This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment – Part Two

By John Swartz

With the Orillia Santa Claus Parade happening Saturday at 5 p.m. I suppose it’s time to face the reality Christmas is coming. Sure it’s over a month away, but then Mariposa was only yesterday and Family Day a week ago. You’re still going to run out of time and be running around Christmas Eve trying to find a gift for somebody, or after deciding you didn’t buy enough food for Christmas dinner and need more.

Which then leads to the conclusion, it’s not too early to tell you about Christmas events happening during the next few weeks. There are two Christmas Markets happening this weekend. One is at Creative Nomad Studios. Their annual Christmas Market started yesterday and finishes up today from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

Quayles has their annual Christmas Market happening Saturday and Sunday (and November 25/26) from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Hawkestone Singers are performing Sunday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. both weekends. The Hawkestone Singers also have their Christmas concert December 3 at the Hawkestone Community Hall at 3 p.m. ; call 705-984-7110 for tickets.

Concerts, there are many. The Cellar Singers are first out of the gate this year with their biennial rendition of Handel’s Messiah. The concert is November, 25 at 7:30 p.m. at St, James’ Anglican Church. They’ll be accompanied by a chamber orchestra and you can get tickets online, or at the door.

Also on the 25th, Ballet Jorgen will be performing The Nutcracker at the Opera House. There are performances at 2 and 7 p.m. and you can get tickets online.

November 26 the Orillia Concert Association’s 2nd concert of their season is with Daniel Vnukowski. Like Kerry Stratton was, he is a host on Classical 96 FM. Unlike Stratton, who played the whole orchestra as a conductor, Vnukowski only plays the piano.

You can get tickets for the 2:30 p.m. concert at the Opera House website (the concert is at St. Paul’s Centre). Better, call the Opera House box office at 705-326-8011 and get the season pass for $90, which is a substantial savings over buying tickets to each concert.

Orillia Concert Band

The Orillia Concert Band has the annual Christmas Prelude concert December 2 at St. Paul’s Centre. This is usually the opener to the season, but as you read, the Cellar Singers got the jump this year.

They do this concert twice. The first one is a trial, a refresher; it’s more likely having just done it in the afternoon the band members will remember the music they are supposed to play in the evening.

Of course, I’m kidding, or am I? When I was the percussion section leader of the Olde Pharts drum corps in Toronto I used to run rehearsals saying, “we’re going to play the next tune straight through twice, once to remember the parts, and then to get it right.”

The afternoon concert at 3:30 p.m. is a stripped down version of the evening concerts. As the kids might say, they leave out the boring parts – straight to Santa and the candy! Twin Lakes Secondary School Choir are the guest performers. You can get tickets online, or at the door. Kids under 5 get in free.

At 7:30 p.m. they add back in the serious music, same venue, and Santa still shows up. So does the Orillia Vocal Ensemble. There is a different link for buying tickets online.

The Orillia Silver Band is usually the last concert of the season. This year it’s December 17 at the Opera House. They’ll be playing music from their Christmas CD, and for once I won’t have to shout out my request when conductor Neil Barlow asks the audience if there’s anything they’d like to hear. Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride is already on the menu. You can get tickets online.

Opera House Line Up

Imagine my surprise when I checked in to see a bunch of additions to the schedule for the Christmas season. It’s vastly different than I reported just a couple weeks ago.

lance anderson
Lance Anderson at the 2018 Mariposa Folk Festival

But first, Lance Anderson along with Selena Evangeline and Quisha Wint, Mike Daley, Matt Weidinger, Wayne Deadder, Russ Boswell,Bucky Berger and Ronnie Douglas are repeating the Mariposa Folk Festival main stage 60th Anniversary set from 2022 called 60 in 60 (but with 30 more minutes of music) tonight, Saturday, November 18 at the Opera House and there still a few tickets left.

Comedian Ryan Belleville is in Nov. 30; Able Theatre company is doing their Holiday Show December 6; December 8 Lunch at Allen’s (Murray McLaughlin, Cindy Church, Marc Jordan and Ian Thomas) is in; December 9 and 10 Duck Soup Productions is doing their own musical revue, We Rock; the Barra MacNeils Dec. 11; Serena Ryder will be in December 15 to bring her Merry Myths Tour to town; Dec. 16 the Titanium Arts Lab dancers will do their Snow Show. Get tickets for any of those online.

The Leacock Museum folks must have found Stevie’s wine stash because they’ve got more Christmas events on the books than I ever recall. Apparently they must have found some evidence Stevie would use anything at hand to stir the sugar cube in his tea because From November 23 to 25 they have a Nutcracker Tea at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day. It’s bottomless tea and snacks. You can also roam around the house they’ve decorated for the season; November 26 they are opening a new exhibit, Decoding Anne Lister: History’s First Modern Lesbian, which comes with exhibit opening events – a painting workshop with M. Nowick and speakers Amy Rae Miller or Dr. Chris Roulston, the are two times to choose from noon and 1:45 p.m.; November 30 and December 1 they have a Christmas tour of the grounds and a reading of Leacock’s Hoodoo McFiggin”s Christmas and you can pick from 5:30 or 7:30 p.m. to go; December 6 they have a Holiday Centerpiece Workshop lead by the folks from Florillia Floral Design at 5:30 p.m. – you get to bring your creation home and have a drink to end the evening at Fare Restaurant. Use the same link above for Opera House concerts to get tickets to any of these.


November 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. The Orillia District and Arts Council is having a visioning workshop at Creative Nomad Studios. They’re inviting current and past members. ODAC has been rebuilding itself for the last couple years and organized a number of events this year.

Normally these arts councils in many places are seen to be visual artist collectives. A times it may have seemed so with ODAC, but it was not conceived that way. It’s for all arts and artists. Of the events they organized in 2023 many of them included a musical component.

I don’t understand why some of the food groups (MAT, Mariposa, The Orillia Concert Band, etc) aren’t members as well as individual artists of all kinds. There is much to be gained by having a collective voice on a number of matters. Personally, I have suggested the single most important thing ODAC can do is figure out how to provide group insurance for artist/members; I discovered a month or so ago they do now have such insurance and group liability insurance.

That’s a big plus for the community and I think a motivating factor for joining. There is a lot to be said, say in dealing with City Hall, to be able to say, “we represent 400 artists in this community and we think the City should do…” The membership has also grown this year; they’re sitting somewhere close to 100  by absorbing the Orillia Fine Arts Association. Streets Alive is part of ODAC and became so because of the liability conditions imposed on Streets Alive.

The City’s public art policy was first informed by the cultural roundtable and then revised with input from the few ODAC members there were at the time. Yes, its visual art oriented, but as I type I’m thinking of how it should be modified (and I’m typing this so I don’t; forget to bring it up).

The main thing is, ODAC can be what you need it to be, but you have to participate.

Run With the Kittens

Nate Mills, Nigel Hebblewhite and Jake Oelrichs have a new album out, Blaze of Gordie. You can listen to it on all the major streaming platforms and on Youtube, or with their own player. If you’re going to download it, go to Bandcamp.

Nigel Hebblewhite, Nate Mills and Jake Oelrichs

It’s their 8th album in 20 years and was engineered by Guillermo Subauste, who has worked with The Sadies and Moscow Apartment, which may account for all the reverb and dash of echo. That gives the collection of 11 tunes a unifying sound, which if not for the compositional variation might be boring about half way through the set. What’s great about these guys is they aren’t stagnant.

For most bands, they get to a juncture in a tune, the bridge, the chorus, the second solo, and while most might chose a predictable path, these guys find another you don’t expect. That other path uses many tricks, inversion, theme variation, rhythmic variety, guitar effects, or time change to keep things interesting.

I’ve often found it difficult to categorize their music. When you see them live, you’re going to hear Jazz, Blues, straight ahead Rock, Psychedelic Rock, even some Ska or Yacht Rock. After listening to the album I thought, this is Punk, and indeed that’s what they are calling it.

About the unifying bit, all the tunes do have the same overall sound and it isn’t until you get to the 10th tune, Camouflage, a radical departure is taken. There isn’t one tune that says hit, or stands out because all of them are great listening. It seems to me this is the kind of album like Yes, Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfiled, Supertramp, Collective Soul, or Chicago where you have to listen to all of it instead of picking a few favourites to repeat.

The Shorts

  • The annual Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards happens Nov. 22 at Creative Nomad Studios. The 6 p.m. event is free to attend. See a rundown of the nominees here. Come out, have some fun and show your appreciation for your neighbours.
  • St. Paul’s Centre has a couple of events happening with the Skydiggers Dec. 14 for a Christmas concert. You can find tickets for all those online. They also have A Christmas Carol with Don McIsaac, Adam Chambers, Krista Storey, Raquel Ness and Carey Moran on Dec. 1; you can get tickets for that here.
  • The Leacock Student Humorous Essay Competition is open for submissions. Students age 14 to 19 can enter to win $1,500 and $750 for each of 2nd and 3rd place. The deadline is Apr. 15 and winners are announced May 15 and get to attend and read their essays at the Meet the Author night June 21. An important thing to note is the word June. It looks like the medal dinner is moving back to June and in fact will be June 22.
  • The Orillia Museum of Art and History has events; The Old Dance Hall Players are going be at OMAH Nov. 25 doing Glue As The Romans Do (tickets), this ought to be different; they are hosting Fred Addis who wrote a book about Don Gallinger, a Boston Bruin who was banned from the NHL for betting, Fred will be in Nov, 30 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. to launch Gallinger: A Life Suspended, RSVP online; Steph Dunn has a book launch too, it’s an illustrated children’s book called I Will Carry You Now, and she’ll be in Dec. 2 at 11 a.m.; RSVP online: three of the artists (John Notten, Luci Dilkus and Peter Fyfe) with pieces in the annual Carmichael Landscape Show will be in to talk about their art at 5 p.m. Nov. 30.; the exhibits to see are The Canadian Landscape Show, 50 Years Of Mariposa Arts Theatre, A Close up on Carmichael (showcasing OMAH’s collection of related items), Jennifer Zardo’s Home Sweet Home and in the basement see The Orillia Police And The Sir Sam Steele Memorial Building… St. Paul’s Centre has the Call to Action 83 Art Project in the Ogimaa Miskwaaki Gallery… Hibernation Arts’s guest artist for November is David Crighton… Peter Street Fine Arts has Kate Greenway in as guest artist for November… Cloud Gallery continues their fall series of exhibits with art by Julie Veenstra until the end of this week; Patricia Clemmens has her work up Nov. 25 (opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m.) and Dec. 9 it’s a group show with many of the artists represented by the gallery in attendance; look for a story about the success of the gallery and these artists here.
  • Quayle’s Brewery has Cam Galloway playing Nov. 19; Rebekah Hawker Nov. 23; Peter Flood Nov. 24; My Missing Piece Nov. 25 and Gen Cyr Nov. 26 … Couchiching Craft Brewing has Cassie Dasilva playing Nov. 24 and Chris Lemay Nov. 25 … the legion has a Country and Rock open mic happening Nov. 25 from 2 to 5 p.m.; $5 cover… the Renaissance Band plays at the ANAF Club Nov. 25.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: 2022 Orillia Santa Claus Parade

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