This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Last Saturday night’s Orillia Concert Band performance at St. Paul’s Centre wasn’t as well attended as their last one in March. That’s too bad because you missed a great example of great music making.

They had a very good program lined up, all familiar and recognizable classical tunes. They also played the Grieg Piano Concerto, with Jacquie Dancyger Arnold doing the piano part. It was extremely well played on Jacquie’s part and the band’s. This is a piece of music everyone knows. Don’t argue, you do. To hear a group like the OCB – local, all the members have day jobs (even the retired ones) – and a pianist you might run into at the grocery store pull this off so well is remarkable. Standing ovation was the order before halftime.

The second half started with an surprise extra, Brad Emmons sang a couple tunes Gord wrote – Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald and Early Morning Rain. He did them solo with just his guitar and for not having a band supporting him Wreck sounded excellent. The OCB added this in tribute to Gord whose funeral was just 6 days earlier. The audience got the significance and gave a great ovation for the performance, and I think for adding the tribute.

The concert closed out with Jacquie back at the piano to do C.P.E. Bach’s Solfeggietto. It started out in a traditional way and segued to the band accompanying with a modern take of an orchestration of the classic piece of music.

Along the way I certainly appreciated hearing the band do Fanfare for the Common Man, the Intermezzo from Carmen, Nimrod, Finlandia and the other tunes.

This past Wednesday the Orillia Vocal Ensemble was back in the same space for their spring concert. 

The program was made up of spiritual and gospel tunes, not all of them from this continent, which the OVE does a lot of. They had two guest performing groups. One was the Orillia Community Children’s Choir, 15 kids, several of them you could almost see from the back of the room. When they started to sing was the moment I thought I should have brought my camera.

While all the munchkins were on stage, someone thought it would be a good time to do Do-Re-Me from The Sound of Music. Why not, milk the cuteness quotient. The arrangement of the tune gave the kids a chance to steal the show away from the OVE

Fred Larsen of the OVE presents a cheque to Carol Deimling

The second half lead with two tribute numbers. One to Ian Tyson (Four Strong Winds) who died last September, and of course Gord (Pussy Willows, Cat-tails). Somehow I don’t think this is the last of groups doing tributes to Gord, and no one is going to complain.

The other guest performers were Toot Suite. The name’s relevant. They are a quartet of recorder players. I did not know there was such a thing as a bass recorder. There are several sizes of the instrument. The group played a couple tunes. When I was in school I never had the pleasure like so many others did, so I can’t say for a minute I was back in school, but I imagine many of the audience were.

The concert ended with a solo duet between John Jefferies and Matilda Wilson singing We Rise Again.

The concert was a fund raiser for the Born to Read program at Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. There were representatives from the Orillia and Ramara libraries, the hospital and Manticore books on hand serving as ushers. The concert raised $5,600.

Next Weekend

Assuming you didn’t do the fireworks thing in your yard and burn down half the neighbourhood (waiting for that to happen next neighbourhood over from me), you might want to check out a couple of concerts happening next weekend.

The Cellar Singers have their spring concert Saturday night at St. James’ Anglican Church. The Cellars are not just the premier choir in Orillia, but most of Ontario as well. Their program title is Cantatas Old and New. They’ll be doing some Bach and premiering a brand new piece by Benjamin Keast.

Soprano soloist Amy Dodington will be featured in a few pieces and the Cellars have a chamber orchestra along for this one. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. and you can get tickets online.

Sunday at 2 p.m. the Orillia Silver Band is playing at the Opera House. They have a good program lined up, which includes Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and Rail Road Trilogy.

The former, made popular by the Andrew’s Sisters (originally, Bette Midler wasn’t even born yet). The opening trumpet solo was played by Vic Schoen, who, aside from being the Andrew’s Sisters music director and arranger of all their hits, was also a great big band bandleader and recorded one of my desert island albums.

Rail Road Trilogy is a piece arranged by Robert Redhead and based on Canadian Railroad Trilogy. See, I told we weren’t done with tributes to Gord. This was commissioned by the OSB and first played several years ago. The OSB has a mix of old and new music, the new by composers Eric Whitacre, Philip Sparke and Gordon Langford.

You can get tickets online.

Gather ‘Round
Tom Wilson

Arts Orillia just announced the program for their annual Gathering Festival of First Nations Stories event. It’s happening June 1 to 4. A lot of it takes place at the Rama Community Hall, with speakers like Sherry Lawson, Drew Hayden Taylor, Cynthia Wesley Esquimaux and Mark Douglas. You’ll find  the schedule online.

Some of the events happen at St. Paul’s Centre, or online (for students). Tom Wilson is doing a concert on the Friday evening. You can get tickets here. Prior to the concert you can see a new exhibit of art called the Ogimaa Miskwaaki Gallery.  Joining Tom are Jesse O’Brien and Thompson Wilson and the Mariposa Folk Festival is presenting the show. The next day Tom will be out in Rama for his speaking slot. If you haven’t heard Tom in concert, or heard him read from his books, or just tell stories, you’ve missed one of the finer things in life.

The Saturday evening main attraction at St. Paul’s is a concert by Tomson Highway. He has Patricia Cano and Marcus Ali performing with him and you can get tickets for that show online. I’ve seen Tomson three or four times and he puts on a great performance, very entertaining.

The Shorts

  • The Leacock Museum opened a new exhibit in the boathouse. Boating Old Brewery Bay will be a permanent exhibit. The museum also has the return of the Great Gatsby Garden Party happening June 17. There will be entertainment, games and you can attend the awards ceremony for the K. Valerie Connor Memorial Poetry contest at 2 p.m. Get tickets here.
  • Summer theater at the Opera House is around the corner and you can get a deal on tickets for all three plays right now. The plays are Moving In (Norm Foster), Bed and Breakfast (Mark Crawford), and Halfway There (Norm Foster). The Opera House also has the annual Laugh For Lake Simcoe fundraiser May 26 with comedians Martha Chaves, Jon Steinberg and Rob Bebeneck; Brass Transit (very worthwhile Chicago tribute band) plays June 24. Tickets for the concerts are here.
  • St. Paul’s has Chris Murphy (of Sloan) playing May 25 at 8 p.m. Get those tickets here.
  • The Lighthouse is celebrating their 30th anniversary June 3 with a fundraising gala at Hawk Ridge. The entertainment is by the Little Big Band. Past fundraisers have been theme nights and this time it’s the 1930s so the music will reflect that and they are encouraging people to get those threads form the back of the closet out for some air. You can get tickets online.
  • The Coldwater Studio Tour is June 24 and 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. There are 31 artists participating at 7 venues. One of those, Murray Van Halem, has a show at the Double Door Gallery in Anten Mills up until May 22
  • Derick Lehmann has a fundraising event for the Sharing Place Food Bank happening at the Roller Skating place at ODAS Park. Derick is the one behind the annual Ugly Sweater Bowling fundraiser. It’s called Back to the 90s Video Dance Party. It’s modeled after the Much Music events of the same nature. It’s happening July 29 and you can get tickets at Alleycats Music or online.
  • OMAH has a fundraising event happening June 10; Choose Your Wheels is an art rally, not in the sense of Mike Davenport bombing around countryside roads trying to beat a clock, but in taking a nice drive around town to see the 6 (7 if you have an Amphicar) newly installed sculptures; tickets are $50, which includes a box lunch from Mariposa Market, a pollinator plant and a bit of a party at OMAH when you’ve made the circuit; there’s door prizes and an auction (see current items here) and Steph Dunn will be playing some music; the monthly history speaker’s night is June 21 and it will be on Zoom; Mike Hill will be speaking about the 60 year history of the Mariposa Folk Festival; register onlineHibernation Arts has guest artist Nancy Jones’s work hanging around for the month of May… Cloud Gallery has Lisa Hickey in May 27 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for their next installment of the Meet the Artist series.
Hear Ronnie Douglas play this new music at the Hog ‘N Penny
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has Trivia Night May 24 and it’s all about Gord; Vinyl Night is May 25… Quayle’s Brewery has Kyle Wauchope in to play May 20, Burke Erwin (early) and Stephan Barnard (late) May 21, Ron Whitman May 21, Kat Chabot May 26 and Mark Thackawa May 27 … Studabakers has a comedy show May 29 with Arianna Swietlinski, Jeff Faulkner, Daniel Shaw and Marc Trinidad; get tickets online… the Hog ‘N Penny is hosting Ronnie Douglas’s Music Is Medicine CD release party May 27 at 8:30 p.m. … The Offcuts play the Sunken Ship May 20 at 7 p.m.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Neil Barlow and the Orillia Silver Band are in concert May 28 at the Opera House.

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