Neil Osborne

Bear Mountain Music kicks off workshop series

Victoria Conservatory of Music teams up with golf resort community

A group of people who’ve signed up for a songwriting workshop sit in chairs in a circle in a sunny corner room at Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa.

On the floor, next to a set of song lyrics penned by one of the group, sits Neil Osbourne, lead singer for iconic Canadian rock band 54-40. Fresh off a Saturday evening concert outside the hotel the night before – and a vigorous afternoon bike ride up to the resort in the heat this day – he’s analyzing the makeup of the song with the help of the others.

“What if you tried this second verse as the first verse?” Osborne asks, to which the songwriter, a 40-ish man in a red bandana, perks up and says “OK” to this potential “a-ha” moment.

While his song may have been a little more polished than others brought to this session, the idea of getting people of disparate talents and skill levels is the whole idea of the June workshop series kicked off Sunday by the Victoria Conservatory of Music, in partnership with a new education and entertainment entity labelled Bear Mountain Music.

Well-known local musician Daniel Lapp, the artistic director of the school of contemporary music at the conservatory and the new cultural director for Bear Mountain Music, says the VCM is expanding its offerings to include other genres of music outside its traditional base of classical.

“It’s about community and people’s own individual dreams and having an opportunity and encouragement to explore those things,” he says. “It could happen at any time during your lifetime where you feel like you’re getting that much closer to actually taking that step. You’ve wanted to pick up a guitar (or) sing a song at a house party. Lots of times the only thing that sort of stops people is they just don’t know where to go or have the opportunity, so we’re providing the opportunity at an affordable price.”

The workshop series, the remaining of which cost $20,  includes a range of other styles, from this weekend’s (June 14) DJ session with D.J. Murge, to Campfire Songs with Jan Randall of CBC’s The Irrelevant Show and a fiddle workshop with North American champion Ivonne Hernandez.

Dan Matthews, CEO of Bear Mountain owner Ecoasis, has been instrumental in providing a cultural injection to his company’s sprawling neighbourhoods. His kids are conservatory students and his objective is to see music and culture expanded here as a way to establish a more broad-based, vibrant community.

Dale Gann, director of business development for Bear Mountain, said the partnership with Lapp involves a focus on both education and live performances.

“Arts and culture have an incredible role in people’s lives,” Gann says. “Music connects people; music brings joy and vibrancy. Daniel, by coming on board with us, is helping accomplish one of Dan Matthews’ goals.”

Lapp is scheduling live music performances on Friday nights around Bear Mountain Resort.

Gann foresees a three- to six-stage community music festival as the next major project for Bear Mountain Music.

For information on the workshop series or to sign up, email Lapp at or call 250-386-5311.

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