Soprano Donna Bennett and pianist/composer Brian Finley (please see Artists Bios) returned from Europe where they were pursuing their musical careers to Donna’s hometown of Campbellford, Ontario to start a family.
The idea for a permanent venue for a musical festival evolved after performing and hosting events at local venues. They also began teaching advanced level music students and leading the music program at St. John’s United Church in Campbellford.
The success of Jesus Christ Superstar, a fully-staged community event, galvanized local support for a permanent performance organization. In 1999, The Westben Arts Festival Theatre was formed as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating, enriching and integrating professionals and amateurs in musical projects and educational activities. Run by a Board of Directors, Westben received its charitable status in 2000.
Brian Finley, pianist and composer, is the Artistic and Managing Director as well as one of the founders of the Westben Arts Festival Theatre.
Brian Finley enjoys a multi-faceted career as a pianist, composer, director and impresario. As a pianist, Brian has performed with orchestras from Dallas to Calgary Philharmonic as well as at the Olympic Music Festival in Washington, Wigmore Hall in London, England and the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto. He appeared in over 10 international piano competitions including the 8th International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, winning the third prize in the AMSA International Competition in Cincinnati as well as the Gina Bachauer Award in Dallas. His recordings include solo piano music from Wigmore Hall, three critically acclaimed CDs with his wife, soprano Donna Bennett as well as several recordings for CBC, CFMX, KING-FM in the US and Soviet Television. As an accompanist, he has collaborated with some of Canada’s top singers including Adrianne Pieczonka, Richard Margison, Mark Dubois, John Fanning as well as his cousin, Gerald Finley. Brian’s compositions include solo piano music, songs, choral works and arrangements for full symphony orchestra, many of which are published by Boosey & Hawkes in New York. His several full-length opera-musicals include SAMSON (2001), Rapunzel (2005), The Selfish Giant (2010) as well as many musical dramas. Most recently, Westben presented the world premiere of his latest opera The Pencil Salesman (based on an idea by Agnes Herzberg) at Westben in 2016. As a director he has staged musical productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, The Sound of Music, The Magic Ornament and his own works including Requiem for a Millennium, A Westben Christmas Carol for Westben. In 2002, Brian was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Golden Jubilee Medal in recognition of his work within his community and with his fellow Canadians.
Westben presents a wide variety of music from Bach to Broadway favourites, opera, jazz, fiddle, folk and world music! From full symphony orchestra, fully staged operas to solo banjo, flamenco guitar and chamber music.
The main performance venue is The Barn 3 km outside of Campbellford on County Road 30.
Our summer festival runs from early June through to the August long weekend. There are over 40 events and 200 guest artists. In 2014 Westben moved into the new Clock Tower Cultural Centre in Campbellford hosting year round events.
In November and December at The Barn the Westben Youth, Teen and Festival Choruses present seasonal productions such as Christmas in Wales, The Magic Ornament, Westben Christmas Carol, The Little Match Girl Messiah, Songs of Merry, and in 2017 Upper Canada Christmas. These events take place at The Barn and in surrounding communities such as Peterborough, Belleville and Cobourg.
Other events include educational initiatives such as in-school presentations, master classes and the new pre-school programs. Our 45-member Westben Festival Chorus and Westben Youth, Teen, Cookie and B Natural choruses perform at The Barn and various other venues throughout the year, again with classic and modern repertoire.
For more information on past seasons please see our Vision & History page.
Yes Westben’s main venue is a barn and although we are in the midst of farming country, you won’t see a barn like it.
Westben’s Barn is a purpose-built concert facility designed to optimize sound while allowing patrons to enjoy the natural atmosphere. There are 400 seats.
The Westben Arts Festival Theatre operates a year round box office and administration office at The Clock Tower Cultural Centre, 36 Front Street South, Campbellford, Ontario, K0L 1L0. firstname.lastname@example.org 705-653-5508 or toll free 877-883-5777
Our main venue, The Barn, is located on #6698 County Road 30 North, 3 km outside of Campbellford. (See Detailed Map)
For our regular Concerts at The Barn tickets range from $23 to $75 for adults, $15 for Under 30 and $5 for Youth 18 & under. Meadow Passes our available to most of the concerts (weather dependent, please call ahead). Ask about our Buy More Save More Subscriptions and Seniors Rates. Groups Rates are available for 10 or more.
Westben has events in all four seasons of the year.
The festival opens it's doors on July 1, 2000.