Thirteen Strings and Two Lovebirds
The fashion gods may not have been smiling but I certainly was after choosing sensible boots on my way out the door to catch the Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra’s Heav’nly Joys Inspire concert at the downtown St. Andrew’s Church on Friday night.
For surely high heels would have stymied my icy walk to the after-party held a few blocks away at Vetta Osteria (formerly Café Paradiso).
There, Around Town caught up with Kevin Mallon, maestro and artistic director of Thirteen Strings, with his fiancée, Lisa Drouillard. She works at the science and technology-focused Networks of Centres of Excellence, begging this question: How the heck did they meet?
She attended one of his concerts a couple years ago and they got to talking while hemmed in together at the after-party. The outgoing Irishman considered slipping away to join his orchestra and choir pals over at the bar but instead listened to the little voice inside his head that told him: “What do you want to go over there for?”
Mallon and Drouillard, who got engaged last summer in Italy, have begun a new tradition of holding post-concert gatherings at nearby restaurants in lieu of the “cookies and milk” receptions that used to take place at the church venues.
At the party was Thirteen Strings board chair Rob MacDonald, a partner at Gowlings law firm, as well as a such musicians as jazz and classical bassist John Geggie, whose well-received composition, St. Andrews’ Vibrations, enjoyed its world première that evening. Too bad Geggie didn’t get to sit back and take it all in; he had to play during its performance.
CHILLY PHOTOS, WARM RECEPTION
Exposure Gallery’s latest exhibit focuses on the Arctic but the temperature was near tropical as large crowds packed the joint Thursday for the opening of photographer Michelle Valberg’s Arctic Kaleidoscope.
The show, which runs until early March, is a reflection of Valberg’s ongoing love affair with our frozen tundra. She’s travelled to the north 26 times and isn’t stopping anytime soon. “Just looking at all the photos here, I want to go back,” explained Valberg, who’s heading to Wapusk National Park near Churchill, Man. in March to photograph polar bear cubs with their mamas.
The gallery is in Wellington West Village on the second floor of Sheila Whyte’s Thyme & Again Catering store. Whyte and her husband, Clayton Kennedy, spent some time sea kayaking near Pond Inlet this past summer with David Reid of Polar Sea Adventures. The couple had bought the trip at a gala and auction for Project North, a charity co-founded by Valberg to improve the lives of children living in northern communities.
Attendees included Laureen Harper. She was seen chatting with Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa board chair Mike Baine, whom she previously met through her support for the agency’s child and youth mental health work. Baine, a retired superintendent with the Catholic school board, was also seen in conversation with Liberal MPP Yasir Naqvi regarding the public school teachers’ labour dispute (a group had protested outside his office that day).
A MIDWINTER NIGHT’S DREAM
It was midwinter madness at the National Arts Centre’s Fourth Stage as A Company of Fools drew a sold-out audience of all ages to its annual Twelfth Night Celebration for some fun and frivolity.
The high-energy theatre troupe, best known for its Torchlight Shakespeare in the park summer series, had everyone laughing with its fresh shtick.
The Jan. 5 show featured an entertaining group read of Twelfth Night with all the improv twists fans have come to expect from the Fools. Actors battled each other with silly foam swords, shouted with aplomb into cardboard tubes and tossed in some great lines:
Olivia: “Why, what’s the matter? Does he rave?”
Maria: “No, madam, the ‘90s are over.”
Musician Nick di Gaetano warmed up the crowd at the start of the night as actors worked the room selling raffle tickets. The Fools’ Al Connors and Scott Florence officially welcomed everyone using Florence’s adorable two-year-old son, Raphaël (Raffi), as a stage prop to drum up donations. The Fools surpassed their goal for the night by raising more than $3,000.
The show included guest artists Simon Bradshaw, Richard Gélinas, Catriona Leger, Margo MacDonald, Melanie Karin, Geoff McBride and Chris Ralph.
The Fools also launched their 24th season, which will see ticket prices be replaced with the popular pass-the-hat donation approach used with their Torchlight series.
CUBE GALLERY’S GROUP OF SEVEN
After finally parting ways with my soggy paper party horn from New Year’s Eve, I headed to Wellington West Village for a vernissage Cube Gallery hosted Jan. 3 for its new group portrait show, Heads Up.
There was no alcohol served — just water, juice and diet pop — but ‘tis the season for detox.
The exhibit features the works of Kristy Gordon, Katherine McNenly, Reid McLachlan, Michael Kinghorn, Elly Smallwood, Sharon Lafferty and the late Gerald Trottier.
“When I found out I had a chance to exhibit with this group, I was pretty excited,” said Lafferty, an emerging artist who took up painting as her second career (her first was in forest entomology).
Smallwood, a budding artist making a name for herself in Toronto, rolled up a couple of her acrylic portraits and brought them with her on her bus ride back home for the holidays. The graduate of the Elmwood all-girls school in Rockcliffe Park and the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) University attended the opening with her family, including her folks, well-known heritage preservationist Sandy Smallwood and Mary Anne Smallwood.
There were only a couple of found-object works in the show by Kinghorn but that’s because the Wakefield blacksmith artist has been prepping for his exhibit, Transition, opening this week at Espace Pierre-Debain in the Centre Culturel du Vieux-Aylmer.
Gallery owner and curator Don Monet was busy with clients and tending to hosting duties, which included mopping up the watery slush tracked in by the public. The arts advocate did take a moment to utter this politically charged statement to Around Town: “When we as a country grow up a little bit then we’ll have a proper portrait gallery.”