Colours of Westben

Clockwise from top: Adam Fisher to play lead role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Canadian folk icon and Juno Award winner Sarah Harmer. World-renowned Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. Comedy duo Debra McGrath and Colin Mochrie. Photos courtesy: Westben Arts Festival Theatre

The Link, Spring 2018
| by Sharon Harrison |

Coming off a successful season celebrating Canada 150, Westben’s focus in 2018 celebrates its 19th year with a new vision and a new perspective. At an announcement made earlier in the year, Westben Arts Festival Theatre asked those present “to take a new look at Westben, to reimagine the Westben Arts Festival Theatre as the new Westben Centre for Connection and Creativity through Music.”

As a Centre, Westben will focus on promoting a year-round convergence of people, ideas and activities through music.

“It has always been important to Westben to bring people together through music…” – Donna Bennett

Marketing Director Donna Bennett said, “I would like to make the point that our name is Westben and what we are is a centre for connection and creativity through music, and what we do is bring people together through music, that’s our goal. We are asking people to just reimagine Westben as a Centre and it’s really what we have been doing already, but instead of focussing on professional summer music series with extra things going on in the year, we are now a year-round centre and that includes the summer music festival.”

“As Westben approaches its 20th anniversary in 2019, it is the perfect time to dream about what the next 20 years will look like,” said Artistic Director, Brian Finley.

“It has always been important to Westben to bring people together through music,” said Bennett. “Westben is known as the place for the community to meet, be creative, have fun and do projects together. Our evolution into a Centre will mean that we can develop many more ways of doing that, and do it year-round.”

The theme at The Barn this year will be Colours of Westben as the season kicks off in June with a full theatrical production (five performances) of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.’ This family-friendly story, described as a “happy explosion of colour,” will feature familiar themes and catchy music and will be almost entirely sung, with very little spoken dialogue.

“We are really excited about doing Joseph, a fully-staged musical with Adam Fisher and Kimberly Dafoe with area performers,” said Bennett. “It’s a combination of professional and community performers.”

Westben will be offering a series called Dare to Pair to be held over six Saturdays featuring wine tasting with expert sommeliers, delicious local food prepared by local celebrity chefs and a concert with themes of all three elements interwoven. The first will be held on June 30 and welcomes Canadian Baroque Orchestra Tafelmusik to The Barn.

“They are world-renowned, they are Canadian and a top-level baroque orchestra that specialize in baroque music. We are thrilled to be able to have them come! Tafelmusik in German is translated as “table music,” so we’re having a table feast before the Baroque Orchestra with wine and everything,” said Bennett.

Patrons are asked to explore the wonderful world of Bach through music, narration and video projections which include Sinfonias (BWV 249a), the Third Brandenburg Concerto and excerpts from the Goldberg Variations.

Comic icons and husband-and-wife team Colin Mochrie and Debra McGrath bring their one-couple show for TGIFun! This evening is described as a collection of heartwarming, hilarious stories based on 27 years of marriage and 60 years of performing around the world. “We have been watching Whose Line Is It Anyway for years, so it’s quite a thrill,” said Bennett.

Join mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta and baritone Alexander Dobson in Schumann Liederabend with Robert Schumann’s most moving works for voice and piano. A pre-concert chat with Barb Hobart and Brian Finley is included.

TGIFolk! presents an evening of favourite and new music from Canadian folk icon and Juno Award winner Sarah Harmer. This event promises to be an intimate evening with a true Canadian classic. Fridays will also feature barbecues starting at 5 pm.

“Another experience we have is a secret concert where we tell people to meet us and we take them somewhere; they don’t know where and they don’t know what they are going to hear,” said Bennett.

Westben will be repeating the Find the Birds, Find the Pianist experience again this year. “Last year it was so cool to go on a bird walk in Ferris Park and keep listening for the piano: where is he, where is he in the forest?” said Bennett. “Then we found him and had a little concert and then had breakfast together. It was great!” This year, the pianist is Westben’s Artistic Director, Brian Finley.

“One of our residencies is the performer-composer series,” said Bennett. “They are coming from the U.S. and Canada and there will be 12 of them staying at Westben for four days. They’ll be doing a Performer-Composer Showcase Concert. This is really amazing because I don’t think there is anybody east of Banff offering a Performer-Composer Residency,” said Bennett.

“We also have some really great choirs including the Vancouver Chamber Choir,” said Bennett. Westben’s Concerts at the Barn summer series concludes with the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir and the Jazz Fringe Festival.

A complete listing of Westben’s programming can be found at www.westben.ca or call 705-653-5508 or 1-877-883-5777.