Classic 107's Sara Krahn was at the launch of the new season earlier this week. Her report back? 'Don't Miss this Year's Music 'N' Mavens'!

There is a reason Winnipeg has such a thriving cultural scene, and it's not just because of the city's wealth of talented artists. Karla Berbrayer is the artistic director of Music 'N' Mavens, Winnipeg's leading daytime concert and lecture series. Berbrayer's passion for the arts and education community has contributed to a fantastically diverse events program held every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon at the Rady Jewish Community Centre. Music 'N' Mavens runs from January through until March, and features a wide variety of scholars and musical talents from both inside and outside the local community.

This year marks the seventeenth year of the series, which began as an effort to provide daily, high caliber programming during the wintry afternoon. The aim was to keep the program affordable and accessible, which it definitely lives up to based on my experience at the season opener on Tuesday, January 13. The concert featured WSO musicians Meredith McCallum, violinist, and Emma Quackenbush, cellist, joined by pianist Donna Laube. The atmosphere was that of an intimate chamber concert, featuring works by Telemann, Prokofiev and Faure, and it was not more than an hour long. In addition, concerts are a set price of only $10, and the lectures are free admission.

"There is an educational component in every event," says Berbrayer, "whether it's about music or current events, the aim is that audiences will be both stimulated and entertained."

The series has grown considerably over the years, recently introducing classical music to its program, in keeping with its effort to draw a variety of audiences. Berbrayer says that she looks primarily for diversity when putting a series together. "With such a wealth of Manitoba musicians, I don't have to look very far." This season features everything fromnclassical and jazz, to indigenous, Latin and blues. Among the artists in the
concert line-up are indigenous rock group Indian City, experimental trumpetnplayer Dr. Richard Gillis, and the nationally esteemed Kang Mercer Park Trio, the only act from out-of-province. The season also features a unique tribute to female jazz lyricist, Dorothy Fields (who penned such hits as Sunny Side of the Street and The Way You Look Tonight), and two of Winnipeg's award winning soloists, soprano Sarah Jo Kirsch and pianist Madeline Hildebrand.

The lectures are also a vital component of Music 'N' Mavens – the term 'maven' refers to someone who is an expert in a particular area. "The speakers represent a diversity of current topics that speak to a lay audience," says Berbrayer. Topics to be discussed this year range from the conflicts in Ukraine and Russia and their impact on the rest of the world, to what it's like to be the first female editor of the opinion pages
in the Winnipeg Free Press.

It is important for Berbrayer that the events be intellectually stimulating and accessible for a general audience. She highly values the feedback of her patrons, "My mavens are my speakers, but also my audience."After the concert, there is a reception is the foyer with coffee and cookies. Artists and audience members mingle, and many of them enthusiastically approach Berbrayer, expressing much appreciation. It is people like Karla Berbrayer who make it possible for Manitoba artists and audiences to come together and celebrate one another in these wonderfully unique and educational experiences.

Coming up this Thursday, January 15th, vocalist Martha Brooks and collaborators perform the love songs of Irving Berlin, and next Tuesday, January 20th, Dr. Adam Bronstone discusses the unrest between Israel and the Middle East.

For more information on the series and a schedule go HERE.


Sara Krahn is a freelance contributor for Classic 107. When she is not covering events for us, she is a student of music at the Canadian Mennonite University.