Sunday, July 14, 2019

Summer music festival season is here!

This is my favourite time of the year, I think.  The weather is nice, people are more relaxed and for those of us who like visiting smaller Ontario towns to take in some classical music concerts, the season is now upon us.

There are far too many for me to list here of course, but this week I'll look at two tried-and-true music festivals and one new upstart that gets underway next weekend.  If you're in Ontario, there's a music festival not far away and certainly worth driving to!

In Niagara-on-the-Lake, just about 20 minutes away from our door here in Niagara the 21st season of Music Niagara kicks off this afternoon at St. Mark's Anglican Church in the heart of the Old Town.  The 4pm concert features Countermeasure, an a cappella group made up of some of Canada's top young vocal talent.

St. Mark's is a great concert venue and used quite often by Music Niagara as well as Bravo Festival of the Arts, but there are other locations in use this summer including The Hayloft at the Oast House Brewery on Highway 55, where tomorrow evening they'll play host to From Vienna to Broadway.  The cabaret-style show features soprano Inga Filipova along with pianist Victoria Kogan and the Gould String Quartet.  Music will be by Gershwin, Strauss, Kander, Kreisler and many others.

There are lots of great concerts on the Music Niagara programme this season running through to August 10th, with highlights including a Last Night of the Proms concert on July 22nd and the Elmer Iseler Singers on July 24th.

For more information go to or call the Shaw Festival box office for tickets at 905-468-2172/1-800-511-7429.

Meantime the 40th season of the Elora Festival got underway Friday night in the Gambrel Barn just outside of the town of Elora, a short drive northwest of Guelph.  The Opening Night Gala featured The Elora Singers, the State Choir LATVIJA and a number of featured soloists, all conducted by the new Artistic Director of the Festival, Mark Vuorinen.

For three weekends the world literally comes to Elora with performances featuring The Elora Singers in Singers Unplugged 3.0 tonight at both 6 and 8 pm, and the Singers will perform again Thursday evening in a concert entitled Path of Miracles.

Other artists include the Lemon Bucket Orchestra on the 19th, the amazing Cheng2 Duo on the 20th and Unforgettable:  The Nat King Cole Story featuring The Elora Singers on the 20th.

The final weekend will feature the Festival of the Sound Ensemble with The Elora Singers at 4 pm on the 27th and a concert featuring Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies fame at the Gambrel Barn at 7:30 pm.  This last concert is a late change necessitated by the sudden cancellation of superstar singer Measha Brueggergosman, who last month was hospitalized and will be undergoing heart bypass surgery.  Measha is an amazing talent and we wish her well for a speedy recovery, but thanks to Steven Page for filling in at the last moment.  Spencer Burton will open the show.

Elora is one my favourite places to visit in the summer months and indeed into the fall as well, so if you have not yet been you owe it to yourself to pay a visit this year.  For tickets and information go to or call 1-519-846-0331.

Finally, we have a new kid on the musical block and the debut of the Collingwood Summer Music Festival is less than a week away.  This really is a no-brainer and I have no idea why Collingwood has not hosted a music festival before now.

We've spent many a weekend on the shores of Georgian Bay enjoying the town, the restaurants and the B&Bs scattered around the area, and hope to do the same again soon.

How can you not love a town with an LCBO overlooking the water, a first-rate kitchen store on the main street and a local branch of The New Classical FM from Toronto now in town?  Really, this is an amazing place to visit any time of year but especially when the snow melts and the gardens explode with colour.

So the inaugural festival kicks off July 18th with the main venue being New Life Church at 28 Tracey Lane in Collingwood, and the opening concert features A Choral Extravaganza! @ New Life Church.  The Elmer Iseler Singers will be performing along with soloists Mayumi Seiler on violin, Daniel Wnukowski on piano and the ChoralWorks Choir along with the Collingwood Festival Orchestra.  The concert has an early start at 6:30 pm by the way, and should be a great evening in town.

July 19th cellist Rachel Mercer headlines a recital of Beethoven chamber music along with violinist Mayumi Seiler and pianist Serouj Kradjian, also at New Life Church.  The opening weekend wraps up with Quartetto Gelato Saturday night at 7 and on Sunday morning there will be a fundraising brunch at the Gustav Chophouse & Bar featuring the Power Play Duo from 11 am to 2 pm.

The next round of concerts begins August 1st with a free concert in the Blue Mountain Village Square starting at 5 pm with the Diana & Chris Duo featuring All About The Blues.  That evening at 7 Diana & Chris are joined by other members of their Jazz Quintet at New Life Church performing jazz and blues favourites.  Chris is Chris Whiteley, by the way, and Diana Is Diana Braithwaite.  On August the 2nd at 7 music of Zimbabwe will be highlighted with Nhapitapi Zimbabwe the featured artists.  On the 3rd the Payadora Tango Ensemble will perform at New Life Church at 7 pm, followed by the Rolston String Quartet on the 9th at 7 pm.

A family concert featuring the World Premiere of The Hockey Sweater along with Carnival of the Animals will be featured on August 11th from 3 to 5 pm, with narrator R.H. Thomson, mime Trevor Copp, violinist Michael Schulte and the Incite Ensemble.

Those are the highlights from a fledgling festival that begins this coming Thursday evening in Collingwood.  It should be a promising start for a new festival and I'm looking forward to seeing what they have in store at some point this season!

For tickets and information, go to or call 1-705-445-2200/1-866-382-2200, which are the numbers for the Theatre Collingwood Box Office.

Have a great weekend!

July 14th, 2019.

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