My wife Brenda and I were at Place des Arts in Montréal last night to attend a concert by Diana Krall. Some dear friends and family members joined us for a memorable evening.
The concert was superb. Diana and her band played a wide variety of music from 1920s jazz to American standards to blues. 3,000 people were in attendance and Diana connected musically with every one of us. Her fingers flew over the keyboard and her voice was flawless. She put her own unique interpretation on original songs as well as compositions by Tom Waits, Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell.
I admired how Diana and her five band mates worked together. It was obvious that they enjoy and respect each other. I was pleased to see that such teamwork produces the highest quality performance.
Besides being my favourite musician, Diana Krall is also a dear friend of our family. Unfortunately we see each other only rarely. When my wife and I do get together with Diana, we cherish the occasion.
I particularly cherished an occasion a few years ago when Diana and I worked together with students and teachers of Lord Beaverbrook High School in Calgary. It was a marvelous educational project. Over an academic year, the Beaverbrook students researched, wrote, edited, illustrated and composed the music for a book entitled ‘From Blue to Red’.
The book was targeted by the Lord Beaverbrook High School students for an elementary school readership. It tells an imaginative story of the first human mission to Mars. www.FromBlueToRed.net. For the students, it was an extraordinary learning experience.
The leaders of the project were teacher Ross McIntyre and artistic director Samantha Whelan Kotkas. Both are University of Calgary alumni. Compared to the central roles played by Ross and Samantha, the contributions of Diana Krall and me (i.e. narration of the story) were small.
Thanks to Ross and Samantha, the ‘From Blue To Red’ project is now established as a benchmark in Alberta for cross-curricular learning. If you have an interest in pedagogy and can spare 20 minutes, it would be worth your time to view the video documentary (also student-produced!) about the project. The documentary explains why and how the book was made.
I appreciated Diana Krall taking time from her busy schedule to participate in ‘From Blue To Red’. She understands that incredible things will be accomplished when students from art, science and music come together in a learning environment.
My wife and I enjoyed seeing Diana this evening. We beamed when we heard her sing and play. She brings joy to our world. In my next life, I think I’d like to be a jazz musician – the teamwork and creative aspects appeal to me. And I suspect that Diana would consider becoming an astronaut. She is a strong promoter of space exploration and enjoys pushing back all kinds of frontiers. Diana Krall is a national treasure and a good friend.