This double-double hot, sweet & smooth

Double Double DUO is a ‘double threat’ when classically trained international soloists, Dr. Kornel Wolak (clarinet/piano) and Michael Bridge (accordions/piano) join forces on the Venables Theatre stage Friday, November 16th. They succeed in giving classical music a modern voice through dynamic performances and eclectic instrumentation. Comedy, vituosity and musical sensitivity are used to bring their broad repertoire to life.

Collaborating since 2011, the pair have been actively touring in Poland, France and Ecuador and perform across Canada for arts organizations as diverse as the music they play – from the Ontario Philharmonic to the Calgary Stampede. Expect all-original arrangements of classical showpieces, sensitive jazz ballads and fiery folk music from around the world.

The South Okanagan Concert Society urges you to get your tickets and bring a friend. Our first concert of the season, the Marc Atkinson Trio, had the audience on their feet hammering hands together and calling for more. So often, locals hear about the fantastic concert they missed and since each group only performs here once, a miss is a miss. Don’t let that happen to you. Encourage some friends who perhaps have not been introduced to the high quality SOCS performances and get your reserved seats now!

Tickets are on sale at or at the theatre box office Tuesdays to Thursdays from 10 to 3 pm. Thanks to our generous sponsors, tickets are affordable.

Two or more tickets in advance are $21 each. A single ticket in advanced is $23. Single tickets at the door are $25. Children and youth are only $2.50. All concerts in the series start at 7:30 pm.

So who are these ‘double threat’ musicians? Of Polish origin, Dr. Kornel Wolak performs on clarinet and piano. “Control and a smooth expressivity are what make Wolak shine” (Toronto Star). He is currently pioneering collaborative research in oral articulators with the Department of Speech Language Pathology at the University of Toronto. He is an internationally renowned soloist, teacher and touring chamber musician.

Originally from Alberta, Michael Bridge (accordions and piano) was named one of CBC’s

“30 Hot Classical Musicians under 30” in 2016. He is a winner of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Medal and the Canadian Digital Accordion Championships. Active in new music, he has over 30 world premieres to his credit. He is a graduate student in accordion performance at the University of Toronto studying with Joseph Macerollo.

Arrive early at Venables Theatre for the extra treat of hearing Helen Wolfe and her handbell choir perform pre-concert in the foyer.

Marc Atkinson Trio “a wild ride”

Marc Atkinson Trio with Cam Wilson,

Concert Review, Oct.12, 2018
by Bob Park

This was the second time this year that the South Okanagan Concert Society has had both Marc Atkinson as well as Cameron Wilson on stage at the Frank Venables Theatre. Last winter, we heard Atkinson as accompanist to the lovely gypsy cabaret singer, Cari Burdett. Listening to Atkinson as a side man is a bit like seeing a Ferrari idling in a parking lot.

Last night, as many in the audience had hoped, the Ferrari was going around the corners at high speed, with its pedal to the metal. Cam Wilson the dazzling, versatile classical violinist—whom we heard in March as part of the Joe Trio — was a perfect match for this tour de force.

There’s something magical about seeing a group of musicians with 30’s era Selmer jazz guitars, and upright bass and a violin. It immediately conjures up images of jazz clubs in the 1930’s in Paris . It evokes the music of the ultimate gypsy jazz guitarist, Django Reinhardt, whose legacy is so influential that these days, — almost a century later— there are countless festivals worldwide and legions of guitarists dedicated to  preserving his music.

Marc Atkinson and Cameron Wilson are among Canada’s best known practitioners of the Gypsy Jazz art. Along with rhythm guitarist, Chris Fry, and bassist, Scott White, it was apparent that they were going to take things to a “further-out” direction. Instead of being a “What did Django do?” this program was more a “What would Django do today?”

What we got was a wild ride through , for the most part, original compositions by Atkinson that showed all kinds of influences from Bach chorales to Piazzolla Tangos, as well as Chet Atkins style “chicken pickin’“ Listening to jazz , it’s always interesting to try to get a sense of the balance between “worked out” material and improvisation. On this night the group was tight, with lots of interesting “worked out” arrangements, but there was also plenty of spontaneity happening. “All of Me” becomes “Five Foot Two” which turns into “The Street where You Live” and “When you’re Smiling”. As the tunes went by, we could recognize “A-train”, “ Mood Indigo” , et cetera! (Did they really plan to go into the A&W Root Beer commercial, or did that just happen in the joyful spirit of the moment?)

Judging by the laughter, the smiles, the eye contact, the cues, the asides, it was clear these four musicians were having fun. They were enjoying each others’ playing and the surprising twists and turns the music was taking as much as we, the spellbound audience, were enjoying it all. Of course, to be able to improvise at that level takes superb musicianship, and do these guys ever have it!  (How does ANYBODY get that good?—Maybe you start with “She’ll be Comin’ around the Mountain” and imagine you’re Paganini to produce the most virtuosic version in existence)

After all this high energy it seemed a fitting finish when, as an encore, we were treated to Django’s hauntingly beautiful “Nuages” (Clouds). With this hymn to French resistance during their darkest days (the “clouds” of occupation,) a bit of “40’s Paris” came to us in Oliver. From start to finish, this concert was a gift to us of an authentic version of gypsy jazz. To each of the musicians: Merci Beaucoup!

Next month, on November 16th, at 7:30 pm, the South Okanagan Concert Society is bringing yet another set of lively musicians to the Frank Venables stage. Don’t miss “Double Double Duo”. With clarinet , accordion, and piano, the duo will bring us good cheer during any November chill. They come with a sense of humour, virtuosity and musical sensitivity. (Oh,don’t forget: to enhance the heart-warming experience, SOCS serves both coffee and decaf coffee during the intermission, plus fresh baked goodies from local establishments!)
For tickets , go to the Frank Venables theatre Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 -3, or to for online ticketing.

Sale to be a frenzy of fun

Come for gelato, coffee or lunch 10 am to 2 pm, Friday, October 19th at Medici’s. You will find yourself at the local Grandmothers for Africa Fall Frenzy. These hard working women like to have fun. They like to be part of the solution and not the problem . The unique and handcrafted items that will be displayed and on sale represent many ‘woman hours’ both here and in Africa as part of their creation. You will find intricate bead work, wirework animals, pashminas, jewellry, handbags, aprons, bowl buddies, new Little Traveller pins and much more. The money earned from their sale will all go to the Stephen Lewis Foundation for grassroots programs in the under resourced communities of Africa facing the brunt of an ongoing HIV/AIDS pandemic.

When you and your friends come out to enjoy getting a head start on your Christmas list, you support women thousands of miles away who carry stories of healing. The identity they form from being part of a network like Grandmothers for Africa has deep meaning for them. They come into the organization with a loss of hope and dignity but they grow because they are welcomed with love, warmth and open arms and given a place to share their life experiences. It isn’t just that the grassroots organization helps break the silence and isolation of grandmothers and kids immersed in their own grief. It is that they come together to deepen their collective understanding and develop community approaches and strategies to address the panoply of crises created by AIDS. And like women everywhere, they soon find room for laughter, for hugs, for songs and dance, for connection and the energy to move forward.

So grab a friend and come on down to Medici’s. Together we can make a difference.
If you want to join the local group, talk to any of the women in the distinctive bright yellow t-shirts with the Grandmother insignia at the event. We’d love to have you with us!

Medici’s welcomes “their” band back again

They Are Back. They began with us and now for a third time this incredible band is back. They are Our Band. They blew the roof off in the summers of 2016 & 2017. Each one an artist and entertainer: a super talented force when banded together.
Folk Road Show in this theatre will feel like your living room. They are anything but a conventional band: more a traveling folk variety show that could have been put together by PT Barnum and Bob Dylan, with Jack Kerouac consulting.

Four singer-songwriters from three continents: Dominique Fricot (CAN), Benjamin James Caldwell (AUS), Olaf Caarls (NL), Pieter van Vliet (NL). The band has toured worldwide and played hundreds of venues and festivals. Folk Road Show constantly rotates lead singers, showcasing each member while swapping instruments and supporting with soothing four-part harmonies.

Saturday October 27th. This is our huge fall finale band … ….Tickets go for $30 and we’ve already got a reserve list. Seating is assigned. Doors at 6:30 and The Folk Road Show takes the stage at 7:30…Medici’s at 522 Fairview Road in Oliver…250-498-2228

Children’s entertainer performs soon


part of the ​Family ShowTime Series

Friday October 26

6:30 p.m.

Frank Venables Theatre

More than the music, the four-time Juno winner for Best Children’s Album Sing with Fred and eight-time nominee’s body of work is about energy and emotional connection. The guy who crawled magically out of that hollow log for 12 seasons and nearly 900 episodes in the hit CBC TV show “Fred Penner’s Place” receives fan mail to this day from some of the 55 million American viewers where the show ran for four years on the U.S.’s Nickelodeon. Always building on a common theme rooted in integrity and a “belief in what I can do” he has created a lasting impact that crosses the generations and continues to grow.

Canada’s beloved children’s entertainer, Fred Penner kicks off the “Family ShowTime” children’s series at Venables Theatre this October. Millennials will fondly remember Penner crawling through a log to the enchanting land where his CBC television show took place. A gentle giant with kind eyes and an undeniable ability to make you feel good about yourself, this musical master brings 45 years of commitment, consistency and depth to a career that skillfully blends the many genres of performing and communication.

Penner’s diverse repertoire includes a prolific 12 Children’s Albums, countless energetically packed live shows for throngs of eager audiences across North America, composing the music for APTN/YTV’s Tipi Tales, and writing the score and hosting the TV documentary The Simple Way (focused on the relevant, world-wide topic of voluntary simplicity). He has, without a doubt, established himself as a fundamental part of the North American family entertainment scene. And whether it’s through CDs, videos, books or television, his cornerstone philosophy remains the same: absolute trust that his work can make a difference.

Joined by long-time cohort Paul O’Neill, Penner headlines the inaugural “Family ShowTime” series which includes Alex Zerbe: The Professional Zaniac, DuffleBag Theatre’s Sleeping Beauty and Axé Capoeira. “Family ShowTime” is presented by Venables Theatre with the support of the Community Presenters Assistance program (of the BC Arts Council and BC Touring Council) along with Tinhorn Creek and the Coast Oliver Hotel.

Fred Penner will warm our hearts on the Venables stage Friday October 26 at 6:30. Series tickets are only $40 for all four shows or individual show tickets can be purchased for $12.50. Tickets and more information can be found at



Penner is joined by long-time cohort Paul O’Neill on bass and back-up guitar.

Family ShowTime Series on sale now!
All four shows for only $40
Fred Penner- Friday October 26
Alex Zerbe- Friday January 25
Sleeping Beauty: Dufflebag Theatre- March 1
Axé Capoeira- May 10
​Individual tickets $12.50


Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize winning A Streetcar Names Desire tells the story of two sisters – one clinging to a bygone era, the other embracing the reality of post-WW2 life in America.

Now the Venables Theatre welcomes Ballet Kelowna back to the South Okanagan this fall as they bring the classic to life with their first full-length ballet, an adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Dancing between present and past, between real-time New Orleans and old-world Mississippi, the work’s dreamlike transitions are particularly well-suited to balletic interpretation.

In 2006, Simone Orlando inspired and danced the role of the sister Blanche Dubois for Ballet BC. Today, as Ballet Kelowna’s Artistic Director, she revisits the work for a new generation.

Considered Williams’ greatest drama, A Streetcar Named Desire explores poignant themes that echo today’s headlines: shifting social mores; power and dominance; gender stereotyping; and politics.

This timeless adaptation by choreographer John Alleyne, Ballet BC’s former Artistic Director, aligns with Ballet Kelowna’s mandate to encourage and promote the work of Canadian choreographers.

“John Alleyne is one of Canada’s most established and renowned choreographers. By presenting the monumental ballet, A Streetcar Named Desire, we are acknowledging his significant contribution to dance in Canada, while honouring his enormous legacy to the art form,” said Orlando.

Nine Ballet Kelowna dancers are supported by emerging artists from the Victoria Academy of Ballet to perform this stunning work. Produced with the generous support of Ballet BC, A Streetcar Named Desire is performed to the original jazz score by award winning B.C.-based composer Tobin Stokes.

A Streetcar Named Desire is presented by Venables Theatre with the support of the Community Presenters Assistance program (of the BC Arts Council and BC Touring Council) along with the Coast Oliver Hotel.

Ballet Kelowna brings their artistry to Venables Theatre October 27 at 7:30 p.m. at 6100 Gala Street in Oliver. Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for students. For more information visit

Marc Atkinson Trio performs

Friday, October 12th marks the first concert of this season’s South Okanagan Concert Society’s program. The Marc Atkinson Trio, a group described as “melodically captivating, sensually charged and ferociously, technically awe inspiring” will be the catalyst for high spirits at the Frank Venables Theatre.

Juno-nominated Marc Atkinson, on guitar, is backed by Scott White on acoustic bass and Brett Martens on rhythm guitar as well as guest artist Cameron Wilson on violin.

Marc is known for his ability to spin out seemingly impossible–to-play, breathtaking lines at will. The emotional nuance and sense of humour he brings to his work has engaged audiences for more than two decades. He draws on classical, jazz, roots, and even some rock traditions to delight his audience with new takes on old tunes and sensitive renderings of his own highly melodic compositions.

Brett Martens, pulls from his knowledge of soul, jazz, reggae and latin music. His percussive guitar feel is sensitive, yet lively and infectious. He leads and performs with many bands of his own.

Scott White is a multi-faceted bassist and music therapist currently residing in Berlin. He has performed with many of Canada’s most renowned musicians and toured the world. He manages to practice music therapy in various hospitals, compose and teach while acting as a music director for a Cirque du Soleil show in Germany.

Take all the Trio has to offer after four award winning CDs and decades of touring and then add the sounds of Cameron Wilson’s sweet and playful violin! Versatile and talented, his work showcases many genres of music. It comes as no surprise that he has performed with the CBC Radio orchestra, the Vancouver Bach choir and also with Bryan Adams, Spirit of the West and Raffi.

Tickets are on sale now at or at the theatre box office Tuesdays to Thursdays from 10 to 3 pm. Two or more tickets in advance cost $21/ticket. A single ticket in advance is $23. Single tickets at the door are $25.
Children and youth are $2.50. All concerts in the series start at 7:30 pm.