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COLUMN: Concert to aid war-torn Ukraine hits all the right notes

Many local galleries are springing into spring and Cellar Singers are hosting virtual silent auction and gala, notes arts and entertainment columnist
Mitchell Pady and choir members in rehearsal
Cellar Singers director Mitchell Pady and choir members are shown in rehearsal. A silent auction as part of Here Comes the Sun, has already begun, while the virtual gala performance is slated for Saturday night.

I want to send a big shout-out and kudos to everyone involved in the big Ukrainian fundraising concert at St. Paul’s Centre last Sunday.

This concert was put together in just two short weeks, owing to the urgency of the appeal, but it sure didn’t show, as everything was top-notch. Organizer and driver John Jefferies and his team put together an extremely high-quality concert, musically, and a really moving event for all those there.

Mary O’Farrell-Bowers, who was in the audience, said, “I love music (all kinds) and go to many concerts and musical events, and I would say this was the most eclectic group of music and musicians…it appeared many had been professionally trained. The selection of music and songs were so appropriate to the cause.”

There were more than 300 people in the audience and the event raised over $13,000 and still counting. Online donations are still being received and you can donate online for another week, here. Event treasurer Bruce McWhinnie guesses the event could hit $15,000 before the online donations close down. Very well done, everyone!

After two long years of uncertainty, lockdowns, and very few rehearsals and concerts, The Cellar Singers are back - in a big way!

One of the Orillia area’s longest-running choirs, The Cellar Singers and Director Mitchell Pady are running a special and different fundraiser starting now and through until Saturday night. Aptly titled “Here Comes The Sun,” it is a virtual gala and silent auction, with pre-recorded performances and an online auction.

The auction is easy to access, just enter your cell number and a link is sent to you. Once you have entered your name and email, you can check out all the great items on your phone.

You can also chose to sign up on your computer and view and bid that way. You don’t have to enter your credit card until your first bid, and you can make a list of favourite items without bidding or submitting payment information.

There are lots of great items to bid on, including gift certificates to tons of local shops, restaurants and businesses: jewelry; mancave items; and art. The auction is well organized with good photos so you can see what you are bidding on. To access the auction, click here.

The gala virtual performance is on Saturday April 9 at 7:30 p.m. and you can purchase tickets via Eventbrite here.

Tickets to just watch the show are $10 plus tax, but you can add a $20 or $50 donation to the choir and bump up your ticket price, if you choose. The show features performances from Cellar Singers members. You will have to wait until the May in-person show to see the whole choir in action!

All in all, this looks like an entertaining and well-thought-out event, so grab your tickets today and get bidding too!

Also, this weekend, many of the local galleries are springing into spring with new guest artists and opening receptions.

Hibernation Arts at 17 Peter St. S. has a new group show up, aptly called “Springing”, on its guest wall. The opening reception for this beautiful group show is this Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. You can also view works by Hibernation Arts members Tammy Henry, Jon Oelrichs, and Bayside Artists.

Peter Street Fine Arts at 23 Peter St. S., just down the street, has a new guest artist, Bob Broom. This is Bob’s first time showing in public, and his works range from Muskoka landscapes to portraits, all done in acrylics. Peter Street Fine Arts is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for you to view these works and the works of the other members of the gallery.

Cloud Gallery, located in Creative Nomad Studios (CNS) at 23 Mississaga St. W., has a new Cathy Boyd show up, titled Melange. The opening reception for this show is this Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., and you must reserve a spot online here. There is an open bar with complimentary wine, beer and food.

Speaking of CNS, there are several workshops on offer in this beautiful space this spring, including paint classes for kids; The Nitty Gritty: Understanding the Details of Your Business; and a pottery workshop too! For more information and to register, go here.

CNS is also hosting a Handmade Spring Market, April 30 and May 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring many local makers and artisans. So, mark that on your calendars!

The Orillia Opera House (OOH) has a busy weekend planned, with The Stampeders 50th anniversary concert April 7 at 7:30, ABBA revisited (tribute band) April 10 at 7:30 p.m., and the big Lance Anderson An Evening of Blues and Gospel show April 9 at 7:30 p.m. To grab your tickets to any of these excellent shows, go to or call 705-326-8011.

Also coming up at the OOH, the Mariposa Arts Theatre (MAT)production of Steel Magnolias, a pandemic time in the making, is finally happening, April 21-24 and 28-30, both evening and matinee performances. Do grab your tickets for what will be an excellent evening of theatre, as soon as you can, I am sure it will sell out.

MAT is also hosting auditions for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), directed by Doug Ironside, Sunday, April 10th, 7-9 p.m., and Wednesday, April 13, 7-9 p.m. at The Common Roof, 169 Front Street South, Orillia. The show is looking for three people who are confident in their body and spirit and full of energy, and you must be available to perform outside June 29 to July 7 and be available for much of the spring to rehearse. If this description fits you, please contact Producer Michael Clipperton at (705) 739-4753 to book your audition.

Also, thespians, don’t forget the Orillia Centre for Arts and Culture’s theatre workshops this weekend. Click here for more information and to register.

Have a great first weekend of April, it feels like spring out there!

If you have arts news, send it to by Tuesday at noon to be included.