Indian River Festival is pleased to be able to offer variety to delight many musical tastes
© SUBMITTED PHOTO
The Saddle River String Band, a traditional folk-bluegrass group, is one of the acts in the old-fashioned kitchen party at St. Mary’s Church in Indian River on Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
If the Indian River Festival could be described in one word, that word would be variety.
That’s because there’s something for each and every music lover at the festival this season, which continues until Sept. 19 at St. Mary’s Church in Indian River.
Whether it’s Canadian tenor Ben Heppner or Celtic/country star Jimmy Rankin, who both pulled in full houses, classical musicians Mark Edwards, harpsichord, and Vincent Lauzer, recorder, who thrilled an appreciative audience with their baroque repertoire, or vocalist/pianist Denzal Sinclaire, who delighted jazz enthusiasts, all the bases are covered.
Providing a variety of musical styles to audiences is something that has evolved over the last number of years, says Christine Gallant.
“We do it for a variety of reasons. We want to broaden the audience base. That’s because if we were only classical, we’d shut the doors to (many) people wanting the wonderful concert experience that we get only in this beautiful, acoustic space.
“So, when we’re presenting Matt Anderson, a blues artist, or James Hill, a famous ukulele player, or the Good Lovelies, a folk group, we’re throwing open our doors and saying, ‘here’s something we know that everyone will be interested in.’ So it’s a chance for everyone to experience a concert in this extraordinary and marvelous place,” says Gallant, who is the festival’s executive director.
The second reason is to bring large numbers of people in which, in turn, keeps the festival running, maintains St. Mary’s Church and continues its ongoing restoration.
“It’s a designated heritage building and it takes money to keep the building in good shape. So for these and other reasons I think it’s a wonderful thing to broaden the base of musical genre. It’s all such wonderful music,” says Gallant.
The variety continues on Aug. 18 with an old-fashioned kitchen party featuring old-time fiddlers Ivan and Vivian Hicks and the popular Saddle River String Band.
“These are two groups we absolutely adore. Ivan is a legend in the fiddle world, not only in his performing but also in his generosity and teaching. And the Saddle River String Band is a fantastically talented band,” says Gallant, adding the concert will also feature Milk and Honey, an old-time music group consisting of Gallant and her husband, Peter, as well as Josh Ellis and Leah Ellis.
“There’s nothing new in what we do .... It’s pure, unpretentious music,” says Gallant.
The festival returns to its classical roots on Aug. 23 with Duo Concertante. This chamber music concert features Nancy Dahn and her husband, Tim Steeves.
“From Newfoundland, this chamber music duo really specializes in a repertoire for the violin and piano. Just this year, they did a sold out performance at Carnegie Hall,” says Gallant.
Then on Aug. 25, blues artist Anderson is back to perform.
“There’s something extraordinary about when Matt enters to play St. Mary’s church. I think it’s partly because he loves the space so much. He calls it one of his favourite spaces to play.
“He literally fills the rafters with his voice and his music and his presence and it’s so exciting,” says Gallant, adding that for the third consecutive year they’re doing two shows — a matinee and an evening performance — because people absolutely flock to see him.”
And there are still more concerts to come.
“The mandate of the festival is to present fine music concerts. So we’re happy to present many musical genres and sub genres,” she says.
Sally Cole is a features writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 629-6000, ext. 6054.
AT A GLANCE
u Harvest Soup Fest will be held on Sept. 8, 1-3 p.m. at St. Mary's Church, Indian River, not .Sept. 28 as was previously stated. It features music and chefs from various restaurants preparing and donating huge quantities of locally produced, homemade soup as well as homemade breads for sampling. For more information, call 1-866-856-3733.