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Lawyer’s passion for music plays out at jazz festival this weekend

|Written By Yamri Taddese

Commercial litigation lawyer Arnold Schwisberg lives a double life. This weekend Schwisberg the lawyer will make way for Schwisberg the event producer as he hosts a three-day jazz festival at Blue Mountain Village.

“I think I was meant to be a musician,” says Schwisberg, who was a violin prodigy as a child before moving on to become a DJ and later make 36 jazz records in the 1980s.

“I was born in a generation where our parents, meaning really well for us, encouraged us to do something socially respectable for a living and it wasn’t going to be acceptable for me to be a musician,” he says.

A solo practitioner, his work is mostly in the areas of liquor regulation and jewelry law. He enjoys “preventing train wrecks” as a lawyer, but Schwisberg says he doesn’t deny that juggling two different jobs is trying.

“Law practice is not something you do casually,” he says. Lately, the combined effect of law practice and organizing a jazz festival is “exhausting but exhilarating.”

Despite how different his two interests may seem, Schwisberg says coordinating events actually makes him a better lawyer.

“Even the most complicated commercial litigation, trust me, is no where near as detailed as the thousands of moving parts involved in an event like this,” he says. “It’s all in the details, and there are thousands of them that we deal with every day.”

Schwisberg says he was inspired to produce the Jazz on the Mountain festival after attending the Montreal Jazz Festival. Jazz on the Mountain took place in Whistler, B.C. in 2011. This is the second year the festival has come to southern Ontario.

The experience of a destination festival is significantly different from urban jazz festivals, he says. Besides enjoying free and ticketed events, revellers may go hiking, boating, and other outdoor activities, he adds.

The festival will feature Canadian singer Gino Vannelli tonight, and the Commodores will take the stage Saturday. On Sunday, festival goers can enjoy the Yellowjackets.


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