Monday, January 31, 2011

The sweet sound of success

Music students Kiel Magis, left, and Trevor Hoffman
have created their own entertainment company.

By Tamara Letkeman, doug Editor
Photos: Natahsha Prakash 

Kiel Magis and Trevor Hoffman are second-year Douglas Music students, first-year business partners and all around good buddies – though this last descriptor wasn’t always true. “At first I didn’t like him very much,” confesses Trevor about Kiel, whom he met at Douglas in 2009. “We bashed heads, because we’re both fairly outspoken.”

But then Trevor, who’s majoring in musical composition with a piano concentrate, and Kiel, a voice major, got to know each other better. Soon, they ended up working together. Kiel was putting on a concert in May of last year and needed a pianist, so he asked Trevor if he would accompany him. Trevor agreed, the concert went swimmingly and the two forged a partnership that now sees them performing professionally.

As the duo behind Vivace Music Entertainment, Trevor, 19, and Kiel, 21, perform jazz, classical, contemporary pieces and a number of Michael BublĂ© and Josh Groban songs at weddings, parties and other events. “There’s actually a fair bit of demand in the Lower Mainland,” Trevor says. “There are not too many people doing what we do. There are string quartets and full bands and things like that, but as far as a vocal and piano duo goes, there’s not a whole lot out there.”

Both showed musical aptitude as children. Kiel played trumpet, though he didn’t keep it up. He got into singing after his mother put him in the choir at his elementary school. Though reluctant at first, he came to love it and continued to sing in choirs throughout junior high and high school. “After high school I really wanted to continue my studies in music, so I decided to come to Douglas and give it a shot,” says Kiel, who received an entrance scholarship to the College.

Trevor began piano around the age of 4 and took to it immediately, never complaining about having to practise. He joined the Royal Conservatory of Music when he was 7, and at 15 began teaching piano. When he graduated from high school, he decided to come to Douglas. Like Kiel, he came in on an entrance scholarship. “That secured my decision,” Trevor says.

He continues to teach piano, and recently received an award from the British Columbia Registered Music Teachers Association for receiving the highest mark in teaching at the Royal Conservatory. “I spent thousands of hours studying and preparing for it. I feel really privileged to have gotten it.”

As full-time students with side projects as well as part-time jobs – Kiel slings coffee at Tim Horton’s and Trevor still teaches piano – the pair agree that it’s not always easy to make time for all of their commitments. “It’s juggling, basically,” says Kiel. “Right now my schedule is solid for school, but then I’m trying to fit everything else in. I just take it day by day. That’s what I’ve learned.”

“Being a professional musician means being a professional time manager as well,” puts in Trevor. “You really just fit things into the cracks.”

In the meantime, Vivace Music Entertainment is expanding. Kiel and Trevor recently began collaborating with recording artist MARIKA on a songwriting package they’re offering clients. The duo is already plotting their next move: contracting out other musicians for gigs. But for right now, they’re concentrating on solidifying Vivace as a musical company with “prestige.”

“We want to make sure we’re high quality, and that people know us as high quality,” Kiel says. "That’s the reputation we want to present to people.”

For more information on Vivace Music Entertainment visit the website and Facebook page