A night of tunes and toonies
By Savanah Tillberg, Arts and Culture Editor
The Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra is renowned for their overall excellence, but my expectations were by far surpassed this past Saturday, November 4th after their Stray Cats and Mad Dogs performance. This show was a part of the TBSO’s Northern Lights Concert series and acted as a fundraiser for the local orchestra.
The concert featured local jazz band, “Café Paris”, which includes: lead vocalist and bass, Martin Blanchet; percussion and back up vocalist, Jean-Francois Breton, saxophonists, Dino Pepe, gypsy violinist, Katie Stevens, and guitarist, Kyle Shushack. Café Paris played two unbelievable sets, alternating with the orchestra. Each musician performed a dynamic solo, which left the audience awestruck.
The orchestral component of Stray Cats and Mad Dogs was conducted by TBSO Music Director, Paul Haas. Despite the TBSO presenting a jazz band, it would be a gravely incorrect to say that this was solely a jazz concert. Haas said in his introduction to the show, “It’s pop, it’s classical, it’s a bit of this and that, and a lot of fun,” and he was not exaggerating. The show featured classical Mozart, Romanian folk, and even a little bit of Star Wars magic.
The orchestra encouraged audience participation (to an extent) for many of the pieces performed. An especially fun audience contribution was the “toonie toss” – where audience members were encouraged to toss coins into the collection bowl on their table on beat with the orchestra (which might I add, is easier said than done). This part of the evening drew out many laughs, making and the audience engagement a fun and memorable part of the show.
During the show, Haas alluded to the TBSO’s financial difficulties in recent years and announced that they had a plan to put them on the path to paying off their debt. Currently, the TBSO carries $450,000 in debt and dreams of reducing that to $0 one day. In addition to contributing greatly to the arts and culture scene in Thunder Bay, TBSO concerts also act as fundraisers to help alleviate their financial stress. Between the two nights of Stray Cats and Mad Dogs performances, the TBSO raised over $2,000.
Stray Cats and Mad Dogs was one of three shows scheduled as a part of the Northern Lights Series. These shows are designed to provide the audience members with light and enjoyable music in a casual and comfortable atmosphere. The next show lined up for this series is called Howling at the Moon and is scheduled for January 26th and 27th of 2018. Howling at the Moon will feature a “Julliard-trained prodigy” and is a must attend event. Student, youth under 30, and senior rates for tickets are available for purchase to ensure that everyone has access to the enjoyment provided by the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra.