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House concerts return to Thompson with first Living Room Live performance Jan. 30

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Jayne Hammond performs in a recent production of Yeomen of the Guard with the Gilbert and Sullivan S
Jayne Hammond performs in a recent production of Yeomen of the Guard with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Winnipeg.

For Thompson music fans, Jan. 30 will mark their first chance in more than a year to enjoy a house concert, this time featuring the classical music genre, as Living Room Live puts on a show in Leigh and Larry Hall’s home for the first time.

The Halls, who previously hosted the folk music Home Routes tour that stopped in Thompson until small crowds promoted organizers to drop it from their circuit, enjoyed that experience so much that they stepped up to offer their home as a concert hall once again when Living Room Live organizers Nicola Davies and Lisa Rumpel started hunting for a host for their fledgling classical music tour. 

The event would not be happening without the support of Thompson veterinarian and musician Jennifer Nyhof, who agreed to put up the musicians in her home (house concert performers usually get room and board from the same people who host the concert, but Nyhof has more extra room than the Halls).

“I have always appreciated classical music,” Nyhof says. “I got involved with Living Room Live, because I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to diversify Thompson’s music scene.”

The current tour put on by Living Room Live features three performers – tour organizer Davies, who plays piano, cellist Nathaniel Froese and soprano singer Jayne Hammond.

For Hammond, originally from B.C., as is Davies, coming to Thompson and Flin Flon, as well as numerous communities in Saskatchewan and closer to Winnipeg, is a treat. 

“I’ve never been up north before,” Hammond says. “Hecla, I think, is the furthest north I’ve been so I’m really looking forward to going up to the more northern communities in Manitoba and meeting people who live there and finding out how they survive the cold winters and enjoying some delicious home-cooked meals.”

Hammond loved singing as a child and eventually took the advice of a choir director and signed up for private voice lessons, which led to her becoming a classical vocalist.

“Through my private voice lessons, I just got more challenging repertoire and my teacher started throwing some classical rep at me and I started learning and I just fell in love with it,” she says. “It’s super challenging and that’s something that stuck with me and made me want to continue it as a career.”

Though they’ve only played a couple of house concerts together in and around Winnipeg before, the three performers are well-acquainted with each other, having studied together for their master’s degrees at the University of Manitoba.

“We’ve been performing together since about 2015 but we’ve never done a whole program before so last year was the first time,” Hammond says. “We just decided that we wanted to work together some more so we got together and came  up with a program that we could all do for cello and piano and soprano and that’s sort of how this whole recital tour was born.”

Though opera is probably the most well-known form of vocal classical music, Hammond says the audience in Thompson Jan. 30 won’t be sitting through too much Italian and German.

“We’ve got a lot of really great music,” Hammond says. “More than half the program is in English. A lot of classical music is in other languages but we’re trying to do a lot of stuff that people will connect to right away.”

For more information about the concert and the tour, visit www.livingroomlive.ca.