When it comes to making music, Josh Kalogerakos knows the score.
So when local portrait photographer Michal Pasco needed a compelling musical background for his documentary to help the homeless, he turned to the 19-year-old Thorold musical prodigy.
According to Pasco, Kalogerakos “wrote every single note for the instruments,” and played each one, then combined them in the studio, for Pasco's video, entitled YW FACES. After soliciting the vocal support of the jazz choir from his alma mater—Laura Secord Secondary School— Kalogerakos “recorded the choir and he gave us the whole mix.”
Music has been her son's lifelong passion, said his mom, Kim Kalogerakos.
“At seven years old, Josh decided to get on the piano. Laura Secord (Secondary School) was a calling for him,” she added, where he added trumpet, trombone, and drums to his repertoire, through the school’s renowned musical program. This fall, he’ll graduate from a 12-month course in Audio Production from the Harris Institute—a music school—in Toronto.
“I’m hoping to be a big help in artists’ development,” he told the ThoroldNews. “I currently have an artist in my portfolio, Suitcase Studio. As much as I want to perform, I think my place might be behind the scenes. I want to help other bands.”
Having played in a band himself, called No. 9, “I think production is my forte," he asserted, musing "I would consider anything from commercials and continuing social causes to (producing) ring tones. A good producer means being diverse.”
Calling himself “A huge fan of the Foo Fighters and other rock and roll and jazz music,” he also listens to soundtracks from movies for inspiration.
“Even TV and video games have some really good soundtracks.”
Pasco’s stunning portraits of people staying in the YWCA Niagara Region’s emergency shelters, and in some cases, living in the streets, came to life when projected on the wall of a building, as part of the In The Soil Arts Festival last Saturday night. The photos, mixed with messages, stats and facts, were presented in a video, accompanied by the Laura Secord jazz choir, and Kalogerakos’ moving score.
“For this particular project, I had to find something to touch people’s hearts, which was a challenge with no words,” only music, said Kalogerakos. “I think that’s one of the greatest things about music,” he added; its ability to connect people from all walks of life.
“I had no idea so many people were homeless. I couldn’t believe it when Michal told me.”
The whole purpose of the YW FACES campaign is to create awareness, Pasco told ThoroldNews.
Every night in Niagara, more than 600 people are homeless, with single mothers among the highest at-risk demographic.
While volunteering to shoot photos and videos for the No Fixed Address project, Pasco said, “I noticed we see all these stereotypical homeless people, but there are the hidden homeless, too. They have kids, they have a job, but whether from an illness or a marital separation or a job loss, they find themselves suddenly homeless. It can happen so quickly.”
Mental illness is a significant risk factor as well.
“They work with you, their kids go to school with your kids; no one realizes they go to a car or to the streets to sleep. They’re not all drug addicts, alcoholics, dirty, or crazy,” he continued. “We spent a year talking to people in shelters and on the streets, and it took a lot of courage for them to pose” for his portraits, he stated. “We got 20 of them, and some have given us their story. They are heartbreaking. A lot of the women in shelters have been abused. I’ve travelled a lot and seen homelessness in North America and Europe. I photographed kids and there were 14 kids in the shelter in Niagara Falls.” Like other local children, he said, “They go to school,” where probably nobody knows that they’re homeless.
Pasco said he wanted to help bring people who are often forgotten or overlooked to the centre of people’s attention. “The irony is that they’re not hidden at all. We see them on a daily basis, but in most cases we’re just not aware.”
“The YWCA has been there 90 years” in St. Catharines, he added, during which time, “Many women had to be turned away” because it was filled to capacity.
“We loved the idea when Michal first approached us,” said Elisabeth Zimmermann, executive director of YWCA Niagara Region. “What was important to us was that these images would be as real as possible. We try to tell people that homelessness has many faces and often is not what you would expect. To have the chance to tell that story by way of sharing these powerful images with the community is incredibly special for us and for the people we serve. Many of the volunteers said that they were done hiding and that they found it empowering to ask people to think twice before they judge someone.”
Starting this week, some of the portraits will be exhibited at Mahtay Café on St. Paul Street in St. Catharines.