This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

The Orillia Silver Band will be at the Opera House Sunday at 2:30 p.m. for the end of their concert season. Actually they have some other gigs, but the formal part is caput.

There is a composer I discovered 6 years ago named Paul Lovatt-Cooper. He was a percussionist with the Black Dyke Band. Pretty good gig if you can get it. The then conductor found out Lovatt-Cooper could write and started to use his arrangements and compositions and the rest is history. Soon brass bands and other types of ensembles all over the world were playing music he wrote, even in little old Orillia. The OSB recorded his Dark Side of the Moon (not that Dark Side…) for the Mariposa Sketches CD and played a couple others in concert.

This Sunday they’ll be doing PLC’s Horizons and I can’t wait to hear it. I also can’t wait to hear the OSB play Malcolm Arnold’s Four Scottish Dances. They’ll also play Good Vibrations and God Only Knows, which is kind of right, otherwise the concert title, The OSB Goes to the Beach, doesn’t make any sense. They also have a couple other beach referencing tunes to play.

One tune I guarantee nobody in the audience will know is Itaru Sakai’s The Seventh Night of July. After hearing it, I think many will be saying it was their favourite piece. Get tickets at the Opera House box office.

The OSB also has a concert May 16 at the Salvation Army Church on Coldwater Road. It’s a benefit for the SA’s projects in Mozambique and Malawi and Brassworks are also going to perform. It’s at 7:30 p.m. and admission is by donation.

Is There A Doctor In The House?

Lakehead University just announced the recipients of an honourary degree and the annual awarding of the Civitas Award is being made to Mark Douglas.

Charles Pachter

Both are excellent choices. Charles should not be a stranger to regular readers of this little pile of information. But if you are thinking, who? let me run down some of the reasons why he is getting an honourary doctor of fine arts. He’s our Andy Warhol, both in the product of his talent and personality. It’s not he emulates or copies Warhol in any way, but like Warhol many of his paintings have a pop art style and in a crowded room you’ll find Charles at the center of the action.

Best known for his many versions of the Canadian flag on a blue field or sky background, the first one became a stamp back in the 80s and a version of it hangs in the lobby of Canada House in England (our Canadian embassy). He also did a version combined with the American flag after the 9/11 called Side By Side, which was used as the book cover for Your Country, My Country (Robert Rothwell).

He’s also known for the TTC College Street subway station hockey mural, the Queen on a Moose painting, portraits of his friends – including Margret Atwood, and too many others to list. You may recall Toronto’s Moose in the City art project of 2000, with dozens of the life size mooses (meece?) displayed around the GTA (some of them still exist).

Locally, he has had two fundraisers for the Orillia Museum of Art and History, raising more than $100,000, and contributed artworks to other fundraising efforts, built a gallery/home and renovated two others south of the downtown, and several people have chosen to relocate to Orillia because he’s here. He is also the instigator of the Orillia Centre for Art and Culture (formerly the Huronia Cultural Campus).

Mark Douglas

Mark is Rama’s, and Orillia’s resident storyteller. Many of the events he becomes involved with turn out to be history lessons. The stories about his elders/relatives give us a sense of what life was like for people across the lake last century, or inform us of the history of our two communities. He’s active with the Storyteller’s Orillia group (which started a Nation-wide storytelling movement) and in my opinion is one of the people who has brought our two communities closer together.

Mark also worked with the university to include Indigenous studies part of the curriculum, especially in the teacher training program.

Congratulations to both. They will pick up their paper and hardware at convocation June 8 at Rotary Place. Of the 2200 students in the graduating class, 400 of them are from the Orillia campus.

Speaking of Awards

The June 8 Leacock Medal dinner tickets are on sale now at the museum. The short list is out and the three authors are Ali Bryan (The Figgs), Mark Critch (Son of a Critch) and Cathal Kelly (Boy Wonders). There were 10 on the long list, Rick Mercer being one of them. The dinner tickets always sell out and are $75.

June 7 is a meet the authors night at the Mariposa Inn. The dinner emcee, Ian Ferguson and the new Mayor of Mariposa – Grand Chief of Mariposa, Drew Hayden Taylor, will be at the schmoozer Friday night too and tickets are $20. You have to go to the museum to get tickets.


I missed the Orillia Youth Centre gala last Friday night at St. Paul’s Centre with Lance Anderson, Qhisha Wint and Russ Boswell, but I saw the photos. It was a large affair and the youth center’s Kevin Gangloff said it was a great night and they raised more than $13,000 (sill counting).

The work load caught up with me about an hour before the event and I figured pictures of me fast asleep at a concert would be the talk of the town. It’s bad enough I tend to close my eyes at concerts and speeches to focus on what I’m hearing, people sometimes think I’m sleeping until I regurgitate what took place, and a couple of pics from years ago circulated where it looked like I was counting sheep, but actually wasn’t.

Saturday night soprano Amy Dodington and mezzo Lillian Brooks with accompanist Doreen Uren Simmons had a concert at St. Paul’s. I’m always impressed by Doreen’s skill at the piano backing up singers. She’s totally aware people came to hear the singers and plays just loud enough to be present, but not riding herd over the vocals. Clearly it’s a skill many don’t have.

As to the singing, both Dodington and Brooks were fantastic. I’ve been to many concerts where Amy has been a soloist and witnessed the others fade into the background, unable to create the power and purity of voice as she does, but Brooks in this case was an even match.

Sunday afternoon the Orillia Concert Association had their last of the season at the Opera House. The Toronto Concert Orchestra once again was the season closer. In the past they have been outstanding with Kerry Stratton waving the baton. Unfortunately since last year, Kerry has developed ALS (not yet diagnosed, but clearly the onset was present last year). It seems to me the disease is progressing rapidly, he’s confined to a wheelchair. He was to be here, with Vincent Cheng assuming the baton, but as it turned out he was unable to make it.

I’ve seen a lot of conductors and been one myself and watching Kerry work an orchestra is a treat. He’s like a Marine Corps sergeant, precise with his cues and totally in control. This translates to a better performance by the ensemble who don’t have to approximate where the beat is, or exactly when a musical entry or release is supposed to happen. You don’t get any grandiose arm waving and bobbing and weaving like a second chair violinist trying to prove they are just as good as the first chair, no, just precise time keeping, dynamics and mood setting. He’s also a great gentleman and conversationalist and I’m glad to be able to say we shared some time together.

Vincent Cheng / Toronto Concert Orchestra

I got to the Opera House late because of the Building Hope groundbreaking affair and only heard the last movement of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and the Haydn Symphony 98. Cheng is not a newbie, and he’s not Kerry, but he is very capable of getting a performance out of the musicians as we have come to expect. While I thought the orchestra wasn’t quite as tight as they might have been under Kerry, they certainly weren’t sloppy. Without any prior reference to past performances they were very good and thoroughly enjoyable.

Now is the time to get your season tickets for next year (starting in the fall) and you can do it online. At $90, $30 for students, for 5 concerts, I don’t know where you can a deal like that.

The Shorts

*  The City is still looking for some artists to come up with a design for a couple pianos (one at the Port, One at Tudhope Park) that will be out for noolders to fortuitously entertain all summer. There is an honorarium of for each. My idea was shot down pretty quickly, I’m sure yours is better. See the details for submission online.

*  Paul Brooks playing jazz guitar at Mariposa Market from noon to 3 p.m. and at Rustica from 5 to 8 p.m. on Mother’s Day. I’d suggest reservations for Rustica, 705-259-6000

*  Raune-lea Marshall is the featured artist at Peter Street Fine Arts for the month; the opening reception is Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. The Orillia Fine Arts Association has an exhibition/fundraiser for Mariposa House Hospice happening at Peter Street Fine Arts with the opening reception June 1 at 1 p.m. Get more info about OFFA here. Hibernation Arts has Abstractly Thinking up and Bling for Mother (work by Cheryl Sartor and Donna Howlett) up now. Craig Mainprize is having a one day art sale Saturday; everything is $200 regardless of size; it happens in room 202 at 5 Peter Street South from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

OMAH’s Sawtell exhibit

*  OMAH has Scott Sawtell’s Playful Banquet: An Anthropomorphic Apocalyptic Feast,  Mnjikaning: Mapping the Life of the Gaudaurs, and Styling Orillia: A Look Back at Our Fashionable Past up at the moment. The monthly history speaker’s night May 15 is with Dr. Chris Decker who has a multi-media presentation about Glenn Gould. As you know, or should know, Gould lived in beautiful, wonderful downtown Uptergrove (or suburban Atherley as the locals call it). Yeah, he kept a place in Toronto, but the neighbourhood kids (they’re not kids anymore though) who grew up there will tell you those GTA types claim more than they are due.

*  The Kiwanis Music Festival is winding up Friday. All the action is at St. Paul’s Centre. The Festival Encore’s concert at the Opera House is May 21. You can see the schedule here. Take some time to stop by and see what the kids are up to.

*  There is a fundraiser for Green Haven Shelter for Women May 15 at the Opera House. Beausoleil First Nation playwright Zigwen Mixmong’s Empty Regalia tells the story of 5 Indigenous women whose lives were cut short because they were Indian. Tickets are $30.

*  Cottage Countrycon is back for another year. It happens May 19 at the Mariposa Inn. This year’s headliner is Jim Shooter, who began writing for DC Comics at the age of 14, and eventually became editor in chief at Marvel Comics. Recently added to the lineup are Phil Oritz (Simpsons and He-Man), Mike Decarlo, Leonard Kirk and there will be an all day Dungeons and Dragons tournament. Get tickets here.

Orillia Concert Band

*  The Orillia Concert Band has a concert May 25 at St. Paul’s Centre with guest Liz Anderson. Tickets are $15, $10 for students, $5 for elementary aged kids, free for the squirmy ones, and a family 4 pack is $30 and you can get them at the door.

*  The Orillia Vocal Ensemble has a concert May 26 at St. Paul’s Centre at 3 p.m. As usual admission is by donation and proceeds from the concert are going to the youth center’s Valis Sound Studio project.

*  The Building Hope project has a fundraising concert happening May 31 at Casino Rama. The Country Gala features a speaker, Pat Nixon, photographer and author Leah Denbok (Nowhere to Call Home) will be there and Jason McCoy will have his band on hand for the country part of the evening. Tickets are $150 and cocktails start at 6 p.m.

*  Tickets are on sale now for the ShineBrite Festival at the Coldwater Arena. It happens June 8. The legion is operating the bar, the Lions Club of Coldwater is running a food concession, and there are 9 bands playing starting at noon. You can get tickets at TNT Fine Lingerie, or online.

*  Coming up… Lake Country Grill has Steph Dunn in May 8 and 15… The Hog ‘N Penny has Alex Rabbitson in Friday night; McGinnis and Marshall play Saturday night… The Brownstone has Sam Weber playing Thursday night; Seth Anderson is in Friday night; The Coyote Kids are in Saturday; next week Abraham is in Monday night, an open mic jam happens every Tuesday evening and St. Arnaud with Katey Gatta play Wednesday May 15… Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School’s annual spring concert is May 23 at the school from 7 to 9 p.m.; get tickets at the school office. The Geneva has a Rush tribute band coming June 15 and Eric Gales July 13; get tickets here… Mariposa Arts Theatre is doing Educating Rita at their Brammer Drive facility May 23 to June 2; get tickets here.

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