We at The WholeNote are big fans of summer festivals – and we’re proud to welcome you to our fifth annual Green Pages guide to summer festivals.

This is the time of year when musicians play in parks, churches and even the streets. Summer festivals – whether taking place in the countryside or in a big city – often provide experiences that can’t be had at any other time of the year. They allow performers to experiment with repertoire and ideas that might not be suitable in the “regular” season. And, for audience members, hearing music in new and different venues somehow makes it easier to listen with fresh ears. Perhaps this is why summer festival concerts are can be so memorable.

The following pages contain a rich and varied assortment of forty music festivals. You’ll find classical music festivals, large and small – some offering a wide range of programming, others specializing in orchestral music, chamber repertoire, early music, or opera. As well, there are festivals for jazz, blues, folk musics of all kinds. Some are right here in the Toronto area, others are located in Ontario and Quebec, and there are also a few festivals from the Maritimes. Some are new, some are old – and some are celebrating anniversaries.

Read more: June is Busting Out All Over


When is a ploy not a ploy?

A word of reassurance or condolence, depending on your musical proclivities. Calling April “opera month”, as Chris Hoile does this month doesn’t mean every other musical genre vanishes from the scene. But it’s an interesting intellectual exercise, applying a particular thematic lens to our monthly snapshot of the musical landscape. If April were an opera festival in Southern Ontario, look at all the stuff that would qualify for the brochure!

Another example of this: I remember going to a very early meeting of an informal group that was to evolve into the Coalition of New Music Presenters of Toronto. It was around the time the TSO was abandoning its stewardship of the annual November Massey Hall New Music Festival. “Well, just take what’s going on in new music in November and call it a festival” was my cheerful suggestion (not particularly well received at the time). A marketing ploy, someone called it. Ploys can be good, if they get you seeing things afresh. So, opera month it is. WholeNote says so.

Speaking of festivals …

Read more: A bit of this … a bit of that

It’s going to be a year of significant challenges for lots of us in the arts community. (Notice, please, that I used the word “us” when I said arts community. WholeNote magazine may not be arts or culture in the way the Arts Councils use the words. But if phrases like labour of love and precariousness of livelihood are part and parcel of your notion of community arts, then count us among your fellow arts workers.) Now, where was I? Oh yes, significant challenges.

First, it is going to be a challenge to remain confident. “It’s not raining right now, but they say there’s this huge storm about to break. So, better hunker down. Do less. Give less. Save for that rainy day.”

Read more: Keeps rainin’ all the time - February 2009
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