Sunday, May 13, 2018

A couple of ideas for celebrating your Mom on her special day

So it's Mother's Day, and by now many restaurants will be full over the brunch period and again this evening at dinner as people take Mom out on her special day.  Flower shops and corner hucksters are busy today with last-minute shoppers picking up flowers on their way to scheduled appointments with their Mom.

As thriving as those businesses are this weekend, I offer up a couple of alternatives for later this afternoon you might like to add to the day's events or even substitute for the tried and true.  While both require a short drive out of town, this is a glorious day to take a drive, see the wonders of Spring in all its glory, and marvel at the blossoms before they are all gone.

First up, my good friend and amazing talent Catherine Wilson is performing this afternoon at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, not with her usual group Ensemble Vivant, but rather as featured soloist with the Symphony on the Bay orchestra conducted by Claudio Vena.  This is the orchestra's Proms Concert, the finale to the current season, in fact.  It's full of easy-to-digest pieces alongside slightly weightier works, all of which will put Catherine's musical talents on full display, along with those of the orchestra.

On the programme will be several works in the first half featuring Catherine with the orchestra, including the Piano Concerto in F minor by J.S. Bach, Gershwin's ragtime classic Rialto Ripples and Phil Dwyer's Bernardo's Tango.  Catherine will also be performing her own composition Sackville Street Ballad, and the principal string players of the orchestra with Maestro Vena on viola will join Catherine on Ernesto Lecuona's popular Andalucia.

At intermission you can meet Catherine and no doubt pick up a copy of one of her CDs, including her latest CD/DVD combination, Ensemble Vivant Live in Concert:  A Tribute to Rick Wilkins.  I'll have more to say about the disc in a future posting in this space.

The second half of the programme will feature the orchestra performing Proms favourites such as Elgar's Chanson de Nuit and the ever-popular Pomp & Circumstance March No. 1 among other works.  Also featured will be the winners of the Symphony on the Bay Young Artists' Competition, including violinist Erin Merkley and mezzo Lyndsay Promane.

Symphony on the Bay is Burlington's full-size community orchestra, serving the Burlington area and beyond for many years now.  These are musicians who clearly love what they do - making music together.  Why not treat Mom to an afternoon of fine music-making and really make a day of it?

Tickets are available by calling 905-681-6000, or just go to the Burlington Performing Arts Centre box office prior to the performance this afternoon at 3.  Hope to see you there!

A little further afield today is a CD release concert featuring Jeff Bird celebrating his new recording, felix anima.  Jeff will be joined by guest musicians Ben Grossman and Witek Grabowiecki as they perform music from the new CD at Trinity United Church at 400 Stevenson Street in Guelph at 3 this afternoon.

Jeff is a multi-instrumentalist who is perhaps best-known for his way around the mouth-organ, otherwise known as the harmonica.  On the new disc he offers up his own unique interpretations of the music of Hildegard von Bingen, a 12-century German abbess who lived a relatively long life for the times, from 1098 to 1179.  The new disc features Bird on harmonica, a droning Shruti box and a host of other interesting instruments.

Bingen's music is largely sacred and transcendent, reflecting her vocation as an abbess, and are both contemplative and uplifting.  She is still very well known today for her music as well as her theological, scientific and dramatic contributions to the era.  She was a saint, a Doctor of the Church, mystic, feminist and visionary all wrapped up in an enigma that has captivated audiences for centuries.

Jeff Bird is a founding member of the seminal folk group Tamarack, and he was part of the legendary The Trinity Session along with the Cowboy Junkies.  He has scored music for film, television and dance, and is a talented graphic artist, having created the artwork for the new CD as well.

For more information on Jeff and his new recording, go to  Copies of the new disc will certainly be available at the church after the performance today, and you can get your tickets at the door.  The concert starts at 3 pm.

So there you go:  music, food, flowers and Spring, all coming together to make Mom's day special today.

Happy Mother's Day to Moms everywhere!

May 13th, 2018.