Barrie Concerts’ eclectic season

Barrie Concerts hosts an eclectic season of music with an appeal for all ages.

The subscription season begins this fall with Craig Pike’s That Choir, a Toronto-based group that sets out to inspire audiences both young and young at heart. The a cappella singers certainly did that the last time they performed in Barrie. This time out, they will be featuring a variety of music from Boogie Woogie (Bugle Boy) to the famous hymn, Abide With Me.

The 30 singers, who represent different ages and cultures, are all music-program graduates and are required to audition to be part of That Choir. Founded by Pike in 2008, the artistic director started out singing in high school choirs in Newfoundland, studied choral conducting at university, served as a church music director and then moved to Toronto for George Brown Theatre School. In addition to acting at Shaw Festival, he is music director/composer for both the Classical Theatre Project and Gairbraid Theatre Company.

The annual Christmas concert is next. Always an audience-pleaser, this one features the dynamic Double Double Duo of Kornel Wolak (on clarinet and piano) and Michael Bridge (on accordions and piano). The classically-trained international soloists play a broad range of repertoire, from classical to jazz and folk and will often inject elements of comedy into the programs. Look for a mix of Christmas favourites and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, which will likely be the highlight of the evening.

The new year begins with Mendelssohn’s captivating Second Piano Concerto, performed by returning favourite Sinfonia Toronto, conducted by Nurhan Arman. The all-string chamber orchestra will be featuring Armenian pianist Sofya Melikyan in her first Barrie appearance.

“We’re having a lot of Mendelssohn this coming year,” said organizer Bruce Owen. “Sixty-plus years ago no one was playing Mendelssohn, a carry on from the Second World War, (when the) Nazis banned his music because he was Jewish. But he was raised Lutheran, his grandfather converted to Christianity (and) he married the daughter of a Lutheran minister. Yet Hitler’s ban impacted his music around the world. So, when I started doing this (Barrie Concerts), his music was hardly played at all and he’s fantastic – so melodic, tuneful and it’s not easy to play.”

The highly entertaining Euro-folk fusion of Toronto’s Beyond the Pale is sure to chase away any February blues. The five-piece group is inspired by Klezmer and Balkan styles but incorporates everything from jazz and classical music to bluegrass and reggae.

Dvorák takes centre stage for the spring show, with the Penderecki String Quartet and pianist Benjamin Smith. The season wraps up with Barrie Concerts favourite Kerry Stratton, conducting the Toronto Concert Orchestra in a program of Gershwin greats. It features soprano Alyssa DiMarco and pianist Anna Shalaykevych.

Subscriptions for the six-concert season are $170 for adults, $35 for students. Single admission, when they are available, is $85 per concert. All performances take place at Hi-Way Pentecostal Church. Tickets are available in Barrie at Music Pro, 133 Mapleview Dr. W. and Our House, 55 Dunlop St. E. For more information call 705-726-1181.

Photo:  That Choir opens the Barrie Concerts 2018-19 season Oct. 27.


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