By John Swartz
When the Orillia Concert Band performs June 4 at 7:30 pm. At St. Paul’s Centre, the person waving his arms up front will look familiar to many. Randy Hoover will be taking his second turn in front of the OCB, but this time it’s not as the guest conductor, but as their new permanent conductor and music director.
It started with a phone call.
“It was a phone call I got from Brady Aubion (OCB president). He asked if I’d be interested in taking over the position. He said it would just involve the Christmas concert which was 4 weeks away. I said I could do that, I could commit to Christmas,” Randy said.
Randy retired from the Simcoe County District School Board several years ago. He had a number of posts, one of which was as vice principal at ODVCI. Prior to that he was a music teacher. Fans of The Sensations will also know him as a trumpeter in the band. He; was also a trumpet player in the Orillia Wind Ensemble (which was the Orillia Concert Band at the time) and played cornet in the Orillia Silver Band. He also played in other groups.
He stepped back from playing because of family (elderly parents, daughter is sick) and lately he has been teaching education program students in their final year at Lakehead University before they go to their placements.
“I couldn’t keep everything in my schedule and still be available to my family,” he said. The problem most people have with involvement in music ensembles is, once you get in a group, regardless if it’s supposed to be a one-off, to cover for a missing player, or a season, it always seems to end up being a long term gig.
“It ended up being a more permanent situation than I had anticipated,” he said. “Add to that the fact these are really nice people in this group.”
In light of comments made here last week about trumpet players and the almost universal propensity for them to overplay, I made a joking comment now he will get a better sense of it from the podium.
“Not right now,” he laughed. “You’re right, that applies to the trombones as well,” And I thought the issue with trombone players was keeping them focussed on rehearsal.
“The other thing, as I look out over the band, who is sitting in the front row with his clarinet in his hand? My music teacher from high school, Stan Passfield. I can’t tell you how wonderful that is to me as a musician. He was such an influence in my life and here he is in my band playing beautiful clarinet parts. Who gets to do that?” Randy said.
The OCB has always been a group that takes all comers and finds a place for those who want to play, which is a different philosophy than how the Orillia Silver Band operates. While the OCB sounds generally very good, the OSB is on another planet in league with top brass bands in the world.
“That is caused directly by Neil Barlow (OSB conductor). Every band he’s run has been top notch caliber and Orillia is no exception. I learned a lot from Neil, in terms of conducting technique, just watching him.”
“I inherited a band (the OCB) well on its way to becoming better. There were a lot of improvements I observed. That I directly attribute to James Hilts (previous OCB conductor).”
“That being said, there are some really good moments that band produces,” Randy plans to make more of those really good moments for audiences to enjoy.
“You have a standard you try to beat. You’re most critical critic is yourself. You just can’t let mediocrity go,” Randy said.
The repertoire for concerts is chosen by the music director and even though Randy is just starting out, again, with his cardio workout, he chose the pieces for this concert. They will play, English Folk Song Suite, Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, Nessun Dorma, music from Jesus Christ Superstar, music from West Side Story, Malagueña and other tunes.
“Some of it’s from my past experience from my high school bands,” Randy said of the program for the concert.
This concert is a fundraiser for Information Orillia and this time around the OCB is not selling tickets, but instead hopes patrons can make a donation of equivalence($15) ahead of time online, or at the door (and if you can’t go, but still want to donate use the same link. Make sure you type OCB in the message box so your donation gets credited to the band’s fundraiser.)
Randy is coming almost full circle with the OCB.
“When I was in Nova Scotia I brought my Bridgewater High school concert band, and jazz band, up to the 25th anniversary of Park Street (Collegiate) for a performance. It ended up being a band exchange. A lot of the kids that were there (at the anniversary) had graduated and they approach Stan and said, “Why don’t we start up the old Kiltie Band.” Bob Plunkett and Stan Passfield put it together, the Orillia Concert Band. It’s a lot different now, that’s for sure,” Randy said. He said it’s a learning curve for him and the band, even though he had a warmup concert with them last Christmas.
“The band members have been extremely patient with me. It’s been 26 years since I conducted a concert band,” Randy said.
The Cellar Singers have their spring concert May 28 at 7:30 p.m. at St. James’ Anglican Church. They’ll be singing music by Canadian composers Stephanie Martin (who will be in attendance) and Healey Willan. You can get tickets online.
The Orillia Museum of Art and History is having one massive opening reception for 4 exhibits. Two of them have been up for a while, but with uncertainty about being able to get people out who were still feeling their way around dropping pandemic restrictions they decided to wait until now.
So Saturday at 1 p.m. you can see the work and meet some of the artists for the 25th Annual International Women’s Day Art Show, Dying Matters: Reflections Of Growth Through Grief, Return To Sender and Reflections Of Ourselves.
OMAH is also updating their strategic plan and has a short online questionnaire you can add your two cents to. I did it, it’s easy, I passed the test.
OMAH also has a great event happening online June 16. Charles Pachter has again donated a bunch of prints and original paintings to be auctioned as a fundraiser for OMAH. Previews start June 13 and bidding starts June 16 and closes June 18. There will also be a garden party at Charles’s MOFO Gallery June 18 from 2 to 4 p.m.
The Orillia Centre for Arts and Culture is bringing back their popular Gathering: Festival of First Nations Stories event June 9, 10 and 11. The event is free to attend and takes place at the Rama Community Hall. Speakers lined up are Norma Dunning, Lisa Bird-Wilson, Drew Hayden Taylor, Waub Rice, Shanika MacEachern, Armand Garnet Ruffo, Cynthia Wesley Esquimaux, Sid Bobb, Sherry Lawson and Brenda Wastasecoot. Sherry Lawson and Fred Addis put the program together.
The Orillia Centre is also starting a new emerging artist residency funded by and named for Tomson Highway (who will receive a 2022 Governor General’s Performing Arts Award Saturday night at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa). Registration opens June 10 for that, and the details will be in this space. The Friday evening of the event Ronnie Douglas and Ritchie Benson will be playing some tunes. This event started in 2017 and had two years off because, you know. See the complete schedule here.
The Orillia and District Arts Council had a professional development series earlier this year. Based on response and requests, they are partnering with the Community Development Corporation for a workshop called Financial and Taxation Considerations for Home Based Businesses lead by Allen Lloyd.
The webinar is geared toward artists and is happening June 8 from noon to 1:30 p.m. and registration is free.
And, ODAC is having their annual general meeting June 15 at Creative Nomad Studios at 5 p.m.
- The Mariposa Arts Theatre is doing The Gin Game at their Brammer Drive rehearsal hall June 9 to 19, with Sunday matinees. It stars Jim Dwyer and Cheryl Van Vliet. Get tickets online.
- Janet McMordie, who was in MAT’s Love Loss And What I Wore has a podcast about theater called Second Act Actors and Stacy Schat and Doug Ironside both appear in their own episodes.
- Staff of the Orillia Public Library have organized a couple events for Pride Month. June 11 at 10:30 a.m. has Drag Queen Storytime with guest Auntie Plum. It’s a family oriented literacy program. Registration is not required, but space is limited. At 7:30 p.m. the same day they have an after hours 19+ event with Plum Vicious. Tickets are $20 and it is licensed with a cash bar. Proceeds from the comedy show will go toward improving the library’s LGBTQ2S+ collection.
- Creative Nomad Studios has some new programs for kids. They are about how to be safe and responsible while home alone, learning how to babysit, and small business for kids (i.e. operate your own lemonade stand, etc.). Register for these and other classes here. Also Jake Horowitz’s Sunshine City TV series will be shown June 10 at 7 and 9 p.m. Jake and some of the cast will be on hand. Tickets are available online.
- There is still time to whip something up for Sustainable Orillia’s 2022 Art Contest. The theme is What Will Orillia Look Like in 2050. Prizes are $500, $300 and $200. Submit work to firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Leacock Museum’s K. Valerie Connor Memorial Poetry Contest is open to everyone and there are substantial win, place and show cash prizes in elementary, student and adult classes. The entry fee is $10 per poem, $25 for adults, and elementary kids are free to enter. The contest closes June 30 and July 17 prizes are awarded and readings by winners on hand will happen at the museum. Find links to entry forms here.
- The Orillia Fine Arts Association unveiled a new arts gallery guide designed and illustrated by David Crighton. Groups backing the guide are Orillia Lake Country Tourism, City of Orillia, Orillia Arts District and Orillia & District Arts Council. It will be available at galleries and you can find out more online… Peter Street Fine Arts has Norman Robert Catchpole’s art in the gallery this month… Hibernation Arts has Mike Sallows as the guest artist for May.
- Aaron Mangoff has a whole new album called Never Wake Up. He’s adopted a project name, Summer Birds For this one. Aaron has been known to fly some things not under his own name. I gave it a listen, enjoyed it and you can too on his Bandcamp page… Tangents has a Bandcamp page too. On it you’ll find one of the tunes from their new EP (out next week), and links to all their other music.
- Roger Harvey is returning to Orillia to do two fundraising concerts for the Orillia Youth Centre’s Nelson Bell and Jake Beers Bursaries. The first is June 30 at Eclectic Café. Sammy is opening and you can get tickets here. The other one is July 1 at Farmfest in Sebright. Opening that one is Kayla Mahomed and Alex and you can get tickets here.
- If you had tickets for Ashley MacIsaac’s cancelled March 2020 concert at St. Paul’s Centre, it’s been rescheduled to June 18. Didn’t have tickets? Find them here… Michael Martyn has a special gig happening Sunday at Picnic at 2 p.m. – he’s doing the gig with his son, Grey; Michael is also playing Fionn MacCool’s June 4… Jacob Pearce is at Kensington’s Saturday night at 10:30 p.m.; busy night, he’ll be at the Hog ‘N Penny first at 8 p.m. … the Kensington has an open mic night hosted by Tim Kehoe on Tuesdays from 8 to 11 p.m. … Steven Henry plays Quayles Brewery June 3 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Randy Hoover rehearsing the Orillia Concert Band at St. Paul’s Centre.