Saturday, January 24, 2015

Warming up winter in Niagara with some great music this week

It's been a couple of weeks since I wrote much about the arts in Niagara, and my apologies for that; I do tend to wander off the beaten path from time to time, and hopefully you don't mind the diversions I take.

This week, however, we see the arts scene heat up again after a bit of a January lull with a busy week ahead for concerts in the area.  So let's get right to it and try to entice you out of the cabin-fever-induced coma you might be in right now after the holidays.

This Sunday afternoon, the Niagara Symphony Orchestra (nso) presents their first Masterworks concert of 2015, and this one looks particularly interesting.  Entitled Apotheosis, the concert commemorates the 100th anniversary of the First World War with the Niagara premiere of "The World Remembers:  Song of the Poets"  a short composition by Abigail Richardson.  The work, originally commissioned by the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, uses excerpts from five poems written by soldiers on the front lines from four different countries.  In addition to Canada, the other countries represented are England, France and Germany.

Niagara-based choir Choralis Camerata joins the Niagara Symphony for this work, sung in each country's native language of English, French and German.  The choir will also accompany the orchestra and viola soloist Derek Reeves on Ralph Vaughan Williams' Flos Campi.

Also on the programme tomorrow afternoon will be my all-time favourite work by Vaughan-Williams, The Lark Ascending, featuring violinist and Music Niagara Artistic Director Atis Bankas, and both Bankas and Reeves pair up for Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante as an uplifting conclusion to the concert.

The performance begins at 2:30 at the Sean O'Sullivan Theatre at the Centre for the Arts at Brock University, and tickets should be available at the box office prior to the concert.  You can also call ahead at 905-688-5550, ext. 3257.

Staying with the Centre for the Arts, this coming week sees two concerts at the Sean O'Sullivan Theatre worth catching:  Alan Doyle on Wednesday evening, January 28th and French-Canadian supergroup La Bottine Souriante on Thursday evening, January 29th.  I last saw La Bottine Souriante at Brock back around 1997 and they brought the house down with their infectious music.  If you have never heard this group, do yourself a favour and book your tickets now.  You will not be disappointed!

Tickets for both those shows and indeed the entire Centre for the Arts schedule are available through the Brock box office at 905-688-5550, ext. 3257, or by going to

The following evening, Friday January 30th, the Music Department at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts at Brock presents their next concert in the Encore! Professional Concert Series:  Toronto-based Quartetto Gelato.  This promises to be another exceptional performance by a group of musicians who have made their mark on the classical and crossover music scene in Canada and beyond.  Their many recordings always sell well, and they never fail to entertain either in the studio or on stage.

I last saw Quartetto Gelato a few summers back when they performed at St. Mark's Church in Niagara-on-the-Lake as part of the Music Niagara concert series.  You can't help but admire what this group does, so if you can make it Friday night, do go.

For tickets, once again call the Brock box office at 905-688-5550, ext. 3257 or go to

Geez, two Canadian supergroups on back-to-back nights at Brock - you can't do much better than that in January, can you?

Well, maybe you can.

If that were not enough, next weekend on Sunday afternoon, Primavera Concerts presents their next concert, A Soft and Golden Fire.  Starting at 3 pm, the performance takes place at St. Thomas Anglican Church on Ontario Street.  Featuring mezzo-soprano Patricia Green, harpist Judy Loman and Lisa Cella on flute, the concert will feature music by contemporary Canadian composers Harry Freedman, Timothy Sullivan and George Crumb, as well as works by Benjamin Britten and Maurice Ravel.

Primavera Concerts is celebrating their 10 anniversary season this year, and they continue to provide quality, affordable music concerts for Niagara residents at a host of downtown St. Catharines churches.

For tickets, call 289-990-3630, or go online to  You should also be able to pick them up at the door if they are not sold out by Sunday afternoon.

So there you go:  four quality concerts in the space of a week right here in your own backyard.

It may be January, but the music will keep you warm and cozy and cure you of the winter blues if they are already getting you down.

See you at a concert this week, perhaps?

January 24th, 2015.

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