Jazz Studies student sets out on a 24-hour musical performance to help fund trip to international festival
While Capilano Jazz Studies prodigy Matt Grinke usually graces numerous musical theatre productions with his acclaimed piano playing each semester, he had to take a break from the theatre this term, seeing as he is enrolled in 11 classes. In order to make up for the lost income, Grinke will be embarking on a 24-hour-piano-playing marathon on March 10 at the Lynn Valley United Church.
The marathon, which will also be streamed online, will be a fundraiser for Grinke, as he and two colleagues will be travelling to Scotland this summer for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to perform their musical improv show, Will Shakespeare’s Improv Musical. He hopes to raise $3,000 for his trip.
“The guy who kind of created it, Alan Marriott, he lived in the UK for 20 years and formed his own improv group over there,” said Grinke. “So, when we head over in late July we’re going to rehearse with the team that he built up over there and then we’re going to put on the show in August.”
This will be Grinke’s first time at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, an experience he has been hoping to take in for quite some time now.
“From what I hear from people who’ve been there before, it’s sort of like a gigantic palooza,” he said.
While Grinke’s flights are already booked, he’s still trying to raise money for the trip. His main plan for doing so is an undertaking many would find too daunting to even consider – a non-stop 24-hour piano marathon. “I’ve been wanting to do a 24-hour piano thing for years now, like years and years,” he said.
The marathon, which will only take breaks to allow Grinke to have a quick bite to eat or if he needs to use the restroom, has an exciting schedule which includes sing-a-longs, an open jam session, video games accompanied by an improvised soundtrack, a live rendition of a classic film score and many more. It will be kicked off by weekly event, Friday Night Live (FNL), which Grinke helps host at Lynn Valley United Church nearly every Friday night.
FNL allows locals to enjoy or participate in unscripted performances ranging from dance to slam poetry, and of course improv theatre.
“It’s certainly the most unique night out you can get in North Vancouver,” said Grinke. “It’s different every week and you don’t really know what’s going to happen.”
Once FNL has concluded, Grinke will continue his marathon throughout the night until the following morning when breakfast will be served to all those in attendance.
“It’s going to be awesome, from 7:30 am to 10 am my jazz trio is playing and some of the church ladies are going to make pancakes,” he stated with clear enthusiasm. “My brother’s girlfriend is making lattes – breakfast is going to be great!”
Grinke will then forge on throughout the day until the finale, a live scoring of one of his favourite films, The Lion King.
While the event sounds like it will be one to remember, there is one glaring fact that is not so exciting – human hands are not designed to play a piano for an entire day. Even though Grinke has scheduled the event as efficiently as possible, switching between what he calls “playing hard” and “playing soft,” the cramps and pain are inevitable.
“I know at some point my hands are just going to hurt,” he said. “That’s just going to happen.”
For Grinke, though, one day of pain is easily worth the trip.
Accompanying him will be the shows creator, Alan Marriott. The two have performed Will Shakespeare’s Improv Musical together in the past at Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach.
“What we did with it before was we got the audience to choose a Shakespeare play, any Shakespeare play, and an occupation that you might find in the Elizabethan era. Then we kind of use the themes from whatever [play] we were given,” Grinke explained.
“A lot of people on the cast were Shakespeare experts so they knew all about the [plays], so we kind of take the themes from the [play] that was given to us by the audience, and the occupation is usually the job of the main character in our story, and we just kind of go from there.”
The show was performed in full Elizabethan English until it came time for the musical numbers, when the cast switched over to a more modern take on the language.
Outside of his marathon and the festival, Grinke is focused on graduating from Capilano University with his degree in Jazz Studies. He had hoped to graduate this semester, which was the reason for his unfathomable 11-class endeavour, but won’t be done until next year.
The marathon’s schedule can be found on Grinke’s website, mattgrinke.com – but be cautioned, not all times are set in stone. “If people are still having fun doing the sing-a-longs after 1:30 pm when it’s supposed to end, then we can keep going on the sing-a-longs,” Grinke said.
In regards to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Grinke is excited to take it all in. “It’s a world stage. There’s people there from all over the world putting on their creations,” he said. “I’ve heard that just meeting people from other countries and seeing their shows, and seeing what their country has to offer, is a very connecting experience.
And while Grinke is excited to take in new experiences and cultures, he intends to share just as much as he gains on his trip. “I hope some people will see our improvised Shakespearean musical and be like ‘Wow, that’s amazing, I wish I could create something like that!’ and [have it] inspire them to do the same,” he said.
Grinke’s marathon will begin at 7 pm on March 10 at the Lynn Valley United Church, with tickets ranging from $10 to $25. For more information, visit mattgrinke.com; to donate, visit generosity.com/fundraising/get-matt-to-edinbrugh.
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