snowstorm!   

Colleen Brines has fond memories of the time when acapella group Cadence was backstage after finishing their sound and light check with the students who provided these services. They were all singing away, with Cadence providing the back up vocals.  Watching students and Chuck Mobley climb up those tall ladders to adjust lights was quite the sight! And so too was Chuck’s 1970s retro basement rec. room where an “after-party” or two were held! Other post show remembrances include pianist Phillip Chiu assisting concert goers to their vehicles as the parking lot was like the most slippery skating rink imaginable. Quartom, another acapella group, serenaded the committee members at their after party and a Happy Birthday video was sent to an absent member. Advertising for shows can be memorable too. Lucas Meyer’s one man show “The Deck” saw us needing lumber and an advertising warning: Partial Nudity and Power Tools! 

Many hands make light work and this really helps when we need to dismantle and then put together our grand piano so it can be on the stage or stack chairs to load into a trailer at the end of the showThe success of Quesnel Live Arts is contingent upon an involved, active, resourceful group of volunteers.   

If you are interested, Join Us!