One hallmark of a great songwriter is the capacity for their songs to be re-iterated, says Ken Lavigne.
It’s hard to get much greater than Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney.
Island tenor Ken Lavigne is drawing on the work of those three giants for his brand new show, Three Knights with a Tenor, which comes to Parksville on May 6.
It’s the first new concert in quite some time for Lavigne, who previously performed his Road to Carnegie Hall show, wherein he tells the story of producing his own show at the famed hall.
“It’s very tempting to just stick with the tried and true because you know it works,” said Lavigne. “It’s like going over those well-worn classics,” but eventually you have to make a change.
The Three Knights show “has been percolating in the background for a couple years,” he said. “It’s taken me until this year to actually shove it out into the world.”
While the repertoire of the three songwriters offers many, many options to choose from, tackling their iconic music presents its own challenge.
“I’m very, very aware that there is an expectation of a certain kind of sound for each of these familiar songs,” said Lavigne. “I mean we have them sort of running already in our minds, what you expect them to sound like.”
But Lavigne’s show is no tribute performance — he’s not aiming to make faithful reproductions of the songs. In fact, many of the songs Lavigne won’t sing in their entirety. Instead, he’s creating medleys of a selection of each musician’s work, looking to give a sort of overview of their work with emphasis on some of their most iconic songs.
For John, that includes Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Rocket Man and Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters. For McCartney, it includes Hey Jude, Lady Madonna and other work with the Beatles. For Webber, it’s some pieces from Phantom of the Opera, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Especially important songs for Lavigne in his show are The Music of the Night by Webber, McCartney’s Blackbird and Candle in the Wind by John.
Lavigne has gotten the first performance of the show out of the way in Comox, and said any opening night jitters are out of the way thanks to the help of a receptive audience.
Much of the inspriation for Lavigne, a classically trained singer, has come from another musical great: Luciano Pavarotti.
An Italian operatic tenor who sang pop music, Lavigne has looked to apply his classic voice to popular music as well.
“For my generation, Luciano Pavarotti became that iconic tenor that just really embodied how a voice can transcend its own genre and enter into the popular consciousness,” he said.
Lavigne said he hopes that his own audience is not only entertained by his singing, but that it inspires them to sing the songs they love as well. Lavigne’s Three Knights with a Tenor concert takes place Sunday, May 6, at Knox United Church in Parksville, starting at 2 p.m. Tickets are $30 at Mulberry Bush bookstores in Parksville and Qualicum Beach, or $35 at the door (if available).