Coffee and art launch boosts Sistema New Brunswick musicians

MONCTON, N.B., Jan. 18, 2024: An acclaimed New Brunswick artist and an innovative Moncton coffee roastery combined forces Thursday to launch a new coffee, an expanded art series and raise money for the Sistema New Brunswick program.
Bronwyn Celeste unveiled the Excelsior coffee and her latest Expectation Art Series pieces at Epoch Chemistry, with proceeds from the coffee and art sales helping the Sistema New Brunswick Elsipogtog Centre. Young musicians from Elsipogtog performed at the celebration.
"Expectation is a series that I painted using the colours you often see in New Brunswick winters - pastels. Some of my favourite landscapes are from Atlantic Canadian winters, and these colours are reminiscent of a crisp, evening sky in that period after Christmas and before spring,” said Bronwyn Celeste. “These paintings were created to remember the hope we can have in the ‘in between’ season, and to be expectant of the joys that are coming when everything around looks to be asleep.”
Conor Conway, owner of Epoch Chemistry, said Epoch has supported numerous community initiatives and he was happy to help Sistema NB.
"I spent six years working with the incredible humans at Sistema NB. I taught trumpet, coaching all levels, and have stayed involved in whatever capacity I can since starting my own business,” Conway said. “To me, Sistema NB is the epitome of excellence in education and community engagement. When the opportunity to align with Bronwyn came up, it was a no-brainer to pair together with my favourite music team."
The Sistema NB music program empowers children to reach their full potential through orchestral music education. Ken MacLeod, president and CEO of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, said the coffee and art series launch will help 30 young musicians at Elsipogtog Sistema, who practice daily after school.
“Money raised from this event will fund musical instruments, healthy snack program and, the most important investment we make, the Teaching Artists, who care, serve and mentor the young musicians every day. We currently have two Teaching Artists on the staff team in Elsipogtog First Nation and hope to add a third in September, enabling us to expand access to 50 or more children daily,” MacLeod said.
The fundraiser aligns seamlessly with Celeste’s commitment to excellence and social change. Bronwyn, a conscientious artist, crafts pieces that inspire healthy thought patterns, breaking through barriers and fostering personal growth.
“Every time I pick up a brush, I am building on the knowledge I’ve gained from my previous paintings,” Celeste said. “Has my work moved people into thoughtfulness? Motivated them to be part of positive change? The two latest additions to “Expectation” have a softness to them which shows my own personal development as an artist and as a woman who has travelled the majority of this past year. Expectation 8 and 9 carry the joy and character that has developed from touring the Reconciliation series over these past months.”
Celeste’s ‘Reconciliation’ series was painted in 2021 across British Columbia at different residential school sites. Each unique piece has its own title painted underneath many layers of acrylic. The series has toured in The United States in order to raise awareness of the realities that so many aboriginal families have been through, and give honour and recognition to the thousands of children that never came home.
“Growing up, I had numerous teachers and coaches campaign for my development as a musician and as an artist. My mom’s family is from the Miramichi, which gives me a desire to see members of that community and surrounding areas develop and excel in the arts. Being an artist has opened doors for me I couldn’t have imagined. Supporting youths from Elsipogtog to show Atlantic Canada and beyond what this province has to offer is truly exciting,” Celeste said.
The event aimed to rase $6,000 for the young musicians. Conway said previously members of the Sistema NB faculty performed at Epoch.
“Having the students themselves perform added a level of connection for our attendees, and impressed further the importance of the initiative," Conor said.
MacLeod said collaborations are an important part of growing Sistema NB.
“We have worked with composers, artists and writers, businesses and community organizations. This collaboration is particularly exciting where all three partners, Epoch Chemistry, Bronwyn Celeste Art and Sistema NB, have a focus on excellence and achieving potential,” MacLeod said. “This collaboration connects us with a whole new network of people. And it helps generate awareness and appreciation for the work of Sistema NB broadly in New Brunswick and beyond. The friends of Epoch Chemistry and Bronwyn Celeste Art become our friends.”