For Ken Lavigne, growing up in Colwood was a magical experience.
The Island’s superstar tenor remembers roaming his neighbourhood in the Esquimalt Lagoon area with friends, riding their bikes down to the gravel pit (which has now been transformed into Royal Bay Secondary school), hanging out at the beach and attending Sangster Elementary school.
It was the type of freedom Lavigne cherished most about his childhood on the West Shore.
“I don’t know if that even exists anymore. I just have so many great memories of exploring … there’s so many wild areas, forests and untamed wilderness,” said Lavigne, who will be returning to his old stomping grounds for a concert next week. “We would just roam around as kids. It was a pretty magical upbringing,”
Aside from roaming the neighbourhoods, Lavigne’s other passion was music. As a child, he was always singing, although he noted his family wasn’t particularly musically talented.
Eventually, Lavigne fell in love with classical singing and set his sights on becoming an opera singer. It wasn’t until he enrolled in the music program at the University of Victoria that Lavigne realized he could turn his life-long passion of music into a career.
And he’s done just that. In 2004, Lavigne was recruited by an instructor at the Victoria Conservatory of Music to join a singing trio called the Canadian Tenors. He’s also performed his blend of classical tenor sound and modern style for big names such as Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth and David Foster, and a few years ago fulfilled his life-long dream of performing at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Now, the internationally-known artist will be returning to his old stomping grounds for his first concert at Teechamista Theatre at Royal Bay Secondary on Saturday, Oct. 7. The show will open with The Cool Beans Trio. Lavigne will be performing a number of audience favourites, as well as songs from his newest album, Closer than Ever, along side his band, consisting of violin bass, piano and percussion. He’ll also perform a few covers, including a version of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young.
Laura Davis, president of the West Shore Arts Council that is putting on the event, said the concert is a chance for West Shore residents to experience high quality music at an affordable price.
“It’s a time where people can forget about the stress of life and just enjoy the songs that talk about things that they might relate to, invoke emotions of happiness and even sadness sometimes,” Davis said, adding they’ve sold half of the 300 tickets already.
“It takes them away from the normal day-to-day life.”
Returning home is always a special thing for Lavigne, who often visits his parents who still live in the Esquimalt Lagoon area.
“I just want to see what changes have been happening. I’m super keen to return to my own stomping grounds and be able to say ‘yes, I remember when this was truly a gravel pit’ and see the changes now. I’m happy to return,” Lavigne said.
The concert takes place at the theatre at 3500 Ryder Hesjedal Way. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 7. Tickets are $20 and are available at Tom Lee Music, Westside Instaprint, Coast Collective Art Centre or online at westshorearts.org.