Artistic Director Noel Edison unveiled the line-up for the 2008 Elora Festival on April 15.
The festival runs from July 11 to Aug. 3, and it is now entering its 29th season with Bringing the World of Music to Elora, and it hopes to present some of its most inspiring music and performers ever.
The festival begins with the gala opening night – Handel’s Solomon. It is the most poignant of Handel’s biblical oratorios. Guest soloists are soprano Karina Gauvin, countertenor Robin Blaze, tenor Lawrence Wiliford, and baritone James Westman.
On July 13, the stage of the gambrel barn will be graced with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Dame Kiri’s natural serenity and vocal beauty have beguiled concert- and opera-goers since her debut in 1971. After an incredible career, she embarked upon her farewell tour earlier this year which took her around the world. Elora is the only Canadian stop on this leg of that tour.
“Every year I have a wish list when I am putting together the program,” said Edison. “Dame Kiri was on this year’s list, and it’s extraordinary that, with the support and generous sponsorship of the Ministry of Tourism, this has all come together. That she would choose this little village as a venue on her final tour speaks volumes as to how successful the festival has become.”
It has grown from its beginnings in 1979 when it was a two-week event based on 16th, 17th, and 18th century music, and aptly named Three Centuries Festival. Edison has overseen its growth to a four-week event, and increased the scope of music to include a wide array of genres.
This year, in addition to the classical series, there is a jazz and popular series, a chamber series, a Starlight Jazz series, and many community outreach events. One thing remains the same – the ensemble-in-residence, the Elora Festival Singers, is still one of the biggest draws.
In 2008, the troupe will perform with the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge. “This is the first time the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge has toured in Canada,” said Edison.
Among the performers who will headline the Jazz and Popular series is Ron Sexsmith. His introspective melodies, immersed in emotional eloquence and genuine soul, echo the music of the Beatles and Neil Young.
The Classical Series includes performances by André Laplante and Destino.
The Jazz and Popular series will include Black Umfolosi, Amanda Martinez, Justin Hines and Papaduke in Hot Fusion, and Taiko, a performance of Japanese Kodo drumming.
The Chamber Series includes Jasper Wood, Yegor Dyachkov, David Jalbert, Guy Few, Nadia Mackie Jackson, Colin Ainsworth, James Bourne, Sharlene Wallace, Susan Piltch, Adrian Dolan, Kevin Muir, Ensemble Caprice, and Matthew Larkin.
The Community Outreach Series features an open rehearsal of Solomon, Fair in the Square, a Conductors’ Workshop with the Elora Festival Singers and the Choir of Trinity College, and the final round of the TD Canada Trust Young Performers Competition. Prizes of $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 are awarded to the top three finalists, and a future engagement with the Elora Festival goes to the first-place winner.
The audience now has a chance to choose their favourite performer with the newly added Kathleen Deters Audience Favourite award.
The Starlight Series this year is dedicated to Jazz Divas, and includes Laila Biali, Elizabeth Shepherd, and Sophia Perlman and the Vipers.
The Elora Festival Singers Choral Series consists of six concerts, three Evensong performances, and four Sunday morning Church Services at St. John’s Church.
A complete line-up for the 2008 Elora Festival is available at www.elorafestival.com. Tickets can be purchased by phone, 519-846-0331 or 1-888-747-7550, on-line at www.elorafestival.com, or visit the Festival office, at 33 Henderson Street.