Sharing the joy of music at Belfountain Music Festival

August 9, 2018   ·   0 Comments


What can four volunteers accomplish if they love heritage and music enough; if the centre of attention is a church, an 1837 rare timber frame structure, with horizontal planking, first built by early Scottish pioneers, in this day and age of dwindling historical buildings?

For one thing, they can produce the 5th Annual Belfountain Music Festival, in support of the Melville White Church at 15962 Mississauga Road, one kilometre north of Old Base Line, south of Belfountain. The festival takes place over the two weekends of this weekend, August 10 to 12 and next, August 18 and 19.

The Opening Night Gala is on Friday, August 10 (so, tomorrow) with their Nibbles and Notes, at the Belfountain Old Mill Site, 702 River Road, Belfountain, on the banks of the Credit River. This is an event catered by Cataract Cuisine, owned by Dinesh Shetty. Music for this opening of the Belfountain Music Festival is brought by The Interpreters, a Celtic music band.

There are a total of eight concerts over the two weekends. Originally, centred on classical music, now “all local farmers, The Golden Country Classics Band” will also be performing an evening of favourite country music and dance at the Belfountain Community Hall on Saturday, August 11 at 7:00 p.m.

Otherwise, the context of the concerts is primarily classical music, light classical and Opera. The performances are taking place at a variety of venues, including the beautiful Melville White Church itself, on behalf of which the festival is being staged. The other concerts are being performed at The Piano Hall in Georgetown and The Alton Mill Arts Centre in Alton.

It all began five years ago, when Mr. Zachary Edin, Director of the Etobicoke Suzuki School of Music rented the Melville White Church to hold a concert. He was so impressed with the value of the church as a heritage building and “he loved the acoustics” within it, that he approached the Belfountain Heritage Society to propose putting a music festival together in support of the church. The Society members were excited to agree. It was Mr Edin’s ambition to create something like Tanglewood, to grow a festival organically but still based on classical music.

Certainly, the Belfountain Music Festival has grown since that first single concert and the President of the Belfountain Heritage Society, which is hosting the whole event, Sarah Bohan, is pleased to say, “We’re bringing in a seven foot Steinway [piano] lent by Steinway Piano Gallery in Toronto, as a sponsor, to the Melville White Church. “However, we do have pay for the transport and tuning of the piano.” She added, “Alex McLeod is Artistic Director for the festival this year.”

The Steinway will be played for the Accolade Trio’s selection of music for piano, clarinet and cello, by Beethoven and Fruling on the evening of Saturday, August 11.

Soprano, Emily Vondrejs, accompanied by pianist, Lorin Shalanko, on the Steinway, will sing a mixed concert of “opera, art song and modern classics” for the matinee performance on Sunday, August 19.

The evening concert on August 19, the festival finale, features pianist, Ron Greidanus, and Friends playing Russian composers. The fabulous Etudes by Rachmaninov and the “monumental” Tanayev piano quartet comprise that program.

“We are a small group,”  Sarah Bohan, said, “but we’re very ambitious.”

She continued by telling the Citizen about the Group of Seven Festival they staged late in 2016/early 2017. “We hosted a Group of Seven festival with their paintings of Belfountain. We had Group of Seven music  and, did you know, there is a Group of Seven wine. So, there was wine tasting and we presented the films about them at the Erin Centre 2000. There are films about Tom Thompson, A.Y. Jackson and the others. We showed them between December, 2016, and January, 2017.

“We’ve held teas at the church as well.”

When Ms Bohan first came to Belfountain twelve years ago, she became involved with Caledon Heritage and, later, joined the tiny group of volunteers with the Belfountain Heritage Society, agreeing to be its president as “no one else wanted the [volunteer] job. This is our little corner of the world,” she commented. “this is where people have been passionate about protecting the historic land and buildings.

“The Rockside area, where the Melville White Church stands, is originally a Scottish settlement built in the 1820’s,” she said.

Tickets for each of the eight very fine concerts being held throughout the two weekends are $20 per performance or $15 for students and seniors. A festival pass to include all of them is $100. The Opening Night Gala is $25, to include the refreshments.

“Of course, we have expenses,” Ms Bohan explained. “And we have to pay the musicians. That is really important.”

Every such event needs sponsors and these have been forthcoming with enthusiasm. The newest of these is the recently established Parker Mitsubishi Orangeville. This dealership has come on very willingly, as the owners understand the value of becoming involved with the community through the arts.

The other sponsors are the Town of Caledon, TD Bank Group, Tutti Violini, Attrel Toyota Scion, Sam’s Service Centre, Paula Mitchell Group, Eureka Kids Inc., Great Canadian Pet Food Company, Alton Mill Arts Centre, Michele Skawski Century 21 and Moksha Yoga Brampton. All the proceeds go to maintain and keep well, the valuable and antique Melville White Church.

In all the work that it takes to host such a festival and, really, run by very few people who, like Ms Bohan, have jobs, she is still delighted to invite the public to enjoy: “We’re bringing in such wonderful music. You don’t have to go to Toronto.”

She said, “We are ambitious and big hearted.”

For tickets, visit belfountainmusic.com or at the door for each concert.



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