This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Saturday night the Mariposa Folk Festival has their spring concert happening at St. Paul’s Centre Saturday, March 9. It’s with Boreal, which is Katherine Wheatley, Tannis Slimmon and Angie Nussey).

Wheatley was last here as a member of Betty and The Bobs, but you may also know her from countless TV appearances. Slimmon has a been a folk favourite for years and has appeared on many albums by other artists. Nussey has won a few awards for her music, lives in the neighbourhood and spent some time this week with Orillia Secondary School students.

Boreal was originally formed with Jude Vadala to do winter concerts, Nussey joined Wheatley and Slimmon in 2019 and got one tour of Ontario in before, you know. They returned to doing winter concerts and this year have a spring tour, which starts in Orillia. They also have their first album together (each has many albums as solo artists) coming out in December.

You can get tickets online.

That Was Something

The Orillia Concert Band continues to improve the quality of performance of the material they choose to play and it was evident at last Saturday night’s concert at St. Paul’s Centre. Going from a good community band to a great band is not an easy or short process, and this marks two concerts in a row the OCB has shown they are able to perform some of their concert at a level  professionals of major ensemble routinely achieve.

They opened with The Magnificent Seven. The ensemble blend and balance from tuba through to trumpets was darn near perfect. The song has long passages with short unison notes, which are hard to execute, but great to listen to when everyone plays exactly on time, and long passages of long notes where the blend of sounds from all the instruments when it’s on transports the listeners and draws them into the arrangement more.

The performance level the OCB displayed on this one tune is the best I’ve herd them do in years.. 

For lots of people the choice of tunes to play is what makes a concert enjoyable and this concert was all movie tunes, so there was a good selection to like. For a few people, like me, how those tunes are played is like icing on cake. OK, it’s the cake too.

Stumbling into a good analogy, you’ll eat a dry crumbly cake with a lardy tasting icing, if that’s all there is, but given a choice a moist light cake with a sugary tasting icing will be gone in seconds once people start raving about the difference.

That’s kind of what I’m talking about with performance quality. Anyone can play the Magnificent Seven, and many have, but once you’ve heard it played really well in a live setting you’ll never forget it.

The OCB is obviously working toward upping their performance standards. The rest of the program was played well, they just provided their best effort out of the gate.

The band took the focus off of themselves with the second tune when Alex Teske was brought on to sing I Could Have Danced All Night. She has one of those voices which creates almost pure tones, the kind that can cut through the instrumental accompaniment easily. The best opera singers, mostly sopranos and tenors, can produce close to pure tones. I don’t know how much practice and work it takes to eliminate overtones from a singing voice, or how naturally a person can do it, but the difference in how a voice sounds between the two extremes is noticeable.

It also helps to have good intonation, hitting the notes at the correct pitch, and this is usually most evident at the endings of songs written for vocal performance against the array of sound from instrumental accompaniment. When the big finish was being laid out in this song, I had a bit of relief sweep over me when Alex leapt up to the final notes and nailed it dead on and crystal clear. Every singer wants that to happen all the time, especially in front of an audience. And the audience reacted accordingly with a big round of applause.

Later Cal Lander carried Cinema Paradiso as a solo voice on his euphonium. He’s got such a smooth, round tone that many brass instrument players are never able to find. To keep that tone when having to play a little louder as a soloist must is an accomplishment. It’s always a good night when he is being featured.

Orillia Concert Band conductor, Randy Hoover, Alex Teske and Dean Jobin-Bevans (Photo by Brady Aubin)

The OCB opened the second half as strongly as the first with a medley arrangement of tunes from The Sound Of Music. The quality of sound was approaching that of the concert opener and set a good mood for the rest of the show.

The final piece of the night was duet featuring Alex and Dean Jobin-Bevans singing Time To Say Goodbye. This is one of those tunes everyone knows the second they hear it. Of course the version they think of is the one with Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, so they have their work cut out to meet that impression. They did, in Italian and English too, and got a standing ovation to close the night out.

If you missed the concert, or just want to hear it again, you can on the OCB Youtube page.

Orillia Silver Band And Other Stuff

The OSB has their spring concert coming up March 24 at St. Paul’s Centre. They are having the Orillia Vocal Ensemble along to perform as well. The OVE always has a fundraising component when they perform and there is one for this too; Green Haven Shelter for Women is the beneficiary.

The OVE will sing a few tunes in the first half, and then so a medley from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat before the break.

The OSB will open the second half with Mariposa Sketches, which was written for them. The OVE will come back to join the OSB to sing Song for the Mira and Hymn To Freedom.

You can get tickets for the 2 p.m. concert online.

Also on March 24 the Orillia Concert Association’s next event of their season is with the James Campbell Trio (pianist Angela Park and soprano Leslie Fagan) at St. Andrews Presbyterian at 2:30 p.m. If you don’t already have season tickets you can get tickets for this concert online.

Sean McCann

The Opera House also has some concerts to catch. Sean McCann (of Great Big Sea) is in March 17; Irish Mythen is in March 23 and Arts Orillia has a dance program, Julie et l’univers (a dance program choreographed by Laurence Lemieux and inspired by a painting by Jean-Paul Lemieux) March 22.

St. Paul’s Centre has Alex in for their monthly Pub Night March 22. Admission is $10 at the door. Along with the Gojijing Friendship Circle they are presenting an evening of stories and songs with John Rice, Semiah Smith, the High Steppin’ Strutters (Michael Martyn, Scott Thomas and Steve Porter), Jillian Morris and Plex. Admission is free, but donations are accepted for this 7 p.m. show.

And, back to the OCB, they have already announced their guest for their next concert May 11 and it Rick Stephenson. Rick used to live here, Ramara actually, and he played at the Opera House with the Endangered Species Big Band a few times. He was out front, mostly singing, but also playing trombone.

The repertoire was Frank Sinatra tunes, which he could sing effortlessly and the best I ever heard anyone try to do. The concert will feature a number of tunes Sinatra made famous. Tickets are available online.

The Shorts

  • The City is preparing for the weekly Sunday evening Concerts in the Park series. The park is Couchiching Beach Park at the Aqua Theatre. There is no line up yet, but they are also including an Artisan Market as part of the events. There is an application online to fill out and you have until Mar. 15 to do so.

  • The Leacock Museum is open again with a new exhibit, From War to Wonders: Mapping Escapism in a Time of Turmoil. The exhibit examines the effect of both wars on literature and will feature artifacts of gifts Leacock received.

  • 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;  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, 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 Speaker’s Night is Mar. 20 on Zoom with Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux updating on The Reality of Reconciliation in Canada and Abroad; register online… St. Paul’s Centre has the Call to Action 83 Art Project in the Ogimaa Miskwaaki Gallery… Hibernation Arts has the Wimmen exhibit featured all month; Mar. 14 Tracy Woodhouse is in to talk about her new book, Redemption, at 7 p.m. … Peter Street Fine Arts has a collection of work from the Bayside Artists all month.

  • The Leacock Medal for Humour announced the MC for the June medal dinner is Steve Patterson (the CBC’s The Debaters) and Terry Fallis will host the Meet the Authors Night; tickets go on sale Mar. 12. The 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.

  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has Paige Rutledge playing Mar. 8; Burke Erwin Mar. 9; Will Davis and Chris Robinson Mar. 10; Luke Crans Mar. 15; … Quayle’s Brewery has Kyle Wauchope playing Mar. 8 and Sam Johnston Mar. 9; Genevieve Cyr Mar. 10; Sam Windover Mar. 114;and Kat Chabot Mar. 15 … The Hog ‘N Penny has The Cruzers playing Mar. 8; Michael Martyn and John Mac Donald Mar. 9; Sunday afternoons there is a drop in Open Mic with Sean Patrick, Michael Martyn John MacDonald, Jessica Martin and whoever else shows up … St. David’s Choir is performing Pepper Choplin’s Easter Cantata Mar. 30 at 3 p.m. at the James Street Church; admission is by freewill offering… The Hawkestone Hall has an Open Mic happening Mar. 15; admission is a $5 donation and to get on the list to play email… Washago Lions Club country jam night is Mar. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Lions Hall.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Boreal – Katherine Wheatley, Tannis Slimmon and Angie Nussey – play St. Paul’s Centre Saturday night.

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