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Singer-songwriter Tim Isberg brings special show to Empress Theatre

tim isberg

Singer-songwriter Tim Isberg, who spent 35 years in the Canadian military, brings a multi media show titled ‘25 Years After: Songs and Stories of a Canadian Soldier in Rwanda’ to the Empress Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4.

Tim Isberg’s life was changed during a year-long posting as a UN military observer during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
Isberg, who was raised in Fort Macleod and who spent 35 years in the Canadian military, will explain the impact of that experience in a multi media concert at the Empress Theatre.
The singer-songwriter brings his show 25 Years After: Songs and Stories of a Canadian Soldier in Rwanda to his home town theatre at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4.
“Rwanda did change my life,” Isberg said last week in a telephone interview. “My show will basically explain how and why. Rwanda changed my life forever.”
The Rwandan genocide by the Hutu majority government against the Tutsi people took place between April 7 and July 15, 1994. It is estimated that 500,000 to one million Tutsi people, or about 70 per cent of that population, were murdered.
Isberg will tell his personal story of his time in Rwanda through stories, photographs and songs from his last two records and some written for this show.
“This is a special show, it’s quite unique,” Isberg said. “I hope people will be impressed. I see it as an opportunity to perform for my home town crowd and a time to share a very personal story, a glimpse into part of me I don’t necessarily share with everybody.”
The 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide is marked in 2019, which is partly what prompted Isberg to put his show together.
“I’ve given some public presentations about the topic in my past periodically through the past 25 years. Not much, though. I’ve scaled that back a number of years ago. I found it a little difficult to keep talking about it for personal reasons, but also because the topic didn’t seem to be of interest.”
A friend in Texas encouraged Isberg to try some different things to set himself apart from other singer-songwriters.
“I realized a couple of years ago that 2019 is going to be 25 years,” Isberg said of the Rwandan genocide anniversary. “I thought maybe if I’m going to do something different, if I don’t get this going now it’s not going to happen.”
Isberg carefully selected songs from his 2015 album Tears Along the Road and his 2019 album Running on the Edge to fit the theme of this show.
The remembrance of what happened 25 years ago is important, Isberg said, and that it is his personal account of what happened in Rwanda.
“It’s not a political story, it’s not a history lesson. It’s just a personal account of what one Canadian soldier did in Rwanda. If I can put that together and make an audience feel the importance of such a topic then I’m proud to do it, as difficult as it might be.”
Isberg hopes to instill in the audience an understanding of the importance of the Rwandan genocide and why it should be remembered.
As he prepared the show Isberg had to revisit the topic, going through albums and re-reading stories. That experience gave him pause to consider whether he should be putting on such a show.
Isberg had to consider his audiences, which will include people who know about Rwanda including soldiers and people from that country now living in Canada, as well as people who are not familiar with the subject.
Isberg does not want what he shares to be used by others to praise or condemn the work of the United Nations.
“What I say and how I say it is so important, but that’s also why I’m making it a personal account of what I did. No one can take that away from me.”
Isberg said while the subject matter is heavy and there will be an up and down emotional heave to the show there will be moments of laughter and lightness.
“I will be highlighting a few really good stories that came out of Rwanda, some really good things — miraculous things — that came out of Rwanda. It’s part of the story.”
Isberg will be joined on stage by mandolin and guitar player Mark Ladouceur and bass player John Hewitt.
While in southern Alberta, Isberg will perform his show at a house concert in Calgary on Thursday, May 2 and at Oilfields high school in Black Diamond and Carlson’s on Macleod in High River on Friday, May 3.
Isberg hopes to reconnect in Fort Macleod with friends and acquaintances from his youth and is looking forward to performing on the stage of the Empress Theatre.
“The Empress Theatre is a jewel,” Isberg said. “I’m humble and I’m very proud that I get to come back to my home town.”

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