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Parry Sound's Fantastic Festival of Sound
© by Mike Keenan

Stockey Centre, photo by Festival of Sound

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 Georgian Bay 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.

Bearly Used book Store - Sarah Thomson, Melissa Thomson & Kelsey Ward, photo by Mike Keenan   CN Trestle, photo by Mike Keenan   Island Queen, photo by Mike Keenan    Parry Sound Flowerbox, photo by Mike Keenan    Parry Sound Sea Plane, photo by Mike Keenan    Sailboats in Sound outside Stockey Centre, photo by Mike Keenan

     In the morning, we hear Glen Montgomery and Magdalena von Eccher play a passionate and joyous collection of Bach 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 Suzanne Schulman on flute and Erica Goodman 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.
     Goodman 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. Shulman studied with Robert Aitken and in Europe with Marcel Moyse , Michel Debost and Jean-Pierre Rampal . She gave solo recitals at Carnegie Hall , London's Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall and in the Chopin Institute in Warsaw . She teaches flute at McMaster University . They both play together radiantly on this fine sunny day.
     The next day, it's the "Complete Beethoven for Two Pianos Four Hands" with James Anagnoson and Leslie Kinton 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, Adrienne Clarkson , is thrilled with their artistry.
     Besides the 480-seat Festival Performance Hall, Stockey also houses the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame, an interactive hockey museum with a wide variety of photos, memorabilia and artifacts about Bobby Orr , 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.

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Mike Keenan

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.
- Wikipedia

If you go
Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts: http://www.stockeycentre.com/
Parry Sound Municipality: http://www.townofparrysound.com/
Welcome to Parry Sound: http://www.welcometoparrysound.com/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parry_Sound,_Ontario
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Parry_Sound
Wikivoyage: http://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Parry_Sound
About.com: http://search.about.com/?q=Parry+Sound
Fiction: http://www.parrysoundbooks.com/category/author...
Films featuring: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_movies...
Places of worship: http://www.yellowpages.ca/search/si/1/Churches...
Trip Advisor: http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Tourism-g181742-Parry_Sound...
Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=parry+sound...

Travel Aid
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Maps (Google interactive map): http://maps.google.com/
Maps (Mapquest) U.S. & Canada: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/main.adp
Maps (Mapquest) World: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/main.adp?country=GB
Media Guide (local newspapers with current listings): http://www.abyznews...
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/
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