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Paying it Forward Through Music

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

Miranda Maher, more commonly known as Mandy, is a born and raised Kamloops musician who is working full time at the Kamloops Music Collective over the summer as an Assistant Program Coordinator and Assistant Faculty Member.

Mandy started singing at age 8 with the Kamloops Thompson Children’s Choir. From that point on, Mandy knew that she belonged in choir, and continued to sing with popular community groups such as Vivace Choral and Serious Options, as well as School District 73 groups, and the BC Provincial Honour Choir.

In addition to the many choirs she was a part of, Mandy also performed in different instrumental ensembles throughout high school. She started playing the oboe at age 12, tenor saxophone at age 13, and later picked up the alto and baritone saxophones. She loves playing in a concert band but also feels lucky to have been able to experience jazz combo and a saxophone quartet thanks to some of her exceptional music teachers!

Mandy attended the Kamloops Interior Summer School of Music (KISSM) from 2013 to 2018. Her first summer at KISSM was an overwhelmingly positive experience full of new friendships and music making! After taking a summer off, she returned to the Kamloops Music Collective as an assistant faculty member for the Summer Series in 2020 and is back for her second summer as a full-time staff member!

In addition to her KISSM experiences, Mandy also participated in the Whole Note Program, a comprehensive program that provides restricted-income youth with a wide range of musical experiences. “Participating in the Whole Note Program was a crucial part of my musical development. I loved that the program was tailored to my interests and explorations,” Mandy says.

The Kamloops music community also offered Mandy several solo opportunities! In 2019 Mandy participated in her first Kamloops Festival of the Performing Arts and later continued on to attend the BC Provincial Festival of the Performing Arts where she worked with Canadian renowned adjudicators. In addition to this, Mandy is proud to have performed with the Kamloops Brandenburg Orchestra on a few occasions in a semi-professional setting. Outside of Kamloops, Mandy performed as a soprano soloist at the Vernon Proms in 2018, and as a special guest with the Chamber Musicians of Kamloops in Lillooet in 2019.

Mandy feels very fortunate to be a part of the Kamloops music community! Even though Mandy and her single mother constantly faced financial barriers, Mandy was never denied an opportunity to participate in music. She, her mother, and her team of community supporters have always made it possible for her to participate in music programs. Now that Mandy is out of high school and working with the Kamloops Music Collective this summer, she is grateful to have the opportunity to give back and support students who struggle financially as she did. Mandy says, "It's important to me to give back to this community because it has given me so much. It's because of continued support that I am where I am today! And I think that's really what we want to go for as a community: nurture and support the next generation so that we can better the future and continue a healthy cycle of positivity. I feel really blessed that this is the case for me."

Currently, Mandy is a Bachelor of Music student at the University of Alberta, majoring in composition and theory with a $40,000 full ride scholarship from the Cmolik Foundation. Not only does Mandy love music and performing, but she is also a passionate advocate for Indigenous rights and language revitalization. Her goal is to obtain a degree in ethnomusicology specializing in Indigenous music of Canada, in hopes to collaborate with Indigenous communities to write music for school districts in the language of the land, to promote language resurgence and reconciliation.

Mandy is grateful to so many in Kamloops and the BC area! It brings her joy to know that after all the work she and her supporters have put into her education, she can finally give back in a positive way! Mandy is excited to see what the future holds for her. Wherever that future is headed, she can never be sure, but she knows that she will continue to return home, give back to her community, and remember the place where her passion for the arts and arts advocacy started.



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