Back... by Popular Demand! - An interview article (2013)
Believe! - An interview article (2008)
Danny Boy Video - For St. Patrick's Day
Links - To formal biography, web site, review (2009) and management
Back... by Popular Demand!
An interview article by Rosemary Phillips, 2013
The following article has been written in preparation for Ken's 2013 performances with the Vancouver Island Symphony on February 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Qualicum Civic Centre, and on February 10 at 2 p.m. in the Port Theatre, Nanaimo.
Chemainus tenor Ken Lavigne – popular charmer, storyteller, humorist and inspiring messenger of hope - is forever re-inventing himself - and comes out laughing and smiling. For this interview in early January he was caught in his basement office in the family home. “Christmas time is so incredibly busy, and my office was such a mess,” he chuckled. “There have been several trips to Staples and Office Depot, and I’ve been working hard on re-organizing.”
He sat down to pause and clear his head. He laughed, “I think Valentine’s Day is one of those days that strikes terror in men to be ultra romantic. Most of us swear that we don’t want to observe it because it’s been put on us by the greeting card industry.” Then he paused some more. “You can only give so many cards and chocolates. If you want to be creative, don’t give your loved one things, give them an experience, like this concert!”
Right on Ken! But why?
The Valentine's Show
“The main focus is to have the audience uplifted. I’ll be singing a lot of romantic tenor love songs through the ages – love songs with a symphony orchestra – definitely stirring!” And with a voice like sun-warmed gold, yup, definitely stirring. He’s quite the salesman is Ken! You can tell he believes in what he does! “I’ve been on a bit of a Celtic song bend for a while. Some of those Scottish ballads I find really emotional. They get me. Like Loch Lomond, Danny Boy, Eriskay Love Lilt. I was thinking of doing romance from around the world – French, Italian, German, Scottish... and of course there will be surprises!”
Ken has been working on not doing the same-old, same-old. “We are crafting the show to use the VI Symphony to its greatest ability, and to highlight the songs and time of year. Pierre (Simard) is an absolute dream of a conductor. We have such a wonderful time together.”
Growth and Change
So what has Ken been up to since his last highly popular concert with the VI Symphony? “I’ve been stretched,” he mused, “so when getting back on stage in my own show it’s a much more relaxing environment; it’s second nature to me to spin a few stories and sing a few songs.”
So how has he been stretched? “It’s been a year of real growth and change in terms of what I have been performing. Normally I tour doing concerts. This year I decided to stay closer to home.” This past summer Ken took on the role of Pharoah in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for the Chemainus Theatre Festival. “We did 100 shows. I felt like I had two left feet when dancing but it was a lot of fun.”
And it was back to opera, chamber opera to be exact, and two new productions with musical scores by Tobin Stokes. The first was Fallujah based on a US veteran’s inner battle and inspired by the real life story of Christian Ellis. It was staged and filmed with City Opera Vancouver. Ken reflected, “This one was quite raw.” The second was Rattenbury with the Other Guys Theatre Company, performed at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. “It was an opera in concert form. I played the younger Rattenbury. He was a real piece of work, a local legend who led a colourful life of controversy. He left his imprint on the landscape of British Columbia with his architectural designs of the parliament buildings and Empress Hotel. Richard Margison played the older Rattenbury. It was a thrill for me to be on the same stage with him.”
Ken also added to his list of great easy-listening recordings with Show Time, released in June. “It was inspired by the desire to finally record some of my favourite musical theatre ballads. I love these songs and each one is special to me.Keep Holding On is doing well. The title song was chosen to represent the mission of the Salvation Army and was used to kick off their media campaign for their annual Christmas Kettle drive.”
There’s more! “I’m really excited about some of the new opportunities opening up, touring Canada, and recordings with artists from abroad and the US. At the moment these are in planning stages.” Then Ken stops and listens. “Oh, I hear the pitter-patter of feet upstairs. Young Geordie is home.” It’s been four years since Ken’s phenomenal debut concert at Carnegie Hall and three since the birth of his son Geordie Joseph Carnegie Lavigne. Time flies... and so does Ken...
For Valentine’s, gift the joy-of-your-heart with the experience of a romantic concert featuring Vancouver Island’s very own tenor Ken Lavigne and the Vancouver Island Symphony. Tickets are available for February 9 in Qualicum at Mulberrybush Books in Qualicum and Parksville, and for February 10 at the Port Theatre Ticket Centre, 250-754-8550.
An interview article by Rosemary Phillips, 2008
UPDATE 2013 for "Believe": Since this interview Ken Lavigne has made his debut at Carnegie Hall, accompanied by the New York Pops Orchestra under the baton of Simon Capet. He received three standing ovations and terrific reviews. This debut led to further engagements across North America including appearances with the famed LA producer David Foster, and a beautiful new recording - "Keep Holding On" with inspiring songs like "Sailing", "Hallelujah", "Love to Me", "Into the Mystic, and "Imagine". In addition, Ken and wife Alice have a new son (now three years old) - Geordie Joseph Carnegie Lavigne.
Ken Lavigne believes. In fact, he believes so passionately he’s made a recording (his second) with songs like You Raise me Up, Because We Believe and his own creation I’m Coming Home – and called it ‘believe’. He has also taken a gigantic step to follow his heart and his dream of singing at Carnegie Hall in New York.
“I had an epiphany one day,” said this award-winning singer from his home in Chemainus, BC, where daughter Gracie was off to school and little Lucy was being taken by mother Alice to a mum’s social group. “Why am I waiting for something to happen?” continued Ken who has been a member of the original Canadian Tenors and Romanza and has appears with orchestras across Canada and the US. To perform at Carnegie Hall is, for a singer, a huge accomplishment, rather like a mountaineer reaching the summit of Mount Everest. “I don’t want to wake up 20 years from now and wonder why I didn’t take the opportunity. I casually sent Carnegie Hall an e-mail with my biography. I got an immediate response that they’d love to have me.”
Ken Lavigne singing "Danny Boy", for St. Patrick's Day, 2009
It's the song he sang for his audition to the University of Victoria.
There are many more new videos of Ken on YouTube.com.
He took a deep breath. “The thing is, this is my dream; this is what I want to do. The important thing is that I am on the stage to sing my heart out. I’m the eternal optimist!”
And sing he does, with a magnificent tenor voice that is both naturally beautiful and clear; a touch of Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli but distinctly Ken Lavigne. And like preparing for a mountain climb, before he goes to Carnegie Hall in January 2009 he’s warming up with performances of his favourite songs (accompanied by a lush 40-piece orchestra conducted by Simon Capet) in concerts for his Island fans!
“To have people know me gives me the confidence to try the big thing. These are my friends, people I know who come to the shows. It’s nice to live in a community where you can risk and go out on a limb.”
Ken has fans from one end of the Island to the other and thousands will remember him from his solo performance at Symphony in the Harbour 2005 with the Vancouver Island Symphony. There’s something special about him, besides his wonderful voice; he’s non-pretentious, just Ken, telling his stories like he’s relaxed in your own living room.
“I first got into music in my late teens,” he said with a chuckle. “My choir teacher said that if I wanted to go to university I should try out for the UVic music program. I went for the audition and waited my turn in the hallway alongside all these confident sopranos. I’d hear them through the door, then they’d come out shaking. I asked what they were singing and they’d say; Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven. I thought, ‘who?’ Then it dawned on me that maybe there was an expectation of something in another language. I only had two songs that I knew by memory; I did Danny Boy. They must have liked it. That song helped me get my student loan. I do it now for every show.”
Ken has been singing professionally since his graduation and he takes his music very seriously, but not himself. “I want to do an impeccable job,” he added laughing, “but as for myself, I am human. I need to engage the audience and talk about the music. I share stories about the songs and about my life, whatever comes to mind.”
On his programs are songs that touch every heart - The Prayer, Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Song of the Mira, Nessum Dorma, Hymn a l’amour by Edith Piaf and of course, Danny Boy and many more.
An evening with Ken will have you believing that you can do anything when you put your heart to it – for Ken is doing just that.
Links - To formal bio, web site and management
For Ken's formal biography, more information visit Ken Lavigne's
For Ken's management visit Caline International Artists. web
Follow this link for a Review. of Ken Lavigne in concert.
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