She had incredible energy in the mornings and it often amazed me as I was eating my breakfast how quickly I was thrust into the new day with her stories. She was involved in many community organizations as a volunteer and it was her profession, along with being a Mom of 5 kids. She loved to sing and when I was young (before her fateful vocal cord operation) she sang in choirs and with my Dad at the piano, as a soloist all over the area. She could sight read at the piano incredibly well and was always inspiring us at family gatherings to pick up our instruments (violin, cello, saxaphone, flute, clarinet and guitar) and play together. Unfortunately, she was taken before Westben was created but she was with us during the sprouting of its seedlings. She welcomed us home from our musical studies and performing career in Europe and the birth of our first child and my first performances with the Canadian Opera Company. Her zest for life and bringing people together through music continues to be a big inspiration for Westben. Westben continues to be a place where friends gather and people meet and become friends. Not only volunteers, chorus and band members, but Members who book their same seats every year and get to know their neighbours in music. Nature continues to be a huge part of the Westben Experience, nurturing the joy of the music and bringing us to the core of art, a better place. So next time you see a butterfly whisk through The Barn during a performance, say hi to my Mom as her inspiration is soaring by.
It's my Dad's birthday today and he would have been 94. He was a business man by profession but his heart was in music and the earth. He followed his own Dad's footsteps with Bennett's Furniture store but any chance he got he was playing music and dreaming of owning a farm one day. He arranged music for the Wayne & Shuster show during the war and played piano and clarinet in the Army Band. He was the Campbellford Band leader, organist at his church and accompanied many local singers and choirs. I went to sleep many nights hearing him play popular favourites of the day such as "I Married an Angel" and "New York, New York". In his later years he revived his repertoire from his studies at the RCM and starting working on Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Chopin. Even at age 80 he bought himself a Steinway Grand Piano. I was there when he took his last steps up the stairs knowing he would never play his beloved piano again. Although he was making music all along he still yearned for a farm and when I was ten, we moved to the now Westben property. He spent hours and hours outside "tinkering" in the drive shed or on his tractor in the garden. Even after Brian and I moved to the farm, he would visit every day and spend time on the land. His love of music was a big inspiration for my career and he was involved in the evolution of Westben from the beginning. From the meetings on the front lawn with community friends, to the first few years of Board meetings, he was present. He never discouraged us from turning his cornfield into a theatre venue, he seemed to have a quiet faith that the project would find its way. This is year sweet 16 for Westben, a not for profit charitable organization with an excellent Board of Directors, and I am hoping we can share this cornfield of dreams, this music and soul soaring venture with many people for years to come. www.westben.ca
Is it a plane, a drum, a bird, a violin, a banjo, an oboe.....well it opens
Season 2015 at The Barn and it makes a sweet sound across the meadow and it sounds like a violin or maybe a viola. What instrument is it and what musical is named after its player? Members will hear first next week when their Season Preview arrives. Are you a Member? Join the Westben Membership team and be part of what keeps great music flowing in this part of the world.http://www.westben.ca/get-involved/membership
Any guesses on what the musical is called?
When eight-year-old daughter, Virginia O'Hanlon asked her father in 1897 whether Santa Claus really existed, he suggested she write the editor of the New York City prominent newspaper, called The Sun. He said "If you see it in The Sun, it's so."
Editor Francis Pharcellus Church's response was so thoughtful and inspiring that more than a century later this is the most reprinted editorial in an English Language newspaper.
"Dear Editor—I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?"
115 West Ninety Fifth Street
"Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world. You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
"Is There a Santa Claus?" reprinted from the September 21, 1897, number of The New York Sun.
Brian Finley and Westben Teen Chorus Graduate Mackenzie Cameron have crafted a script which highlights Virginia's letter and the editorial and other Christmas letters. Actor and radio personality Linda Kash, (fondly known as the cream cheese angel) and who now lives in Peterborough, will be the narrator for the concert and I am sure will bring these letters to life. Drawing upon Linda's specialty of improvisation, there may be a few "improv" moments as well. The Westben Festival, B Natural, Teen and Youth Choruses will be performing seasonal music intertwining the letters. The wind tells me there may even be another special guest so listen to "up on the roof top..." The Barn performances (November 29 at 1 pm and November 30 at 3 pm) have become a tradition for many families to get into the mood of the season. Remember to dress warmly and bring a blanket, as The Barn is not heated. Westben volunteers will warm you up though with smiles and a cup of hot apple cider and homemade cookies. Other performances are in Norwood (December 6 at 3 pm) and Peterborough St Andrew's United (December 7 at 3 pm). But first join us at The Clock Tower Saturday, November 22, 7 pm for a Pre CD House Concert with myself, Brian and Ken Tizzard with performances and conversation about our upcoming CD's."
Hope to see you at Westben's "Yes, Virginia!" concert and in the word of editor Francis Pharcellus Church " continue to make glad the heart of childhood."
Westben is thrilled to be a partner with the Municipality of Trent Hills in bringing the recently renovated Clock Tower Cultural Centre to life with culture and activities. The doors are open for other arts groups to use the facitlity as well. Let's get this place flowing with lots of new cultural activities! The Municipality did a beautiful job in renovating and Ken Travelyan's design created a large room on the main floor with beautiful accoustics. Local Musician Ken Tizzard suggested one day to Brian Finley that the Clock would be a great place for House Concerts. Brian agreed, I agree too, so here we go! On November 22 at 7 pm, there will be the first "House Concert" at the Clock . Ken, Brian and I are all working on CD,s at the moment (Ken's - No Dark, No Light and Brian's and mine "Up and Adam") so this informal House Concert will be a chance to share some of the songs and talk about the creative process. Hope you will join us! It's a pay-what-you can event. The doors are open!
It's a sunny day here at Westben and I am excited that The Barn doors will be open in September for the first time in many years. The weather is always a gamble in September but actually it's a gamble any time now so when you head to The Barn, be prepared for anything and you will have a great time.
When I was a young singer graduating from U of T, there seemed to be few options for job experience as an opera singer in Canada. Everyone was auditioning for the 6 spots in COC Ensemble or Opera Atelier, Toronto Operetta Theatre and the other 6 opera companies across the country. Most singers I knew went to Europe, as I did, to get experience and then return home. Now it appears opera singers are teaming up with composers, librettists and directors here in Canada, creating small new opera companies and producing exciting new works. These singers are fit, entrepreneurial, talented and not afraid to either put a new twist on established opera such as the Against The Grain Theatre, or create new works such as Tapestry Opera. Bicycle Opera cycled to Westben this summer and filled the Clock Tower with new music, laughter and tears.
I hope you will join us September 20 at 2 pm at The Barn to experience new music with the Tapestry Opera company.
On Sunday, September 21 at 2 pm, join us as Westben and artists pay tribute to one of Canada's most established composers, R. Murray Schafer. After the concert there will be a reception with a chance to meet Murray and the artists.
BUT ... first... the doors open September 14 with a fundraising concert for two of our sponsor partners, the Campbellford Rotary Club and the Warkworth Service Club who are presenting the Toronto Welsh Male Voice Choir. It will be an informal afternoon with a barbecue starting at noon and an afternoon of familiar songs sung by this infamous choir.
See you at The Barn.
Westben Article for Community Press June 10, 2014
The Barn was electrified with Jesus Christ Superstar and the audience was on its feet dancing and clapping by the end. What a great way to start the Season! I am often asked how it all happens, how do you put on 32 concerts in one summer, how have you managed to still be here 15 years? Well, for sure, Westben has always had a strong vision, developed and supported by a wide range of community members. Community at Westben is certainly geographic with participants, volunteers and audience members from Trent Hills, and surrounding counties of Northumberland, Quinte, Hastings and Peterborough & the Kawarthas. Westben community also means the coming together of artists from across Canada, exploring new music and ensembles together. Westben has Members, Sponsors and government grants with ticket sales support the organization. However, an important piece of the organization is the Annual Fundraiser. The fundraising committee works tirelessly for a year planning and preparing for this annual event. This year the fundraiser has been moved from the end of the season to the June 21 and will be held at a secret location, a home, near Warkworth. (Of course the location is disclosed at time of ticket purchase). It will be a truly fun and unique afternoon. Enjoy a preview of the upcoming Westben season with musical entertainment in a fabulous garden setting. Stroll among the perennial borders or relax and enjoy the glorious vistas – there will be musical inspiration around every corner. Imagine listening to tenor Mark Dubois in a garden while over-looking the hills of Northumberland. Wander the gardens and experience Jazz near the pond, or a string quartet near the woods. In true Westben style there are sure to be some surprises along the way as well. Spectacular musical entertainment, delicious food, magnificent garden views and a Silent Auction – all in support of the Westben Arts Festival Theatre. Call for tickets 877 883 5777 or visit www.westben.ca. If you are looking forward to Phantom of the Opera this summer at Westben then come to the Fundraiser and here the Phantom in a unique and intimate setting. Remember he is the Angel of Music.
Who was the pioneer composer of string quartets? Were Mozart and Haydn friends or foes? Who was Andrew Lloyd Webber's true Muse? How many musicals did he write? What song did he add to the Wizzard of Oz? Which Westben artist was the Beast in Beauty and the Beast and won the audition of Raoul in Phantom? All this and more was revealed at the first two Tick Talks at the Clock - String Quartessence and Aspects of Andrew. If you missed them, watch for more information to follow in the Westben E Newsletters. Next and final Tick Talk of this spring is Love and Laments May 23, 7 pm with Larry Beckwith, Director of the Toronto Masque Theatre. Larry will take us on a journey of Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas and young artists from TMT will be performing selections of Purcell's music. Have ideas of your own for more Tick Talks this Fall? Let us know here on the blog or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Three weeks ago today the we made the final move to our new year round Box Office home for Westben, 36 Front Street South in the new Cultural Centre. The new "Clock Tower Cultural Centre doesn't actually have it's Grand Opening until next month, and be sure you will hear all about the plans later, and the name has not yet been finalized, but Westben Box Office is open and ready to help you with your summer concert plans. But first, join us April 25 for our new Life-long learning Series called Tick Talks Under the Clock. Barb Hobart leads the discussion on the String Quartet with performances of the young musicians from the Accaademia Musica of Peterborough. This event called String Quartessance is on Friday, April 25, 7 pm, Tickets $15 www.westben.ca
On line sales will be down Monday, February 17 and Tuesday, February 18. Sorry for an inconvenience. Please check out our exciting 15th Anniversary Season in Upcoming Events and please be back in touch Wednesday February 20.
I often get asked at the end of the summer, "so what does Westben do throughout the Fall and Winter? Per chance to dream, to sleep? Yes and well, yes! We are full of activity here at Westben. Preparations for Season 2014 - our 15th Anniversary Season, are well under way. Lots of administration business happening, preparing reports from the Season, Grant Reports, Grant Writing, Marketing for 2014 to name a few. The four Westben Choruses are auditioned and are now rehearsing for their production of Little Match Girl Messiah (November 23, 24, 30,December 1) in Brighton, Norwood and at The Barn. Nancy Elmhirst has the Westben Wind Ensemble for Youth and Adults flourishing and has created a new Instrumental Foundations group for Youth and Adults who would like to learn a new musical instrument. Westben's Not for Profit Board of Directors meets monthly and is instrumental in the development and strength of Westben. The Fundraising committee prepared an amazing dinner for the purchasers of the Live Auction Dinner this past weekend and are now looking forward to the December Soiree Fundraising Event. The Education Committee is excited about the endless possibilities and move to the new Campbellford Cultural Centre (more on this later....). Westben Members are an integral part of the Westben Family. Watch for your Members Newsletter this month. If you are not a Member already, I encourage you to consider joining. Membership.
Please contact us at Westben any time if you would like more information on any of the programs or concerts, volunteering, membership, Key Note Campaign or programming suggestions.
It is Saturday, August 3rd, the sun is shining and it is a comfortable 20 degrees out side. Jayme Stone and his amazing band are on their way to Ottawa after giving an eclectic and very exciting performance at Westben last night. Any minute now Diana Panton, Guido Basso and friends will be here to set up for their 2 pm performance. Doug Keene has the grounds looking gorgeous as ever, Marilyn Keene, Becky Linton and Sandy Robertson have the volunteers organized and ready for the 340 plus patrons to arrive. Paul Hodge has the sound ready, Jim MacDonald ready to stage manage and Chantal Dignard is ready to cover the other production details. The catering team is ready to serve the artists and the Fundraising Committee is busy getting ready for tomorrow's fundraising event with Robert Michaels called Viva Italia! The Barn has been hopping with music, since the first week of June and it is hard to believe that this is our final weekend of concerts for the summer season of Stories that Sing 2013. It has been an incredible season but before I reminise I would like to encourage you to come to the remaining 2 concerts this weekend. Don't wait for another year! Â Both events still have tickets available at the door. Diana Panton and Guido Basso and Friends today, Saturday August 3 at 2 pm. Finale Fundraiser - Viva Italia! with Robert Michaels, flamenco guitar and his band Sunday, August 4 at 2 pm. See you at The Barn and please say hello!
Introduce someone new to the Westben Experience and become a Westben Ambassador!
You have experienced Westben already. You remember the sublime music wafting over the glorious meadow - sunshine, fresh country breezes, and.......smiles. You remember that Westben presents the best of music and nature together in perfect harmony. Exceptional Performances, Extraordinary Setting. Let's share Westben with others. Let's fill The Barn with friends and music! How to Enter? Let the office know that you are bringing someone new to Westben this summer and become a Westben Ambassador. Simply call or email the Westben office and give the name and contact information of the new friend you are bringing to Westben.
Quote: "Brian sent me!"
Rewards? Of course sharing the Westben Experience is a reward in itself, but we at Westben would like to thank you:
- For introducing your first friend new to Westben you will receive the original Westben Ambassador Pin.
- Bring 2 Friends new to Westben and receive a Westben Mug.
- Bring 5 Friends new to Westben and receive a Westben Hat or T shirt.
When you reach the point where you have brought 10 Friends new to Westben, you will receive a special invitation to "Join us at the House with a Westben Artist after a Concert."
The more friends you bring, the more rewards.
Many Westben patrons and volunteers have already been introducing new people to the Westben Experience and all of us at Westben thank you for spreading the joy of music.
My first piano teacher Emma Watson was a lovely lady who always offered her students these jelly candies on the way out the door. Hmmm they weren't my favourite but my Dad always loved them from my hidden pocket. Rick Pritchard of Peterborough truly inspired me to find new colours in music. But it was my husband and Artistic Director of Westben, Brian Finley who swept me off my feet with Chopin's Andante spianato Op. 22 some 30 years ago at the Music Gallery in Toronto. What's your piano story?
I wrote an article in the Community Press called $5 Summer Long. I know it sounds like a certain TV ad song. But I wanted to let the world know that all Youth 18 & Under tickets are $5 to any Westben Concert. That's full symphony to banjo to World to Celtic to Jazz concerts. I also know it takes more than a low priced ticket to get Youth to concerts. They need encouragement and a trust that there will be something for them there. My CDHS teacher Dit DeCarroll inspired me when he threw me into the leading role in Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert & Sullivan. Who inspired you to play, sing or listen to music?
As I was being interviewed yesterday about Westben's 2013 Season, I was asked the question, "When you think of Season 2013, what does it say to you; how would you describe it?" Uplifting, exciting and varied first comes to mind.
It's hard to not to go into information overload, but the Season theme is Stories that Sing - definitely uplifting. Every concert has a story behind it.
The June Communtiy Series includes the CDHS Jazz Ensembles in their year end celebration concert June 8, Westben 3 Youth Choir Choirs with the Book of Broadway June 9, Ken Tizzard in his journey This Town of Mine June 15 and the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra in their debut at Westben with Peter and the Wolf June 16, one of the greatest musical stories for kids of all ages.
Westben's newest ensemble, the Westben Wind Ensemble will also be debuting at this concert. We are are very excited at Westben about the new addition to the Westben family - a 9 foot Steinway Concert Grand and the launching of the Key-Note Campaign - but that's another story! To kick off the piano celebrations will be 2 piano concerto concerts with 4 pianists playing Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Rachmaninoff, with full orchestra, chorus and soloists June 29 and June 30. Andre Laplante will also be performing a solo recital July 20, the actual birthday of this Steinway piano.
More stories to come but check out the upcoming Event listings for all the concerts including the Irish Pub night with the Dardanelles.