Columnist Megan Cole says KHAOS

Cultivating KHAOS and creativity in Nelson

In a town like Nelson, the achievement of KHAOS the opera almost seems expected.

Going into my interview with KHAOS the opera’s librettist, Nicola Harwood, and composer, conductor and musical director Don Macdonald, I will admit I had no idea the grandeur of what was unveiled last Thursday.

Arts eyes from around the country were on Nelson last week.

Reporters from CBC and The Globe and Mail were all in town to take in the world premiere.

I don’t want to diminish the task Harwood and Macdonald undertook but I think Macdonald said it best: “These kinds of crazy and amazing things tend to happen in Nelson often enough. Is this moment any different than any other? There are crazy, wonderful things that seem impossible yet they are getting off the ground.”

Nelson is a place that seems to foster and propagate artistic talent.

Every week in {vurb} I take time to look at the arts and culture at this community and I am blown away by the talent, skill and creative energy that pours out of the people here.

The talent, skill and creative energy on stage at the Capitol last week cannot be ignored.

Take a moment to look at the credentials of some of the KHAOS team.

Macdonald is currently department head of Selkirk’s Contemporary Music and Technology Program. He won the prize for the best soundtrack at the Gerardmer Film Fest in France for his work his current score Fido. He’s also received Genie and Leo nominations for his work in Canadian film.

Allison Girvan, who plays Persephone in KHAOS, has been a featured soloist on recordings and in performances with music ensembles like the Vancouver Chamber Choir,  CBC Vancouver Orchestra and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Girvan is also music director for the Capitol Theatre’s youth program and directs the former City of Nelson cultural ambassador Corazon choir. She is also Macdonald’s wife.

Kevin Armstrong, who plays Cerebus, has returned to Nelson after working in Europe performing next to some of opera’s greats. He has played Pilate in several productions of Jesus   Christ Superstar.

Clearly when it comes to talent, KHAOS had a stacked line-up.

Layer on a heart stopping performance by 2012 cultural ambassador Hiromoto Ida and creative set design by Thomas Loh and the creative capacity of Nelson flowed off the stage and into the crowd.

The national coverage of KHAOS barely scraped the surface of the significance of the achievement, and in addition missed that even though it was a huge task, Nelson creates culture and creativity.

When you look at the people involved in the production, it was no surprise that it was a huge success.

And if you factor in that it happened in “the greatest little arts town,” Macdonald was right: these kinds of crazy things do seem to happen in Nelson often enough.

Walking through the halls of the Kootenay School of the Arts, or attending an open stage night at The Royal, the abundance of artistic ability in this great little arts town is on stage every day.

I have yet to discover why Nelson is different. There seems to be a common theme among Nelsonites that we need to invest in our arts and that as a community we need to do what we can to promote artists, musicians, designers and beyond.

It is this passion embedded in most residents that played a part in fostering the creation of KHAOS and it really couldn’t have happened anywhere else other than Nelson.








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