Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/9/2017 (1224 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s been a summer of opportunities for young musician Connor Derraugh.
The Charleswood resident is currently heading into his fifth and final year of jazz studies at the University of Manitoba, an incredible feat for someone who once thought they would never play music again.
Seven years ago, when Derraugh went in for a routine cleft lip procedure, things went awry when part of his nose was bumped into his brain, causing a hemorrhage. While you couldn’t guess that Derraugh has a disability today, it took him many years of focus and determination to regain the strength in the right side of his body.
Already a passionate musician, Derraugh didn’t let the injury throw off his goals of becoming a professional. This past summer, he headed to Love Your Brain Camp in Vermont, a retreat for folks with traumatic brain injuries.
"It’s one of the highlights of my year every year, because it was my first exposure to other people with brain injuries," Derraugh said. "They also have a month-long camp in July and bring in kids with cerebral palsy, down syndrome, autism… and every couple of years they film a movie with the kids and they don’t just film any movie, they film an awesome movie with some actors that just happen to have disabilities."
Derraugh said it’s an important opportunity for people with disabilities to be regarded like any other actor, performer and person.
"Just because someone is in a wheelchair doesn’t make them different. They just happen to be in a wheelchair because they can’t walk — that’s the only reason," he said. "We’re all people, right?"
Derraugh didn’t expect to take part in this year’s film, Homecoming, until the filmmakers asked Derraugh if he would be interested in playing sax and keyboard for the score. Derraugh said yes and learned that the recording would actually take place in New York.
"It was the coolest thing, experiencing New York but also experiencing the music side of it," Derraugh said.
Derraugh worked with Jamie Lawrence, a composer and music director who has received five Emmys and a Clio award, as well as Broadway musical director and conductor, Adam Ben-David, who has been working on Broadway shows for over 20 years.
"(Ben-David) asked me, how would you like to sit in the pit tomorrow night for Book of Mormon?" Derraugh said. "So I got the backstage pass for free."
As if that wasn’t enough, Derraugh also performed at the Lyric Theatre in Assiniboine Park in a headline show hosted by Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba, and he’s been asked to do a few gigs at Inferno’s as well.
Now, it’s time to focus on school again.
"This is my last year in university so I’ll have to start making money, and freelancing is the way I want to do it," Derraugh said.
Community journalist — The Metro
Alana Trachenko was the community journalist for The Metro