Archives go green

Oliver, BC – A few building improvements at the Oliver Archives are helping the building to “go green.” Those projects are the installation of a number of solar panels on the Archives building roof and the replacement of the building’s furnace and air conditioner.

You may have noticed the solar last week as you drove along Fairview Road. The panels were installed February 1st by Argon Electrical and Solar Services, and they are going to do big things for the Oliver & District Heritage Society which operates the Archives.

“We are a non-profit society with a limited budget. This project will help us to reduce our energy costs over the next 25 years so that more of our resources can go towards serving the public,” said Julianna Weisgarber, Executive Director for the Heritage Society.

Following a similar move by the Oliver Food Bank, the Oliver & District Heritage Society decided to go solar in 2018 under the leadership of its Board of Directors headed by President Vance Potter and former Executive Director Manda Maggs. They had been approached by local solar advocates who evaluated the building and found it suitable based on orientation and surface area. The installation was made possible by a generous bequest gifted to the Heritage Society to be used for building improvements. The final determinant was the cost-savings. It is estimated that the panels will produce 90-95% of the building’s total electricity use in a year at a fixed cost of 9 cents/kilowatt-hour. With an expected return of nearly 7% in the first year, the panels should pay themselves off in approximately 12 years and last for another 13.

The new furnace and air conditioner are also having an impact on the building’s carbon footprint. The old HVAC system was almost 20 years old, and the Board had been planning to replace it for years. The new gas furnace is more energy efficient than the old model and will significantly reduce gas consumption and heating costs. The new air conditioner has more than doubled cooling efficiency, taking it from 6 to 14 percent. Guardian Plumbing and Heating completed the installation of both units over the last week.

The new systems will help ensure the preservation of the archival materials housed inside the building by providing more stable environmental conditions during warm and cold months and improved control over temperature and humidity changes, which can damage archival records.

Both upgrades offer the benefit of enhanced sustainability, both for the environment and for the Society. To the Heritage Society, it’s a win-win situation.

New theatre manager announced

The Oliver Community Theatre Society and Frank Venables Theatre are pleased to announce that Leah Foreman has been hired as Theatre Manager.

With over 20 years experience working in theatres and performance venues, Ms. Foreman is familiar with everything from large performance spaces such as Roger’s Arena in downtown Vancouver, to mid-size venues such as the Arts Club and very small companies like Green Thumb Theatre. She’s worked in numerous venues with professional artists in all disciplines from children’s entertainers, contemporary dance, dramatic arts and comedy, to all forms of musical presentations. At times in her career she’s held a range of positions from stage manager and production manager, to operations manager, venue manager and promoter’s representative for major artists agencies, tours, festivals, venues, parades and even rodeos.

Tom Szalay, president of the Board of Directors of the Society said “We are extremely pleased to have Leah join our team as her love of all the arts, but especially the performing arts is very strong, and she backs that up with solid experience working in many aspects of theatre operations, production and presentation. And there’s a bonus – she’s actually from the Okanagan.”

Leah Foreman grew up in the South Okanagan and graduated from Osoyoos Secondary School before going on to get her Diploma in Stagecraft from Douglas College. Leah is thrilled to be able to return to the Okanagan with her young family. Her new position as Theatre Manager at the Frank Venables Theatre begins April 1.

A souvenir of a memorable evening

Duo Fortin-Poirier
Concert Review by Anita Perry*

The South Okanagan Concert Society delivered a winner in their main concert series on Friday February 15 at the Venables Theatre in Oliver. The moment pianists Amelie Fortin and Marie-Christine Poirier stepped on stage as the effervescent Duo Fortin-Poirier, the atmosphere crackled with energy.

The evening opened with Edvard Grieg’s Valses Caprices. From the engaging sense of play to the subtleties of rubato, Duo Fortin-Poirier played with beautiful control and complete understanding of the character of these two waltzes. It was a perfect beginning to the evening

Next came two selections from Antonin Dvořák’s Legends. The composer’s intent was to encourage the listener to create their own legend of the imagination. Fortunately, the Duo Fortin-Poirier made this a delightful task in providing complete expressive control and effortless melodic voicing.

The program continued with Souvenirs by Samuel Barber. Here, the ability of the Duo Fortin-Poirier to reveal the essence of the music and the composer’s meaning really shone. The “Valse” was not only lilting, but the performers also swayed gracefully, their arms dancing in time to the music. They captured the boisterous and clownish character of “Schottische”, the precision required of “Galop”, and the comic essence of “Two Steps”. Unquestionably, the highlight of this set was “Pas de Deux”, a sensuous introspective melody with sinuous and melancholic lines. Thanks to the large screen projection of the players’ hands, the audience could see how sections of the music required the performers to cross hands over each other.

After intermission, the concert continued with a lovely work by Astor Piazzolla entitled Adios Nonino. Written upon the death of the composer’s father, the music is heartfelt and anguished. Given its complexity and use of rubato, there were times the pulse was completely obscured, yet Duo Fortin-Poirier’s entries were uniformly clean. A dramatic and passionate performance.

The following composition, Chroniques d’une coupe a blanc, (Chronicles of a Clear Cut) was a new work written especially for Duo Fortin-Poirier by Quebec composer Vanessa Marcoux. This three-part work describes the lifespan of a tree, from the moment it springs into being until machines arrive to cut it down. The score required the use of experimental techniques such as tapping on the keyboard cover and dampening strings inside the piano to create an evocative and moving work.

It was during Vocalise by Serge Rachmaninoff that being able to watch the performers’ movements on the large screen was especially fascinating. While continuing to pass beautiful melodic lines effortlessly and seamlessly one to the other, the two pianists were often playing on top of each others’ hands. Amazing and exquisite.

The evening finished with William Bolcom’s, “The Serpent’s Kiss” from The Garden of Eden. (See attached video.) This rag-time number was full of humour and drama, complete with foot stomping, tongue clicking and even some whistling. Altogether a delightful romp which brought the audience to its feet in a well-deserved standing ovation.

Amelie Fortin (L) and Marie-Christine Poirier (R) of Duo Fortin-Poirier. pose with young piano students David Cai and Christian Manz. Cai and Manz performed together in the foyer of Venables Theatre prior to the concert and delighted the audience with their talent. They had been encouraged and instructed in a Master Class by Fortin and Poirier earlier in the day along with two other impressive young duos who also provided pre-concert entertainment.

It is clear Duo Fortin-Poirier understands the inherent drama of music, the subtext of each musical thought and the essence of the composer’s message. Thanks to the South Okanagan Concert Society and its many sponsors for providing this inspiring evening of music.

*Anita Perry is a Summerland music teacher, composer and reviewer.