This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Wednesday evening the Orillia Secondary School senior concert band had a small concert at the school to premier a new piece of music written for them

The piece is Nish Princess, lyrics and music by Brian Sarazin and Russell Lemarr, orchestration by Christian Overton.

Brian had been working with students teaching them drumming and Laura Lee Matthie thought it might work to use a Native tune as the basis for a new composition.

“For years we’ve been singing that song. Just to hear it in this different form it made me feel real good inside,” Sarazin said. The song itself is 26 years old.

Laura Lee Matthie (OSS music teacher), Brian Sarazin (composer) and senior concert band members at the premier of Nish Princess

The piece, in three parts, starts with traditional Native singing and drumming in 12/8 time. Then the band plays an introduction laying out the themes. Then the drums pick up the rhythm of the Native drumming with the clarinets playing the melody same as the singing. As the melody repeats the other band sections join in. Once everyone is in the underlying percussion rhythm is embellished as the melody works through variations, returning to the basic rhythm of the Native drums.

The last section returns to the singing and drumming as a kind of coda. You can see a video of the performance on Youtube.

That was the finale of the concert. It was preceded by a quintet called Groovy Tuesdays (the students rehearse on Tuesdays) and a quartet called North of New Orleans. The first played Basin Street Blues and the second St. James Infirmary. The quintet members came up with their own arrangement for Basin Street and Josh Young wrote the arrangement for the quartet.

In both there were solo opportunities for the band members and Josh Young stood out on clarinet. It was fun to watch him physically react to the notes he was playing. It kind of reminded me of watching Benny Goodman or Pete Barbutti. He may have a way to go with improving proficiency on his instrument, but the essential part, understanding the notes and performing, is already there.


The Orillia Museum of Art and History and The Chippewas of Rama started a joint venture to document the history of the Mnjikaning fish Weirs.

The word Mnjikaning means Place of the Fish Fence. On a good day you can still see some of the wood posts embedded into The Narrows as it empties into Lake Couchiching.

The aim is to collect any artifacts and stories into one place. Right now bits and pieces of the story rest with individuals and it seems the point is to take the oral tradition and put it to paper (or bits and bytes). There are also pieces of the fence in various places too.

To that end, the committee of volunteers would like to hear from you if you have artifacts or stories from your family that should be preserved. Sherry Lawson is the contact person and you can email her at or call 705-321-9311.

At the same time, Storytelling Orillia has a series of videos they just uploaded to Youtube.  The videos are from Giiwniikewag miinwaa Giimkaajigaazowag (Lost, Forgotten and Found), their annual Storytelling Day event in 2022.  They’re broken down to several medium length videos of people telling stories, with the centerpiece being an hour long video by Mark Douglas talking about the fish weirs. A particularly interesting video is by Sue Charters telling a story about Miskwaaki (Chief Yellowhead).


The Cellar Singers have their spring concert happening February 24 at St. James’ Anglican Church.

The program features the music of Maurice Duruflé, his Requiem and Motets. Most of Duruflé’s compositions were for organ (he was assistant organist at Notre Dame in Paris and at the same time organist at St-Étienne-du-Mont, also in Paris) and piano, with two orchestral pieces. However, when it comes to choral work, most choirs of note have done concerts featuring his work.

The featured soloist is Autumn Debassige and organist Matthew Larkin will accompany the choir. You can get tickets online.

The Orillia Concert Band’s spring concert is March 2 at St. Paul’s Centre. Like last spring, they are doing a theme. This time it’s movie music. Of course there’s a lot of good movie music to choose from and it all leads to a finale featuring Alex Teske and Dean Jobim-Bevans singing Time To Say Goodbye. You may have seen, or heard the version with Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, if not, here you go. It was never in a movie, but what the heck, the best way to experience it is the video taped performance.

They will also play a James Bond medley and another from Evita. You can get tickets for the concert online.

What Happened?

Mariposa Arts theatre has a hit on their hands. Normally they do their spring production in the 100-seat Studio Theatre. They went upstairs to Gord’s Room because the play, The Play that Goes Wrong, needed the larger stage and headroom. The man floor has 400 seats.

Mathew Peart and Josh Halbot in MAT’s The Play That Goes Wrong (Photo by Deb Halbot)

I didn’t look earlier in the week and can’t get the data now, but if looking at seat availability for Friday and Saturday nights shows and Sunday’s matinee are an indication, they were close to selling out the main floor every show date. That’s’ got to help the bank balance.

As of his moment, there are only 60 tickets available for Friday night and 24 for Sunday. You will have a better choice of seats for Saturday because there are a little more than 100 left for that one.

While it usually helps to know what the story line is; broadly someone dies, inept people all around try to solve the mystery, the manor maintenance crew has been absent for decades (doors can’t slam that won’t open in the first place) and at one point three people play the same character; you really don’t need to know the minutia of the plot.

It’s sight gags and misdirected dialogue all the way.

Do not arrive on time. The play really begins ten minutes before the published 7:30 p.m. start. Those ten minutes give you an insight to what is to follow. You can get tickets online.

The Shorts

  • The Orillia Museum of Art and History has three exhibits to see; The main floor has a solo exhibit by Robyn Rennie called Seeing Beyond; Each piece is really two pieces, with one version being in colour and the other being the same thing but in white so you can see how she created the 3rd dimension; another exhibit is a series of old 8mm films showing Orillia as it used to be. Grant’s Legacy: Capturing Orillia’s History on Film is made up of 32 reels, some short, some not; you can see them anytime, but their movie night every Thursday until April 18– complete with wine, beer and popcorn – is a good time to go; . also see, Sybil, a collection of fibre art by artists associated with the celebrated Sybil Rampen; the monthly History Speaker’s Night is Feb. 21 with Graeme Davis – Simcoe County’s forester – talking about the history of Simcoe County’s forests; its on Zoom and you can register online... St. Paul’s Centre has the Call to Action 83 Art Project in the Ogimaa Miskwaaki Gallery… Hibernation Arts has  the work of solo artist Zane Cook for Black History Month, a new collection of pieces by ODAC artists, and quite a lot of new work from the other artists who regularly show at the gallery…... Peter Street Fine Arts has a collection of work from the Bayside Artists featured for February and March.
  • The Leacock Museum has A Leacock Love Story – Valentine”s Tour Feb. 17; some lost letters from Beatrix to Stevie surfaced recently and you get to hear what she said., get tickets online… the Leacock Medal for Humour’s annual student humourous writing competition submission period is on now and closes April 15.  Ontario students are eligible to enter and the top prize is $1,500, with two $750 runners up prizes. You can find out details online. Winners get to read their stories at the annual Meet The Authors night June 21.
  • The Mariposa Folk Festival’s next off-season concert is Mar. 9  with Boreal (Katherine Wheatley, Tannis Slimmon, Angie Nussey) at St. Paul’s Centre; they have tickets on sale now… the annual audition concert is April 27 and it’s free to attend.
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has Jakob Pearce and Dave Hewitt playing Feb. 16; James Gray Feb. 17; Chris Lemay Feb. 18; Yuk Yuk’s Comedy does a night Feb. 22; Valerie Burns and Dave Chun Feb. 23; and Feb. 24 it’s Saturday Night Drag DiscoQuayle’s Brewery has Kyle Wauchope Feb. 16; Andy Walker Feb. 17; Cam Galloway Feb. 18; Jojo Feb. 22 and Genevieve Cyr Feb. 23… The Hog ‘N Penny has Genevieve Cyr playing  5-7 p.m. and Charlie McKittrick 9-11 p.m. Feb. 16; Meredith Warboys plays Feb. 17… Mark Thackaay is at Picnic Feb. 18… St. Paul’s Centre has a Pub Night Feb. 16 with Meredith Warboys playing music; $10 at the door.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Mai: The Orillia Secondary School senior concert band with composer Brian Sarazin (left) at the premier of Nish Princess.

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