Sprightly singers save best for last


by Penelope Johnson

Three dozen voices, light, sprightly and well-tuned, swept through an astonishingly varied repertoire at the Venables Theatre last Friday evening.  The Capilano University Singers, tightly controlled by their conductor Lars Kaario, impressed the large audience with their range from the Baroque and classical composers, to Afro-American and South African folksong, 21st century compositions, and new Canadian music. The concert was the third presentation in the South Okanagan Concert Society series of four.

The Singers’ first impression, walking confidently onstage in formal attire, was marred by a shaky performance of famous choruses from Handel’s Messiah. Kaario chose a quick tempo, in keeping with the original baroque style, which suited these youthful, energetic voices. Much like the sheep in “All We Like Sheep” the singers were remarkably sure-footed through the lightning-quick arpeggios. The sopranos and tenors especially showed great facility. Unfortunately, the pace often left the piano accompaniment floundering to keep up, resulting in a few faltering starts.

A more robust sound for Messiah would have been welcome. These music students are commended for tackling such important repertoire, but the resulting sound was light and thin.  The choir may have fared better had Kaario, as well as two student conductors, slowed the tempo enough to afford the singers opportunity to develop a rich chest sound.

Worthy of note was a promising young counter-tenor soloist, Gary Sun. What a treat to hear a live performance of this relatively rare voice type. His breath control and diction struggled under the quick tempo, but his fluid tone and animated expression more than made up for it.

Sun’s emotive performance was perhaps the most deserving of applause in Messiah. Sadly, Kaario instructed the audience to refrain from clapping until the final “Amen”. While this would be common practice for the full oratorio, it could have been modified to allow audience appreciation to be given where it was deserved. Bravo, Mr. Sun.

The concert’s second half, a varied repertoire of mostly modern choral compositions, was a dramatic improvement. Here, the Singers’ light voices were better suited to the material. The rapid tempo of “An Elizabethan Spring” was entirely appropriate, with the tricky triplets in the final measures absolutely perfect. Conductor Kaario and his attentive choir showed complete mastery here. The following “Sleep” could have been sung at a more lulling tempo, to caress the dissonant chords. A lovely jewel of close harmony was “Ave verum corpus” by young BC composer Ian Cox. Good dynamics in “Let My Love Be Heard” demonstrated the Singers are capable of greater volume and colouring.

The audience delighted in a refreshing interlude of musical selections by choir members. These young performers showed remarkable poise in engaging with the audience. Pianist Daniel Nguyen excelled on Chopin’s Aeolian Harp Etude.  The sonata trio and four-part madrigal were equally enchanting. Receiving the most applause was a bluesy trio on “Love Gone Wrong” by You+Me. Their funky groove set the stage for the choir’s lively, final selections.

The Capilano University Singers kicked it up several notches with the spiritual “John Saw duh Numbah”. Their percussive consonants made for an energetic, exciting piece. Saving the best for last, the Singers let loose with the South African “Emjanleni / Yeleyele” accompanied by djembe drum, rhythmic foot stomping and clapping, and ululating women’s voices. These rousing numbers brought the audience to its feet with the most enthusiastic applause of the evening.

The South Okanagan Concert Series concludes on Friday March 18 with a blend of classical and jazz music from the Wolak / Donnelly Duo. Their instruments? Clarinet, piano, and oodles of charm. Keep your fingers crossed that “Bach with Spoons” is in their programme for the evening! Join the crowd at  7:30 p.m. at the Frank Venables Theatre. Single tickets are $20, and four for $75, available at Beyond Bliss and Imperial Office Pro. Students 17 and under free. Early bird tickets for the 2016/7 concert season will be available at the concert.

Learn to act from a pro

Trevor LeighNew SOAP member Trevor Leigh (who played the role of temperamental director Lloyd Dallas in Noises Off) brings a wealth of acting and directing experience from more than 25 years in professional theatre.  Sign up for his acting classes this winter!  Classes for tweens and adults of all levels of acting experience.  Contact Trevor for details. 250-999-9396 or ftleigh @ mac.com

Acting for the CameraActing Classes

FNLIt’s Friday Night Live, a night of great live music and entertainment this Friday Feb 5th at 7:00 p.m. The beer is cold and the music IS of course always sooooo HOT! What an incredible FNL we had 2 weeks ago. The place was crammed full of you good people. Twin Peaks put on such an amazing performance. They brought the house down and will be back in August for their own complete concert night. Great back-up band with Bettyanne and Gidd…. The night was perfect and all our great valley musicicians were at the top of their game.

MorneauHost Marcel Morneau is becoming more Scottish each week and is applying for citizenship I hear. Our great local stable of talented great artists is becoming huge…It’s still growing and we have room for YOU. Come hang out with Leann and Rod (thank you so much Rod for our fantastic new monitor platforms.

Bring your music, your instrument and your voice and become part of the night sounds. We crank up the music shortly after 7:00. The music is huge…Tons of talent…all we need is you!

We are licensed. We have beer, wine, coffees with a kick and our usual great gelato and snacks, sweet treats and of course…our great host Marcel!. Medici’s this Friday Feb 5th at 7:00 PM. 522 Fairview Road. 250-498-2228.

Masterworks doth invite early music fans



“We doth now invite”: Early music concert by Masterworks Ensemble

Masterworks Ensemble invites you to enjoy music from long ago at their early music concert series in Summerland, Penticton and Oliver in February.

The concert highlights music from the Renaissance to early Classical, performed by Tracy Fehr (lyric coloratura soprano), Elizabeth Lupton (violin), Dennis Nordlund (piano/organ), Olivia Walsh (cello), and Bob Park (classical guitar/lute).

“The lute was the king of European instruments from 1500 to 1750,” says Park, who will be playing a handcrafted replica of a lute built in 1592. The lute, with its distinctive bowl shape, angled tuning peg box and elaborately carved rose (sound hole) possesses a softer and more delicate sound than a guitar.

“The lute has a lyrical, almost wistful quality that compliments the Renaissance sensibility of love’s longing and unrequited love,” adds Fehr, who will be joining Park to perform a selection of songs by 16th Century composer, John Dowland. “The lute is a close cousin to the oud, an Arabic instrument that I have performed with during my recent tours in North Africa. I see such a connection between the two.”

The group is delighted to be joined by Walsh on the cello for many of the selections, including Handel, Vivaldi, Mozart and Bach. “It’s a new and beautiful addition to our sound,” adds Nordlund.

The Summerland concert will be held on Friday, Feb.5th (7 pm) at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church (9311 Prairie Valley Rd). Tickets are available at the church (250 494 3466) and at the door.

The Penticton concert will be held on Saturday, Feb.6th (7pm) at Concordia Lutheran Church (2800 South Main St.). Tickets will be sold at the door and at the Penticton and District Arts Council (Leir House: 220 Manor Park Ave).

The final concert will be held in Oliver on Sunday, Feb.7th at 3 p.m. at the Oliver Lutheran Centre (6431 Okanagan St.). Tickets at the door.

All concert tickets are $25, and $15 for students under 18 years of age.


Photo montage:

Masterworks Ensemble: Bob Park (lute), Dennis Nordlund, Tracy Fehr, Elizabeth Lupton (violin), and Olivia Walsh (cello) will be presenting an Early Music concert series, Feb.5-7th.


Blues Boss at Medici’s

Kenny Blues Boss Wayne

















The truly incredible and talented Kenny ‘Blues Boss” Wayne is coming to shake everything you got loose on Friday Feb 19th at Medici’s. As you local and hopeful newspaper mogul commented “how did you manage to get Kenny Wayne to play here?” Persistence, initiative, luck and a passion for The Blues is how. I have included a few snippets from his bio, a poster shot  and a heads up to get your tickets fast cuz there gonna go as fast as The Blues Boss can play…Friday, February 19th at Medici’s..522 Fairview Road in Oliver.250-498-2228. $35 a ticket. Seating is limited and planned…You’ll have the low down February blues if you miss this.

“There’s no boogie woogie-blues piano man out there today who pounds the 88s with the conviction of Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne.” Jeff Johnson – Chicago Sun Times

“You’ll jump, you’ll jive and have a great time as Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne does his boogie woogie piano/singing on “Let It Loose.” Performing with a panache, he mixes lively originals with covers.” Jonathan Takiff – Philadelphia Daily News

Hailed by Living Blues magazine as “an artist bringing the piano back to the front ranks of Contemporary Blues”, Kenny Wayne is at the forefront of modern day blues piano practitioners. Well versed in the New Orleans Blues and Jazz tradition by his Louisiana born parents — soaking up the exquisite grooves laid down by Fats Domino, Roosevelt Sykes, Professor Longhair and Pete Johnson — Kenny has along the way picked up a taste for Kansas City Swing and West Coast Jump. Working with artists as diverse as Jimmy Reed, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rhodes, Jeff Healey and Joe Louis Walker has added a tasty seasoning to the mix.

Born Kenneth Wayne Spruell in Spokane, Washington in 1944, Kenny and his family soon moved to Los Angeles where the vibrant West Coast blues scene was headquartered. A child prodigy on piano, Kenny was encouraged by his strict father to play gospel music. But with Los Angeles boogie woogie pianists ruling the airwaves in the early 1950s, not to mention North American wide recording star Fats Domino, it was impossible for the elder Spruell to keep young Kenny’s ears free of the “Devil’s music”. Apparently, neighbors of the Spruells were treated to the sounds of boogie woogie via the church pipe organ after young Kenny coaxed his piano teacher to show how to get his left-hand bass going.

By the time Kenny reached his early teen years, he was an accomplished keyboardist. With his cousin Henry Avery, a drummer with a growing R&B reputation and a knack for hustling gigs, Kenny worked dozens of gigs in the early ’60s, several backing visiting blues/R&B legends including a 1962 appearance at the Alpha Bowling Club with the great Jimmy Reed Ð the biggest blues hit record king of all time, with #1 records on the charts for a span of 8 years. Kenny’s parents came to the club that night to hear their son play piano with the blues legend.

Everything Reverend Spruell feared about the “Devil’s Music” came true that night. The club was crowded, smoky and wild and before long a vicious brawl erupted and one man attacked another with a broken bottle, blood spraying everywhere. As Kenny recalls with a chuckle, “my Dad grabbed my mom with one hand and ran up to the stage and yanked me off the piano bench and led us through the kitchen and out the back exit…that was the end of my blues career for over 20 years”.

Meanwhile the West Coast Soul circuit was taking off and by the late 1960s Kenny Wayne was in tight with the Los Angeles R&B scene. Kenny quickly became first-call keyboardist for live club and concert dates around L.A. Work with Billy Preston, Sly Stone and The Doobie Brothers soon followed. Kenny later put together an R&B revue called The Mighty Ken Explosion and headed north to Canada. When the band broke up in the late 1980s  band members settled in Vancouver. Kenny’s reputation as a talented keyboardist put him at the top of everyone’s on-call list and Kenny established himself not only with the R&B circuit, but also with the blues and jazz communities.

Kenny’s solo debut, 1995’s Alive And Loose, showcased his boogie woogie virtuosity and featured 11 originals plus dynamic covers of Jimmy Reed and Fats Domino tunes. The CD received rave reviews from the blues press all over Europe and North America. Over and over the critics praised Kenny’s charismatic delivery and attention-riveting originality. In 1997, Kenny recorded the critically acclaimed Blues Boss Boogie — his second Juno-nominated (Canada’s Grammy) release in a row.

In 2002 came the release of Kenny’s, “88th & Jump Street” on Canada’s premiere blues label, Electro-Fi Records. 2002 also saw the release of “Blues Carry Me Home” recorded in Paris. In 2005 Wayne released his second CD for Electro-Fi “Let it Loose” which was widely successful, earning him his first Juno Award in Canada. 2008 saw the release of “Can’t Stop Now.” In 2011 Wayne signed with Stony Plain Records and paired up with guitarist and producer Duke Robillard for “An Old Rock on a Roll” and Kenny received his first nomination from Living Blues magazine as “Most Outstanding Musician (Keyboards)” In 2012 Kenny was voted “Most Outstanding Musician (Keyboards)” by Living Blues Magazine and “An Old Rock on a Roll” was voted Best Contemporary Blues Album of 2011 by Living Blues as well.Kenny Wayne has earned his title, and he’s having fun. “This old rock IS on a roll,” he laughs. “Just give me a piano and an audience, and everybody’s gonna have some serious fun!”

Meet the conductor

Lars KaarioLars Kaario, conductor, singer and educator, has a great love and commitment towards the choral arts.   He has a special ability to inspire singers and instrumentalists and effectively communicate the enjoyment and subtleties of music to his audiences.  His tremendous energy coupled with his excellent organizational skills and programming abilities have helped to characterize his concerts as “unforgettable, delightful, beautiful, and deeply satisfying musical experiences.”

When he comes on the Venables stage with the Capilano University Singers Friday, February 5th at 7:30 pm we can expect an unforgettable evening of choral music.

Mr. Kaario is an ardent supporter of young musicians and composers and regularly commissions new works.  He is the Director of Choral Studies in the music program at Capilano University.   He directs both the Capilano University Singers and the Capilano University Festival Chorus.   He is also the head instructor in the University’s Conducting Certificate Program.

Lars is founder and director of the acclaimed professional chamber choir, Laudate Singers.   Other ensembles he has directed include Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra, CBC Orchestra, West Coast Symphony, West Coast Summer Music Festival Orchestra and Chorus, Vancouver Cantata Singers, Greater Vancouver Operatic Society and Theatre Under the Stars.  He himself has performed leading roles in opera, light opera and music theatre.  In oratorio, he has been tenor soloist in such works as Bach’s B minor Mass , Beethoven’s Mass in C Major, Dvorak’s Stabat Mater, Handel’s Messiah, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Mozart’s Requiem with many of BC’s major choirs and orchestras.

Heritage Society receives special project funds

Maps and Plans pictureThe Oliver and District Heritage Society is proud to announce that they are the recipients of a Documentary Heritage Communities Program grant from Library and Archives Canada. The funding, $10,300, allowed staff to undertake a special four month project which began in late December 2016.

The funding will be used to properly archive and record almost 800 maps and plans that were donated to the Society as part of the South Okanagan Land Irrigation District fonds in 1997. A previous project provided for the proper storage and numbering of each item, this is the next and final step to completing this portion of the fonds. Each map/plan will be properly photographed and have a digital record created within our special artifact management software. These records will make accessing, copying and researching the material much easier.

Please come visit us to see how the project is progressing and learn more about the services of the Oliver Archives.


Photo: Some of the maps and plans that will be a part of this project.

WOW Trade Show booths available


The Women of Oliver for Women announce that entry forms are available for the “Mainly for Women” Trade Show.  Download them here, at the bottom of this article, or on their website located here: wowoliver.org 

The trade show began in 1993 as a fundraiser for Soroptimist International of Oliver. When that group disbanded in 2003, the Trade Show continued through the work of the WOW Club. Its title “Mainly for Women” reflects their mission statement, with funds raised going to support projects which focus mainly on women and children within our community.

Trade show displays feature everything from beautifully handcrafted jewelry to pottery, wood crafts, fibre art, health products and services, real estate and investments, home improvement, fashion, food, and many more themes. It occurs every February, on the third Saturday of that month.  Forty to sixty individual vendors showcase their wares in the Oliver Community Centre.  A lunch and snack area is available.

If you would like to be part of the next Trade Show, please download the

WOW Trade-Show-Entry-Form

and the


Cast creates chaos in SOAP’s Noises Off

Noises Off Cast sm

Slamming doors and jamming doors.  Crashing props.  Brandished  axes.  Bottles of whisky.  Dropped trousers and dropped plates of sardines. Prat falls and brawls. Farce is all about noise and sight gags, and SOAP’s upcoming comedy promises to be jam-packed with hilarious action. Noises Off by Michael Frayn runs three evenings, Thursday January 21 to Saturday January 23, at the Frank Venables Theatre, at 7:30 p.m. One matinee, on Saturday January 23 is at 1:00 p.m.

Noises Off takes its title from a stage direction for sounds coming from behind-the-scenes. This backstage farce follows a hapless company of actors as they limp through the final dress rehearsal of an English sex comedy (and play-within-a-play), Nothing On.  Muddled lines, collapsing set, love triangles, artistic temperament, and one clueless blonde in lingerie are driving the cast’s bullying director, Lloyd Dallas, to madness. In this case, the “noises off” are the unplanned crashes and screams of the actors as the play-within-a-play slowly disintegrates into chaos.

Lloyd (played by Trevor Leigh) directs a bumbling cast: diva Dotty (Carrie Lyle), tongue-tied Garry (Craig Bjornson), dim-witted Freddy (Nathan Linders), reliable Belinda (Penelope Johnson), alcoholic thespian Selsdon (Michael Ryan) and ditzy ingénue (Robin Stille). Lloyd is aided by his stage managers, love-lorn Poppy (Jen Jensen) and overworked Tim (Brohm Dason).

The audience is treated to three versions of Nothing On (the play-within-a-play).  Act 1 immerses the audience in the disastrous dress rehearsal, with director Lloyd shouting last-minute instructions from the seats, and other actors making their arrival onstage from different points in the theatre. After an intermission when the set is revolved, Act 2 reveals a brawling backstage view of their touring performance.  Act 3 is the riotous closing night, when all lines are abandoned and cast of Nothing On must improvise their way to the final curtain.

The revolving set, a 16th century millhouse, is as much a character as the cast. Designed and built by Shawn Henderson  and Craig Bjornson, the two-storey set revolves twice during each performance, to reveal both the onstage and backstage action.  Director Ted Osborne holds the reins on this careening comedy, aided by stage manager Diane Gludovatz. Aimee Grice makes her debut as producer with the help of countless volunteers.

All performances are at the Frank Venables Theatre in Oliver, due to the complexity of the set.  Noises Off advance tickets are $18 at Sundance Video in Oliver and Your Dollar Store with More in Osoyoos. Tickets at the door are $20. More information at www.soplayers.ca and info @ soplayers.ca

Pictured from top: Brohm Dason, Craig Bjornson, Nathan Linders, Penelope Johnson, Trevor Leigh, Jen Jensen, and Robin Stille collapse through the mill door in SOAP’s Noises Off

Education bursary available for women

WOW SilverfoxIf you are a woman who needs to return to school to better your life, the Women of Oliver for Women (WOW) would like to help. The WOW Education Award ( $1000) is presented to a woman who is needing to upgrade her education in order to return to the workplace and support herself and her family.  Applications are due by January 31st.  An award is presented in March.

Not all applicants will be selected for awards, but you may be eligible if you:

  • Provide the primary financial support for your family.
  • Have financial need.
  • Are currently enrolled in a vocational/skills training program or an academic degree program, and have successfully completed one semester.
  • Provide an official transcript copy from your current educational institution showing a listing of your educational record.
  • Are motivated to achieve your education and career goals.
  • Reside in the South Okanagan.
  • Do not have a graduate degree.

In order for applicants to be fairly judged, forms from two references must be sealed and submitted with each application. Your application will be reviewed by a committee comprised of members of the Women of Oliver for Women organization (WOW), but all information will remain confidential and will not be shared without your prior permission.

You can download an application form and reference forms here:

WOW-Education Application

WOW Education Reference Form

Visit our website at wowoliver.org for more information about Women of Oliver for Women

Left to right: Janet Montgomery, Michelle Weisheit, Janis Silverfox (2015 recipient of award), Cathy Gushalak and Diane Worth

WOW is a member group of the Oliver Community Arts Council.