Spotlight on the St. John’s International Airport

Tony O’Brien (left) and Fergus Brown-O’Byrne kicked off the SJIAA’s Summer Concert Series on June 6.

Nothing can set the character and feel of a place quite like music. Here in this province, music is an important part of our DNA and social fabric – something which visitors can sense immediately when they pass through the doors of St. John’s International Airport.

Ten years ago, the St. John’s International Airport Authority (SJIAA) began hosting an annual Christmas Concert Series featuring local school choirs, evening carollers and a performance by the Quintessential Vocal Ensemble to help get travellers into the holiday spirit. The event went over so well that five years go, the SJIAA decided to extend the series into the summer season by hosting more family-friendly events for travellers in the atrium of the airport terminal, including an Entertainment Series featuring live, local music.

Vanier Elementary helped spread Christmas cheer during a 2014 performance, with the help of Business & Arts NL’s “Come Play With Me” piano.

In previous years, the SJIAA have worked with organizations such as Festival 500 and the Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival, and have hosted musicians of all stripes. This year, their Summer Concert Series features performances from artists/groups as diverse as Rube & Rake (today, June 27, at 11:30am), Maria Cherwick, The Singing Legionnaires, Rozalind MacPhail, Mick Davis, Steve Maloney and more. (To see the complete schedule, click here.)

The series has gone over “extremely well” says Marie Manning, Director of Marketing & Business Development with the SJIAA.

The Walsh Brothers performed at the airport atrium last August.

“(For) people who are arriving, they’re getting that sense of place…for the people who are coming home, it feels like, ‘Okay, I’m home.’ And for the people who are visiting here for the first time, they really enjoy it.”

Manning says the music has also helped create a peaceful atmosphere during stressful times.

“Rozalind MacPhail is a flautist and she’s amazing…we had her here a few times when our runway was under construction, and it was a very stressful time for employees as well as passengers who were getting delayed at times…and the whole mood in the airport would change when she started playing. You could feel everyone starting to calm and relax,” she says.

“People love performing out here, and people enjoy hearing them perform as well.”

The SJIAA has also supported visual artists by commissioning local artwork when the terminal was rebuilt about 15 years ago, and now again with the current expansion. With close to 1.6 million passengers passing through the airport in 2016 alone, exposure for the visual artists and musicians is priceless.

“We love doing this stuff. It’s well received by the travelling public and by the locals themselves,” Manning says.

“It’s a great venue to showcase local talent and really create that sense of place.”