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Festival Fanfare: Vocals adjudicator a decorated performer

2024 Battlefords Kiwanis Music Festival April 15 to 28.
Ron de Jager is in the music department at Briercrest College for his 16th year.

THE BATTLEFORDS — The 2024 Battlefords Kiwanis Music Festival is scheduled to run from April 15 to 28 with vocal sessions scheduled April 21 to 24. This year’s guest vocal adjudicator is Ron de Jager, a native of Nova Scotia. Dr. de Jager is at Briercrest College for his 16th year. In 2009 he took a two-year study leave and completed a Doctor of Musical Arts at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va. Recent research and recitals have focused on nationalistic Canadian vocal music, particularly works by Torontonian composer John Beckwith.

Throughout his studies, de Jager has been mentored by Lorna MacDonald, Elvira Gonella, Greta Kraus and most recently, Dr. Janette Ogg. Recent performances include Bob in Menotti’s “The Old Maid” and “The Thief” (October 2017), an all-German recital with Dr. Laura Loewen (University of Manitoba, January 2016) and the role of Cosme McMoon in “Souvenir” with Rhubarb Productions (April 2016).

In 2012, de Jager sang for Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall at the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The ceremony was broadcast nationally on CBC and CTV. At the request of the lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia, he was the guest soloist at the inauguration of Pier 21 on Canada Day 2000. 

In addition, de Jager has enjoyed performing opera, oratorio, solo recitals, musical theatre, film and ballet. Select performances include “Dichterliebe,” “The Five Mystical Songs,” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Papageno in “Die Zauberflöte,” Billy Budd in “BillyBudd,” Harry Easter in “Street Scene,” Major General Stanley in “Pirates of Penzance,” Eli Black in “Without a Hitch?” Curly in “OKLAHOMA!” and the title role in Maury Yeston’s “Phantom.”

de Jager has performed as a recital soloist in Canada, the United States and the Netherlands and enjoys collaborating and performing with his wife, pianist Elena de Jager. Favourite recital selections include works by German composers Schubert, Loewe and Schumann and compositions by Handel, Debussy, Poulenc, Laitmann and Beckwith.

Reviewers have written, de Jager’s singing “... showed a refined and precise sense of the colour and atmosphere of the music” (Toronto, 1997), “.... in the second act he went on to sing the most touching moment of the evening” (Halifax, 2001) and “the role of the Major General is brilliantly portrayed by Ron de Jager whose experience is apparent in his brilliant expressions and rendition of the famous tongue-twisting tune.” (Moose Jaw, 2012).

de Jager has been a winner in the National Auditions of the American College of Musicians, MATS competition and Kiwanis Festival. He has been awarded the Monica Rychman Award, William Cary Award, NovaScotia Cultural Development Grant and was nominated to the Golden Key Society. Additionally, he serves as a vocal adjudicator and has adjudicated festivals and competitions in Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, NovaScotia, New Brunswick and Virginia.

As an associate professor at Briercrest College, he teaches private voice, vocal pedagogy, vocal master class, musical theatre workshop and acting. He directs opera scenes, Voices from the Front and serves as the artistic director of A Briercrest Christmas. Additionally, he provides leadership to the performance and worship arts department while maintaining a performance schedule.

“I am incredibly grateful for the many teachers, collaborators and performers who have generously given of themselves. These people chose to pass on what was given to them and their years of experience and wisdom remain an inspiration to me each day. I hope to do the same.”

For local folks wanting to show support for the festival, there are a variety of options. Businesses or individuals may wish to sponsor a session or award. Volunteer opportunities come in all sizes. For folks with more complicated schedules, volunteering might be in the form of making phone calls or running errands. For others, volunteering might involve being a greeter outside of sessions during the festival or being a secretary for the adjudicator. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and see where your time, skills, or resources might be of most help. Correspondence can be directed by email to the committee secretary Amy Francais or P.O. Box 1301, North Battleford, Sask., S9A 3L8.

 “I don't like the word 'rock star' or 'superstar.' I am a guitar player, a songwriter who got lucky because I stayed at it and didn't give up, long enough that people noticed me.” - Randy Bachman, (1953 - 2023)