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Meet the Former Creative Kids Grant Recipient who Played at Carnegie Hall

A Creative Kids funding recipient from 2012 to 2014, Cole Knutson of North Battleford says the program has played a pivotal role in helping him as a saxophonist and pianist.

Now 21 years-old and a student at the University of Manitoba studying for his bachelor’s degree in saxophone performance, Knutson won first prize in the College and Professionals category in American Protégé International Competition, that saw him as the only Canadian to play solo as part of a performance help on June 10, 2017, at Carnegie Hall -- the famous New York City concert hall.

“I was very excited to be playing at Carnegie Hall,” says Knutson. “I think that there was only a brief moment of nerves when I was walking to the Hall to perform.” Although there’s high pressure to perform at your best at a prestigious venue, Knutson says he believes local audiences in North Battleford should receive the same quality of performance as an audience attending a prestigious concert venue.

For Knutson, music is an integral part of his identity. Most of his meaningful relations have ties to music and art, and his love of music as brought him incredible experiences of seeing new places and meeting new people. It also taught him how to mentally prepare for performing before an audience.

“I know for me, if I did not get the support from Creative Kids when my family needed it, my parents would not have been able to pay for piano lessons and band. Since we were granted the funding, I was able to be in a position to be educated in a way that would effectively change my life."

The saxophone wasn’t Knutson’s first love. He started playing piano at the age of 12 and took up the saxophone after a suggestion from his piano teacher.  Music has not only brought Knutson to Carnegie Hall, but also took him to Austria last year to further study his passion. He currently plans on obtaining his Master’s degree next year at the Guildhall School for Music & Drama in London, England.

“In my opinion, no child should have limitations on their growth by a lack of finances. Creative Kids provides an opportunity for children to have access to funds to pay for many artistic development programs,” says Knutson.

He goes on to explain, “I know for me, if I did not get the support from Creative Kids when my family needed it, my parents would not have been able to pay for piano lessons and band. Since we were granted the funding, I was able to be in a position to be educated in a way that would effectively change my life. Without band and saxophone I would not be the person I am today, nor would I be nearly as happy as I am!”

Knutson also adds that he believes we should invest in our children and youth as they are our future. “I have achieved my goals and continue to reach for those goals primarily because I have always had people to support and invest in me. Creative Kids is precisely the kind of organization that our province needs, not only for now but for its future.”