This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

The first weekend of spring (don’t get too excited, it’s next weekend) has a few great music events happening. It begins with Irish Mythen playing at the Opera House March 23.

If there was ever anyone you may not have seen perform before, I can safely say you can take a chance on seeing her and you won’t be pleasantly surprised with the recommendation; you’ll be forever grateful you went.

She is one of the most dynamic performers I think I’ve ever seen. One minute she can be singing a pretty little tune, and then all the rest of the minutes she’s on stage belting out some of the most energetic and often humourous songs. You’ll be out of breath at the end of it all. You can get tickets online.

March 24 two concerts are competing for time. At 2 p.m. the Orillia Silver Band performs at St. Paul’s Centre. The Orillia Vocal Ensemble is joining them. You may know me well enough to understand great musicianship and performance excites me more than what genre of music is being played. And you’ve likely seen words here about how greatly the OSB performs. You also might recall the last time I commented on the OVE I noted they sounded a lot better than previous.

Neil Barlow and the Orillia Silver Band are in concert March 24 at the Opera House.

So, I’m expecting great things from this concert. The band is going to play Eric Whitacre ‘s October. Whitacre is one the most well-known modern composers, but he didn’t write this for brass band, might as well get another well-known modern composer, Philip Sparke to do an arrangement.

Other pieces they will play are Glorifico Aeternum by Dean Jones, which I can’t wait to hear the OSB do it, their own Mariposa Sketches, a musical image of stories by Stephen Leacock written by Len Ballantine, and The Lark in the Clear Air featuring a solo by Rita Arendz.

The OVE will sing a series of three Afro/American spirituals and with the OSB do a medley of tunes from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Hymn to Freedom and Song for the Mira.

Because the OVE is part of this, the concert is also a fundraiser. They always perform as fundraisers and this time it’s for Green Haven Shelter for Women. You can get tickets  online.

At 2:30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian just down the street (that’s a heads up for parking) the Orillia Concert Association has the next of their concert series happening. It’s with the James Campbell Trio (pianist Angela Park and soprano Leslie Fagan). The clarinetist, Campbell, has performed Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto a number of times – with Copland conducting, filled in for Benny Goodman, is a professor at Indiana University and artistic director of the Festival of the Sound (Parry Sound). You can get tickets online.

Also, if you are a concert association season ticket holder you can get a discount on tickets to see the Arts Orillia dance program, Julie et l’univers (a dance program choreographed by Laurence Lemieux and inspired by a painting by Jean-Paul Lemieux) at the Opera House March 22.

The dancers will be moving to Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B-Flat Major played by Jeanie Chung. You can get tickets, discounted or not online.

Other events at the Opera House to have on the radar are, the International Roots and Blues Kitchen Party (with Suzie Vinnick and Charlie A’Court and Lloyd Spiegel) April 4, MAT’s I’ll Be Back Before Midnight starting April 11, and the Stampeders April 24.

Those Girls Can Sing

Last weekend’s Mariposa Folk Festival spring concert at St. Paul’s Centre with Boreal was great. The trio, Katherine Wheatley, Tannis Slimmon and Angie Nussey put on an amazing display of signing.

Nussey played keyboards, and the others guitars. The accompaniment was not complicated and served the songs, no one whipped out a dazzling guitar or keyboard solo, but that’s not why you’d go to see them. They write very good songs, and harmonize with each other extremely well.

Boreal – Tannis Slimmon, Katherine Wheatley, Angie Nussey (photo by Nicky Campbell)

Each has their own solo career and some of the songs were ones they are individually known for, and some were written for the group. It was nice to just enjoy good singing without being distracted by intricate instrumental parts, their voices are the lead instruments.

In the first half they did one cover everyone knows, Gord’s Song for a Winter’s Night. They didn’t say which one they were going to do, just that they felt they needed to sing something of his. They started it differently, but they didn’t fool me with the intro to my favourite tune of Gord’s. It’s hard to stray from someone else’s original version, but somehow you have to accommodate three voices instead of one. They did such a great job with it they got the longest lasting applause of the night; until they closed the show.

As they were winding up, they sang Wheatley’s Hallelujah, Nussey’s Still Hope and a cover of the early 70s Top 40 hit O-o-h Child, all of which effectively built to a standing ovation.

They are continuing their tour of Ontario in April, but Nussey will be back, or home, for a several solo gigs at Ktchn over the next few months with the first March 30.

The Shorts

  • The Leacock Museum has 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.

Hannah Arndt
  • The Orillia Museum of Art and History has a new history programming coordinator, Hannah Arndt; OMAH also has a new exhibit with a short run (ends April 6) to see; Writing in the Room was put together by a group of students from OMAH’s collection of art and artifacts; 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 called Grant’s Legacy: Capturing Orillia’s History on Film, you can see ot anytime, but they have a movie night every Thursday until April 18 – complete with wine, beer and popcorn; 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… Peter Street Fine Arts has a collection of work from the Bayside Artists all month.
  • The Leacock Medal for Humour’s annual student humourous writing competition submission period 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 Luke Crans playing Mar. 15; a Celtic Kitchen Ceilidh Mar. 16; the Flailing Shilaleighs Mar. 17; Rick Robichaud Band Mar. 22 … Quayle’s Brewery has Kat Chabot playing  Mar. 15; My Missing Piece Mar. 16; Cam Galloway afternoon Mar. 17 and Andrew Walker evening; Burke Erwin Mar. 21  … The Hog ‘N Penny has Talise playing Mar. 15 (Sean Patrick and Jessica Martin dong an opening set); there’s a drop in Open Mic Sunday afternoons with Sean Patrick, Michael Martyn John MacDonald, Jessica Martin and whoever else shows up … Fionn MacCools has Sean Patrick and John MacDonald in for the afternoon Mar. 17 and Michael Martyn and Wayne Ferguson in the evening… 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… St. Paul’s Centre has Alex in for their monthly Pub Night March 22. Admission is $10 at the door.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Main: Irish Mythen (photo by Stewart MacLean) and James Campbell

Rants & Raves

Support Independent Journalism