Mentor for the Arts: Curt Jantzen at the Tsawwassen Sun Festival

Mentor for the Arts: Curt Jantzen at the Tsawwassen Sun Festival

Jul 9, 2018

Perhaps the most enduring benefit of education is that the students of today become the teachers of tomorrow. Those who were once inspired by great mentors will go on to become mentors themselves, teaching, sharing and rejoicing in knowledge.

Curt Jantzen has been such a mentor in Delta for nearly four decades, sharing his passion of music with others, teaching children and adults alike that you're never too young or old to be a musician.

Curt was drawn to music from an early age, taking piano lessons at five, and then learning more instruments in school, such as the violin and clarinet. Although born in Canada, his parents moved to Los Angeles for six years in 1957, and it was at Westchester High School where his interest in band music began to form. Curt was a member of the marching band, concert band, choir and symphony orchestra at that school.

It wasn't until many years later he discovered the high school was renowned for its excellent arts programs, and his bandmate Ronald Romm became the lead trumpet for Canadian Brass.

Back in Canada, and after graduating from McGee Secondary in New Westminster, Curt decided to pursue his calling as a teacher, graduating from UBC in 1970. He would go on to become a band teacher in several schools from elementary to senior secondary.

Looking for a better place to raise his three sons, Curt moved to Delta in 1980 and it was here that his idea for the creation of a local concert band bore fruit. He founded the Delta Music Makers, made up entirely of local musicians who enjoy playing in a concert band.

"We're an amateur group," says Curt. "We don't pretend to be the VSO or anything but we sure have a lot of fun at it. That's the key. If you can teach people that music is fun then you'll have them for life."

For the past 35 years, the Delta Music Makers have been playing and touring both locally, right here in Sunny Tsawwassen, and abroad. Their most recent concert tour abroad took them to Hungary last September.

Curt says there is a noticeable age gap among his members and those musicians just leaving high school. As many amateur musicians get into their twenties and thirties, they tend to focus on their career and put music on the backburner for a while. But after their kids leave the nest in their late forties and early fifties, Curt says the opportunity to get back into music is irresistible.

"It just shows you what a great experience people have in high school bands and that they never forget how to play and they always want to come back to it. And they do. In my band the ages are largely people in their fifties to eighties. Because once they come back to it, they never leave it again."

It isn't easy taking a group of people, some of whom haven't played in years, and get them to play in tune and harmony. But it's a challenge that Curt has been meeting for nearly 50 years.

Despite retiring as Fine Arts Coordinator for the Surrey School District in 2003—a position he held for 15 years—Curt continues to stay quite busy in the music world. On top of his duties as conductor for the Delta Music Makers, he continues to teach a music program at Hawthorne Elementary in Ladner.

On Aug. 6 in Winskill Park, the Tsawwassen Sun Festival will honour Curt Jantzen's lifetime of achievements and contributions to the community by bestowing on him the "Mentor of the Arts" award at the main stage.

The Tsawwassen Sun Festival runs from Aug. 3-6. You can check out their website for more information on events.