Bergmanns’ chemistry right on key

by Jan Nelson

Amazing technique, dazzling arrangements and a hilarious, if not subtly passive-aggressive, curated introduction to each piece underscored the Bergmann Duo’s brilliant dual piano performance at the Frank Venables Theatre on November 15, 2019.

Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann of the Bergmann Duo last visited Oliver in 2013. The new Frank Venables Theatre was still under construction and the Southern Okanagan Concert Society hosted the Duo at the Alliance Church. They have performed at concert halls across the North America and Europe and have graced the stages of Oliver twice. Although their home base in White Rock makes it easier for the Bergmann Duo to visit us, I am sure the audience’s reception of the performance made it a worthwhile trip over the mountains to visit our beautiful town.

She is from Medicine Hat, Alberta. He is from Munich, Germany. They both studied together at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hannover, Germany, and the Universite de Montreal, and rather than become competitors they decided to perform together. Elizabeth and Marcel’s partnership works on a variety of levels; they are both musically gifted, they love the same music, he is a composer and arranger who arranges much of their repertoire, she enjoys playing his arrangements, and they can spend countless hours practicing, travelling and performing together and still enjoy sharing the same stage!

Marcel is a wonderful arranger. If the Bergmann Duo wants to play a piece that is not available in a two piano arrangement, Marcel writes his own. The programme featured arrangements of pieces by JS Bach, Gershwin, Tango pieces from Piazzolla and a flamenco piece by Chick Corea, and they were all fabulously executed. The way Elizabeth and Marcel introduced each piece was especially insightful – the historical context of Debussy’s ‘En blanc et noir’, a piece written during the First World War featuring themes from French and German musical styles and scenes of war, could be clearly heard in the performance. The tango and flamenco themes introduced in the second half were perfectly placed in context, which heightened the audience’s enjoyment of the arrangement. The programme’s variation (some ‘quirky’, some ‘comedic’, some ‘heavy but not too heavy’) exposed the audience to wide assortment of styles, genres and pieces, and judging by the audience’s two standing ovations, the selections were perfect.

Elizabeth and Marcel’s chemistry on stage made a winning combination. The friendly banter between pieces shows the playfulness and comfort they enjoy as performers. While performing, their communication was punctuated by smiles, glance and even the odd raised eyebrow. It kept them in perfect synch throughout the whole performance.

I am soon entering my fifth decade of enjoying Southern Okanagan Concert Series’ concerts (gulp), and I am amazed the series continues with as much energy and support as it had back when I was five. I appreciate the performances in a different way now, and I am thankful to my parents for bringing me to many concerts during my childhood. I was particularly happy to see some younger audience members enjoying the performance (tickets for children are almost free!), and I hope this concert helped inspire them with their lifelong connection with music.

The Southern Okanagan Concert Society would like to thank their generous local sponsors for the 2019-2020 season. The next concert is Lizzy Hoyt, one of Canada’s premier Celtic-folk performers, on January 29, 2020. If you are looking to share a great experience with your loved ones in the New Year, this concert would make an excellent Christmas present for young and old ones alike. Tickets are available online or at the Venables Theatre.

Holly-day mood at concert

The Holly Jolly Oliver! concert will light up smiles on Sunday November 24. Local choirs, dancers, and musicians celebrate winter festivals and fun. The family-friendly event begins at 2:30 p.m. at the Venables Theatre. Admission is by cash donation, with proceeds going to the Oliver Food Bank.  In addition, the event is a drop-off for food bank goods.

The Oliver Elementary Handbell Choir creates a winter mood in the Venables atrium, filling the space with sparkling tones. Jazz vocalist Bianca Berkland will entertain on piano during intermission. 

New performers join Holly Jolly this year. Soul Funktion Dance Studio and Sparkle Dance Academy also strut their stuff. Expect a little bit of bhangra dance in the mix! The rafters will echo with the deep tones from the Okanagan Christian Men’s Chorus, including a Caribbean carol and some hillbilly gospel. Songstress Aimee Grice takes the stage with some heartfelt ballads. A duet from Pl@ss performs a “Snow” dance, with a surprise for the audience thrown in.

SOAP Theatre offers a sneak peek of “Bob’s Your Elf”, their upcoming Christmas comedy by Canadian Norm Foster. Part “Grinch”, part “Elf”, Bob gets an assignment from Santa to help him mend his grouchy ways.  

Back by popular demand is country rock duo Rebel Luv. Tiny Toes from The Dance Studio of Oliver will delight anyone with a soft spot for pre-schoolers dancing.  Gifted siblings Kelan and Laura Harty return to the piano, with an eclectic mix of tunes. JoAnn Turner performs a humorous reading (you try counting all the birds!).  Holly Jolly wouldn’t be complete with Lori Martine conducting her two talented choirs. The Sage Valley Voices and OES Chorus open and close the concert

Everything wraps up with a rousing audience singalong of “Holly Jolly”. Children will receive goodie bags as they leave.  

Holly Jolly Oliver! is produced and presented by the Oliver Community Arts Council. Grand piano courtesy of the South Okanagan Concert Society and Marley dance flooring courtesy of the Oliver Community Theatre Society.

Elf needs self-help

Bob’s Your Elf is the perfect family comedy for the holiday season.

You will recognize The Christmas Carol, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, The Night Before Christmas and even the Nativity as the small-town Thithleville Thespians make an attempt to put on a Christmas play that needs some serious work.

In comes Bob, a real live Elf sent by Santa to save the day. Unfortunately, Bob is one miserable and incompetent Elf who first needs to learn a lesson or two about the Christmas spirit.

“You’re bringin’ us down Bob. You’re bummin’ us out…and that’s why I’m sending you away,” said Santa.

Bob the Elf is banished from the North Pole for his bad attitude. Santa sends him to help with a small-town Christmas pageant, where he meets a group of bumbling actors trying to put on Christmas show. Of course, undecided on a theme, they combine the Nativity, A Christmas Carol, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Night Before Christmas into one show. This a hilarious family comedy filled with holiday spirit.

​There will be laughs, silliness, confusion and some tender moments before you know the answers in time for Santa’s big night.

A play full of laughs and just in time for Christmas. Suitable for all ages.​ See our special pricing for children to attend this show.

Written by Norm Foster, Directed by Denny Kaulback

Friday November 29 and Saturday November at 7:00 pm
Sunday Matinee December 1 at 2:00 pm
​Friday December 6 and Saturday December 7 at 7:00 pm

Single Show Ticket Prices
Adults Day-of-the-Show $25/person
Adults in Advance $23/person
Group of 10 or more Adults $19/person (use promo code GROUP)
Students Day-of-the-Show $15/person
Students in Advance $13/person
Children 12 and under $10/person (Special price – this show only!)

Ringing and singing

Let the sweet sound of the bells ring in the season! There is nothing like their ethereal tones to lift your spirits.
The Oliver Handbell Ringers and Singers present their Christmas concert
A Festive Celebration
Thursday December 12
7:30 p.m.
Sunday December 15
3:00 p.m.
Oliver Alliance Church
Freewill offering

Support of the Oliver Community Arts Council is gratefully acknowledged.

A Scrooge to make you smile

Just in time for Christmas, DuffleBag Theatre returns to Oliver Friday December 13 with A Christmas Carol. DuffleBag creates theatrical magic by inviting audience members on stage as stars of the show in this timeless classic.

Penny-pinching miser Ebenezer Scrooge is well known across Victorian London for being far more interested in making money than friends. Above all else, he hates Christmas time and its spirit of giving. On one particular Christmas Eve, several spirits give Ebenezer the surprise of his life, as they whisk him off on a magical journey through past, present and future, to show him the true meaning of the season. From Fezziwig to Tiny Tim, all the favorites are included in DuffleBag Theatre’s exuberant version of the Charles Dickens Yuletide classic!

A Christmas Carol is part of Venables Theatre’s Family ShowTime Series which includes Samajam – Rythmo 2 on Friday January 24th, Will’s Jams, (from CBC Kids) on Friday February 21st and Uzume Taiko on Saturday April 18th.

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) as well as The Coast Oliver Hotel.

A Christmas Carol will delight our audience members on Friday December 13th at 6:30 at Venables Theatre, (6100 Gala Street in Oliver). Tickets are $12.50 or purchase tickets to all four shows for only $40! For more information visit

No heartache tonight

Almost sold out! Grab your tix before they are gone, gone gone!
Eagle Eyes Tribute Band
Friday November 22
7:30 p.m.
Venables Theatre, 6100 Gala Street

Eagle Eyes is considered one of North America’s greatest Eagles tribute bands. Eagle Eyes has taken great care and dedication in recreating the harmonies and capturing the magical harmonies that The Eagles are renowned for.

From Vancouver Island, the four members of Eagle Eyes have over 120 years of combined experience as professional touring musicians, honing their musical and vocal skills.

Crossing over from classic rock to country rock with an extensive repertoire of Eagles hits, Eagle Eyes is a must see for Eagles fans!

Eagle Eyes Tickets

Belle Plaine at Firehall Brewery

Belle Plaine is a singer/songwriter who was raised on the Canadian prairies. Her brand of roots music combines vintage blues and swing tones of the 1940s with classic country styles made popular in the heyday of the Grand Ole Opry.

Tuesday November 26
6:00 p.m.
Firehall Brewery
Lower Level, 6077 Main Street, Oliver, BC
info @
778-439-BEER (2337)

Only 45 seats downstairs at the Beer Shop & Social, so ticket sales are capped at 45, which will very likely sell out in advance. Get your ticket for Belle Plaine today at:
Belle Plaine Tickets

FRI, SAT 12PM to 9PM

Gallery warms you up

Oliver Sagebrushers Art Club and S.O. Photos & Art present art works during Oliver Light Up on 6218 Main Street. Look for the angled doorway just north or Oliver Shoes (the Pur Zen entrance). Wander the lovely hallway, lounge on the couches, and sip warm refreshments. Let art take the chill off!

Medici’s goes live November 1

After taking the summer off, Friday Night Live (Open Mic Night) returns to Medici’s Gelateria & Coffee House. Drop by 522 Fairview Road (Oliver) on Friday November 1 from 7 – 10 p.m. Kick back on a couch and relax, warm up by the cozy fireplaces, order a mochaccino, and hum along. Feeling the beat? Bring your music and voice and give us a tune!

Stay up to date on the lunch specials by following Medici’s on Facebook (click link)

Juno-winning blues guitar

Tickets for Juno Award and Great Canadian Blues Award winner Ken Hamm are selling like hot cakes! Ken Hamm will be returning for his Okanagan fans on WEDNESDAY, October 30th, and we’re looking forward to another sell-out show. Tickets are limited, get your tickets while they last by clicking this link:

Ken Hamm at Firehall Brewery.

Ken Hamm is a well known acoustic solo musician based in Forget, SK. His playing is influenced by early blues recordings and a love of oldtimey music, resulting in a varied repertoire of original and traditional songs ranging from metalguitar driven hardedge blues workouts to softer dobro and banjo pieces. His main influences include Ry Cooder, Mississippi John Hurt, John Fahey and John Hartford.

Ken learned to play during the 1950s, when guitar slingers like Elvis, Buddy Holly, and the Ventures prevailed. In the 60’s, music went through coffeehouse folk and electric rock and clues phases, and Ken was swept up by these influences,playing in blues based bands in Thunder Bay like Tundra and the Bay St Blues Band, and eventually going acoustic with the release on vinyl of Ken Hamm and Friends in 1978.That LP led to a string of positive reviews and nominations in publications like Guitar Player magazine.

A Juno award in 1991 was followed by the Great Canadian Blues Award in 2010.Hamm has recorded 8 CDs to date, the most recent a double disc live collection released in 2006.

After some time in Calgary, and 25 years living in coastal BC,Ken moved to Forget,SK in 2007, and married his wife Heather there in 2009. For nine years they operated a small music store including teaching and instrument repairs

Another combination began when Heather Peat Hamm released Blue Gramma,her first book of prairie poetry and drawings, and now they do some shows together. Ken is also currently involved in producing and recording projects close to home,including an upcoming new solo release slated for 2017.

Save those sweets for us!

Avoid temptation after Hallowe’en! The arts council welcomes your donations of leftover candies to add to the goodie bags at the Holly Jolly Oliver concert in late November. We are looking for NON-Hallowe’en-y treats, so you can eat all the orange and black gummies and chewy zombie body parts yourself.  Must be commercially produced and individually wrapped, for food safety, and small enough to fit into sandwich baggies.

Your bagged goodies can be dropped off at
TELUS Store at Oliver Place Mall
9 – 5 Monday through Friday
10 – 4 Saturday

Questions or other arrangements: OliverCAC @

Bergmann piano duo set to dazzle

What could be better than hearing one fine musician on a grand piano? Why, hearing two fine musicians on two grand pianos of course!

That is what the South Okanagan Concert Society is offering when the Bergmann Piano Duo perform at Venables Theatre 7:30 pm, Friday, November 15. Last here in 2013, Marcel and Elizabeth Bergmann were an enormous hit. He from Munich, Germany and she from Medicine Hat, Canada met at music school in Hanover, Germany. They became a couple and started playing together in 1989.

Innovative and versatile, this appealing duo present a masterful achievement of‘brilliance, rhythmic vitality and melodic shaping. Performing internationally, they play an eclectic mix of classical and contemporary pieces including their own original compositions and arrangements. They have won awards all over Europe with their virtuosic dedication and the instincts of professional entertainers. They also have won Western Canadian Music Awards for their outstanding classical recordings.

Tickets for the concert are available at the Venables Theatre website (click link) or at the theatre box office Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10 to 3 pm. Generous sponsors make ticket prices very affordable. Two or more tickets in advance are only $21/ticket. Single tickets in advance are $23 and at the door $25. Youth are almost free’ at $2.50. We want the younger generation exposed to quality music.

As well as performing careers, the Bergmanns enjoy teaching and have been on faculty at Mt. Royal University and the University of Calgary. They work in other capacities in the music industry and promote the Banff Centre for the Arts. At present, they live in White Rock and love the ocean and the natural surroundings there.

Elizabeth says, “There is order, patterns and structure evident in nature similar to that in music. Nature and music feed our souls.” Marcel particularly likes to invent his own arrangements of contemporary repertoire. He enjoys “built-in opportunities for free variations and improvisational elements while still following a well established overall form and structure.”

Don’t miss this event. If the Bergmanns are half as good as the last time they performed here, you will be more than happy! Come and travel where the muse has taken them in recent years.

At the Firehall Brewery

After our TGIF 4 o’clock Social (Friday Oct 25), we are proud to host the October Dinner Dance Party for Sarren! It starts at 6:30 pm and is $20 to join the cause, and you get to enjoy dinner by Pappa’s Firehall Bistro and music by Jeremy Messenger.
Our dear friend and Firehall Jam Night regular, Chef Sarren Wolfe of Penticton, is fighting a terrible cancer, Multiple Myeloma, and while he is doing the hard work of healing and beating this unwelcome invader, it’s up to us Friends of Chef Sarren Wolfe to surround him with all the love and support we can. Tickets available on our Event Webpage: Firehall Brewery Events
Pie Bakers Wanted! Our Third Annual Pumpkin Pie Contest is on Saturday, November 9th. We supply the sugar pumpkins, you bake your best pie, and we bring them all together for a judged tasting. The winning recipe gets made into a Pumpkin Pie Cask, which we’ll tap at the next big party here at the Beer Shop & Social. If you’re interested, register via RSVP at Firehall Brewery Events and we’ll contact you shortly after to pick up your pumpkin from the Beer Shop & Social, grown locally by Oxbow Flats Farm! May the best pie win!

Seasonful of shopping

Oliver Arts and Crafts hosts
Arts and Crafts Fair
an old-fashioned Christmas market
Friday November 15
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday November 16
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Oliver Community Hall
FREE Admission
Lunches and refreshments available for purchase.
Oliver Food Bank donations welcome
This is always THE place to get all those hard-to-shop-for presents. And also all those easy-to-shop-for presents. Seriously, the place to get all your shopping done in one fell swoop.