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