Sunday, November 5, 2017

November in the Arts in Niagara

Now that cooler, grey November days are upon us, many choose to start hibernating for the season and ignore the great outdoors.  If you number yourself amongst that crowd, take heart, as better days are to come.

But until then, you can always venture out to catch some great music and theatre right in your own backyard, so let's take a look at a few of the events coming up in the next week that might pique your interest.

Starting right now, in fact...

The Niagara Symphony Orchestra is celebrating their 70th anniversary season this year and the festivities are well underway with several concerts already in the books.  This weekend in fact, the NSO is presenting their Masterworks 2 concert, subtitled Wish List.  The first performance was last evening at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in downtown St. Catharines; the second will be this afternoon at 2:30 in the Cairns Recital Hall at the PAC.

Principal Guest Conductor Aisslinn Nosky, until last year a member of the famed Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Toronto, returns to the podium with violin at the ready to perform and conduct the ever-popular Vivaldi Four Seasons.  Also on the programme is the equally popular Symphony No. 7 by Beethoven, long one of my favourite Beethoven symphonies.  I was listening to a classic recording just a few days ago conducted by the venerable Sir Thomas Beecham and the rousing finale still stirs my senses after many listenings.

Sure, the forces onstage at the PAC will be a little more modest than the Big Band Beecham recordings from the 50s, but the performance will certainly be worth catching if you can.  I say if you can as the performance this afternoon is officially sold out, so at this point I would suggest staking out the box office closer to the performance time to try and snag a ticket or two that might go unclaimed.  Hey, it happens...

Speaking of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, they have another busy week of their own on tap, beginning at 4 this afternoon when Cree storyteller, playwright, novelist, pianist and Order of Canada recipient Tomson Highway presents his Words and Music in collaboration with The Festival of Readers.  This is all part of the current Celebration of Nations season at the PAC.  The performance takes place in Partridge Hall.

Meantime, Canadian icon Gordon Lightfoot makes a rare local appearance this Wednesday evening at 8 in Partridge Hall, singing many of the classic songs that have made him justly famous and a worthy inductee into both the Canadian and American Songwriters Halls of Fame.

Thursday and Friday evenings at Robertson Hall award-winning journalist and broadcaster Alanna Mitchell will be presenting Sea Sick.  The evenings will feature Mitchell discussing her 13 journeys to the bottom of the ocean in only three years.  Initially afraid of water when she started, she is now more concerned about the future of the ocean and will outline her concerns during the presentations each evening at 8 pm.

For more information and tickets to these and other PAC presentations, go to or call the box office at 905-688-0722.

Still with the PAC, the weekly RBC Foundation Music@Noon recitals continue Tuesdays at noon in the Cairns Recital Hall, and they are absolutely free to attend.  Comprised primarily of performances by faculty and students at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts next door, the recitals usually run about 45 minutes or so in length, so you can easily catch one over your lunch hour if you so choose.

This Tuesday, the Momentum Choir will be performing, conducted by Mendelt Hoekstra.

The popular Encore! Professional Concert Series presented by the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts returns to Partridge Hall Friday evening at 7:30 with a performance by The Walker Quartet with faculty pianist Karin Di Bella.  The Walker Quartet is now into its second season as the Department of Music's resident quartet, and together with Di Bella they will perform both the Schumann and Shostakovich quintets.

In the Cairns Recital Hall this Saturday evening at 7:30, Guitar Extravaganza III takes place.  This will be Remembrance Day, don't forget.  The Guitar Extravaganza concerts have quickly become well-attended crowd-pleasers since the PAC opened in the fall of 2015 and this year's edition promises to be just as popular.  If you like guitar music, this will be the place to be.

Tickets can be ordered through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre box office by calling 905-688-0722 or by going online to

Finally, a week today the first concert of the new season for Gallery Players of Niagara takes place Sunday afternoon at 2 at Silver Spire United Church in downtown St. Catharines.  The concert, entitled Concertos Inc., features several of the Gallery Players musicians in revolving solo roles, performing works by J.S. Bach, Giuliani, Quantz and James Rolfe.  Soloists include guitarist Timothy Phelan; Douglas Miller on flute; Julie Baumgartel, Anita Walsh and Rona Goldensher on violins; oboist James Mason; vocalist Laura Pudwell; Judith Davenport on viola and cellist Margaret Gay.

Gallery Players are based in Niagara-on-the-Lake but perform throughout the Region, and this new season promises to be their most ambitious yet.  To order tickets to the concert or better still the entire season, go to or call 905-468-1525.

So that should be more than enough to keep you occupied in the week ahead.

Have a great weekend!

November 5th, 2017.

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