Published February 4, 2021
Classical Beginning to Celtic Career
Celtic music fans around the world know Jamie Laval from his prestigious career in Celtic music, but Jamie was not always a fiddler. He trained as a classical violinist beginning in 1978, studying under the distinguished teacher Sydney Humphreys, who occupied a second floor corner studio at Craigdarroch Castle, the first home of the newly named Victoria Conservatory of Music.
“I would start each day of practice by doing scales on the top balcony as I watched the city awaken. That made quite a huge impression on a young lad!,” recalls Jamie.
Leaving High School early, Jamie moved from Washington State to Victoria especially to study at the VCM.
“Mr. Humphreys was an extraordinary teacher. Freedom of movement and ergonomic mechanics were among his most prominent themes, and even today his words echo through my mind each day as I practice.”
Jamie was also deeply influenced by coaching sessions with Robin and Winifred Wood and collaborations with Robert Holliston, who is now Head of Keyboard at the VCM. Graduating from the VCM/Camosun College Post-Secondary Studies program with first class honors, Jamie went on to complete his Bachelor of Music at the University of Victoria while continuing his lessons with Mr. Humphreys. During this time Jamie was a regular performer with the Victoria Symphony.
After several successful years playing in professional orchestras and movie sound track recordings in the U.S., Jamie gradually phased out his career in classical music in favor of a solo career in Celtic music. The change in direction enabled him to delve deeply into his passion for ancient modal music and also allowed him to compose, perform, and record his own works, as well as to discover a new stylistic approach to traditional folk music.
Some of Jamie’s achievements as a performer, composer, arranger and educator can be found on his website HERE.
Jamie Laval is a wonderful example of hard work and commitment to a career in music, and of following a successful career path only to discover that your passion lies in a completely different genre of music. Making this successful transition speaks to Jamie’s prowess and boldness as a musician. His story also reminds us that our musical mentors can help to realize a student’s full and unique potential to follow your dreams and fulfill your own musical ambitions.
Prior to the pandemic, Jamie performed an average of 80 solo concerts a year in a wide variety of venues throughout the U.S. and Great Britain, and also taught seminars in traditional Celtic music and gave university lectures. During COVID, 2020 Jamie has diverted all of his efforts to the composition of commissioned pieces as well as practicing 4-5 hours a day and recording in his home studio.