The past, present and future of classical music collide for Michael Massey


The award-winning conductor will lead the ESO through his composition, Symphonic Variations – Avenue House, about his childhood home in London

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It wasn’t until he reached the age of 70 that Michael Massey, the much acclaimed and awarded classical musician who calls Edmonton home, decided to try his hand at composing music, moving from behind the keys to behind the pen.

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Massey’s latest composition, Symphonic Variations – Avenue House, will not only be performed next weekend, but he’ll be conducting the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra through it. This will be the first half of Thrill of a Lifetime: A Special Concert for the Future, happening April 15 and 16 at the Winspear Centre.

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Massey’s latest work was inspired by his reminiscing about a special time and place from his childhood spent in London.

Massey came to Canada with his family when he was 12, but a park near his home holds strong memories for him, even six decades after leaving the United Kingdom. Called Avenue House, Massey has fond memories of the place where he grew up as a young boy in post-war London.

“It was such an amazing place for me. Those memories of playing in that park were so strong, and it was such a magical place,” says Massey, now 77. “It had an old manor house and all of these ramparts where we played. It had these wonderful greens and ponds and trees, these amazing trees.”

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It wasn’t until the advent of the internet in the early ‘90s that Massey would search out the history of the fantastical place from his early years. What he knew as Avenue House is called Stephens House and Gardens, after Henry Stephens, the heir of the Stephens Ink Company; his father had invented an indelible blue-black ink upon which the family fortune was based.

Stephens donated Avenue House to the Borough of Finchley in what is now North London at the turn of the 20th century. The house is now a meetings and events venue, while the park is open to the public, the same park that made such an impression on a young Massey.

“Since my life has been music all the way, it was a natural thing that a really special part of my life would start to take form in music,” says Massey. “You put your soul on the line, you put your whole personality out there. I started and found it such an intriguing process.”

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Massey’s themes throughout Avenue House take inspiration from his idyllic childhood world and the history of the place, with a section dedicated to the “Inky” Stephens and another to the trees and natural spaces of Avenue House. He even included one section each on fire and rebirth; major parts of Stephens House were damaged in a fire in 1989, then restored.

Massey is a staple of the classical scene in Edmonton, having studied piano in the city since moving here. He received a bachelor of music from the University of Alberta, then relocated to Switzerland to continue his education. He made his way back to Edmonton, performing with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and earning a spot as a cellist, his second instrument, after auditioning on a dare in the early ‘70s.

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This was at a time when the symphony was undergoing professionalization, moving from evening to daytime practices, with musicians moving from part-time to full-time performers. Massey was playing as a contract pianist with the orchestra at the time, and there were full-time positions available.

“A lot of people had to make decisions about, do I give up my day job to be a full-time member of the symphony with day-time rehearsals,” says Massey.

His decision to fully commit led to not only employment but accolades that stretch back decades. He was inducted into Edmonton’s Cultural Hall of Fame, named to the Alberta Order of Excellence, and last December named to the Order of Canada.

“I am one of the lucky people who find their niche that’s well suited to what they do. I think the jobs I have done over the years have been well-suited to my talents.”

The Avenue House debut is only one half of the Thrill of a Lifetime: Special Concert for the Future. The second half will be a joint performance by the ESO and the Edmonton Youth Orchestra of Scheherazade by Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. While Massey has been the director of the youth orchestra since 1977, guiding generations of classical musicians in the city to careers in the arts, Bill Eddins will be conducting the EYO next weekend.




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N4T Investigators: Lawsuit filed against Music Getaways after canceled events leaves fans without refunds | News


TUCSON (KVOA) – Many ticket holders tell the News 4 Tucson Investigators they haven’t had any luck getting refunds from Music Getaways after the event promoter canceled a series of events in the Dominican Republic with short notice.

The Solfest Punta Cana and Solcomedy Jam were billed as an R&B lovers dream vacation but for hundreds of customers turned into a nightmare after some people learned of the cancellation less than 24 hours before it was supposed to happen.

Many people were already on flights heading to the events. We spoke to several people impacted from Arizona, like Derrick Gory of Tucson. 

“I definitely feel cheated and shocked that this happened,” he said.

A Facebook group set up for ticket holders who feel cheated has more than 1,000 members.

Music Getaways is owned by world famous saxophonist Warren Hill.

The N4T Investigators spoke with several people like Arnisha Barnett Red, who have had issues getting any sort of recourse.

She said her bank gave her a temporary credit after she disputed the more than $9,000 she spent. But a few days ago they took it back after a response from Music Getaways.

“They called me a couple days ago and said we have to debit your account because Music Getaways gave you credit,” she said.

But she said she doesn’t want credit to a future event but her money back. The bank sent her the details of its investigation including related documents.

In it was a contract Music Getaways sent her bank, she noticed it was drastically different from what she signed.

She provided both sets of documents to the N4T Investigators. We saw the major differences. In the unsigned documents sent to her bank it includes a strict no refund clause and a statement about the company not being responsible for any sudden cancellations. That is language absent from the documents she signed.

“You don’t mess with people’s money, that’s a lot of money that’s somebody’s yearly income,” she said.

The N4T Investigators found new lawsuits filed against the company. A law firm in California, where Music Getaways is based, filed a class action lawsuit claiming a breach of contract, breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing and alleged violations of unfair competition laws.

We found another lawsuit filed in Kings County, New York by the company Alternative Funding for allegedly not being paid for services rendered for Music Getaways. A default judgement was issued ordering Music Getaways to pay more than $594,000.

Music Getaways has blamed the venue Hard Rock Punta Cana for the last minute cancellation but in a statement to impacted customers HRPC said Music Getaways failed to pay them guest funds to reserve the rooms. It stated it plans to take legal action against Music Getaways, so far we haven’t been able to find anything filed.

In a statement to the N4T Investigators Music Getaways said, “Due to the wrongful allegations and threat of litigation that have been asserted against our companies, we have been advised by counsel to not provide additional comment or information.  We assert that there was no breach, default, or violation of any agreement in our part, and that we are trying to address and resolve the matter reasonably and as soon as possible.”

If you have a story you’d like the N4T Investigators to look into email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444. 

If you have a story you’d like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

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Missy Elliott Says She Was ‘Years Ahead’ In Barbie-Inspired Video


Missy Elliott has admitted that, although she initially got flak for her Barbie-inspired video for “Beep Me 911”, she now realizes she was “years ahead of the game.”

On Tuesday (May 4), the Barbie movie was given a brand-new trailer ahead of its upcoming release date. Unlike some who may be tizzing with excitement, Missy had a more complicated reaction.”

The Virginia rapper took to Instagram on Wednesday (April 5) to explain the backlash she received for her “Beep Me 911” video, taken from her 1997 debut album, Supa Dupa Fly.

“They say a Barbie movie coming out well Let me bring this back 1 time!” she began her caption. “BeepMe911. This 26 YEARS AGO with 702! Back then some folks clowned me @timbaland & Magoo for doing a Barbie style video with our arms painted like joints and tim and magoo Ken hair styles. I remember crying but I realized I was just years ahead of the game #757 VA.”

Missy Elliott has had a profound impact on Hip Hop with a career spanning over two decades. The hitmaker is still inspiring young musicians today — most recently, BIA put her own unique spin on one of Elliott‘s most iconic songs, “She’s A Bitch.”

The Los Angeles rapper dropped off her latest single last month, inspired by Missy’s 1999 track. BIA tapped superproducer Timbaland — Missy’s  longtime collaborator and producer on the original song — to bring the track to life.

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“Soon as you see me I up it, I’m gone/ I’m really livin’ the shit in my song/ Glock in my bag and it don’t got a safety/I make the money, I don’t let it make me,” BIA raps on the track.

In the accompanying video, she also pays homage to Missy’s iconic futuristic Hype Williams-directed visual.

“She’s a Bitch” was the debut single on Missy’s second studio album Da Real World, which was released in June 1999. It debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 chart, becoming Elliott’s second album to have a Top 10 debut and stayed on the chart for a total of 39 weeks.

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Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn, Anitta & WMG Split, & More


Billboard & Telemundo announce inaugural Mujeres En La Música Event honoring Thalia, Ana Gabriel, Natti Natasha, and more. Anitta recently made headlines when she aired grievances about the label on social media. Director Todd Phillips celebrated the last day of filming ‘Joker: Folie à Deux’ with a new look at Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn. Quinn XCII stopped by Billboard News to chat about his new music and more!

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Brenda Edwards reveals son Jamal’s final moments and ‘anger’ over news of his death being shared online



renda Edwards broke down as she revealed her final moments with her son Jamal before he died and voiced her anger at how news of his death broke via social media rather than direct from his family.

The 54-year-old’s world was turned upside down last February when Jamal, who gained fame from setting up new music platform SB.TV which helped to launch the careers of the likes of Ed Sheeran and Jessie J, passed away aged just 31 from a cardiac arrest on February 20, 2022.

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Maddie Font Spilled Baby News to Taylor Kerr First


Earlier this week, Maddie Font and her husband, Jonah, announced they are expecting their first child this year, a boy. The Maddie & Tae star has now revealed that her husband was not the first to learn about their bundle of joy — instead it was her best friend and bandmate, Taylor Kerr.

The two shared the story behind the moment she blurted out the news on social media.

“So now that the beans have been spilled and everyone knows I’ve got a bun in the oven, T was actually the very first person to know that I was pregnant,” the mom-to-be recounts.

“I’m honored,” Kerr adds, with her hand over her heart.

“She was coming over for a vision board party and Jonah wasn’t home yet,” Font explains, “And so I was like dying to tell somebody and I was gonna try to wait ’til Jonah got home so he could be the first and the I just couldn’t.”

“In pure best friend fashion,” she adds, as Kerr emphatically states that she knew her friend was pregnant even before that moment.

Font also shares that her baby and Kerr could share the same birthday: Her bundle of joy is due in September, the same month Kerr was born in.

No matter when Baby Font arrives, it’s almost a given he will be best friends with Kerr’s baby, Leighton Grace.

Kerr and her husband Josh welcomed their first child, a girl, in January 2022. Leighton was three months premature and spent 53 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit until she was strong health enough to go home. Prior to her arrival, Kerr spent a month in the hospital with doctors monitoring both mom and baby.

Meet the Country Babies Born in 2022

Many of country music’s biggest stars have welcomed new bundles of joy in 2022. Find out which artists have expanded their family or are expecting babies this year.

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Kirt Webster, Music Industry Consultant and Project Manager


Kirt Webster is an award-winning entertainment consultant and project manager based in Nashville, Tennessee.

Originally from Arizona, Kirt moved to Nashville at the age of 20 eager to break into the entertainment industry. Once there, he founded Webster Public Relations. Almost immediately, he gained a reputation for working non-stop in the pursuit of clients’ interests, and his career in public relations began in earnest.

Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, Webster Public Relations grew into a nationally known and well-respected home for creative artists. Kirt worked with some of the biggest names in country music, including Carl Perkins, The Bellamy Brothers, The Little River Band, Lee Greenwood, Crystal Gayle, and The Gatlin Brothers. In 2002, he signed Hank Williams, Jr. in what was widely viewed as a considerable coup de grâce. A year later, at the request of Johnny Cash’s long-time manager Lou Robin, Kirt Webster was asked to help stage the now memorable Cash Memorial event held at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Kirt worked with Robin on several other Johnny Cash-related projects, and those events were chronicled by author Steve Turner in the book The Man Called Cash.

In 2009, Kit Webster was named one of the most successful businessmen in Nashville under the age of 40 by the Nashville Business Journal. Around the same time, he served on the boards of directors for the Academy of Country Music (ACM) and the Nashville Association of Talent Directors (NATD).

Over the course of his career, Kirt Webster has represented many world famous entertainers and elite musicians, including Dolly Parton, Cyndi Lauper, Randy Travis, and The Judds, among others. He has also received several industry awards, such as a TELLY Award in 2021 as a consultant on Rainy Night in Georgia, and a 2022 TELLY Award as the producer of Tyson Fury/Dillian Whyte Heavyweight Championship Fight Opening featuring Don McLean, which won in six categories. He also served as an executive producer to Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountains Rise telethon, which won an Emmy award.

What do you currently do at your company?

Ever since the COVID pandemic, the music and entertainment business has become very Zoom-oriented and technological, so my daily routine largely consists of checking emails and making phone calls. A lot of the in-person daily activities have shifted to Zoom, but the same basic work is still being done. Beyond those activities, I work on brand deals for both corporate clients and entertainers and act as a consultant to several entertainers for marketing and touring.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

Having worked as a marketing and PR executive for 25 plus years, I saw every great manager and every bad manager do their job. When I say good manager versus bad manager, what I mean is that some are proactive and some are reactive. Some are forward-thinking, and some put up roadblocks. Everybody has a different style in the way they work, and I was able to sit back and observe all those styles and see which ones worked. When I decided to launch into project management and consulting, I took the knowledge that I had gained from working with other companies, then asked myself what the best style and approach was to accomplish things. When all is said and done, the clients only care about what you accomplish. Clients care about wins, so I chase wins each and every day.

What defines your way of doing business?

I think what sets me apart from a lot of people is that I’m bold, I’m direct, and I’m blunt. I get excited about good things and I don’t sugarcoat bad news. I don’t try to make things that nobody wants to hear disappear. In the past, I’ve been told I’m like sushi—meaning you either love me or hate me.  Nobody ever has to second guess what I am thinking and I believe that is why my phone is still ringing with potential clients on the other end of the line.

Tell us one long-term goal in your career.

Honestly, I’ve achieved all my career goals. I’ve represented members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, Grand Ole Opry stars, actors who’ve begun a recording career—I’ve done everything I wanted to do. Now, I’m in a position where I’m able to help people with their careers because I want to. In fact, that’s really what enables me to be bluntly honest with people. I don’t really need anything from anyone anymore. I’m equally fine hearing the words “You’re hired” as I am “You’re fired.” I’m okay with both because I’m happy with the way I do my work.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?

Always be truthful. I’ve always been honest, whether people like it or not. My reasoning is that there’s no point being dishonest, deceptive, or evasive because the truth always comes out anyway. Although sometimes people might doubt the truth, eventually they realize what’s real and what’s not.

What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?

I never give advice, I give information. Everybody has an opinion, but being in possession of good, solid information allows people to make their own judgements. So, in answering the question, the information I would give somebody trying to break into the entertainment industry would be based specifically on what they’re trying to accomplish and what I think they need to know. Define yourself and what you want and then go after it!

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

For the first 25 years of my career, my whole life was work. Now, I go fishing, I go boating, I visit people. I still get work done, but I now take time for myself and live life to the fullest because there’s no telling what tomorrow will bring. Over the past few years, I’ve started adding personal appointments to my calendar and it’s worked out very positively.

Who has been a role model to you and why?

Early on in my career, it was Merle Kilgore. He gave me one of my first very big positions in the music business which was representing Hank Williams, Jr. Merle gave me a lot of advice on how things worked in the business; what to look out for and who to watch. I learned a tremendous amount from him and worked with him all the way until he passed. He was an unbelievable mentor to me.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

Merle Kilgore once told me “If a deal starts out squirrelly, it’ll probably get squirrellier. I’ve always remembered that line and, to this day, if something starts out weird, I walk away from it. If it starts out great, then I move forward.

What does success look like to you?

The key thing for me has always been to remember that we’re here to put smiles on people’s faces. I’m not curing cancer; I’m not a doctor or a lawyer. Those jobs are tough. It shouldn’t be hard for me to put a smile on somebody’s face. If we’re entertaining people and making them leave their worries at home, then we did our job. That’s what success means to me.

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Eno Barony speaks to BBC on her music journey


Rapper Eno Barony has opened up on her journey into the music industry and how much she has grown to be who she is.

She told the BBC in an interview that she initially dealt with some insecurities because many people questioned her weight following her break into the music industry.

Eno Barony said it was deemed as if her weight had an influence on the music she makes.

The rapper said that throughout her journey criticisms about her weight affected her but years later she grew to be confident despite those comments.

“When I accepted myself for who I am, I did a song called ‘Heavy Load’,” Eno Barony said. She noted the track opened her eyes to fans of hers who looked up to her and appreciated her.

Eno Barony urged the general public against doubting women especially when they venture into male-dominated areas to make their mark.

Also speaking to BBC, rapper M.anifest called the presence of an artiste like Eno Barony in the industry as a ‘glass ceiling moment’.

He stated that he is impressed with Eno Barony and her style adding “I remember the first time I was on the radio station with her when I saw her, she out rapped me, I was like ‘oh my Goodness who is this one?’.”

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