Entertainment Local

Concert offers diversity of talent

John Swartz, Special to The Packet & Times

Albert Greer, the choir at St. James’ Anglican Church and Chamber Music Orillia (CMO) put on a pretty nice show last Sunday afternoon at St. James’.

The concert was bookended with the choir singing and with solos by CMO members in the middle.

All was good, but I think the highlight for many was the CMO's Marie-Caroline Bourque's solo work with Jeffery Moellman accompanying.

She played Four Pieces for Violin and Piano by Josef Suk. It is a technically difficult piece, lyrical in a way, and most of the audience gave her a standing ovation when it was over.

Peter Voisey performed Gabriel’s Oboe. Despite hearing it so often, it really is a short piece of work. Voisey was making his exit before most realized he was done. When Moellman did an organ solo, the same thing happened. He had to jokingly say, “That’s it!”

The big piece was Handel’s Ninth Chandos Anthem. It started with the full complement of choir and chamber orchestra, then ran through all the solos with no choir accompaniment. Tracy Montgomery, Mel Hinch and John Dodington were entertaining soloists, as they usually are. Charles Fowler still managed to stand out while he was soloing.

There were a lot of people on hand for a Sunday afternoon concert. Albert did a good job picking a series of short pieces to hear (save for the Handel number at the end, but even that played out in a series of short bursts).


I overlooked mentioning anything last week about the Ballet Creole gig Feb. 21 at the Orillia Opera House. This group played here before and I was suitably impressed with them.

Once again, they put on a great show. Six dancers and four drummers amazed everyone with, first the drumming, then the costumes, then the ensemble choreography.

The costumes were colourful, likely patterned after traditional West African dress, and long. Last time the group was here, I was really impressed with the intricate footwork of the dancers. This time, the costumes kind of obscured that, but what looks relatively easy up top is hiding how difficult the footwork is. They did a very well-executed job. I’ll be there next time they come back.


So, I got a note from someone who wishes to remain anonymous, which is kind of interesting because I originally had no clue who it was from. This person was proposing the new high school being built to replace Orillia District Collegiate and Vocational Institute and Park Street Collegiate Institute not be just renamed after Park Street. (It’s being rebuilt at the Park Street site.)

Instead, it’s being suggested it be named after Gordon Lightfoot. The reasoning is, despite the trail and the main auditorium at the Opera House being named for Lightfoot, there is no significant tribute to him in town, something tangible and standalone.

I’m not sure what the protocol for naming a school is. I’m not too impressed with some of the choices the Simcoe County District School Board has made and I don’t recall one being named for a person in quite a while, but I think the trustees for Orillia and surrounding townships (Debra Edwards, Jodi Lloyd and Peter Beacock) should look into this, especially if there’s good community support for it.


It was a nice party Tuesday afternoon in the Green Room at the Opera House during the Orillia and District Arts Council’s Arts Awards.

It appeared to be one of the largest groups to come out to see who was going to win and share their glory, despite two of the categories having only one nominee and therefore a guaranteed win.

Juliana Hawke was one of them. She got the award for her leadership in education, being involved in many things, but mainly with the programs at the Orillia Museum of Art and History.

The other person was the late Phil Hull. His was in the community category and you could say Mariposa Arts Theatre wouldn’t be what it is today without his efforts.

I think not having more nominees in those categories isn’t a bad thing because both individuals stand apart from the rest of us and they did it without being in the spotlight. It’s hard to even be noticed when you just quietly do what you do without saying, “Look at me.”

In the achievement category, William Bell was enjoying his second nomination and Evelyn Pollock was the competition. He was enjoying it even more when he was announced the winner, or maybe his grandkids who were there were enjoying it more. It was hard to tell.

Bell is the author of 14 internationally sold young-adult books and Pollock is the chair of the Orillia Fine Arts Association, which has made great strides in membership base and visibility in the community under her leadership.

While each of the winners was expectedly happy and had great things to say on acceptance (Joanna Rolland, Hull’s wife, was brief, but touching), I thought Pollock captured the spirit of the award with her speech about all the winners and everybody who makes life in Orillia so interesting.

On to next year.

Rants! Raves!! Info? Write John at watchthisproductions@encode.com.


• Wow, is it March break already? The Orillia Opera House has a film series running all next week. Showtimes are 1 p.m. and the series starts with Slow Moe on Monday, followed by No More Baths, Return to the Secret Garden, Jumping for Joy and The Velveteen Rabbit on each successive day. Tickets are $5, but they’re free for kids younger than three. All the films are being shown in partnership with Feature Films for Families.

• The Orillia Silver Band will hold its spring concert March 23 at Bethel Baptist Church at 7:30 p.m. Guests are Curtis Metcalf and a guitar ensemble from Kashechewan First Nation. Tickets are $15 at the door.

• April 13 at 7 p.m. at the TIE Club, Jim Harris, Little Otter, Meredith Warboys, Chris Thompson, Bryan Sutton, Aaron Mangoff, Jake Thompson, Bob Hawkins, Ron Hill, Albert Greer and Brian Clappison are playing a benefit concert for Maggie McArthy. McArthy has special needs and can be seen helping out as a volunteer at a number of events in town, mainly at the Orillia Farmers’ Market and her church. She has had a lifelong dream to meet Mickey Mouse, so the money raised by her friends will go toward sending her to Disney World. Tickets are $15 and you can get them at Flowers By June or The Donut Line.

• The Orillia Little Big Band is playing a dinner/dance fundraiser for the Orillia Wind Ensemble March 23 at the Aladdin Banquet Hall. I haven’t heard from this band in a long time, so it’s nice to see they are still around. Get your tickets, $20, by calling 705-689-6370. The fun starts at 6:30 p.m.

• Coming up: Steph Dunn plays Thursday night at Sixteen Front; Dave Hinschberger is in Friday; Liz Hurtubise Anderson is in Saturday. Taylor Abram is at Era 67 Friday; Dave Chun is in Saturday. The Brownstone has The Socials in Friday night; Saturday is Space Jams, the second annual Couchiching Community Initiative Fundraiser with local musicians doing space-themed music; March 11, Rabid Dog City, Dismount Westmount and Ravenscode play. Zephyr Gallery has Visual Sensations up now. The Cellar Singers do Where the Pines and Maples Grow March 23 at St. James’ Anglican Church; get tickets at the Orillia Opera House box office. Congrats to the guys in Adrenechrome, who received a short but positive review of their new CD, Hideous Appetites, in one of the most important heavy-metal mags, Metal Hammer.

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