Ken Lavigne of Chemainus (left) and Calvin Dyck perform in last year’s Symphony by the Sea. This year’s free concert takes place Saturday

Lavigne performs Island shows before going back into studio

Ken Lavigne is feeling very creative these days — and, as a result, excited about the future.

Ken Lavigne is feeling very creative these days — and, as a result, excited about the future.

The popular Chemainus tenor has had a busy spring and summer, performing, recording a new album and writing new songs, even finding time for a family vacation to the Yukon.

Lavigne is working on a new album that he hopes to release this fall. He finished one recording session earlier last month, and he’ll go back into the studio in August following a handful of Island shows.

Lavigne started recording his new album in October 2013.

“I had this idea I wanted to do a big concept album for Christmas and get some of my friends together we’ll do basically live-off-the-floor track-by-track recording with a small ensemble,” he said.

It grew to the point where he was hiring a full orchestra, but in the middle of the process, Lavigne became ill, and he wasn’t able to finish it by December 2013 like he’d hoped.

The project went onto the backburner for a while as Lavigne toured, but now that he’s working on it again, he couldn’t be happier with how everything is working out.

“I’m just over the moon with how incredible it sounds,” he said. “Part of me is pleased we put distance between recording the orchestra and the vocals.”

Lavigne recorded the orchestra at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo with members of the Vancouver Island Symphony (VIS), and he’s been recording vocals at the Woodshop in Duncan with Zak Cohen.

This will be Lavigne’s sixth studio album, and he says that at first, recording seemed quite sterile compared to performing live, but he’s getting more comfortable in the studio.

“Recording can be whatever your mindset is; whatever emotional baggage you bring into the recording studio can end up on your record,” he said. “It can be really frustrating. You have to be in a very positive frame of mind, and it’s much easier to get that energy when you are performing live for people. I’m finally getting to the point where I feel comfortable with a mic two inches from your face, where every nuance — ie mistake — is recorded for perpetuity on your album. What I’m really excited about is when you get it right … some great things that happen in the studio just don’t happen elsewhere. It’s a real treat when that happens.”

Lavigne hopes to finish recording by the end of August and release the album in late October or early November.

“It’s so funny, I’m writing new songs and I’m in a really creative space now, and I almost want to start recording another album right now while I’m finishing the other,” he said. “It’s a really interesting time. I’m really excited about what’s coming up.”

Before heading back into the studio, Lavigne is performing three Vancouver Island shows in early August.

On Saturday, Aug. 2 he’ll perform during the Westshore BC Day Festival in Colwood, which is where he grew up. Then, Lavigne performs Monday, Aug. 4 at the Filberg Festival in Comox.

Lavigne will perform in the Symphony by the Sea Saturday, Aug. 9 in Nanaimo.

Calvin Dyck, VIS violinist and director (and man of many hats) is presenting Symphony by the Sea, featuring Lavigne (the guy with the tie). It’s a free musical variety show for the whole family at 6 p.m. in Maffeo Sutton Park, rain or shine. It’s free, but donations are gratefully accepted.

During the show, Dyck and Lavigne will be joined by members of VIS and Abbotsford Virtuosi, Flamenco guitarist Eric Harper, Nanaimo pianist Sarah Wood, dancer Charlene Hart, pianist and composer Mel Bowker, and Kaleb McIntyre on bagpipes.

Lavigne says Dyck came up with the Symphony by the Sea concept and asked him if he’d like to be part of last year’s inaugural show.

“He said Victoria has its Symphony Splash, and it’s been a really good community-building event for Victoria, and he wanted to make it a community event for Nanaimo,” he said.

Lavigne says the Symphony by the Sea is certainly not just for people who live in Nanaimo. They hope to see people from all over the Island at the show, which will feature a unique type of audience participation.

“We have this really cool idea, and this is not my idea — I wish it was. Calvin said ‘we’ll showcase Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, but we don’t have a cannon. Maybe we could pass out paper bags to everyone, and I could conduct them to all pop them at the same time,’” said Lavigne, adding this could very possibly be a Guinness World Record.


To learn more about Lavigne, visit or



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