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The best kept secret in music


"Striking a Chord for the Kids"

Student Benefit for young war victims creates a real “buzz”

High-school students Chris Bryson and Maks Knecht were riveted for weeks by media coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Last night, they channeled their outrage and concern into organizing Prevent the Pain, a benefit concert for child victims of war – in Afghanistan and other countries worldwide.

The benefit show, hosted by Selwyn House School, a private boy’s school in Westmount, featured three Montreal bands, a DJ, breakdancers and classical pianist Marika Bournaki, a 10-year-old child prodigy who recently performed at Carnegie Hall.

Bryson and Knecht said they chose to donate the proceeds of the show – they expect to raise at least $5000 – to Oxfam and War Child, both international organizations that assist children and families, because agencies like Red Cross were already funneling “a lot of money” to victims’ families in New York.

“After Sept. 11th, we watched CNN every day – we were really glued to the TV,” Bryson recalled. “We saw the footage of people of people in Afghanistan and the need for food supplies for the children.”

Pulling the show together in a couple of weeks has been a thrill for fledging promoters Bryson and Knecht, both 17 and members of Testimony, a “rock-alternative” band that performed at the concert.

“It’s given me a buzz – I’d like to do another one in January,” Bryson said. Lining up acts, equipment, advertisers and stage-helpers has also meant skipping a few classes. “The teachers understand – they know it’s for a good cause,” said Bryson, a Selwyn graduate who now attends Grade 12 at Lower Canada College. “You get a lot of understanding when you show a little initiative.”

Selwyn authorities supported the idea of holding the concert at the K-to-Grade-11 school, providing there was adequate supervision, Knecht said. “After 11 years of my going here, they are giving me a chance to show what I can do,” said Knecht, a songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist with Testimony. Bryson is the drummer and backup singer of the band.

The duo also won support from corporate sponsors – CHOM FM and Steve’s Music Store – and from their friends, who volunteered to set up the gym and film the show. All musicians agreed to perform for free; the only paid help were sound and lighting technicians.

After filing in and out of the gym with his class for the last 11 years, Knecht was impressed by the way the room had been transformed into a concert venue this week, complete with two giant screens for a live video feed.

“It’s been fun,” he said, as volunteers scrambled around the extended stage and readied the speakers and lighting for the show. “The basketball nets are the only thing that will give it away.”


2003 - "Veritas"

Currently working on next album, to be released at the fall of 2004


Feeling a bit camera shy


The music is a clash between alternative-rock, hard rock and classical. With harmoniously catchy riffs and vocal melodies, the band attempts to capture a mysterious mix of composition styles within several types of rock genres. With the large number of rock genres today, this band pulls a thread though them all, creating a powerfully melodic and emotional ride for the listener.

Maks Knecht started composing at the age of 14, and to date, is backed by 12 years of classical piano training. He has also performed jazz & rock drumming in numerous ensembles, was a self-taught guitarist, and was a Broadway trained singer. Putting all these skills together, Maks was able to compose songs for more than one instrument, allowing him to understand and explore music in a way that few can. With the guidance and direction of Chris Bryson, Maks was able to establish his own style of writing. Over the last 5 years, his style and vision slowly matured, and Maks and Chris began to actualize their goals.

Maks Knecht and Chris Bryson became good friends during their high school careers in Montreal. In the end of 1999, Chris began recording and producing Maks’ material, and together they released a CD of Maks’ classical piano pieces.

In the fall of 2000, Chris and Maks began writing together. Both sang; Maks played all instrumentation, and Chris produced. They recorded a six-song demo through Chris’ expanding recording studio and called themselves “Nephrine”. Yet they continued to constantly record songs after the demo, becoming focused on the writing process. And although they were limited by their two-man band status, they still managed to perform in concert with the help of a few friends. But nonetheless, for this reason, Chris started to pick up the drums.

In the summer of 2002, they began putting together their first album, which they titled “Veritas” and released under the band name “Testimony”. They also filmed a music video for a song called “Save Me”, which Chris edited and directed. At the time, they had a collection of roughly 100 songs to choose from for the album – songs that covered half a dozen different genres.

To date, Maks and Chris have been involved in the recording and production of over 300 songs together, and plan to continue writing and recording during their school terms while performing their material over the summers.

For the summer of 2004, Testimony will perform in Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa with the help of Kelly House and Matt Riggs on guitar, Maurice Knecht on keys, and Alex Kaluza on bass.