Kevin Armstrong has forged a career in both Canada and Europe, performing everything from traditional opera and musical theatre to one-man shows where he pairs his four-octave vocal range with his skills as a guitarist.
His latest project, A Night at the Rock Opera — which he brings to Creston Nov. 15 — is amazing on two fronts: In the first half, Armstrong performs a one-man version of the classic rock opera, Tommy, by The Who. The second half features an original piece of conceptual rock music entitled ∞+1. The show will be enhanced with interactive visuals, creating a spectacular listening experience.
Armstrong grew up in Nelson. He started music lessons by age 10, and by college had already studied classical, jazz and rock guitar, drums and voice. After completing a master’s degree in vocal performance at McGill University in Montreal, Armstrong moved to Zurich, Switzerland, where he did an apprenticeship at the Zurich Opera House. There he had the opportunity to perform onstage next to some of the biggest names in the opera world.
Armstrong’s show, Opera for Heathens, was a hit at numerous fringe festivals (Edmonton, 2011; Vancouver, 2012; Toronto, 2013), playing to sold-out houses and rave reviews. Some of Armstrong’s recent credits include the world-premiere of the opera Khaos with Nelson Community Opera, the roles of Pilate and Judas in numerous productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, as well as opera performances in Frankfurt, Wiesbaden and Zurich. He also recently completed a 60-city tour of Germany, Austria and Switzerland with Night of the Musicals, Europe’s longest-running touring musical show, as well as a recital tour of the B.C. Interior with internationally renowned organist Robert Kwan.
The Who’s Tommy, released in 1969, was a milestone recording, virtually inventing the genre of rock opera. The story follows the titular character’s mystical experiences after losing all senses after a childhood trauma. He eventually becomes a messianic figure through his amazing pinball prowess, and he builds a hue cult following, only to eventually see it collapse from under him.
∞+1 is a new work created by Armstrong (concept, music, lyrics), and dOUG nORMAL (lyrics). It tells the story of a man so desperate to lose himself in a dream world that he creates a computer powerful enough to upload his consciousness, with life-changing consequences. It’s a concept-album in the style of Yes and Genesis, and musically covers the spectrum from grandiose progressive rock, acoustic ballads, and jazz-influenced heavy metal.
A Night at the Rock Opera is being presented with the support of the Columbia Basin Trust and the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, and will be great opportunity to a see a world-class talent on the local stage.
The Nov. 15 show begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Prince Charles Theatre. Tickets are $12-$15 on a sliding scale.