Duo Concertante: Concert Review

by Bob Park, Feb. 27, 2017

For the final concert in its 2016/17 season, the South Okanagan Concert Society presented the wonderful, Newfoundland-based, Duo Concertante. Violinist Nancy Dahn and pianist Timothy Steeves are partners in life and partners in music. Seventeen years ago we had first heard this superb duo here in Oliver, on the old Frank Venables Auditorium stage. In the intervening years Nancy and Tim have performed all over the world and received countless awards and accolades.

And here they were again, in Oliver, but this time we could welcome them to the new Venables Theatre! Of this year’s high quality concert line-up, this was perhaps the performance I was most looking forward to. In our age of electrically and digitally processed music it is refreshing to spend a few hours enfolded by the natural, un-amplified sound of beautiful instruments.

Duo Concertante reminded us what a miracle of sound in skilful hands the grand piano and the violin are! In spite of what one might expect by merely looking at their size, these instruments really were perfectly balanced. The big sound of our modern Yamaha C3 never overpowered the violin. While some brilliant minds in 16th century Italy were designing St. Peter’s Cathedral, creating the sculpture of David and painting the Mona Lisa , others invented a tiny wooden box that can fill a concert hall with sound that speaks straight to the heart—even four centuries later!

The concert opened with a seldom heard Sonata in A Major, by J.S. Bach. Instead of featuring a violin soloist with keyboard accompanist, this sonata had the violin and the keyboard on an equal footing. The counterpoint style has a melody being followed by another and often a third always playing catch-up, and each instrument takes the lead at different times. Although old J.S. Bach and the early music crowd might disagree, I think that this sonata works better with piano than with the original harpsichord, since the different voices can be separated more distinctly.

From the first movement of this sonata on, I knew we were in for a real treat. Nancy’s superb violin playing let us relax and enjoy the music, without her making us aware of how fiendishly difficult this instrument really is. The audience could sit back and let Nancy do the driving. Just one example: Nancy’s way of doing vibrato. Instead of imitating legendary violinists (Heifetz, Kreisler) with a one-speed, super- fast vibrato on all passages, Nancy varies the speed and intensity of her vibrato. On long notes in the Bach sonata she would come into the note softly with no vibration, and gradually build the volume, adding vibrato and then ending the note softly, again without vibrato. Easier said than done, and very effective. Throughout the concert, the violin became her way of expressing emotion, her personal voice.

The Bach was followed by another rarely heard work, Tartiniana Seconda, by Luigi Dallapiccoli (more fun to hear Tim say it than for me to spell it). This short four movement work featured melodies based on Baroque -era dance rhythms combined with some modern harmonies. The original Tartini theme was played with

broad triple stops on the violin. The variations allowed Tim to play some fine solo passages on the piano. This lively piece of music deserves more frequent performances.

Concluding the first half of the evening was the Brahms Sonata No.2 in A, perhaps the best known of the composer’s violin sonatas. The beautiful theme of the first of three movements is, I think, well known to violin fans, being on all those “greatest hits” CD’s! Brahms’ life and music are infused with sorrow, dignity and beauty. The slow second movement was absolutely lovely, played by Nancy with that expressive sense of dynamics that draws you in. The highlight of the night for me. This second movement changed in mood and ended with a lively tempo, tricking many of us into thinking the piece was over. The duo must forgive us for applauding; it seemed appropriate considering the magic of the moment.

The second half of the concert was given over to the Franck Sonata in A major, jokingly referred to by violinists as the “Frank Sinatra”. Not every violinist is up to performing this piece. It requires absolute mastery of all technical aspects of the violin and buckets of emotional energy. Nancy certainly pulled it off. When I focussed on Tim’s excellent piano accompaniment, it struck me that the piano part in this work is just as impossible as the violin part! I can’t think of a better way to end a wonderful evening than with that cascading triumphal melody that concludes the final movement!

After that brilliantly executed and exhausting work, it was surprising that the duo still had the energy to treat us to another technical fireball as encore. They played an arrangement of Kachaturian’s well-known Sabre Dance. Lots of fun!

What’s next for the Concert Society? “Piano Chameleons” (two pianos duel it out); “Cheng2Duo” (young brother and sister on cello and piano); “Cari Burdett and Quintet” (gypsy, folk, opera, jazz tunes, cabaret style); “Joe Trio” (court jesters of the classical). The four concerts of the 2017/18 season are already “live” on the ticket section of the Frank Venables Theatre website , as well as being accessible via the theatre box office, Tuesdays through Thursdays, and at 498-1626. Pick your reserved seats as soon as possible! Save $24 on the series, by purchasing tickets to all four concerts in advance!

james-keelaghan1by David Badger

The absolute best October night imaginable with the absolute best in Canadian talent.

The great James Keelaghan is coming to Oliver. He’s coming to Medici’s. On October 27th, one of the finest singer-songwriters in Canada will perform on our stage. If you have not heard James Keelaghan sing before you are in for a treat like none other. His songs are magical: his voice incredible. Juno Award winning James Keelaghan is one of Canada’s most successful and respected musicians, and one of the brightest stars on the world folk scene today. His touring seldom stops, taking him across North America, Europe, the UK and Australia on a regular basis.

James is the complete artist. A brilliant tunesmith who has become one of the most engaging performers of our time. You always know the journey with James is going to be great, you just never know what all the destinations are. That is why the curve on his career continues to rise.”

Award-winning American music critic and historian, Dave Marsh , stated that James Keelaghan is “Canada’s finest songwriter.” Those few but powerful words of praise say it all about an artist who continues to set the bar at a lofty height.

This is the second time in our six years history that James Keelaghan has come this way. If you missed him before then don’t make that mistake again. Thursday October 27th.Ticket are $30 and all seats are assigned. Doors open at 6:30 James at 7:30. Medici’s at 522 Fairview Road in Oliver. 250-498-2228


Friday Night Live’s “Wine Festival Madness” lands on the eve of the Fall Art Show and Sale and Hester Creek’s Garlic Festival and two days before Festival of the Grape. Lots of great visiting talent here to stomp the grape and kick the music into high gear.

Last time around we had another amazing performance from Stef and Dan Laramie. Richard, Marcel, Neil and Bianca, James, Joe 50 and even me (sorry).

Come kick the doors down with your own vibe this Friday coming. The beer is cold and the music IS of course always sooooo HOT! Marcel Morneau and our crazy talented artists will fill the night. 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 Sept 30th at 7:00 PM. 522 Fairview Road. 250-498-2228.

Tyson’s “Quartette” returns to sing

by David Badger

Here It Is……

Cindy Church, Caitlin Hanford, Gwen Swick, and Sylvia Tyson are Quartette and they are coming HERE for Christmas. If you were lucky enough to catch them in an intimate concert setting two summers ago then you know just how good they are. We thought we could have sold that show out 2 or 3 times over back then, so we are moving to the big venue at Venables to give you the concert of the season. Medici’s, along with our co-sponsors, the Oliver Grandmothers for Africa are going to give you the concert of your life! 

Since their debut in 1993, the four members of Quartette have been both publicly and critically acclaimed for their lush harmonies and delightfully diverse repertoire. These incredibly talented women are seasoned singer/songwriters whose influences range from blues and gospel to folk and country to jazz and pop.

The ladies have two Christmas CDs under their belts, “A Quartette Christmas.” and “It’s Christmas!” They deliver a unique blend of Christmas music in their trademark harmonies in a show that is truly reverent. They are more than anything else, ultimate professionals. An evening with Quartette is always magical and oh so amazing. Come have one of those!

Quartette performs at the Frank Venables Theatre on Wednesday, December 7th at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $45 each and seating is assigned. Get yours quickly at the Venables box office, online at venablestheatre.ca or at Medici’s at 522 Fairview Road. 250-498-2228


Double Header at Medici’s

On Saturday, September 17th Medici’s presents a fantastic Doubleheader Fall Classic. Two great bands will take our stage and entertain you like none other.

First up will be Mountainview Drive, a local band that has been getting a ton of attention, notoriety and well-earned celebrity here in the valley.

Corrie and Stephane are Mountain View Drive, and they harmonize the great oldies, giving a funky spin to hits from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. They’ll take you back to the good old days when lyrics told stories, and harmony soothed souls. Sinatra, The Everly Brothers, The Carpenters, Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel and on and on. These two are as smooth as silk and polished to a gleam.

After the break, a great duo, Chicken-Like Birds, who debuted their stuff at Medici’s in the summer of 2015, will step up with some sweet creative and oh-so-funky sounds.

Chicken-Like Birds, sloppy blues guitar specialist Ari Lantela and Jasmin Frederickson on the double bass sing country blues and ragtime songs about adventure, independent women, cornbread and their own strange relationship. Slap in some on-stage antics, funny stories and some endearing awkwardness and you’ve got Chicken-Like Birds!

Tickets are $20 in advance and seating is assigned. Doors will open at 6:30 and Mountainview Drive will open at 7:30.
Medici’s is at 522 Fairview Road in Oliver, 250-498-2228


Rebel Luv and Dawn rocked the park

Mikie 1

Mikie Spillett has the audience in the palm of her hand

Dawn 1

Dawn McRae belts out a solo

Yes, it really is Rebel Luv for Ken Repkow and Mikie Spillett

Yes, it really is Rebel Luv for Ken Repkow and Mikie Spillett

Dawn encourages the audience to dance

Dawn encourages the audience to dance

and they do. Here, Mikie accepts Wayne's invitation to dance.

and they do. Here, Mikie accepts Wayne’s invitation to dance.

Beamer: youth not wasted on this teen

BeamerBeamer Wigley delivered a strong performance of current country hits at Music in the Park on Thursday night. Anyone familiar with his work as an actor and singer in Penticton’s Soundstage productions will know he packs a lot of charisma and stage presence into his slender 14-year old frame. He’s mastered the country “slides and growls”, and his musical theatre background has taught him to convey the emotion of a song.  His youthful voice has an impressive range, handling the falsetto with ease, and reaching down into light baritone.

Appealing to all ages, Beamer mixed contemporary hits by Ed Sheeran and Enrique Iglesias with  some oldies by Percy Sledge and Jim Croce, putting his own style on the classics by serving them up with a side of country.

Mr Wigley was ably backed by Dustin McGifford on acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies. McGifford, a music teacher at Wentworth Music Kelowna, entertained with deft flamenco style on one Latin number, and provided some amusing “transition music”. Content to stand in the backline, this guy was a solid pro.

Most impressive of all, Beamer premiered two of his own compositions, showing some real talent with catchy melodies and an enviable way with lyrics. His romantic ballad “Greener”  was a good example. Watch for his debut album, “Meteorite” on sale this August. For this busy and gifted young man, youth is definitely not wasted.

Check out a video from the concert, and updates on Beamer’s music at www.beamerwigley.com

Next in the Music in the Park lineup: classic rock duo Timbre Wolves on Thursday July 14, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Photo by Penelope Johnson

Penticton Concert Band entertains

MITP 04-07-2013 PCB1The Penticton Concert Band opened the arts council’s Music in the Park series with some exciting rhythms, sweet melodies, and stirring harmonies on Thursday July 4 The warm sunny evening at the Oliver Community Stage (Bandshell) attracted a large crowd. The audience had generous applause for the band conducted by Gerald Nadeau.

The first set opened with the Spanish influenced “Ole!”, and continued with some lovely ballads performed by Madison Johnson, including the chestnut, Love’s Old Sweet Song.  Her warm voice was perfectly suited to the slow lyrical melody, evoking the singing style of 1930s radio. She later lent her voice to two medleys from  Moulin Rouge and West Side Story.

MITP 04-07-2013

Under Nadeau’s baton, the band has been improving by leaps and bounds over the years, with a tight, crisp delivery. Nowhere was this more evident than in the challenging Fuego de Alma, with each section solo underscored by syncopated flamenco hand-clapping from other band members. Their rousing Pirates of the Caribbean was another highlight, earning cheers from the audience. Perhaps the  best evidence of audience appreciation was the energetic dancing and leaping of a few young children. One little boy parried and thrust his way through the Pirates score, emulating Captain Jack Sparrow.

MITP 04-07-2013 Mapplebeck

Music in the Park continues every Thursday in July at the cozier venue of the Riverside Patio at the Oliver Visitor Centre (the historic CPR Station). Thursday July 11 is William Leggott on classical guitar. Thursday July 18 brings The Chaca Laca Love Machine with their funk, reggae, and Latin rhythms. This concert is our special Feed the Valley concert, sponsored by Valley First Credit Union. Bring a food bank donation!  Thursday July 25 is Okanagan Divas CindiyDoucette and Mikie Spillett sharing the stage with a mix of country, jazz, pop, and light rock. Every concert runs 6:30 – 8:30 pm. Admission by donation, with a suggested minimum of $3. Every concert has refreshments by donation (bottled water and baked goods) courtesy of Oliver Lioness Club in support of the Chloe Krueger fundraiser.

Scroll down this page to see the August lineup for Music in the Park, plus info about the Michael Burgess concert.

Don`t forget to stop by the Oliver Farmer`s Market in Lions Park on your way to the concert! Great local produce, preserves, and crafts.

Thursdays: 4:00pm-7:00pm
Open from June 27 to Sept 5, Thursdays: 8am-11am, 4pm-7pm.


1. Nadeau conducts the Penticton Concert Band while two young audience members move to the music.

2. Pirates of the Caribbean score inspires children to dance

3. Brian Mapplebeck of Oliver performs with the band.

Photo credit: Penelope Johnson

Canada's own Jean Valjean performs in Oliver

Burgess 1

Forget Les Miserables at the movie theatre. Nothing compares to hearing Mr Les Miz in person! Canada’s premier musical tenor, Michael Burgess, is slated to perform on Saturday August 3, at 7 pm at the Oliver Bandshell, brought to you by the Oliver Community Arts Council.  Really? Truly? Yes.

A small number of early-bird tickets will be sold to generate  funds necessary to cover upfront expenses. They are already selling like hotcakes, so contact the arts council to reserve yours fast. They will be sold for the unbelievably (non-refundable) low price of $20 each, a steal when Burgess commands tickets for three to five times that price.

Regular advance tickets, at $25 apiece,  will be sold at local vendors once the first 100 early birds are gone. Ticket price at the door will be $35. Stay tuned for the announcement of vendors in Oliver, Osoyoos, and Penticton,

Early bird tickets can be purchased  from committee members Bernice Myllyniemi, Penelope Johnson, Mary Fry and Stephanie Salsnek. Contact olivercac @ gmail.com and include in your request the number of tickets and preferred payment. Credit card payment can also be received directly by calling Paw Prints Studio and Gallery at 250.498-4732

A popular singer, tenor, and actor,  Michael Burgess was born in Saskatchewan but raised in Toronto. He made his professional debut in The Fantasticks (Edmonton 1968), but came to national prominence as Jean Valjean in the long-running original Canadian staging of Les Misérables (1989-92). Later, he was Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha (Edmonton 1992, Toronto 1993), and appeared in the musicals Ten Lost Years, Blood Brothers, The Fantasticks, and Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. He created the role of Victor Frankenstein in the world premiere of Frankenstein . . . Do You Dream (Hamilton, 1 Nov 2003), and of Sound Man in Brian Finley’s Rapunzel (Westben Arts Festival, 10 Jun 2005).

Although without extensive opera training, Burgess sang his first opera role in 1974 (La Bohème, at Toronto’s Dell Cabaret Theatre), and has sung for Dallas Civic Opera, Western Opera Theatre, San Francisco Opera, and Virginia Opera. As Captain Corcoran, he performed in HMS Pinafore for the Stratford Festival in 1981. He was tenor soloist in Messiah with the Bach Elgar Choir (1996), and MacHeath in The Beggar’s Opera for Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre (1995).

Perenially popular among show-tune aficionados for his solo pop concerts and soulful yet virile demeanour, Burgess has toured extensively in Canada (often accompanied by Doug Riley), and has performed with the Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg symphony orchestras and the Calgary Philharmonic. His signature song is “Bring Him Home” from Les Misérables made doubly famous beyond the theatre world when Kurt Browning used his version to perform in the 1990 World Figure Skating Championships.

He is also known in Canada for his frequent vocal performances of national anthems. Hockey fans are sure to have heard his heartfelt renditions that blow the roof off the stadium. Burgess was also the first individual to sing “O Canada” at the baseball World Series, in Atlanta in 1992

The Vancouver Sun praised Burgess’s “intense performance” as Jean Valjean: “Burgess is exquisitely moving when he sings the show’s one beautiful song, ‘Bring Him Home’ . . . .” (26 Jul 1990). Maclean’s said, “Burgess is an affecting Valjean: a solid masculine presence whose soaring spirit is captured by a pulsing tenor” (27 Mar 1989). Burgess holds the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. and recently was presented with the Order of Ontario.

Burgess performed last summer in Penticton, with 3000 in attendance. Tickets to another concert scheduled for this summer have already sold out — within days,, and at much higher prices. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear the glorious tenor which is … Michael Burgess.