The Inaugural Blue Bridge Festival - June 8-10, 2007
The Blue Bridge Festival was a unique interweaving of music with spoken word and childrens’ dramatizations, poetry and songwriting workshops, readings and performances in formal and informal settings at various locations throughout the town of Sutton and Jackson's Point, Ontario.
The festival began with an opening cabaret & reception at the Georgina Art Gallery, an engaging evening of chamber music, poetry, cabaret and opera songs and duets, with the Ardeleana Trio: Emma Zoë Green (flute) Brenda Muller (composer, director, & cello) Catherine Maguire (piano & vocalist), Cindy Townsend (soprano), and Ramona Carmelly (mezzo soprano), as well as the festival poets Barry Dempster, Travis Lane, Patricia Keeny & special guest Joel Green (trombone).
Saturday and Sunday mornings began with poetry and songwriting workshops led by the festival poets as well as singer/songwriter Marie-Lynn Hammond, and performances both days of Melissa’s Song, Brenda Muller’s award winning story-book theatre for the whole family, performed in the round by Ardeleana with Ramona Carmelly as Melissa and Cindy Townsend as her feline friend, Ted.
Included on Saturday and Sunday were several free concerts in local parks and bandshells with performers including Catherine Maguire (piano), Rod Fogarty (percussionist), and Marie-Lynn Hammond (singer/songwriter, guitar). There were numerous outdoor activities including a horse-drawn wagon tour, a troubadour’s-trail walk and the festival regatta with canoeists and kayakers following opera singers Cindy Townsend, Ramona Carmelly and Gord MacLeod (baritone), as well as the Mayor of Sutton, on a barge drifting down the Black River to Lake Simcoe .
Saturday night’s Gala Concert comprised opera highlights and chamber music, including the premiere of Carol Ann Weaver’s All Night Beatrice, and Vivaldi's Gloria with a Massed Choir, at Knox United Church in Sutton, with the festival poets, the Ardeleana Trio, the opera singers, and the Blue Bridge Festival Orchestra, comprised of regional musicians and students from the Pierre Elliot Trudeau High School strings department, with Dave McFadden (concert master), and a massed choir comprised of Village Voices Choir (Joan Andrews, conductor), Knox United Church Choir (David Holborn, conductor) Mt. St. Albert United Church Choir (Grace Scott, conductor), and a handful of guest choristers – all adeptly conducted by guest conductor Tony Browning.
The festival closed on Sunday afternoon with a performance of Alchemy, designed by artistic director, poet and cellist Brenda Muller to be a journey of transitions, flow and love through fine chamber music and poetry, featuring vocalists Ramona Carmelly and Cindy Townsend with Ardeleana, and music by French composers Maurice Ravel and Louise Farrenc, and Canadians Mary Gardiner and Jean Anderson.
I am preparing for a new round of auditions as well as a variety of eclectic musical projects in early November, including a kitshy cabaret-and-popera gala fundraiser for THORNHILL HOSPICE, and two concerts for Holocaust Education Week.
I am also looking forward to a preliminary concert in early November of selections from a new lyrical portrait of the visionary Canadian artist and writer Emily Carr by composer Jana Skarecky and poet/librettist Di Brandt - and it's being written expressly for me! Update: I am pleased to announce that EMILY's premiere has been scheduled for April 2008, under the auspices of the Canadian Music Centre's New Music In New Places program, fittingly situated amongst Kleinburg’s McMichael Canadian Art Collection, with the Talisker Players under the baton of Gary Kulesha.
In other news, as well as increasing my training and fundraising efforts for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer 60-km 2-day walkathon, I’m starting work on a new knit design for publication (commissioned for a book and due at my editor in the fall), and I’m doing extensive household organization & minor repairs.