Soak in the culture during the Muskoka summer concert season at these performance venues and musical festivals.
BY LINDA LUONG
CHARLES W. STOCKEY CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
This beautiful timber-framed multi-use facility built in 2003 sits on 3.5 acres of expansive lakefront land, and features a 480-seat performance hall as well as the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame. Legendary country singer Willie Nelson arrives in town on June 18 at the Bobby Orr Community Centre for an exclusive live show with his family. The centre is best known as the home of the annual Festival of the Sound, which has celebrated chamber music since 1979. Running from July 18 to August 11, this year’s lineup includes the New Zealand String Quartet, which honours masterpieces by Beethoven and Brahms on July 24, and the Cecilia String Quartet offering pieces by Haydn on August 1. The festival also offers a “Bach Around Town” program with Baroque music performed at various stages around Parry Sound.
THE KEE TO BALA
This venerable concert hall has featured a diverse roster of performers since its inception in 1942. In fact, many acts of the 1940s and ‘50s went out of their way to ensure a tour stop at this popular seasonal stage. The greats like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Count Basie all brought their big-band sounds to the Muskoka region; in recent years the venue has rocked away many a starlit night with the likes of The Tragically Hip, the Sam Roberts Band, Sloan, Arkells and Sum 41.
A bronze statue of artist Tom Thomson greets patrons at this 408-seat auditorium that has hosted plays, concerts, comedians, art exhibits and more since opening in 2005. Located in downtown Huntsville, the venue is a natural gathering spot for events and community celebrations. Each summer, the Huntsville Festival of the Arts takes centre stage with an eclectic selection of performers like flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook (July 5 and 6), fiddlers Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy (July 25), rocker Hawksley Workman (August 10) and Canadian icon Bruce Cockburn (August 27 and 28).
GULL LAKE ROTARY PARK
This waterside setting is the perfect spot for live concerts under the stars. Each Sunday from June 23 to August 18, masses of music lovers armed with lawn chairs congregate here for Music on the Barge. A tradition since 1959—Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, were in attendance at the very first show to see the Barrie Central Band—it highlights a variety of genres, including jazz, Dixieland, country, big band and ‘50s-style rock and roll. Elvis Presley, or rather impersonator Anthony Von’s facsimile of him, plays his hits on July 7, and an homage to country legends Johnny Cash and Tammy Wynette will have the audience two-stepping it on August 4.