Ken Lavigne sets sights on Sydney Opera House

Destination Down Under: Chemainus tenor ready to add another entertainment icon to his Carnegie Hall notch

Cowichan's most noted crooner

There’s a well-known joke that goes: “how to do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice practice.”

One of Canada’s leading tenors, Chemanius resident Ken Lavigne did plenty of that and some fundraising too, so he could rent and sing at Carnegie Hall in January 2009. To rave reviews, we should add.

The singer, who’s worked with David Foster, performed for royalty and sang around the world has now set his sights on renting Sydney, Australia’s iconic Opera House. All going to plan, he’ll perform there in October, 2015.

“The why is very simple: I’m a performer, it’s an incredibly beautiful building and I want to be part of that,” Lavigne said.

Renting out Carnegie Hall, hiring a symphony, fundraising and all the other things involved in making the Carnegie Hall event happen taught him a lot, especially about how to be more efficient when producing concerts, the Chemaniac said.

“Still, doing this is an ambitious undertaking,” Lavigne said, adding that as a singer, if he had his druthers he’d just be singing, not focusing so much on this mammoth undertaking.

The estimated cost for renting the concert hall which seats 3,400 is $120,000, plus an additional $40,000 for an orchestra.

“The price is steeper than Carnegie Hall, that shocked me a bit, it’s a much more vast machine (to run) with the seven theatres within the opera house,” Lavigne said.

The singer is in talks with PBS, which will triple the costs, but in return they’ll broadcast and sell the concert to its 750 affiliate stations during one of its pledge drives. Lavigne hopes to recoup what he’s spent that way.

He’ll know whether the PBS deal is a go by the end of November or early December, he said.

For his Carnegie Hall gig, he raised the money through private donors, a Christmas album from his 2008 tour, concerts and a big fundraiser in Victoria that raised $82,000.

This go-round, Lavigne hopes to raise money via an Indiegogo campaign, private patrons, local concerts and sales from his latest Christmas Album, Comfort and Joy, which is available Nov. 1 at his website, kenlavigne.com.

He’s also partnering with a travel company, which is giving away a free trip to see the tenor down under. People can enter for the draw at a concert or online.

The singer, who’s recently been touring in Ohio, Oregon and Saskatchewan said he’ll be touring up and down the island around Christmas.

Two local shows are already scheduled before then:

• Nov. 7, 7 p.m. at Shawnigan Alliance Church, proceeds go the Mill Bay Food Bank. Tickets cost $25 and are available at the church office in Shawnigan Lake or at Inspire! Shawnigan.

• Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m at the Duncan United Church. Tickets cost $25 and are available at the church office.

For more information call Melanie at 250-812-4765.

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