Speaker series hosted by The Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts

The pages of National Geographic bring to life explorations from all over our planet. Many of us grew up reading the magazine or watching the TV channel.

For the first time, Calgary is one of two cities in Canada helping to bring these stories to life by hosting a National Geographic Live speaker series.

After two years in the making, The Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts has partnered with the National Geographic Society hosting four presentations that began in January.

The final show will be on April 25.

The speaker series showcases four explorers ranging from adventurers, journalists, photographers, scientists and filmmakers.

Speaker Mattias Klum

Natural history photographer Mattias Klum will be taking the stage on April 25 for the last show in the series.

At 29 years old, Klum was one of the youngest photographers to be published in National Geographic.

“I will take the audience to different far-flung and amazing locations. I will also embark on a soulful journey, perhaps on a philosophical level, sharing my personal rollercoaster ride while on assignment.

“I’ve been blessed to work on many, many locations throughout the world so I have seen some of the most beautiful ecosystems, cultures, and species on the planet, but obviously I have also seen the flip side of the coin,” says Klum.

The presentation will do more than just benefit the audience. A meeting with a friendly orangutan on an expedition.
Photo courtesy of: Mattias Klum

From Klum’s standpoint, he spends “all his time alone in hides and blinds” on assignment, with little or no feedback.

Having an audience will allow him the opportunity to interact.

“I’m looking forward to sharing some of my experiences, and I try to explain why passion is essential for our own personal development,” says Klum.

All about the series

Jennifer Johnson, director of programming, shares just how popular the shows have been so far.

“In the first year of the brand new series to sell out, that’s impressive, it really speaks to the appetite Calgarians have.”

The National Geographic Society provides grants to explorers to go out in the world and gather stories. They then build relationships with specific candidates who share their experiences and work with the public.

Any funds earned from tickets for these shows go back into the explorers’ grants to continue this sustainable cycle, explains Johnson.

There is also an interactive part of the evening.

People enjoy hearing what other people have to say and asking questions of their own, she says. The audience can do so during the question and answer period.

Explorers also share information on their books, published photos and sign autographs.

Johnson recalls a common theme that explorers are trying to convey with the audience. “One of the messages that have been the same with the last three speakers is, ‘If you have a passion for something in life, work hard to achieve it.’”

Student program

The Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts and National Geographic Society also provide a student program for schools in Calgary, which is the first in Canada. Mattias Klum getting up-close and personal with some penguins while on an exploration.
Photo courtesy of: Mattias Klum

Each time there is a show there will also be a separate presentation for students ranging from Grades 3-12.

They have worked with the Alberta education curriculum to help make the information relevant for classes.

Johnson says that the program has been very well received.

He finds it tough to pick a specific adventure that he can call his favourite.

“It’s pretty much like a food buffet — it might be hard to single out your favorite among many delicacies. It all depends on where I stand emotionally, what I feel like, what mood I’m in.”

With the event being in such high demand, the National Geographic Live speaker series is confirmed for next year. In the coming months tickets will be available for teachers preparing for the following school year and any public interested in attending.

Next year’s lineup will be announced at the last show on April 25, 2012 and more information can be found here.

stitus@cjournal.ca