Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lots of music around Niagara this week

Now that November is here, we start that increasingly hurried and harried descent towards Christmas, which means, among other things, there will be no shortage of musical events to take in around the Region. This week I thought we'd take a look at a few of the events this weekend and over the coming days you might like to take in.

First and foremost, this weekend is the kickoff of the the Chorus Niagara season. Niagara's premiere choral group, directed by Artistic Director Robert Cooper, presents Haydn's oratorio The Creation Saturday evening in Grimsby and Sunday afternoon in St. Catharines. Die Schopfung, or, The Creation, is one of Papa Haydn's two greatest choral works, and was composed during 1795, set to a libretto by Baron Gottfried von Swieten, and based jointly on the Book of Genesis, as well as John Milton's allegorical study of the creation and fall, Paradise Lost.

Haydn wrote The Creation basically to take advantage of the popularity of the genre pioneered by Handel, who made the oratorio a staple of choral concerts with his many oratorios, most notably, of course, The Messiah. Haydn's uplifting work has stood the test of time as well, and certainly deserves a wider audience than it seems to have had the last few years. I can't remember the last time it was performed locally or within driving distance of Niagara.

The two performances of The Creation are in Grimsby and St. Catharines: Grimsby Saturday evening at 7:30 pm at Mountainview Christian Reformed Church, 290 Main Steet East; and St. Catharines at Calvary Church on Scott Street at 3 pm. Tickets are still available for both performances by calling the Brock box office at 905-688-5550, ext. 3257 or from any chorus member. I plan to attend both performances with many copies of The Creation for sale, both sung in German and English, as well as many other choral recordings you might be interested in. You can also go to my website at and check out my Mike's Picks page, or simply email your request to me directly at Hope to see you this weekend!

Later in the week, the Brock University Department of Dramatic Arts presents A Little Night Music, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler. This was the musical that spawned the hit Send In The Clowns, of course, but there is plenty of other inspired music in the show as well. The Shaw Festival staged a wonderful production of A Little Night Music last season, and I was amazed at how witty and creative the score was, yet we only know one song from the show.

The show is directed by Virginia Reh and designed by David Vivian, and plays the Sean O'Sullivan Theatre at the Centre for the Arts at Brock University Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 pm. I am looking forward to attending the Friday evening performance, in spite of the fact it is Friday the 13th. Break a leg, guys...or on second thought, given the date, don't take that literally!

Also this week, Garden City Productions opens their fall show, Grease, a musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey about the way rock n' roll changed North American sexuality and culture during the transition years from the conservative decade of the 50s to the more individualistic decade of the 60s. Everyone remembers the movie version, of course, with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John; the stage version has also stood the test of time and is a staple of community theatre groups all over North America to this day. Garden City Productions has a long history of presenting fine productions of popular musicals, and this production promises to be no different.

The director/choreographer is Kent Sheridan, who last appeared with GCP back in 2006 when he debuted in their successful production of Chicago. Performances run November 12th to the 29th, Thursdays to Saturdays at 8 pm and Sunday matinees at 2. For tickets, call the Brock Centre for the Arts Box Office at 905-688-5550, ext. 3257.

Lots of other things going on around the Region for the next couple of months, so we'll regularly look at what's coming up so you won't miss a thing. Enjoy a night out on the town soon!

November 7th, 2009.

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