John Goulart enjoys the reputation of being one of Canada’s finest guitarists. His concerts and recordings continue to receive praise from critics, audiences and fellow musicians across the country. He has appeared in major centres across Canada, the United States, Europe, South America and Japan. He has toured the Azores, Portugal sponsored by the Portuguese government and has appeared frequently as guest artist in several major Portuguese summer festivals. Many of these have been broadcast on Portuguese radio and television. Other concerts in Chile, for the 4th International Guitar Festival at Viña del Mar; and in Japan, for the Canadian Embassy; and at Oberlin College, for the Great Lakes Festival, have been highlights in a sparkling career. His award-winning recordings have received extensive airplay on CKUA Radio in Alberta and across Canada on the CBC Radio Network.
When did your passion for music started?
As a Child I began singing at a very early age. At 7 I began playing the accordion much to the delight of my father, who loved music. Later at 10 I focussed my interest in the guitar, but I didn’t receive one for my birthday until I was 12. The rest was history.
Why Classical Guitar?
I began to become more interested in classical music and Classical Guitar techmique at 17. Originally to expand my technical ability and musical horizons. Very soon I became absorbed in Classical Guitar and stopped playing electric guitar for many years.
How many hours did you train a day to win so many awards?
I devoted over 5 years to international guitar competitions in order to forward my musical career. During that time I practiced over 7 hours a day during long periods. During those years I often considered myself more of a musical athlete. I would prepare for these festivals and competitions for the majority of the year and plan out schedules many months in advance. It was my life.
Tell us when and why the Bow Valley Chorus project was born?
I have always had an interest in singers and Choral Music. As a music student I always looked for opportunities to conduct voices in particular. Conducting became a natural extension of my musical vocabulary. Living in Banff I first became involved in conducting Chuch Choirs. Those choirs grew and then during the Millennium I was asked to lead a Large Choir Project. Those concerts were very successful and ultimately lead to the Genesis of Bow Valley Chorus. BVC is now in it’s 20th year and I am very proud of that.
You often exchange your guitar for the conductor’s baton. In which role do you like the most?
I enjoy making music on the grandest scale. I must say many of my most profound experiences have been as a conductor. Playing the guitar has also given me a wonderful life, so I can’t discount that either. It’s very close, but some of the most beautiful music is in the Symphonic Choral Repertoire and it certainly moves me the most.
Which are your lusophone origins?
My parents are from Pico. My father emmigrated to Canada in 1957 and my mother in 1959.
I was born in Canada, but Portuguese was my first language.
What’s your relation to Portugal nowadays?
The Azores will always be my second home. I spent many summers here with my parents and then later visiting them when they returned to Pico. I am still close to many cousins and aunts and uncles whom I love to spend time with. I owe the Azores very much in terms of my earlier musical career. I played many summer festivals and received much support here.
Do you consider arts to be important for the development of countries?
Absolutely. The Arts are the heart of any civilization. Music gives us our humanity.
The freedom to express oneself artistically is very likely the key to achieving and maintaining mental health.
I owe my entire life to the Arts and Music.
Inevitable at the moment we are going through, how are you “surviving” this pandemic?
This pandemic has been very costly for me personally. I lost my wife to cancer a year ago and the pandemic made things difficult for us in terms of her treatment. Everyone has suffered over the past 2 years and I hope we emerge from this will more empathy, Love and undersatnding of each other. One thing I did during this difficult time was create videos. First they were of my Choir. Virtual vidoes of course became very popular. I then started to create solo guitsr videos, collaboration videos with different players and singers. It whas been an excellent way for me to continue to express myself artisicall as well as continue to deal with the loss of my wife of ver 30 years. My cousin Len Goulart was kind enough to feature one of my videos on TV over the past year. Thanks Lena!!!
What are your projects for 2022?
With my wife’s estate and funds generated from a Go Fund Me page, I have started a new organization called The Firebird Symphony and Chorus. This is a fully professional group based in Calgary with a Chorus and Orchestra. Our first concert is coming up on May 29th. Following that I will begin a 3 concert season in the Fall. I will also be creating a musical scholarship in my wife’s name to help vocal students. Both of these new endeavours will continue to forward the legacy my wife and I started originally with Bow Valley Chorus.
By the way, Bow Valley Chorus has also re started this year and I look forward to returning to that as well.
What is your biggest dream?
I am extremely fortunate to realize that many of my dreams have become reality. I have had an incredible life and I am extremely thankful. My present dream is the Firebird Symphony and Chorus and I look forward to making that a reality this year and for many years to come. Making music is at the highest level is my dream.
A message for all the artists in the world.
Live your life. Move forward. Don’t stop.Believe in what you do. What you do is important.