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!"... Continue reading
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.... Continue reading
It's beautiful watching the snow fall today and yet exciting looking ahead to the summer of 2013. Westben Members have now received the 2013 Summer Calendar and you too can have a sneak peak on this site under Upcoming Events. Lots of exciting new program, new upgrades on site and a new part of the musical family will be announced in the new year. Become a Member today and be the first to hear the news. Click the BUY TICKET icon then Memberships/Donations button.
As I was conducting the 80 voices of the Westben Festival, Youth and Teen Choruses on the weekend in the Elijah's Angel production I stepped back and marvelled at the experience ... the sound, the energy, the twinkle in the eyes, the committment in the faces... and that's just facing the stage. I heard laughter, whispered cooments from children, sigh's of remembrances and even witnessed some tears from the audience. This coming together of the community both as participants and audience members (audiences, I truly believe are also participants) is magical. Making music where it changes lives is a living the dream. Can't wait till next Saturday. Would love to hear your comments.
Time seems to move so quickly when you're absorbed in work you love. Just now at the office, I stared in disbelief at the calendar: August 2, 2012. I remember so clearly, packing up my apartment to head South, fill my lungs with country air. I knew it would be a great summer- but I didn't think it would alter my path with such dramatic flare. It's been a wonderful season: the electricity hanging in the air before a show, the thrill of a standing ovation, the stillness when the crowds have made their way home. Our audiences have been wonderful. Our performers, world-class. My co-workers, a delight.
I'd like to express my awe at the hard work I've seen from our dedicated volunteers. All season it's been nothing but wide-smiles, a passion for the arts and a general joie de vivre. Westben just wouldn't be Westben without our volunteers. If you're reading this and are a Trent Hills resident I urge you to consider volunteering next season. Having been a volunteer nearly half my life, I can honestly say, it's just, well...fun. There's nothing quite like the feeling of being part of something. Drop by our office for more information on volunteering- we'd love to have you!
We're "Singing in the Rain!" quips our charming pianist and host, Brian Jackson. Waves of laughter break from the audience. Every so often the audience are encouraged join in. Rain patters on the tin roof as everyone signs a collective sigh of relief as our parched summer lawns soak up the rain - soggy feet? Pish posh, no matter.
Broadway! The heart swells with each crescendo, triumphant trill and ingenue grin; it sinks with songs of star-crossed love, loss and loneliness. Broadway has been an enduring and popular style because of the way it speaks directly to the foundations of the our shared experience. Love, dreams and whimsy. They are the timbres of life (as far as this ingenue has deducted.)
The cast continuously deliver flawless performances. With personality and precision that one wouldn't expect North of the Upper East Side. The quick-paced program is packed with gems from long-favoured musicals like, My Fair Lady, Camelot, and yes, Andrews most famous role, The Sound of Music.
Those of you who were in attendance of the Oliver Jones concert this past Saturday will know what I mean when I say that show was wonderful. The Oliver Jones Trio were my first experience with jazz and I now consider myself a convert - but my expectations are set quite high now! A trusted source has since provided me with five quintessential jazz albums to digest in the wake of Saturday's show. Which would you choose? The Winds at Westben show Tuesday evening couldn't have been better suited to the record-breaking heat we've been experiencing. Can we have a round of applause for the beautiful winds that filled the Barn and cooled us down so beautifully? The airy, effervescent and dreamy quality of Mozart, Ibert and Beethoven made you feel as though you were sipping lemonade at a garden party.
This week we're bringing Broadway to the Barn, which will return again for four more shows next week. This year we are showcasing Broadway darling, Julie Andrews. Set to take the stage are Donna Bennett, Elizabeth Turnbull, James McLean, Andrew Love, Brian Jackson, and members of the Westben Youth and Teen Chorus.
Sunday is a huge day at Westben as we welcome internationally acclaimed baritone Gerald Finley to a sold-out house. As usual, we will be selling meadow passes (weather permitting.) Lately I've been pinching myself as how fully this season's title, Summer of Stars, lives up to the name.
We're into our third week of our Summer of Stars season and our stage has already been graced by some of the world's best and brightest. Our Music of the Night series was kicked off with what was surely one of the most poetic and arresting solo piano performances I've ever seen. Georgy Tchaize performed pieces from Beethoven and Prokofiev - what a wonderful way to warm up our new Stienway! This weekend we welcome the legendary Oliver Jones Jazz Trio. Sunday we'll be full to the beams with the many voices of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale. Tickets for this weekend are few and far between, but if the sun shines on we'll be selling meadow passes! Just remember your SPF.
There is always something new at Westben and this weekend not only will there be amazing music performed by the Canadian Guitar Quartet Saturday, July 7 at 2 pm and Quartetto Gelato Sunday July 8 at 2 pm, but there will also be freshly made refreshing Gelato cups served on the meadow at intermission. Meet the artists on the meadow after the performances. Be sure to check out what else in new behind The Barn, you will be amazed!
Three days of intense music rehearsal with conductor Philip Headlam are now complete and off we go into staging rehearsals in The Barn with Director Allison Grant. Quinte Ballet dancers arrive tonight and time ticks on. First day of staging is always unnerving, the feet must learn where to go and the singing must be accurate and ofcourse it all has to make sense with the story and flow of the opera. The melding of the singers ideas and the directors and the conductor's is a wonderful melding of world's and thoughts. Allison, Philip and the cast are a great team. Don't miss this event - The Auction - June 30 & July 1 at 2pm with a Preview June 29. It's a first for Westben to commission and present a brand new opera with orchestra - don't miss it. See photos on Facbook. http://www.facebook.com/westbenconcerts
Well, last weekend The Barn soared with music by the CDHS Jazz Ensembles and the Westben Youth and Teen Choruses. Friday we celebrate the talents of the Hillcrest Public School Band and their amazing leader Nancy Elmhirst. Nancy has mentored hundreds of children in Campbellford and Alberta and this June she is retiring. Westben and the community will pay tribute to Nancy and all she has done for the children of our community. Be at Westben Friday, June 8 at 7 PM or blog a great memory here that we will share with Nancy.
One week from today, the doors will be open and the gorgeous 400 seat timber-framed Barn will be abounding with music. The meadow will be mowed, daisies blooming...the pathway is already covered with luscious greenery. Tomorrow the volunteers meet for the first time this year to renew friendships, meet new people and toast the new season. The vibrant youth of the community start 2012 season. June 2 the CDHS Jazz Ensemble perform after their successful performances in Ottawa and New Orleans. June 3, the Westben Youth and Teen Chorus perform Fables and Legends and on June 8th the Hillcrest Band performs with a special tribute to retiring music educator Nancy Elmhirst. I love seeing the youth in the Barn, the energy in their performing and best of all, watching them run around the meadow, exploring the pond, visiting the donkey. See you at The Barn in June.
The Auction is based on the children’s story of the same name by Jan Andrews with illustrations by Karen Reczuch. The story revolves around the family farm being sold. Although a hard transition for both grandfather and grandson, The Auction is also a story of new beginnings based on old traditions.
Westben is situated in a robust farming communtiy, but selling the family farm is often a reality. Westben is on a 50 acre farm and the West family were the original settlers and lived there until 1965. Many houses in the area were built with the brick making machine that still sits in the corner field at Westben. I'm sure when Gerald West's widow had to sell the farm, it couldn't have been easy. However, new dreams have risen from these fields and Westben is visited by artists from across Canada and the USA and Europe.
Share your Farm or family tradition story...........
I love learning a new piece of music. It feels it's like getting a present, it's an adventure! The first thing I always do is scan the whole piece (I won't admit it's looking for high notes), and it feels as if I'm opening the present without reading the card. The Auction is a brand new opera, John Burge is still composing some of the parts as I am writing this. Yes, the premiere at Westben is June 29 and we'll all be ready! John and librettist Eugene Benson have composed an aria for me in the second act that is beautiful, challenging, funny, entertaining, sad and for sure, moving. After reading the text, I always try and play through the aria first on the piano to hear the harmonies and how the accompaniment and vocal line fit together. It makes it easier on my voice if I learn the notes with my inner ear before actually singing them. After working the song into my voice, the massaging of the text and the music is very interesting to me and every day ideas on the interpretation can change. I have to say when I sang this particular aria through for the first time, I was moved by the honesty of the mother character as she tells her son Todd, about her hopes and dreams and how over the years they have changed.
Whenever I meet someone new that hasn't been to Westben, it feels challenging to describe the Westben Experience in a few words. ... but really, if you don't have 15 minutes to listen to me talk about the beautiful meadow, exciting music, warm volunteers, etc etc, how can I describe this jewell of Northumberland to someone who has never been? I was hoping to get some video this summer and make it available online. I would love your help! What do you think we should video? What part of Westben excites you, interests you, brings you back ... When someone says "Westben" - what pops into your mind?
This is a topic of disussion in one of the classical music LinkedIn groups that I belong to, that is being bantered around. Check out the Westben Blog www.westben.ca/blog Some are saying young peopel won't attend classical music concerts no matter what you do, some suggesting serving hamburgers, some say bring the music to the schools, make the atmosphere more informal, change the programming etc. I have written here my response and I'd love to get your feedback. It's a constant topic of disucssion here at Westben because we are so excited about the power of music that I don't think it matters what age you are or what you think your preference of music is, it's great for all of us to hear all kinds of different music. My soul soars with opera but I love country music as well and marimba and .........
Westben Arts Festival Theatre in southern Ontario Canada http://www.westben.ca presents over 40 classical, broadway and jazz events in a 400 seat timber framed barn - purpose built barn for concerts and opera. As professional performers, my husband Brian Finley and myself Donna Bennett are cofounders and we wanted to have the audience experience world class music in an enviroment that is welcoming and not intimidating. The artists perform to the level as they would in any major concert hall (ie opera Gerald Finley sang last month at The MET) but the barn doors roll open so the audience can take in the fields and nature of the 50 acre farm. The nature is part of the experience. The openess is conceived to be welcoming and hopefully attracting younger audiences. We also involve people of all ages, where possible in productions, so they get immersed and feel part of the creative process. We are presenting a world premiere opera this summer by Canadian composer John Burge, called The Auction and we have area professional visual artists building scarecrows with area groups of children (4 H, Girl Guides, choruses etc). Building Scarecrows are part of the story of the opera but the event is to involve the children and artists, telling their story in the building of the scarecrow but also learning about how a new creative work comes together.