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Famed guitar maker to hold workshop

Christine Grimard
Northern News Services
Wednesday, June 6, 2007

CORAL HARBOUR - Famed guitar maker George Rizsanyi will hold a guitar making workshop in Coral Harbour next September.

Rizsanyi, who has built guitars for musicians as prominent as Keith Richards, will help 11 Kivalliq residents build their own instruments in an intensive, two week workshop.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Brian Hart, coordinator of the Kivalliq Outreach Program, is organizing a guitar making workshop that will bring famed guitar maker George Rizsanyi to Coral Harbour. Rizsanyi, who has built guitars for rock star Keith Richards, helped Hart build this guitar. - Christine Grimard/NNSL photo

The workshop is being organized through the Kivalliq Outreach Program, which is funded through the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

"To finish something from beginning to end and work out all the problems along the way, it's really a therapeutic thing," said Brian Hart, coordinator of the Kivalliq Outreach Program.

Hart got to know the famed guitar maker when Rizsanyi was working on the Six String Nation guitar, an instrument made from more than 60 pieces of material that represent Canadian history.

Hart asked Rizsanyi what he had from Nunavut. When Rizsanyi answered, "nothing," Hart sent him a tusk so that the new territory could be represented in the guitar.

Hart spent two weeks with Rizsanyi in Nova Scotia building his own guitar, and suggested a visit to Nunavut to offer a workshop.

Christine Ootova, wellness coordinator for Coral Harbour, said the workshops are for residential school survivors and their decedents.

"It's a healing process, in the guitar making and in the songs," explained Ootova.

The workshop will be open to seven Coral Harbour residents and four other applicants from the Kivalliq regions.

Anyone interested needs to submit to the hamlet office an explanation of why they would like to take part in the workshop, and what benefits they feel they would receive.

Ootova noted she's already received some interest from community members, as there are many who already play guitar. The workshop will be open to experienced guitar players, and anyone interested in taking it up.

"Music is something that everybody shares. I think it's something that everyone can relate to each other," said Hart.

He envisions the group sitting around, sharing stories about their past while building their new guitars as a fresh start.

"I see people playing their instruments at music festivals, writing and singing songs, and passing their guitars along to their children," said Hart.

After the Coral Harbour workshop, Hart is hoping to organize another one in Arviat. While he doesn't know whether George will make it up North a second time, he's looking at getting another guitar maker to lead the workshop.