We at Westben were very honoured to receive the Best use of Information Technology/Social Media Award at the recent Trent Hills Chamber of Commerce Business Awards Evening. I find it fascinating that it coincides with the year that Westben is presenting the world premiere opera by Brian Finley, commissioned and inspired by A.M. Herzberg, called The Pencil Salesman, just two months after this award. The opera takes us through some of the challenges of communication and technology and how sometimes connecting is as simple as letting go. I really enjoy Social Media and the unlimited potential for connecting that it offers. I didn’t grow up with Social Media and I have no formal training in it, except for workshops and seminars attended through tourism partnerships. It has been a lot of trial and error and learning by watching others. I suspect this is how most everyone aged 30 and over have been learning it. Trends seem to change all the time, and it’s a challenge to keep adapting and moving forward without hanging on to past methods. Again, it’s letting go. My education trained me to teach music and perform in concert and opera. But using technology to share the music and experiences at Westben has provided me with a new type of concert hall in a way. Online I am able to share rehearsal moments, backstage fun, performance and post-performance experiences. I can introduce artists before the concerts through videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and E newsletters to many more people that traditional methods would have offered. We are currently looking into live streaming of concerts which again would open up the realm. Recently my husband Brian and I attended our son Ben’s Masters of Music recital in California and it was live streamed so those who weren’t able to attend were able to enjoy it live from their home. Here is the link if you would like a warm up to his performance at Westben July 14 https://music.calarts.edu/wild-beast-webcast (and look for Ben Finley). I also know that technology can get in the way of communicating especially across generations. It can help but it can also be a barrier. Remember a pencil, however, is always simple and direct offering the opportunity for hundreds of shades of gray (as long as your sharpener is handy). Time to get your pencils out now (or your Iphone or Blackberry) and make note that this Sunday, May 1rst at 3 pm there is a Tick Talk at the Clock, where Brian Finley will be introducing Sketches from The Pencil Salesman at the Clock Tower with 3 generation of singers Virginia Hatfield, Olivia Rapos and myself. If you are curious about what this opera is about or if you have never attended an opera, this will be a great introduction to this brand new Canadian work. It is a Pay-What-You-Can event. The following weekend, Mozart’s masterpiece The Requiem will be performed by the Westben Festival Chorus, Barb Hobart conducting, with soloist Virginia Hatfield, Kimberly Dafoe, Joel Allison and Tom Sharpe with Brian Finley at the piano at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Campbellford. Tickets are $25 and available from the Westben Box Office 705-653-5508. So get our pencil out and mark down May 1rst for Finley and May 15 for Mozart and if your pencil isn’t handy check Westben out on Facebook or www.westben.ca.
By Donna Bennett as written
for the Community Press- April 28, 2016
Every week at rehearsal I am in wonder of the young voices of the Westben Youth and Teen Choruses. It's not that the voices are loud or soft or weak or powerful, but it's the joy of discovery in their eyes, their giggles, their squiggles, their energy of life, that takes me to a new place every time. This place is worth pursuing! Music has such transformational power if you let it in and my hope is that Westben is an entrance way for those of all ages to experience it. I am thrilled to welcome Andrew Queen, Karen Stille and the the Campfire Crew to the Clock Tower where they will be presenting new youth programming called Tune Tales . There will be two sessions November 27 starting at 10 and 1 pm. Check out their video and call Nancy at the Clock Tower 705-653-5508 or toll free 1-877-883-5777 if you would to bring a special someone ages 4 to 8.
Mondays and Wednesdays at the Clock Tower are brimming with merry songs as the Westben Festival, Youth, Teen and B Natural choruses prepare for the November 28 and 29 performances at The Barn. These Christmas-time concerts at Westben have become a tradition for many families to get into the seasonal mood but if you have never been, then let me give you a snapshot. After you park your car at Westben, perhaps a light dusting of snow on the ground will set the mood as you make your way down the path, past the red lanterns, to the cozy Barn. Dress warmly with a coat, boots, hat and mittens and bring a blanket as The Barn is not heated. There will be Santa hats everywhere as the volunteers welcome you inside to the glowing Barn decorated with boughs of cedar and ribbon. A free cup of hot cider and homemade cookies will warm you up as you make your way to your reserved seat in one of the movie theatre-style cushion seats. The applause to welcome the 75 performers on stage is often comically muted because everyone has their hands covered. I love the cross generational nature of these concerts with performers ranging in ages from 7 to 80. Stratford actors Chick Reid and Frank Moore will be narrating short stories in between the songs performed by the four choirs (and I have a couple of solos). The music is of course is seasonal including I Saw Three Ships, O Holy Night, Ave Maria, Here We Come Wassailing, Magnificat by John Rutter and several others. The performance is 90 minutes with no intermission, which means on Saturday, November 28, you will have time to go to the concert at 1 pm and still be able to see the Santa Claus parade in Campbellford starting at 3:00 pm. Sunday, November 29 the performance at The Barn starts at 3 pm. Saturday, December 5 Songs of Merry travels to Norwood United Church and on Sunday to Belleville at Bridge Street United Church, both starting at 3 pm. Tickets may be reserved by calling Westben at 705-653-5508 or www.westben.ca. But first join us Saturday, November 7 at 7 pm at the Clock Tower for a House Concert! Christian Hodge, now 17 will be performing with friends in the band called Northern Sound. Northern Sound is an indie band that fuses folk, pop, and rock to introduce a truly happy sound. Hailing from Northumberland County, this young quartet draws influences from the current pop scene as well as early folk music. Acoustic instruments blend with electric, and meld together with a wide array of percussion to create a unique experience. This is a pay-what-you-can event so join us this Saturday at the Clock, 36 Front Street South in Campbellford at 7 pm. If you arrive early at 9 am you can join in the Westben Wind Ensemble and yes we have instruments for you! For more information on the instrumental programs, the House Concert or Songs of Merry, call me at the Westben Box Office 705-653-5508.
written for the Community Press
I know this may sound like a commercial but really I just would like to share that The Barn and the grounds at Westben are beautiful right now! The grass is still green, the leaves are starting to turn colour, but truly it is the air that is special. The weather all week has been 23 degrees and Sunday for the Chestnut Cabaret, fingers crossed, should be the same. The air is crisp and you can smell the earth and the leaves warming in the sun. This Sunday will be a fun event with music that was requested by Westben patrons. The fundraising committee has some really great things planned including an edible Silent Auction, an almost wrapped Silent Auction and a quick 3 unique prized Live Auction. Westben had a good summer at The Barn but fundraising is always crucial to the continuation of the organization. Please consider coming to the Chestnut Cabaret and let us know your Chestnut favourites. Don't forget a free homemade buttertart and hot beverage when you arrive, or if you prefer, the bar will be open! See you Sunday, September 27 at 2 pm.
written for the Community Press, September 2015
The Barn doors at Westben have been closed for a few weeks resting from 30 performances over two months by 220 artists in Classical, Broadway, Jazz, Folk, Celtic, World music including Opera, Musical Theatre, Chamber Music, Choral, Concert Band, Solo piano, Comedy and even a Movie showing. Everyone is now refreshed and with the leaves turning, Fall is in the air. The Barn doors will once again open this month to welcome everyone to two exciting concerts. On September 20, 2 pm the Rotary Club of Campbellford and the Warkworth Community Service Club are once again presenting an At Your Service Concert featuring the Toronto All-Star Big Band at Westben with a pre-concert barbecue starting at 12:30 pm. This is a benefit concert for these two important community clubs who do a great deal to help many youth groups and those in need, in our community. The Toronto All-Star Band will perform music from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, the golden age of big band. This concert is a great chance to hear an amazing big band and support two of your local service clubs who are always ready At Your Service! On September 27, 2 pm Westben presents a fundraising concert called Chestnut Cabaret. This concert will feature only songs requested by patrons attending the concert. The idea of the concert itself was a request from a close friend and volunteer so it is really exciting to now be fulfilling this dream. Song requests have been flowing in all summer and it has been fun putting them together for this concert. Actually we have had so many requests we have enough songs for a 5 hour concert! But not to worry this concert will be just under 2 hours. However, it means we have had to make some tough choices in choosing the requests. Along with myself and Brian Finley performing there will be two favourite Westben artists, Gabrielle Prata and Robert Longo. Gabrielle and Bob have performed in several of the Broadway revue concerts at Westben over the years as well as in the original productions Rapunzel, The Selfish Giant and the Requiem. Gabrielle has sung with opera companies across Canada and the US and Robert’s career included performances of the Beast in Beauty and the Beast and Javert in Les Miserables on the US tour. To give you a sneak peak of the program, some of the song requests include Climb Every Mountain, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, On Golden Pond, We’ll Gather Lilacs, It’s a Grand Night for Singing, If Ever I Would Leave You, Edelweiss, Lara’s Theme from Dr Zhivago as well as songs from Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera, just to name a few. Along with musical chestnuts and if nature cooperates, there will be roasted chestnuts available as well as homemade pie, a silent auction and other goodies for purchase. Tickets for both concerts can be purchased at the Westben Box Office in Campbellford or by calling 705 653 5508. Tickets for the At Your Service concert are also available at Holmstead Printing, Our Lucky Stars Café and club members. Join us at The Barn this Fall!
Westben has been presenting Jazz since 2001 but this year, celebrating new traditions, Westben is launching a new Jazz Fringe Festival. Let’s celebrate Jazz before and after The Barn performances in the eateries and retail stores in Trent Hills and at the Clock Tower on the August long weekend! Thanks to Arif from MacLaren IDA Pharmacy for encouraging us to get this idea off the ground. Your friendly smile and great service Arif lead the way!
The weekend starts Thursday evening with Brian’s Pick, the electronic, gypsy jazz meets les Quebecois group MAZ at 7 pm at The Barn. Friday at 7 pm TGIFiddle! Welcomes Kelli Trottier & The Mushy Peas back to The Barn. The pre-concert barbecue must be ordered today (July 28) by 2 pm. Kelli is amazing but so are The Mushy Peas. If you have noticed an increase in quality of the sound this year at Westben it is due to the talented Andy Thompson who plays keyboards in The Mushy Peas. Andy is a genius at sound and has an amazing recording Studio called Studio 29 near Warkworth. Brian and I made our Lullabies for Benjamin and Christmas of Love and Light CD in Andy’s studio.
Saturday at The Barn features the award winning Jane Bunnett and her group Maqueque at 2 pm. I can’t wait to dance to their beat. Rising star (not bias at all) Chelsey Bennett will open for Jane Bunnett.
And now to the Jazz Fringe Festival. After the 2 pm concert at The Barn, you have your choice of restaurants in Campbellford (Capers, Apollos), Hastings (Banjo’s Grill) and Warkworth (Garden of Eatin’) to enjoy Jazz Desserts from 5 pm to 8 pm. But it doesn’t end there because at 8 pm, pull out your saxophone in the car and join Chelsey Bennett, Rob Phillips, Howard Baer and Harry Ellis at the Clock Tower in Campbellford for a Jazz Jam (8 pm to 10 pm). No cover charge, just a free will donation and wine will be available to purchase.
The Campbellford Waterfront Festival will be on all day on both sides of the Trent River by the bridge with lots of new activities including a wine tent by the Clock Tower. At 10 pm will be fireworks over the Trent River by the Clock Tower.
Sunday morning from 10 am to 1 pm is Jazz, the Morning After, brunch with area jazz musicians at Be My Guest and Capers in Campbellford and Our Lucky Stars in Warkworth. At 2 pm at The Barn is the final concert of the summer season, Sunny Day and Sinatra featuring Dean Hollin, myself and the Brian Barlow Big Band. Brian Barlow is the Prince Edward County Jazz Festival AD so be sure to visit http://www.pecjazz.org for details.
So, with great anticipation bring on this week!
This is the point in the Westben Season where we find ourselves saying “one foot in front of the other”. The “we” refers to not on the Westben Box Office staff but the volunteer catering team, volunteer front of house team, production team and billets. After months and months of planning, organizing, and marketing for Season 2015 we are passed the mid-point with only three weeks left in the summer season. Every day I remind myself how wonderful it is to be surrounded by these musicians and actors, watching them rehearse, prepare and perform. I find their energy inspiring and the stories of their travels very interesting. A common theme again this year is that the artists say they enjoy coming to Westben, not only because they love performing in The Barn, but because they find the area so beautiful and the people friendly and welcoming. Well done everyone!
If you have seen the Westben brochure (and please tell me you have), the beautiful woman on the cover, Marie Josée Lord, will be performing this Saturday, July 18, 2 pm at The Barn. As the Montreal Gazette says, Marie Josée Lord is “spellbinding.” She sings with such freedom and passion that she is totally engaging. You likely won’t notice the beautiful meadow and birds and openness of The Barn this time as you will be so enthralled with her performance. The program, says Westben’s Artistic Director, Brian Finley who will be accompanying Marie, “is a variety of opera, art songs and spirituals ranging from Puccini’s La boheme to Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and Cole Porter’s Just One of Those Things.” On Sunday, July 19 at 2 pm one of Canada’s finest concert pianists, Stewart Goodyear will perform Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Join Barb Hobart for a pre performance chat at 1 pm. Stewart was born in Toronto but is now based in New York has performed with the major orchestras of the world including the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Toronto Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra and many others. On Thursday, July 16 at 7 pm is a “Brian’s Pick” concert called Romancing the Harp with Valerie Milot, harp and Antoine Bareil, violin. TGIFun! returns with Mary Lou Fallis and Peter Tiefenbach in Primadonna and Friend Strike Back. Mary Lou Fallis is “…the fabulousest, Canadianest diva of them all… with wit as dry as a vodka martini…” says the Toronto Star. Kings on Broadway concerts begin Wednesday July 22 and continue to Saturday, July 25 with selections from Camelot and The King and I. TGIFilm! On Friday evening, 7 pm at The Barn will feature the 1946 black and white film, Anna and the King of Siam and on Sunday July 26 features the a capella choir of Le studio de music ancienne de Montreal in Music from the Sistine Chapel. The summer season ends with Jazz at The Barn and the new Jazz Fringe Festival across Trent Hills, but more on that later. See you at The Barn!
Written for the Community Press
Written for the Community Press June 18, 2015
If you feel there is a renewed energy happening in the Trent Hills and neighbouring areas, if you hear someone singing next to you in the coffee shop, pub, grocery store or local shop, smile and welcome them to the community. Warkworth’s Nancy Hermiston is back June 30th from British Columbia with her 25 member UBC Opera Ensemble in tow. The troupe is made up of young men and women in their 20’s filled with the joy and music of Verdi’s opera La traviata which will be performed at Westben July 2, 3, 4 and 5th. These young singers from across the country are post graduate students (or graduates) of the University of British Columbia where Nancy is the head of the voice and opera department. Some will be returning to The Barn while for others this will be their first visit to the community. Warkworth is Nancy’s home town and the community continues to welcome them with open arms by billeting the singers in their homes, taking them around the area, showing them the local sites, holding parties for them and giving them memories they will never forget. Not only are they excellent performers but Nancy prepares them in many different aspects of the opera world. They pack and transport the costumes and props, learn how to set wigs, do stage make up and sets. They work as a team. The Westben orchestra which will accompany UBC Opera Ensemble are professional orchestral musicians from the Toronto Symphony, Kitchener-Waterloo Orchestra, Orchestra London and others. The Westben catering team are busy preparing meals for the 40 musicians as they rehearse and perform at The Barn. If you love to cook and would like to contribute to the volunteer catering team at Westben, please call the Box Office 705-653-5508. La traviata is one of the most beloved operas of all time. (Google top 10 operas and it always appears). If you haven’t experienced opera before, this is a good one to try. Verdi’s music is tuneful and moving with soaring melodies and an engaging story. The costumes are elaborate and next to Westben’s natural setting, it is a beautiful sight. I love the pairing of the natural farm setting and the elegant costumes of the opera world at Westben and it is especially lovely when worn by the youthful UBC Opera cast. Visit Westben.ca for tickets for call the Box Office. Up this weekend at The Barn is Ken Tizzard June 19, 7 pm (Frank Moore opening), Cobourg Concert Band and Westben Wind Ensemble June 20, 2 pm and The Garden Gala Fundraiser June 21 at a private home near Warkworth.
Westben is celebrating New Traditions this season and one of the new ventures is the creation of packages that celebrate local experts from our community. In April we met Luke Mercier from Springbrook who will be holding a workshop on Fiddler making and restoration as part of Westben’s Fiddling Around with Luke Package June 13 (including a performance of Fiddler on the Roof at The Barn). Another absolutely incredible talent, who lives near Warkworth, is photographer Gary Mulcahey. His work is truly amazing and Westben is offering a chance for all photographers to bring their cameras July 3rd and 4th and work directly with Gary “shooting artists.” Picture this! A wonderful opportunity for photography enthusiasts to explore musical portraiture! Known for his portraits including artists of the Canadian Opera Company, Warkworth photographer Gary Mulcahey leads one of the most exciting weekends in photographic memory! On Friday, July 3, meet Gary with other Westben artists at the Clock Tower for an informal chat over wine and goodies. After a restful night at one of the area’s B&B’s or motel’s, Bring your camera on Saturday morning at 10:00 am as Gary shows you how to explore all the angles of shooting artists from UBC Opera Ensemble before their afternoon performance at The Barn. After a short 5-minute drive to Westben to enjoy your delicious Windswept picnic lunch, find your seat for the Ensemble’s fully-staged production of Verdi’s unforgettable opera, La traviata at 2:00 pm. Afterward, browse the shops in Campbellford and Warkworth or do some fishing in Hastings. Dinner is at Capers Restaurant before a peaceful night at one of the area’s local B&B’s or motels visit www.westben.ca/packages for details.
Gary's passion for photography started at 11 years of age when his father lent him his first camera – a Yashica twin lens reflex and set him up with a black and white darkroom. While the other children took their first jobs delivering newspapers, Gary was at the local baseball diamonds and rinks taking and selling team photos. At age 22 Gary attended the Photography Program at Fanshawe College in London Ontario. By age 25 he was working as a full time freelance photographer producing images for magazines, advertising, the performing arts, and private and corporate clients. He has lived and worked in Toronto, Dublin and Madrid.
Gary's work has been published in television and print media including a variety of magazines such as National Post: Business, MD Canada, Canadian Diamonds, Up Here, and Watershed. Recent books include Private Gardens of Northumberland Hills, an exclusive showing of Gary's garden photography, and Comayagua, a collection of portraits and landscapes from impoverished rural mountain communities in Honduras. Recent Exhibits of Gary’s include Comayagua. portraits from the mountains of Honduras at the Gerrard Art Space in Toronto and Picture Change, an exhibition produced by PhotoSensitive containing one photo by each of over 100 top Canadian photographers. This collection of the most meaningful photos in each photographer’s portfolio highlights the way that photography can make a positive change in the world. Visit this amazing web site www.photosensitive.com. Most recently Gary has started publishing the quarterly art magazine NuWork. www.nuwork.ca.
Gary was born and raised in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. He now makes his home in the Hills of Northumberland County Ontario where he operates Mulcahey Image Company www.mulcahey.com. In his spare time Gary road races motorcycles and manages his small organic vegetable garden. Westben has used several of Gary’s photographs for the covers of the brochures and they are not simply pictures but works of art that inspire that challenge and lift the human spirit.
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 email@example.com
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.