As a professional musician who’s spanned the gamut from opera to pop, Brandi Sidoryk said she owes everything to her school band classes in Rocky Mountain House.
Krista Wodelet, her musical partner in the electro-pop band Sidney York, has equally strong feelings about music classes at the schools she attended in Calgary.
“We are products of public music education,” said Wodelet, “It’s the reason we do what we do today. We were both in public school band programs. It’s shaped us as musicians”
It was therefore a no-brainer for the Calgary-based duo to get involved in Keyboards for Kids. The charitable drive is crossing Alberta and British Columbia to collect donated keyboards, as well as guitars and other string instruments, for the non-profit Alberta Music Education Foundation.
The instruments will be used to give at-risk children an opportunity to participate in music lessons.
“Keyboards are meant to be played,” said Wodelet, who encourages anyone with an instrument that’s collecting dust to turn it over to the foundation to “give everybody a chance to learn music.”
For instance, kids in group music lessons who can’t afford their own keyboard will get a loaner one so they can practise at home, added Wodelet.
The Alberta Music Education Foundation drive is stopping in eight centres, including Red Deer and Rocky Mountain House.
Sidoryk and Wodelet will be accepting donations in Red Deer on Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Dose Coffee Company at 4902 Gaetz Ave. (and Wodelet promised to play a tune on every instrument donated).
Sidney York will also put on a full concert at the Rocky Mountain House stop on Wednesday. Sidoryk and Wodelet will accept instruments from 7 p.m. at the Rocky Community Centre at 4733 54th Ave. Anyone who brings in a donation can stay to attend the 8 p.m. concert for free. Otherwise, tickets will be $15 at the door.
Sidoryk credits her school band teachers in Rocky for not only giving her a good foundation is music, but also for helping organize this charitable concert.
“I feel very lucky … for how much they supported me.”
Sidney York is becoming known across Canada and Europe for quirky electro-pop songs that often pair dark themes with playful melodies.
The duo’s latest album is called <3s (Hearts) and is being gradually released throughout the year to subscribers, who get a couple of songs on a seven-inch vinyl record, as well as a poster designed by a Calgary comic book artist every month or two.
Wodelet said there are a few hundred subscribers, so far, and interest is growing.
The group is also building an international audience after performing in Singapore in May and Germany in September. “We want to go back to Europe. We started to tour there and we’re so pleased with the result,” Wodelet added.
The two musicians bring diverse backgrounds to the group: Sidoryk plays the French horn and has a master’s degree in opera singing, while Wodelet has a master’s degree in bassoon performance.
When they play their acoustic instruments as part of Sidney York, the sounds are run through guitar pedals to mimic electronic noises that would typically be made with a synthesizer.
Anyone who’s interested in donating an instrument but can’t attend the stops is asked to call 403-346-4004.