HALIFAX: Bridge & Wolak are a globe-trotting music and comedy duo, merging traditional instruments with 21st-century digital technology.
Michael Bridge (accordions and piano) and Kornel Wolak (clarinet and piano) perform their original brand of fusion, drawing from their classical roots, and loves for folk, jazz, and tango music. With deft virtuosity and endless wit, they have been called the “Victor Borges of the 21st Century.”
The duo is set to launch their digital performance titled “Bach to Benny Goodman,” filmed in the beautiful Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in Kingston, Ontario. This exciting concert was designed to transport audiences back into the theatre to experience a musical performance at its finest.
This digital performance will be presented throughout Atlantic Canada. Bursting with their vivid original orchestrations — of Bach, Chopin, Handel, Ennio Morricone, Benny Goodman, Sidney Bechet, and Bulgarian folk music, audiences can sit back, “watch and be amazed!” (CBC Music).
Among the presenters was the Antigonish Performing Arts Series at Immaculata Hall in StFX University on September 12.
In addition to concert engagements, Bridge & Wolak will be working with young students through the Debut Goes to School – 2020/21 Digital Program. This season, Debut Goes to School offers students throughout Atlantic Canada virtual access to outstanding classical and world musicians. Through this program, students are provided the opportunity to participate in live, interactive learning sessions and other events for various age groups and levels of ability.
Across Poland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, France, Ecuador, throughout the USA and Canada, Bridge & Wolak have mystified audiences of all sizes (and can tell you all the best vegetarian restaurants). Most concerts include a Q & A, so have questions ready and expect riotous answers – they’ve been asked everything from “How can Kornel play for five minutes without breathing?” to “Do you like girls?” (by a Grade 5 student).
Michael Bridge and Kornel Wolak were set up on a blind (musical) date by Michael’s accordion professor at the University of Toronto, and have since toured the world and become great friends and colleagues. They both started studying music at age 5 – Kornel in Poland, and Michael in Alberta.
Off stage, Kornel Wolak teaches clarinet at Queen’s University and Michael Bridge is completing his doctorate in accordion at the University of Toronto (while writing his thesis in hotel rooms). Collectively holding seven degrees in music, they frequently offer school concerts and university masterclasses/lectures throughout their tours.
Dr. Wolak is also a pioneer in collaborative research in oral articulators with the department of Speech Language Pathology, University of Toronto, which led to the publication of peer-reviewed scientific articles and his two books on woodwind pedagogy.
A highly decorated accordionist, Michael Bridge placed second at the World Digital Accordion Championships, twice won the Canadian championships, and the Calgary Stampede Talent Search among 300 contestants. He is the North American artist-ambassador for Bugari Evo digital accordions.
Together, Bridge & Wolak were nominated for the BC Touring Artist of the Year award in 2019 and have collaborated with CBC, TVO and other broadcasters for TV and radio specials. They gratefully acknowledge the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council for financially supporting their international touring.
Debut Atlantic wants to give a special thanks to The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts for partnering with them on this exciting and impactful project. Additionally, they want to recognize the partners and sponsors that come together to bring these incredible artists to communities and venues of all sizes across the region. It would not be possible without the generous support of sustaining partners, including the Canada Council for the Arts, Arts Nova Scotia, and the Province of New Brunswick. Debut would also like to thank its educational partner, the Nova Scotia Department of Education; and its season partners, including the Halifax Regional Municipality, The Lloyd Carr-Harris Foundation, Support4Culture, the Craig Foundation, Pink Larkin, Halcraft Printers, Strategic Arts Management, and InnVest Hotels (Comfort Inn).
As one of Canada’s most prestigious classical music organizations, Debut Atlantic is committed to developing young artists and establishing new initiatives that enhance the cultural life of Atlantic Canada. Since 1979 it has treated Atlantic audiences to Canada’s most promising young musicians. Celebrating 41 years, Debut Atlantic has featured over 400 artists, gracing the stages of venues from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
Full details on Debut Atlantic’s concert seasons and educational programs can be found at: www.debutatlantic.ca.