People enjoy talking about Dr. Janice Fehlauer when she’s not around: the first thing they like to say is how nice she is, the second is how incredible she is with a set of keys—piano keys, that is.
“She is just so, so nice!” exclaimed Angie McDermid during a discussion outside of her chorus’s rehearsal. “She’s an incredible musician, she’s so smart, and she’s just so nice.”
“One of the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” agreed Paula Quick while chatting in a cafe. “And her playing—outstanding!”
Born and raised in Chilliwack, Fehlauer is a world-class pianist who’s performed with orchestras and symphonies across North America, and won numerous awards, including taking gold at the Wideman International Piano Competition.
Growing up in a musical family, it’s no surprise that Fehlauer is a musician. “My mom is a well-known music teacher and my dad is a music lover, so it was a family thing: music was always something we had going on in our house.
“And once I made up my mind to become a musician and do it professionally, I had an insatiable desire to learn,” said Fehlauer during a telephone interview.
After receiving the Associate Diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music in piano and violin, Fehlauer obtained her bachelor’s degree at UBC, and then crossed the border for her master’s and doctoral degrees.
“I had no intention on moving permanently,” said Fehlauer. “I came to Texas for my graduate degree and one thing lead to another and here I am.”
And now she’s returning home to help celebrate the Chilliwack Metropolitan Orchestra’s (CMO) 10th anniversary.
On Sunday, May 27, at 2:30 p.m., the CMO will present Scandinavian Adventures, which features musical favourites such as Finlandia, Peer Gynt Suite, the Military Polonaise, and Fehlauer will perform Grieg’s Piano Concerto.
“These are classical pieces that people don’t know they know,” said Fehlauer about the concert’s programme. “It’s wonderful, over the top, flashy, romantic 19th century music. It’s really recognizable.”
“The Peer Gynt Suite is really famous orchestra music,” added Johnson, humming a few bars of its famous melodies. Written for a play with the same name, the music takes many dramatic twists and turns as it follows its hero, Peer Gynt, on an incredible journey.
“It’s very Norwegian,” continued Johnson. “It’s full of starkness, severe pride, and lots of passion. (The audience) will love the music, but they’re going to really love Janice’s playing—she’s such a fantastic player,” Johnson added.
“She actually performed at the very first concert of this orchestra and we’ve brought her back for our 10th anniversary,” he continued.
However, because of the distance between the almost 40 orchestra members and Fehlauer, Johnson says preparing for this concert has had its challenges.
“There’s definite limitations,” explained Johnson. “In the community world, we require more rehearsals. A professional orchestra would get two rehearsals before the performance and we need about eight to 10.”
To combat the distance, Johnson said he conferred with Fehlauer about how she plays certain aspects of the concerto and incorporates that information into his vision when rehearsing with the orchestra.
“We do get two rehearsals with Janice, though, and then the performance,” he added.
So while she’s in town getting ready for the show, Fehlauer says she’s keen to take in some local shows in addition to performing with the CMO.
“Whenever I’m home I always take the time to check out local shows,” she said. “Chilliwack has a remarkable amount of musicians for its size and I’m always amazed by what they’re doing.
“I’m really lucky I’m able to work and study in a field I love so much that provides so many opportunities,” Fehlauer continued. “I do something different nearly every day. There’s never a dull moment.”
Taking place in the G.W. Graham Theatre, Scandinavian Adventures is a family friendly event that everyone’s sure to enjoy.
“I’m even bringing my five-year-old,” added Fehlauer. “It’s a great opportunity for family and kids.”
Tickets to Scandinavian Adventures are on sale now at The Bookman, Long & McQuade, King’s Music for $25—$15 for students—or can be purchased at the door.