Sound Bites

Written by Nicole Laidler


Grab your dancing shoes and get ready to swing into summer with vocalist Gina Farrugia and the 18-piece Prime Time Big Band. Their May 15 concert at Aeolian Hall features cabaret seating and a jumping dance floor — fuelled by fox trots, jives, and what Farrugia calls “old school swing.”

Gina Farrugia

Gina Farrugia

“I’ve been singing with these guys for about five years now, and it’s a really special thing,” says Farrugia. “I feel like I’m in a time capsule.”

The annual collaboration always attracts an enthusiastic crowd ready to hit the dance floor, but Farrugia says you don’t need to be part of a couple to enjoy a great night out. The balcony will also be open for those who prefer to do their toe-tapping sitting down. “It’ll be two or three hours of great non-stop music,” she says.

A more traditional concert takes place the same night at Wolf Performance Hall, when violinist Nikki Chooi and pianist Philip Chiu team up to close yet another season of The Jeffery Concerts with a program that includes Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 80, Bach’s Chaconne for Solo Violin, and Gershwin’s jazz-inspired Three Preludes.

Nikki-Chooi (Photo Steve Riskind)

Nikki-Chooi (Photo Steve Riskind)

“Since our inception, we have been the principal source of chamber music in London, performed by internationally recognized artists,” says Jeffery Concerts board member, David Rosner. “We strive to widen public interest in this most intimate music, which has engaged every major composer from Bach to the present.”

The Ontario Sound of Dragon Music Festival roars into town May 23, when members of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra and Taiwan’s Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra join forces at Aeolian Hall.

The international collaboration brings together erhu (Chinese violin), sheng (Chinese mouth organ), zheng (Chinese zither), ruan (Chinese lute), western violin, and world percussion for a diverse program of folk music interpretations and original works.

“What I like most about working with different instruments and musicians from different backgrounds are the opportunities to take culturally-specific materials and sounds outside their context and experiment with something new,” comments VICO member and Sound of Dragon artistic director, Lan Tung. “It’s

Members of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra Small Ensemble

Members of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra Small Ensemble

exciting to hear contrasting and sometimes contradicting elements come together.”

Those contrasting elements will include influences from Indian, Klezmer, Persian, Chinese and Taiwanese traditions as well as The Beatles, on a program Tung says will re-define Chinese music and reflect Canada’s multicultural environment.

The Estonian National Male Choir (RAM Koor) celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. The world-renowned ensemble is marking the occasion with an international tour that takes them to France, Germany, Israel and Canada.

Thanks to the Bach Music Festival of Canada, the Ontario leg of their Canadian visit includes an afternoon performance at Exeter’s Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church on May 31.

“RAM Koor is an Estonian national treasure known for their renditions of large-scale choral works by composers such as Britten, Brahms, Liszt, Schubert and Sibelius,” comments Bach Music Festival of Canada producer, Sonja van de Hoef. Van de Hoef recently stepped into the role of festival producer, taking over from festival co-founder Louise Fagan (who remains involved as a consultant.)

The third edition of the Bach Music Festival of Canada runs July 12 to 19. “The fact that a small community such as Exeter is able to support such a high calibre festival speaks to the remarkable people involved — the audience, the sponsors and the volunteers,” says van de Hoef. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to get to know this community and the people who help it flourish.”

There’s also plenty of live music going on in Bayfield, thanks to a new purpose-built venue at the recently-renovated Ashwood Inn (formerly called the Bayfield Village Inn), located just outside of town above the Bayfield River. The Ashwood’s Bourbon Bar features a large stage and state-of-the-art sound system that will play host to a year-round line up of top Canadian and international talent.

The fun gets underway May 30 with an already sold-out performance by The Skydiggers and continues with Old Man Luedecke (June 7), Jason Collett (June 11) and My Son The Hurricane (June 30). The 140-seat venue will also host a weekly Bluegrass Brunch from noon to five.

“We’re lucky that Bayfield has become an artists’ destination,” says the Ashwood’s general manager and in-house music director, Peter Meades. “It will be great for Huron County to have a venue that was designed to host music right from the get-go, rather than having it be an afterthought at a pub or restaurant.”

Dave Dunlop will perform with the Jeans ’n Classics “The Music of Pink Floyd” concert on June 20

Dave Dunlop will perform with the Jeans ’n Classics “The Music of Pink Floyd” concert on June 20

Audiences have a final chance to do good while enjoying good music, June 20 at the London Convention Centre. That’s when Jeans ’n Classics wraps up another season with The Music of Pink Floyd — The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon.

Thanks to a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, proceeds from every local Jeans ’n Classics concert help support the organization’s mission to provide homes for low income families in our community.

“By mobilizing volunteers and community partners like Jeans ’n Classics, we can build to end poverty by promoting affordable and sustainable homeownership,” explains Jeff Duncan, Habitat for Humanity–Heartland Ontario president and CEO.

Tickets for The Music of Pink Floyd — and next year’s Jeans ’n Classics season — are available online.


Nicole Laidler has been covering the local music scene for more than a decade. See what else she is up to at


About the author

Nicole Laidler

Nicole Laidler is a former classical musician who has been writing about London's cultural scene for more than a decade. To see what else she's been up to, visit