Farrell to tickle the ivories at Mayor's Black & White Ball

A special guest musician will make a Prince George debut at the Mayor's Black & White Ball For The Arts.

This musician was already going to be there. In fact, he's one of the organizers.

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This annual dinner and dance, now in its second year, mutually supports three of the city's premier professional arts organizations: Theatre Northwest, the Prince George Symphony Orchestra and the Community Arts Council. Sean Farrell is the executive director of the latter of these and he is the one who will perform for the first time in his P.G. life.

In his youth, this would have been unthinkable. Farrell was a highly trained pianist with a concert career in his sights. But when asked when he last played, he replied "ummmm, 198... 1985 maybe?"

Why the sizable gap?

"I was in a bad incident. I was hit by a car and that did a lot of damage to my arm."

He lost his professional stage aspirations, but he didn't lose his piano knowledge.

He was eventually convinced to apply himself to a small situational comeback. He will perform a short interlude at the ball.

Other live entertainment at the mayor's event will include the voice of opera singer Melanie Nicol (director of Bel Canto Children's Choir and manager of Fraser Lyric Opera Company), dance music by members of the PGSO, dancing by the performers of Judy Russell Presents, and live painting by Cara Roberts (a veteran of exhibitions, Art Battle competitions and fundraiser events).

It also features a sumptuous meal, an auction and fun fundraising features like only an arts event can provide.

"There are very few times in Prince George where formality is the theme," said Farrell. "This is a night that gives everyone permission to stand tall, to really pull out the stops.

"We all want to. It's in our personalities and it's in a lot of our closets. This is the night where there is not upper limit. This is haute couture, red carpet, white glove service."

There is a black-and-white theme, but patrons find all kinds of inventive ways to incorporate that while dressing in whatever colours their red carpet tastes call into action.

All the money raised goes to ventures of the three arts organizations, with special attention this year on the city's micro-grant program, to provide key injections of cash in small amounts to ensure arts industry projects come to completion.

"It presents an opportunity for the CAC, Theatre Northwest and the PGSO to collaborate and take our relationships to the next level, and in a dignified and productive way for all of us," Farrell said.

"We are three close but different organizations who had to learn together to work as a team, and we did, we learned a lot as we put this ball together, and we are seeing ways to do even more in the future."

The planning process for the Mayor's Black & White Ball For The Arts has actually gone on for three years, despite this being only the second year of operation. They were almost ready to go when a wildfire summer necessitated the event being postponed a year.

Mayor Lyn Hall has been a partner of this bonne fete - it really is a happy birthday project this year since the PGSO and CAC turn 50 while TNW turns 25 - since the beginning of the concert. He personally hosts each one.

This year's Mayor's Black & White Ball For The Arts is

May 4 at the Prince George Civic Centre.

Tickets are available 24/7 on the Theatre Northwest website.

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