This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Skye Wallace is back in town for the first concert of her cross-Canada tour. It also happens to be the day her newest album, Terribly Good, is available to buy. I’ve been listening and there are moments in the first few tunes I thought there was a similarity to OK Go’s kind of orchestration and performance. On the whole it’s rock leaning toward the heavier guitar riff kind.

She has enough lyrical hooks to make each tune stick between the ears. On one hand it’s all new material, but on the other there are many moments it feels like she’s channelling some really good rock sounds some of us older pharts can identify and get into.

She’s playing tonight at Creative Nomad Studios at 7 p.m. with Sammy (Sam Johnston) opening. That’s a pretty good pairing. Sam’s show gets better each time I see her and Skye is the definition of giving 110% (I know, impossible, but she works harder on stage to entertain than a lot of people do).  The concert is sponsored by Dapper Depot and Alleycats Music and you might still be able to grab some tickets online. I’d do that right now – you can come back to read the rest.

Proceeds from the concert will be donated to the Teens On Edge program which covers the cost of and teaches kids to become certified ski instructors, provided they commit to becoming instructors in the program themselves. Some of the kids from the youth center take part in the program.

Funny thing, she was touring Europe, mostly in Germany in September (you missed Oktoberfest Skye) and had made a post on Facebook about it, also announcing her Canadian tour itinerary. I jumped in and commented I didn’t see Orillia on the list of places she was going to play. She responded with a hold-that-thought kind comment. Unknown to me at the time, Kevin Gangloff was negotiating with her to add Orillia. So we ended up first on the list and the tour poster for a gig the day her album (for which a couple tunes, Tooth and Nail and Everything Is Fine have been out for a while) comes out. How special is that?

Sam Johnston

Speaking of Sammy, she was chosen by the Orillia Vocal Ensemble as the recipient of the Roger Andrews Memorial Scholarship Award. It’s awarded to a student continuing their education in vocal or music studies. Roger was the first president of the OVE. She’ll be formally recognized at the OVE’s first concert of the season November 9 at St. Paul’s Centre. The OVE, as usual, does not charge admission, but will still take your donation and proceeds always go to a charity in town – this time the Couchiching Conservancy.

Still at St. Paul’s they are producing a concert to aid Ukrainian refugees. This is the second time this year they’ve done so. One would hope in a sane world they won’t need to do it again. This time instead of raising money to be sent there, anything they raise will go to the Canada-Ukraine Foundation. If you can’t go but still want to help, you can donate online. Just make sure to type Orillia in the comment box on the donation page so it gets credited to this concert.

Performing at the 2:30 p.m. concert this Saturday are Blair Bailey, Peter Voisey, Valerie Selander, the Orillia Community Children’s Choir, John Jefferies, Marcie Armstrong, Julia Johnston, Kathy Brown, Angie Lewis, and Steve Clarke (who is keeping a campaign promise he didn’t know he made and not going to sing, he’s the MC).

There’s more music happening at St. Paul’s too (by the way St. Paul’s is the first place where Skye performed in Orillia). Brad Emmons will be playing tunes at a pub night November 4 at 6 p.m. Admission is $10 and you can get some munchies and drinks (real drinks) and there will be a silent auction.

We’re not done yet, St. Paul’s has the opening of the The Call to Action #83 art project’s third exhibit opens on Sunday, October 23 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. There will be a lunch served at new for a small donation.

Concert Reviews

Last Saturday the Orillia Concert Band had their first of their concert season at St. Paul’s. They played the first half and the Orillia Big Band played the second half. Randy Hoover conducted both groups.

The OCB sounded better, a much more blended and balanced sound this third time out with Randy waving at them. They started with the Ukrainian National Anthem. This piece was written by Mykhailo Verbytsky (words from a poem by Pavlo Chubynsky). What I noticed about this piece is its much more a musical composition than most anthems. If you didn’t know it was an anthem, you’d just think it was a nice piece of classical music. There aren’t a ton of well-known Ukrainian composers. They have Reinhold Glière and Mykola Leontovych (who you won’t know, but he was the original composer of Carol of the Bells) and that’s it. But being surrounded by what are now famous Russian, Hungarian, Czech, and Austrian composers producing music during the same period, it seems to me the lean would be toward writing something substantial. It’s the kind of thing, I’d put into a playlist of other classical pieces I’d listen to just because I feel like listening and not because I want to stand up and exhibit some kind of national allegiance or pride.

I particularly liked their rendition of Atherton Overture and Ammerland. They also did String of Pearls, I suppose as kind of a segue from intermission to the big band set. I thought the band did a credible job of playing swing. On the other hand it’s Glenn Miller, the most pedestrian of Swing Era practitioners, almost pop and not really jazz compared to the other big bands of the era.

Autumn Debassige was their guest and she sang You Raise Me Up, Georgia and the Look of Love, the latter two with the big band. I think I liked The Look of Love best. The band has 18 members and I was impressed with their overall sound, mostly nice and tight.

The concert was a fundraiser for Information Orillia and they collected just short of $2,400.

The next afternoon the Orillia Silver Band was at the Opera House. What can I say about this band I haven’t said 536,871 times before? Even when they don’t increase the quality of their playing, which is superb, they don’t backslide.

OSB Conductor, Neil Barlow, Leading A Rehearsal

The thing is, they are not afraid to play music professional bands or orchestras would be wary of doing. I don’t know they know the meaning of difficult to play well. their The Cry of the Warriors is one of those and it was magnificent to hear them go through it like it was just Sunday.

Then they did a piece called Cause For Celebration, which was written by William Himes for a high school band. Not just any high school band though. The Flushing (Michigan) High School band is kind of an anomaly and many states have one such high school band.

They have several music teachers, specialists, who work with the students as a team – a wind teacher, brass, percussion, strings, etc. I used to work with a couple of them and know a couple more. While we here might have one or two teachers running all the bands at a school, Flushing has a dozen or more and their main bands have teaching assistants. Consequently their band is about as good as any of the majors.

So, upon hearing this piece of music for the first time, the complexity for the band and individual players was apparent to me and I think there are few non-professional bands, let alone high schools who would even think they should be playing it. The OSB survived without casualties to be able to play another concert (in mid-December for Christmas).

They also did a piece called The Wee Macgregor, which you’d recognize as pipe band fair. It wasn’t written for a pipe band, but to imitate the sound of a pipe band. I’d like to say every attempt any composer ever made to imitate the sound of a pipe band failed, but this one is close. The OSB even had a field snare drum on hand help create the image of a pipe band marching on through.

Stay tuned for info about and ticket info for the OSB Christmas concert. They have a guest from the U.K. where they take brass bands a lot more seriously than we do and I expect the OSB will sell a lot of tickets for this concert.

Concerts Ahead

The Cellar Singers are doing Ralph Vaughn Williams’s Dona Nobis Pacem as the main title along with other pieces by Alexander Tilley, Stephen Chatman, and Albert Greer. The choice is timely in that the text of Dona Nobis Pacem is a short prayer for peace. It also uses text by Walt Whitman and from parts of a speech by John Bright – a British politician, a Bernie Sanders of the mid-1800s – given in an effort to prevent the Crimean War (yes, young’uns there’s been war in Crimea before). You can get tickets online or at the door for this 4 p.m. concert November 6.

This Sunday, October 30, the Orillia Concert Association kicks off its concert season with the Toronto Concert Orchestra. This nontet was founded by the late, great Kerry Stratton and they cover the spectrum from Mozart to whatever they want to do from today. Concert time is 2:30 p.m. and you can get tickets at the box office (this year the OCA is selling individual tickets for each concert) or call them at 705-26-8011 and get the season pass for $90 – which is the best deal, you’ll feel like you pulled a fast one on them at that price.

Arty Stuff

The Orillia and District Arts Council and Creative Nomad Studios, with support from Canada Council for the Arts has an artist’s presentation and reception from 2 to 5 p.m. November 5 for A Visual Reconciliation – Part One.

Four artists, Xavier Fernandes, Ted Fullerton, Paul Shilling and Julie Tian interpreted from their own cultural background and from their lived experiences the Seven Grandmother Teachings.

This event focuses on the first of the teachings – Bravery – Aakwa’ode’ewin (represented by the bear). The 6 remaining teachings will happen at other galleries between November and July 2023.

OMAH just got a grant for a pile of money from the province’s Community Building Fund (Ontario Trillium Foundation). The $96,900 will be used for staff and upgrading the museum’s online collections management system and programming. The goal is to have all exhibits available online as well in the museum.

Screened Road A by A Y Jackson

OMAH’s annual Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition is up. There’s lots of great pieces this year. Also up is Sylvia Tesori’s The Man Who Could Fly; The Girl Who Flies In Her Dreams  solo show and The History Of Orillia In 50 Artefacts exhibit. OMAH also has a new, free, weekly event called Music and Mocktails every Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. The history side ahs their monthly History Speaker’s Night November 17 with Douglas Hunter who will speak about the birth of the Group of Seven in the context of A.Y. Jackson’s World War I service. It’s online and you can get tickets by calling 705-326-2159… Hibernation Arts guest artist this month is Deby Melillo. Catherine Cadieux, Raune-lea Marshall and David Crighton have also got new work hanging around… Peter Street Fine Arts is featuring works by artists of the Bayside Artists group… Cloud Gallery has Sarah Carlson’s Slow Burn show up now. Gordon Harrison’s opening is November 4 from 6 to 9 p.m.

The Shorts

  • If you have some art, or can make some, that fits the theme Renewal, The City might have some space in the Orillia Recreation Centre for it. Here are more details and submission for consideration is by noon November 4
  • The City of Orillia is conducting an online survey to prepare a strategic plan for public art. The survey is available until November 10. There are three different surveys to choose from depending on whether you are an artist, a youth, or a business person. I did the business survey and looked at the others. They’re trying to gauge opinion on participation and finance of public art. The last survey they did regarding public art had 400 responses. The survey only takes a few minutes to do.
  • The 8th annual Ugly Sweater Bowling Party happens at Orillia Bowl December 16 from 6 to 11 p.m. Derick Lehman organizes this event which has raised $20,000 for the Sharing Place Food Bank. The format is a little different this year; here are only two time frames to choose from. Last year the earlier times slots sold out pretty quickly.  Register online.
  • The Opera House has Second City’s Absolute Best Friggin’ Time Of Your Life in on October 28; Menopause The Musical is in October 29; Go here for tickets; Mariposa Arts Theatre is doing the Rocky Horror Show starting November 10. Cherrypicking cast members, Michael Abernethy Laura Bainborough, Patrick Voo and Josh Halbot are in it and they’ve already been standout performers in other MAT productions.. I’d get tickets now, I understand they are selling fast.
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has a Halloween party happening on both floors Saturday starting at 8 p.m.; Matt Allen is in November 3; Evan Farrell November 4; Julien Kelland November 5; Will Davis and Chris Robinson November 7 and Jakob Pearce November 10… Jamie Drake, along with Jakob Pearce and Alex Golovchenko host a jam at the Grape and Olive Thursday nights starting at 6 p.m. … Quayle’s Brewery has Cam Galloway in October 28; Darius McKoy October 29; Patrick Hunter October 30… Alex Rabbitson plays Saturday night at the Hog N’ Penny; they’re showing movies from the AMC Fearfest all weekend.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Skye Wallace.

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