Local musician wins Loreena McKennitt Award

James Bergen accepts the Loreena McKennitt Award. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

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Winkler’s James Bergen won the Loreena McKennitt Award at the Morden Festival of the Arts.
The GVC Grade 12 student was presented with the award at the Hi-Lites Concert held April 28 at the Morden Alliance Church.
Created to honour Loreena McKennitt, who began her performing career by participating in the Morden Festival of the Arts, the award is presented to a student participating in their festival who is judged to have reached a high level of excellence in their musical studies.
Master of Ceremonies Leigh Penner said Bergen’s love of music started early and he was surrounded by it in his home.
“Listening to all types of music and attending concerts was motivational to him and inspired him to play violin, piano, guitar, and to draw and even dance,” she said. “He has always been willing to try new things and this has made him into the diverse musician and artist that he is today.”
Bergen started playing violin at the age of 3. His mom noticed how he quickly responded to playing by ear, as she played melodies on the piano, and as a little boy responded by playing the same melody on his violin.
He played violin in Morden Festival for many years and received provincial recommendations every year. At provincials he placed 2nd in all of his classes 4 years in a row. During this time, he participated in the Douglas Kuhl School of Music string ensembles as well as the Winnipeg youth orchestra. He attended music camps every summer, including Suzuki Summer Institute, Rosamunde Summer Academy and Cadenza.
“He loved the time he spent at these camps because he was immersed in music, learning, and being with friends,” Penner said. “He also attended a number of fiddle competitions around the province and received first place numerous times.”
Penner said Bergen has always been very comfortable on the stage in front of any audience.
He also spent time singing at home with his mom and siblings as well as in Homeschool Harmony Choir. As a teenager, he sang with school choirs, ensembles, school musicals and in the Central Manitoba Youth Choir. “It was during this time that he realized his passion for singing,” she said. “His choir directors over the years always inspired him to sing more, love choral music, and sing with others who share his passion.”
In grade 11, he started voice lessons and sang at Festival in Morden, Winkler and Winnipeg, receiving provincial recommendations at all three and 1st place in the Italian Class at Winnipeg Festival.
Outside of music, he enjoys hanging out with friends, playing basketball, lifeguarding, and teaching swimming lessons.
He has applied and been accepted to the University of Manitoba, Wilfred Laurier, and Western University, to study vocal performance.
Bio information supplied by Morden Festival of the Arts.

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