By John Swartz
Last Saturday night’s Orillia Concert Band gig at St. Paul‘s Centre was completely sold out. It’s been awhile since they’ve had a sold out show. After COVID the audience size has been grew in small increments. The full house had the band and their leadership charged up a bit and I think they played better for it.
I have commented in the past the band has been improving performance levels and there was one moment in the Andrew Lloyd Webber medley they showed just how well they can play. I was the MC for the night so I won’t be commenting on performance because my seat was not in the best of place to hear properly. But, I was at rehearsal and in the medley there is a transition between the Memory and Phantom of the Opera sections the arranger, Warren Barker, invented to bridge the gap.
It swelled and sped up and then the bottom dropped out to play the melody of the tune. As they headed into it my attention was commandeered because it was like the Phantom’s hook, but wasn’t, and then the changes started. When they reached the other side of the transition bars of music I almost hooted out loud because the band pulled it off with such confidence. It appeared they repeated themselves at night because I noticed the audience reaction to it was great.
At the end of the tune Randy Hoover did a bit of schtick, putting on a mask and hat, turning around to face the audience and conducting the last chord with panache. The audience rose up spontaneously with a fairly long standing ovation.
The thing I really want to talk about is Christina Bosco’s guest performance. I have commented on the power of her voice and treatment of the big band genre tunes I’ve heard her sing. In the first half she sang I Dreamed A Dream, which got a round of on-your-feet applause.
Her second half tune was Blue Moon. During rehearsal, listening from the 4th row of the room, I was struck by how well I could hear her in contrast to the band’s playing. I wondered how much of that I was hearing from the PA system and realized none of it. I looked up to locate the speakers relative to where I was and they were directly overhead, but pointing out into the room away from me. I thought, “this can’t be.” I got up and walked back up the aisle until I could detect the speakers and was about 2/3rds of the way to the back before I could just hear the speakers and Christina from the stage. No way. I can count the number of times on one hand I’ve heard someone singing on top of a band and their voice be present without amplification.
At night there was the entire band between me and her. Both were projecting sound away from me, and I could not hear any sound from the speakers. Yet, I clearly heard Christina singing despite all the other musicians interfering. It’s not that she was overpowering and out of balance. I thought the levels of sound between her and the band were just about right. It’s that she has an ability to put her voice just where it belongs and is the mark of a well trained and in the-moment-aware musician.
Blue Moon got another standing ovation. Then in a last minute planned addition she reappeared to sing the Somewhere over the Rainbow section of a Wizard of Oz medley. The audience ate it up and the OCB got one of the most deserved, enthusiastic and lengthy standing ovations they’ve had in a few years.
Their next concert is May 13 when Jacquie Dancyger Arnold will have center stage playing Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor. This is one of the most recognizable pieces of music, so recognizable even if the title doesn’t mean anything to you, you’ve heard it before. Jacquie was outstanding with her renditions of Rhapsody in Blue and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.2 in past concerts. I expect this concert to be incredible to experience.
It’s interesting that Brady Aubin, the OCB’s president, told me half of the tickets for last Saturday were sold online, which was new for the band. I’ll have a link to get tickets online as soon as it’s available.
Other Concerts (yes there are more)
The Orillia Silver Band is playing at St. Paul’s Centre March 19 at 2 p.m. The program is packed with marches. The OSB has many on their dance card, with a medley of tunes for Porgy and Bess for contrast. I’m most excited to hear Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Fire in the Blood. He’s one of the most popular (and my favourite) composer of band music of this century. Not bad for a drummer in the Black Dyke Band. You can get tickets for the show online.
Sam Johnston has an interesting gig happening March 16 at the Lone Wolf Café. She’s organized the show to emulate a radio program about the history of women in music. She’ll play some recordings and sing some tunes to illustrate the historical narrative. It’s also a fundraiser for the Orillia Youth Centre. Tickets are $25 and you can get them online. If you can’t go you can still donate to the youth center.
Were you at Mariposa in 2019? Specifically at the Sunday night closing set? Then I’m sure you’ll remember My Son the Hurrricane. They are returning to Orillia to play a concert at St. Paul’s Centre, March 30. Get tickets online.
The Roots North Music Festival happens April 20 to 23. The Friday/Saturday events at St. Paul’s Centre are the hub of activity and there are additional venues scattered around the downtown and City and other artists performing at those. While the main stage menu is set (Friday – Tommy Youngsteen / The Ronnie Douglas Band) (Saturday – Meredith Moon / Kellie Loder / Michael Kaeshammer), the schedule for venues has not been released. You’ll need tickets for the St. Paul’s gigs and you can get them online.
The Cellar Singers’s annual gala/cabaret fundraiser is April 15 At St. James’ Anglican Church. At this event the focus is on individual and small group performances and more toward the fun side of serious singing. You can get tickets online.
You can get tickets online for Tangents’s headlining a gig at Creative Nomad Studios May 6. Battlescarred, The Therapists, The Latest Issue are also playing. It’s an all ages show and admission is $10.
Anne Walker has organized a summer concert series taking place at her family’s Coulson Church. The Coulson Concerts are all at 2 p.m. on Sundays and she has an interesting mix of familiar musicians scheduled:
April 30 – Anne Walker
May 28 – Boreal (Tannis Slimmon, Katherine Wheatley and Angie Nussey)
June 25 – John Prince and End of the Road
July 30 – Rick Fines
August 27 – Alison Lupton
September 24 – Paul Mills (produced Stan Rogers’s albums) and Anne Walker
You can get tickets online.
- The 2023 Orillia Scottish Festival committee is now accepting vendor applications. You can find them here.
- Students of Twin Lakes Secondary School are working on their annual theatrical production. This year it’s called Thunder Years, which is a tribute to the snow storm that struck most of Ontario a week ago. Wait… I’m being told that’s not correct. It’s a revue of the previous 49 student productions, kind of a 50th anniversary event, if you will. It happens April 27/28 at the school and you can get tickets at the school office.
- The Kiwanis Music Festival starts March 20. Most events and performances will happen at St. Paul’s Centre. You can find a complete program here.
- Remember the Tall Pines Music and Art Festival / 89.1 MAX FM Battle of the Bands call for submissions I’ve been mentioning? They now have a list of about a couple dozen bands and 89.1 MAX has a voting page you can check out. As you look over the list, you’ll notice Reay is on it. The Battle concert is at the Bracebridge Hall May 11, 12 and 13 and the festival is June 16 and 17.
- ODAC and Arts Orillia are sponsoring a night of Reggae music at Couchiching Craft Brewing April 1 at 7 p.m. Appearing are Juno Award winning singer Liberty Silver, Merlene Webber, Errol Lee and Quammie Williams (who stickhandled the Barrie Rhythmfest I played at a few times). There’s a $20 cover and you should make reservations.
- Ronnie Douglas’s new album, Music Is Medicine, is out and you can listen to it on Youtube.
- Bob Hawkins put up a video of him, Ron Hill And Pete Sanderson playing some of his music. See it here.
- Ethan Mask just put some new music on Bandcamp you can listen to, or buy.
- The Leacock Museum has two things happening. The submission period is now open for the K. Valerie Connor Memorial Poetry Contest. You have until May 8 to send something in under three categories – adult, teens and children. The total prize pool is $2,000. You can find the nomination rules and registration online. And, the museum has a new exhibit, A Leacock Love Story. It’s about Stevie and Beatrix. You can see it Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until May.
- Arts Orillia invites youth under the age of 25 to participate in their Theatre & Cross Creativity program April 23-27 at the Opera House. They are also inviting people over 65 to participate in this program about storytelling. It’s a workshop kind of thing with a performance in the Studio Theatre. The program is led by Iain Moggach, artistic director of Theatre by the Bay and Clara McBride, faculty at Toronto Metropolitan University’s acting program. Send them your details here.
- OMAH’s Art in Public Places committee is planning a new exhibit for the gallery at the Orillia Recreation Centre for June; they’re asking for submissions before March 20. They shifted their Music & Mocktails Thursdays to the last one each month; they’re from 5 to 7 p.m. OMAH also has new exhibits to see. The main floor has portraits of famous and should be famous women by Amanta Scott called Eyeing Medusa (Paul Shilling also has some work up in that gallery); in the smaller justoff-the-lobby room is work by David Alan Hill and Christine Mack called Beyond the Fence; upstairs see Gary Blundell and Victoria Ward’s Burner Herzog; and in the other second floor room find out the fascinating story of Great Tait: The True Story of Orillia’s First Millionaire. The next History Speaker’s Night is with Sylvie Browne who will speak about her grandmother’s (Elizabeth Wyn Wood) influence on her life; it’s going to be on Zoom March 15 and you can register online… Hibernation Arts guest artist for March is Patti Campbell… Peter Street Fine Arts has art by Norman Robert Catchpole featured this month.
- Alex (the band) is doing St. Patrick’s at Brewery Bay Food Company… Couchiching Craft Brewing has a St. Patrick’s Day bingo March 16; Run With the Kittens plays March 17 upstairs; Paige Rutledge is in March 18; Vinyl Night is March 23 and The Terry Savage Band with Bobby Dove are in March 25’ tickets are on sale now for a comedy show, Beauty and the Beast, with Lisa Baker and Darren Frost March 29… Quayle’s Brewery has Alex Barber in March 17; James Gray March 18; Cam Galloway March 19; and Ron Whitman March 24… the Opera House has concerts by Digging Roots March 16; and Sean McCann (of Great Big Sea) March 17; you can get tickets for those online… Mariposa Arts Theatre’s next Film Night is March 22 with Living (Bill Nighy and Aimee Lou Wood) March 22; showtimes are 4 and 7 p.m. at the Galaxy; tickets are $15 only at the door… Steve Parkes and Pete Sanderson host a new jam at The Sunken Ship (Tammie’s Place) Sunday’s from 6 to 9 p.m. starting March 19.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Digging Roots at the 2019 Mariposa Folk Festival. they’re playing the Opera House this coming week.