I discover that the
"Well Tempered Klavier"
is actually a sleek, shining, black
Yamaha grand piano
that graces the stage on the waterfront at the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts in Parry Sound, with sailboats on the water, seaplanes in the air and a huge CN trestle in the background to accommodate trains.
The Centre embodies its
cottage setting; horizontal panels of washed natural rock in gray and tan-toned walls are complimented by thick, indigenous timber posts and metallic balconies that surround the hall and support avid music fans, leaning over the railing to follow their favourite performers. The auditorium floor is made of contrasting light maple strips. Architects: Keith Loffler Architect + ZAS (Zawadzki Armin Stevens), Structural Engineers: Carruthers & Wallace Ltd., Acoustical Engineers: Artec Consultants Inc., and Construction Managers: ElisDon Limited have fashioned a superlative acoustical site.
In between piano works, the tuner, Ted Gerber, gives the audience an overview of the three schools of tuning which is a synonym for "tempered." It's a fascinating tidbit of miscellanea that enriches the performance for us and makes one realize that piano tuning or tempering is certainly not for the weekend athlete.
The Festival of the Sound is the flourishing Parry Sound annual summer classical music festival held from July 18 to August 11. Mark it on your calendar for next season. This summer, the Festival presents its 34th season, and celebrates the Stockey Centre's 10th birthday.
In the morning, we hear
Magdalena von Eccher
play a passionate and joyous collection of
preludes and fugues. They are introduced by James Campbell, Artistic Director of the Festival of the Sound. James has performed as soloist and chamber musician in over 30 countries with over 65 orchestras including the Boston Pops, Montreal Symphony and the London Symphony. He has been Professor of Music at the famed
Jacobs School of Music
, of Indiana University since 1988.
Our first pianist, Glen Montgomery, is a faculty instructor in the Advanced Training Program at the
Banff School of Fine Arts
. He tells us that Bach is his all-time favourite classical composer. Magdalena von Eccher, one of Canada's finest young pianists is at the University of Lethbridge Conservatory Faculty as a piano instructor. They are both brilliant. Performers here are world-class.
In the afternoon, we take in "Bach Around Town" with
on flute and
stringing her harp in a crowded St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church with its beautiful red-brick façade and large driftwood cross inside the historic sanctuary. They elicit multiple ovations.
played under the baton of Igor Stravinsky in Toronto, and appeared as a soloist at numerous international festivals, as well as with leading world orchestras and ensembles.
and in Europe with
. She gave solo recitals at
London's Queen Elizabeth Hall
and in the
Chopin Institute in Warsaw
. She teaches flute at
. They both play together radiantly on this fine sunny day.
The next day, it's the "Complete Beethoven for Two Pianos Four Hands" with
playing a duo on a single piano at Stockey. "It gets quite crowded up here," jokes a tall Anagnoson in between pieces. Piano for 4-hands only became possible in the 19th century when the "standard" 88-key piano was firmly established. Earlier fortepianos and harpsichords were too narrow for a pair of players to sit at a single instrument.
James Anagnoson is the Dean of
The Glenn Gould School, Royal Conservatory of Music
. He is a graduate of the
Eastman School of Music
and holds a Masters Degree from
The Juilliard School
. Leslie Kinton is a professor of piano performance at the
University of Western Ontario
and is on the faculty of The Glenn Gould School. He holds a Masters degree and a Ph.D. in music theory from the
University of Toronto
. The audience - composed of myriad cottagers like us and other visitors, including at least one power couple, author
John Ralston Saul
and his wife, former Governor-General,
, is thrilled with their artistry.
Besides the 480-seat Festival Performance Hall, Stockey also houses the
of Fame, an interactive hockey museum with a wide variety of photos, memorabilia and artifacts about
, born in Parry Sound. Exhibits include Orr's NHL rings, a number of his trophies and awards, some of his jerseys, a pictorial history of his career and a number of interactive games and activities related to hockey. Stockey sits on a 3.5-acre waterfront site overlooking rugged Georgian Bay. The building opened in July 2003 and runs year-round, presenting artists of excellence and celebrating exceptional athletes.
For lunch each day, we dine at two local downtown bistros, The Mad Hatter Café and The Country Gourmet, both offering tasty, inexpensive fare. Strolling along Seguin St., we discover
Bearly Used Books, a treasure trove of over 100,000 books owned by Melissa Thomson and neatly divided into various categories for easy picking. Melissa tells me that she enjoys regular customers from both Toronto and London. They use a credit system for used books and enjoy an incredible stock of Canadiana as well as other genres. You can spend hours here!
The Parry Sound waterfront also offers daily cruises on the 132-foot
Island Queen, "Canada's largest cruise ship." They offer a morning 2-hour jaunt or an afternoon 3-hour foray amidst
Georgian Bay's famed 30,000 islands
, the largest collection of freshwater islands in the world. We eagerly book a cruise for our next day!
Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review, Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Geographic Traveler, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine.
Parry Sound is a town in Northern Ontario, Canada, located on the eastern shore of Georgian Bay. Parry Sound is located 160 km (99 mi) south of Sudbury and 225 km (140 mi) north of Toronto. It is the seat of Parry Sound District, a popular cottage country region for Southern Ontario residents. It also has the world's deepest natural freshwater port.