This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Saturday is busy day. The Orillia Vocal Ensemble has a concert, Hibernation Arts has an open house, and Streets Alive’s annual Christmas tree ornament event are happening.

The OVE’s concert is at St. Paul’s Centre at 2 p.m. As usual, admission is free, but they are taking donations for the Sharing Place Food Bank. They have the Orillia Community Children’s Choir as guests and soloist Matilda Wilson as well.

The main piece of music they will be performing is John Rutter’s Brother Heinrich’s Christmas. Blair Bailey is conducting, and I mentioned last week the OVE sounded much better at the Christmas Prelude than I’ve heard them sing before. Katie Pergau will accompany the OVE on piano.

Hibernation Arts has an open house from noon to 3 pm. They have new work hanging around from the ODAC group of artists, and drawings by Julie Grimaldi, as well as an exhibit of photos M J Pollak took of sunrises from our waterfront.

Peter Street Fine Arts also has their annual 6×6 Christmas show happening.

Streets Alive annual Christmas tree ornament event is from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Creative Nomad Studios. Many artists have painted Christmas balls and various other things a tree limb will support. Several made sets of ornaments.

There is a theme this year and our world famous Christmas tree at the Opera House is the subject matter. You get to have them buy making a donation to the Couchiching Conservancy, which you can do while you are at Creative Nomad. Deb Halbot will be there too to take portrait photos.


The Orillia Silver Band closes out the Christmas events with a concert at the Opera house at 2 p.m. there’s almost 700 seats in the joint, so if you doubted what I’ve been saying about this band, even at this late date you can still get tickets and find out for yourself what I’ve been telling you you’ve been missing.

What you have been missing is one of the best music ensembles I’ve ever heard live and in living technicolor. Excellent recording are one things, excellent live performances an entirely different thing. You’ll hear them playing Christmas music, so it’s not like you aren’t going to know the tunes.

Christmas concerts by community bands tend to have a lot of medleys. Sometimes you’ll hear the same Christmas tune more than once because of it. The OSB however, also have a number of tunes from their Christmas CD, Carol of the Bells, The Kingdom Triumphant and Overture: Proclamation of Christmas and Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride. They have a tradition of taking requests for the sing-a-long part of the show.

The Orillia Big Band
The Orillia Big Band

The OBB had a dance at St. James’ Anglican Church last Saturday. It looked to be sold out. The band was playing very well and Milli Schop once again stopped the clock with her singing. Who knew so many people like to get out and dance, and have the skills to dance they way it used to be done when big bands were more popular. I think the OBB has a cottage industry brewing.

Does Anyone Really Need 76 Trombones?

A little journey to the details of an event; I could see somewhere close to that many tubas, if 20 can be considered close. For about 25 years now there has been a trend in brass ensembles to have 20% of the brass section made up of tubas and half the remainder made up of baritones and euphoniums.

It used to be half would be trumpets, or cornets, or soprano bugles, and the other half all of the middle and lower voices, with tubas barely accounting for 10% of the total number of players.

The change can be traced back to one drum corps who in the late 90s rolled out an 80 member brass section with that many tubas and a lower brass section of 30 baris and euphoniums. The sound was so drastically different than anyone was used to in a live setting (one can always alter the balance on a stereo systems, and many dd) it caught on like wildfire because many of the people who write for and teach drum corps are some of the biggest copycats on the planet and they also work with university, college, community and high school bands in the United States.

In fact almost every concert the Silver Band or the Concert Band have performed the last 10 years have played arrangements by people like Jay Bocock, Paul Lavender, Ken Norman, Robert W. Smith, Richard Saucedo, Randall Standridge and Bill Thomas – all of whom started their arranging and composing careers in drum corps. Their writing has evolved to include how their music will sound with larger lower brass, or wind sections. Once one experiences what that sounds like, you’ll never go back to the old way.

Trombones are the weird kid on the block; often part of the low brass, but also part tenor. Even trombones players know having too many is inviting trouble. Their reputation as the class clowns of the band they wear like medals. So, how Meredith Willson ever thought having 76 of them, even on paper, was a good thing, is anyone’s guess.

Nevertheless, he wrote a song, which is in a musical, which is called The Music Man, which St. Paul’s Centre is presenting from January 24 to 29. It has a cast of 60, so we’re safe on the trombone count and they have been rehearsing it all fall. Blair Bailey is directing.

Does anyone remember when Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption lost the Oscar to Forrest Gump. Well, West Side Story lost its Tony Award to The Music Man.

Evening performances of The Music Man January 24 to 27 are at 7:30 p.m. Matinees on the 27th and 28th are at 1:30 p.m. You can get tickets online and there is reserved seating for this event. You can also have dinner at St. Paul’s before the show on the 25th, 26th, and 27th. For that call the church office, 705-326-7351 and speak with Rachael Howes.

Three is a preview show January 22, which is general seating and pay what you can admission.

Gospel and Blues

The 12th annual Mariposa Folk Festival Gospel and Blues concert is February 3 at the Opera House. This thing has been stickhandled by Lance Anderson the whole time and each year I wonder what he’s going to do the next time to make it better than the last.

Well, for one thing Ronnie Douglas is part of the band this time. Lance also has multiple Maple Blues Award winner Kenny (Blues Boss) Wayne playing too – and he’s nominated for another Maple Blues Award.

A few weeks ago I mentioned this concert and left out a couple names Lance had lined up because the paperwork wasn’t done yet. He was Alice Copper’s bassist, and then in Parliament and Funkadelic (but not Parliament Funkadelic); Prakash John will be laying down the groove on bass, and his son Jordan will be in the band too. Lance also has Michael Shand along to play piano. Shand has also done so for Molly Johnson and Matt Dusk.

I could spend time making a list of all the bands and artists this group of musicians has played with, and you likely have an album or two they played on, but I only have so many fingers.

Why am I telling you about a February concert now? Because it will likely be sold out by Christmas, that’s why. Get your tickets online.

The Shorts

  • Quayle’s Brewery has My Missing Piece playing Dec. 16 and Andrew Walker Dec. 17…  Couchiching Craft Brewing has Rebekah Hawker in Dec. 16… The Hog ‘N Penny has Michael Martyn in Dec.17 from 4 to 6 p.m. … Washago Lions has a jam the Lions Hall Dec. 20…the ANAF has Lone Star Oasis playing Dec. 16… Jakob Pearce is at Fionn MacCool’s Dec. 16.
  • More in Tomorrow’s 2nd part.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied)

Rants & Raves

Support Independent Journalism