Going Local: Last Minute Shopping Made Easier

December 23, 2013 12:36 pm

If you’re one to leave your Christmas shopping to the last minute, fear not, there’s a way you can avoid that last minute panic and come away with a gift to suit any taste. Samba Days and Blackhawk Network (Canada) Ltd. have teamed up to provide Canadians with a new way of shopping while supporting local businesses including high-end restaurants, luxury spas and ski resorts. It’s a gift card program that adds new offers constantly to keep options fresh. And the icing on the cake? These offers can save consumers up to 30% off the face value.

“Our gift cards are perfect for anyone looking for great value on holiday gifts or an incentive to try out a restaurant, spa or service for the first time,” says Alex Barseghian, CEO at Samba Days. “Unlike online deal sites, our offers don’t have blackout periods or expiry dates.”








Ottawa’s Gift Card Offers include:

  • Fish Market Restaurants, Vineyards & The Fish Market  – $75 gift card for $60
  • East India Co. Pub & Eatery, Indian cuisine – $50 gift card for $39
  • Louis Steak House, Family dining – $50 gift card for $39
  • Camp Fortune Ski Resort, Adult lift ticket – $43 value for $33
  • Peloso Dry Cleaner, Drycleaning services – $50 gift card for $35
  • Westboro Spa, spa services – $60 gift card for $45
  • Canada Maid, 3 hours maid service – $112 value for $89

Canada’s largest gift experience company, Samba Days offers memorable experiences like adventure getaways, wine tours and spa experiences in the form of gift cards at over 2,200 retail locations. Gift cards can be found at select retailers across the country, including Safeway, Sobeys, Loblaws, Rexall, Pharma Plus and more, on special merchandisers in the gift cards section. For Ottawa, in particular, the retail outlets participating in the Gift Card Offers program include: Pharma Plus, Rexall, Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore, and Sobeys.

“With Gift Card Offers, we are providing great value to consumers from the convenience of their neighbourhood grocery or pharmacy, while also supporting local businesses,” says Steve Dekker, Managing Director and Group Vice President, Blackhawk Network (Canada) Ltd.

OLM will be giving away two $250 gift cards courtesy of Samba Days Gift Experiences! Simply comment about which offer from an Ottawa business you’d like most and why below or on our Facebook page or via Twitter (@Ottawalifers). For more information on Samba Days, visit www.sambadays.com.

Ottawa to Ring in the New Year Scottish Style

11:19 am
iPolitics/Cynthia Münster

The people of Ottawa will have another chance to get their Celt on this New Year’s Eve.

After the success of last year’s first-ever Scottish Hogmanay at Ottawa City Hall, the Scottish Society of Ottawa has announced it will host another free downtown party on December 31, presented by TD.

This year’s attractions at TD Hogmanay ’13 include Scottish folk-rock legends Wolfstone, local heroes Ecosse and Poor Angus, an acclaimed Celtic band from Hamilton.

The evening starts at 6pm inside City Hall, with an indoor ceilidh, with Scottish dancing and music, the Glengarry Pipe Band, Scotch tasting, skating on the Rink of Dreams and fireworks at midnight. For the little ones, there will be face-painting – Braveheart blue was a favorite in 2012 – and coloring on the Scottish Wall of Fame. Parking at City Hall is free.


There will be a time out at 7pm – midnight in Scotland – to count down to the midnight bells, so families can celebrate New Year’s with their children.

Kevin MacLeod, Chair of the Scottish Society, said: “This is a unique opportunity for Canadians of all backgrounds to come together in a moment of fun and celebration – in typical Canadian and Scottish style. There is simply no better way to mark the arrival of the New Year as we approach the 199th birthday on January 10th of our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald – a great Scot and an even greater Canadian. There will be something for everyone. Come and join the fun and excitement.”

Mayor Jim Watson welcomed the news that Hogmanay is once again coming to City Hall. “We’re making City Hall more of a people place and hosting the very successful Hogmanay event is a perfect way to do that. I know families will enjoy skating on the Rink of Dreams, taking in some excellent entertainment and ringing in 2014 with Ottawa’s Scottish community,” Watson said.

The evening is presented by TD, while other sponsors include the Scottish Government, Bell, Enbridge, TransCanada, MacEwen Petroleum, Labatt, Tartan Homes and the Scottish and Irish Store.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs with the Scottish Government, said: “Scotland and Canada have strong links reaching back through history and these bonds continue to grow and thrive today. This Hogmanay event will help celebrate our shared history and recognize Scotland’s achievements and ambitions in the 21st century. I hope those attending the Ottawa Scottish Society’s Hogmanay event will make it their New Year’s resolution to come to Scotland in 2014. This year’s Hogmanay celebration marks the start of Scotland’s second Year of Homecoming, a year-long co-ordinated program of events designed to welcome the world and extend the benefits and opportunities offered by the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup.”


The Scottish Society of Ottawa was founded in 2012 to rekindle the links between Scotland and the National Capital Region. Hogmanay is the first of a number of planned Scottish-themed cultural and sporting events in 2014.

For more information: call John Ivison at 613.286.3326

Tell him Ottawa Life sent you.

Make it one of your favorite things this holiday season… The Sound of Music at the NAC

December 14, 2013 11:19 am

It doesn’t matter what kind of day you’ve had. If you’re grumpy or sad, once the lights go down and Maria (Eliza-Jane Scott) takes the stage, The Sound of Music will take you away and lift your spirits high.

I believe it is impossible to not like any rendition of The Sound of Music. It is heart-warming magic after all.

The current production at the NAC has many good qualities. For instance, the set, the costumes, the musical arrangement and all of the children, without exception, are outstanding. In fact, in many ways, the kids steal the show.

That said, Maria holds her own and Eliza-Jane Scott delivers a superb performance. Christine Brubaker’s Baroness Elberfeld (aka Schraeder from the movie) plays a far more deliciously devious Baroness than her movie version, and Brubaker is absolutely fantastic. (Since we are talking about the Baroness, a fond farewell to Eleanor Parker, the original Baroness Schraeder from the movie, who passed away this week at the age of 91.)

Sheldon Elter’s Max is just what you expect: a lovable self-serving character and Elter pulls it off without a hitch.

There are a couple of rough patches in the show. For example, Captain von Trapp, played by Dmitry Chepovetzky, seems at times a bit more stiff than is required but only in the acting of his character because his incredible singing voice more than makes up for that. In fact, his voice is phenomenal.

There are moments when the singing is not so galvanizing — even off key — in the case of other characters, notably Mother Superior, but then, by the end she finds her groove and has a powerful, impressive stage presence.

Part of the great experience in the NAC production is the audience’s inclusion. When you feel like blaring out Do-Re-Mi, you can. Or you can sing along to My Favorite Things or accompany the Captain during Edelweiss.

This is a show you can enjoy with the whole family.  Everyone, no matter your age, will have a great night. Overall, the NAC’s The Sound of Music is highly satisfying

To purchase tickets visit http://nac-cna.ca/en/englishtheatre/event/5061

Error (25/12/2013):

The Sound of…. A Mea Culpa. Sorry NAC 

In this season of togetherness and hopefully forgiveness, I have an erratum to report that really irks me. It just came to my attention last night as I went to see the Sound of Music for a second time.

In my review of the production earlier this month, I reported that Christine Brubaker played Baroness Elberfeld.  This is in fact the case (and she also plays a great Frau Schmidt), but in a fit of confusion and delusion, I thought  Baroness Elberfeld was in fact the Baroness Schraeder character from the movie that we all know, who for whatever reason had a different name in the stage production. Well, I was wrong and I can’t even blame a drunken stupor or smoking crack as excuses for my error.  I was just plain wrong.  Baroness Schraeder is still Elsa in the stage show. And so my sincerest apologies to Petrina Bromley who still brilliantly plays Elsa, as I originally noted earlier this month.

While I am at it, I might as well also take the chance to praise elements of the production that have greatly improved.  Dmitry Chepovetsky has really developed his version of Captain von Trapp and his singing will still blow you away. Furthermore, the chemistry between he and Eliza-Jane Scott (Maria) is electric.  Christopher Plummer, eat your heart out.

And Quancetia Hamilton’s Mother Abbess was inspirational.  Gone was any awkwardness from earlier in the month. And special kudos to Katie Ryerson as Brigitta.


Warm your heart and soul with Ethan Claymore at the Gladstone

December 11, 2013 9:46 am
Sarah Finn (Teresa), Tim Oberholzer (Ethan) and Paul Rainville in 'Ethan Claymore'.

If you are looking for a warm and fuzzy theatrical experience this holiday season, then head to The Gladstone Theatre and catch its current production, Ethan Claymore.  It has all you want in a feel-good escape play:  great acting, heart-warming plot and a happy ending.

Ethan Claymore is a subdued, naïve, shy, simple egg farmer/artist.  Five years after losing his wife to leukemia, he is still mourning her loss and has also fallen on tough financial times.  His gregarious, nosy but utterly lovable neighbour and good friend, Douglas, decides that five years is enough and makes it his mission to pull Ethan out of his shell. He tries his hand at matchmaking, buoyed by the arrival of a new teacher in town. At the same time, Ethan receives a letter that his estranged brother, Martin, a cheesy car salesman, has died from a heart attack.

David Frisch (Martin) in 'Ethan Claymore'.

David Frisch (Martin) in ‘Ethan Claymore’.

Enter Martin’s ghost, apparently on a yet-to-be-identified mission before he can move on. There are some very funny and cleverly-orchestrated scenes thanks to the fact that only Ethan can see and hear him.

The plot follows the machinations of Ethan’s brother and neighbour to help him out and there is some very funny dialogue and scenes.  Inone realm there is Ethan, Douglas and Teresa and then there is the other world of Martin and Ethan and their witty conversations, Martin’s post-obit magic and scenes revisiting their childhood, giving you context for their current relationship.

There are a few awkward moments in the flow of the plot, but they are endearing and frankly just add to the quirky nature of the play.  

Paul Rainville lights up the stage as Douglas and when he’s not there, you long to have him back.  He is magnetic.  David Frisch is fabulous as Martin, the slimy, yet repentant ghost who ultimately wins your heart. Tim Oberholzer is fantastic as the awkward, geeky Ethan and Sarah Finn is great as Teresa, who on the surface seems pure, but is quite focused on her intentions to score with Ethan.

The themes of forgiveness, redemption, renewal, friendship and love are all explored with humour and touching moments. Flee the hustle and bustle of December and enjoy this heart-warming tale.  It will make you glow inside long after you leave the theatre. 

It runs until December 22. www.thegladstone.ca

Photos by Andrew Alexander
Tim Oberholzer (Ethan) and Sarah Finn (Teresa) in 'Ethan Claymore'.

Tim Oberholzer (Ethan) and Sarah Finn (Teresa) in ‘Ethan Claymore’.

Ottawa Mourns the Death of Beloved Former CTV News Anchor Leigh Chapple

December 10, 2013 5:01 pm
Leigh Chapple - 2009

Ottawa Life mourns the untimely passing of former CTV Ottawa anchor Leigh Chapple. Chapple died suddenly at the age of 58 in her Ottawa home on the morning of December 10.

For 36 years, Leigh Chapple was part of the CTV Ottawa family. She was proud to serve viewers in her hometown for decades before her retirement on May 4, 2012. She started out as a personal assistant to Max Keeping before moving on-air, first as a reporter, later as an anchor – forming a deep bond with loyal viewers across the region. Leigh also taught journalism at Algonquin College, and has had a hand in shaping the lives and careers of many journalists who live and work in the Ottawa area. She will be truly missed.

Leigh Chapple began her career with CHOV-TV Pembroke. She then joined CJOH-TV, and soon stepped into the role of reporter. Chapple also hosted Regional Contact, the weekend editions of CTV News, and was anchor of the late-night newscast CTV NEWS AT 11:30 before retiring. Leigh was a 2001 nominee for the Premier’s Award, was named one of the capital’s Top 50 people by Ottawa Life Magazine in 2003, and was also honoured as the Consumers’ Choice Award Woman of the Year.


Ottawa Life Publisher Dan Donovan said: “Leigh Chapple was a wonderful person, a talented  broadcaster and represented the best of Ottawa. She passed far too young and our thoughts and condolences go out to her family and friends.”


The Bitcoin Alliance of Canada launches

December 9, 2013 2:49 pm

In a bid to help Canadian citizen’s understand and embrace the new virtual currency, the Bitcoin Alliance of Canada launched nationwide last week. The Alliance, which was founded by Bitcoin entrepreneur Anthony Di Lorio, will be based in Toronto and aims to unite both Bitcoin users and businesses by providing resources and outreach services throughout Canada.

The Bitcoin Alliance of Canada offers free memberships and a paid two-tier model, with members receiving access to educational resources and a 10% discount on Bitcoin events. Premium membership is available for the BTC equivalent of $25 per year, with lifetime membership costing $125 in BTC.

While all paid members are eligible for voting rights, premium members will receive a 15% discount on events as well as being able to participate in forums and Q&A sessions with the Alliance board. Lifetime members will be able to take advantage of a 25% discount and will be rewarded with surprise promotions and benefits.

As well as launching their membership structure and official website, the Alliance has also revealed its calendar of events, which kicks off in April 2014 with the Bitcoin Expo 2014. Registration for the Expo opens in January, with confirmed speakers including DarkWallet developer and founder of Defense Distributed Cody Wilson, founder of the Bitcoin Education Project Charles Hoskinson, YBitcoin’s David Bailey and Rodolpho Novak of CoinKite.

One area where BitCoin has already seen particular growth is in online gambling. More and more internet based gambling sites sites are starting to offer Bitcoin as a form of currency to their players. Not only is this a convenient form of funding for customers, but it can also prove lucrative for the companies that are pioneering Bitcoin gambling.

In its January 2013 report, one of the largest Bitcoin gambling sites, SatoshiDice announced profits of ฿33,310, which at the time was worth $596,231 and would be considerably more at today’s valuation. The organisation’s public finance statement of June 2013 reported a total of 372,712 bets were place d over a 30 day period, averaging out to around 12,424 bets per day.

According to Canadian slots site Slot-Machines.ca, Bitcoin is increasingly becoming the currency of choice for various forms of online gambling, including slots, sportsbetting, poker and casino games. As more users start to understand and adopt Bitcoin, the online gambling industry could see the use of the currency boom and extend into other industries even further.

The Bitcoin expo will be highlighting online gambling as one industry which has seen the advantages of using this virtual currency, and will be hoping by showcasing its advantages that other industries and verticals will also start adopting it as their primary currency method.

Kathleen Battle to perform in Ottawa for a very special Christmas concert

11:25 am

Soprano Kathleen Battle one of the supreme musicians of our time will be performing in Ottawa on Saturday, December 21st with the Chamber Players of Canada as part of their annual Christmas concert. All proceeds from the Christmas with Kathleen Battle concert will be contributed to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and to the young people’s initiatives of Music and Beyond.

Kathleen Battle’s soaring voice has carried her to the heights of the classical music world. The five-time Grammy winner’s repertoire spans three centuries, from the Baroque era to contemporary works, which she performs with symphony orchestras and in recital halls around the world. Her voice is one of the most beautiful in the world.


This year The Chamber Players of Canada will feature seven of Canada’s top musicians in a wide variety of seasonal and festive chamber music. Christmas with Kathleen Battle will take place at Dominion-Chalmers United Church on Saturday, December 21st at 7:30 p.m. Also performing are the Ottawa Regional Youth Choir, the Capital Chamber Choir and the Nepean High School Choir. The links to music and medicine will be further enhanced with an appearance by Dr. Fraser Rubens, a cardiac surgeon at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and a highly-regarded tenor.

Performing with the Chamber Players of Canada will be Canadian Opera Company concertmaster Marie Bérard; violinist Jeremy Mastrangelo; violist Guylaine Lemaire; the Chamber Players of Canada’s artistic director, cellist Julian Armour; double bassist Hilda Cowie, and harpsichordist Marie Bouchard. The concert will feature a festive array of music by Giuseppe Torelli, Antonio Vivaldi, J.S. Bach, Franz Liszt, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, David Rose, John Ireland – as well as some seasonal favorites.

Tickets for Christmas with Kathleen Battle are priced at $40, $60 and $100 for adults, and $30 for students. Special fundraising tickets that include a reception and a tax receipt are priced at $400. Tickets can be purchased in advance at several area locations including CD Warehouse, Compact Music, The Leading Note, Books on Beechwood and the Music and Beyond / Chamber Players of Canada office at 51 William Street in the ByWard Market. Fundraising tickets are only available through Music and Beyond and the Chamber Players of Canada. Tickets are also available online at www.musicandbeyond.ca

Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week

December 6, 2013 12:04 pm

On December 3rd, members of Parliament and the public attended the Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week Breakfast on Parliament Hill. Hosted by the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN) and Healing our Nations, this breakfast was meant to inform and educate about the HIV and AIDS issues Canadian Aboriginals face today with speeches from a multitude of organizations including CAAN, Aboriginal People Living with HIV/AIDS, Alternatives Cameroon and Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada.

This breakfast was one event of many taking place across the country in support of Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week. Their objective is  honed in their mantra “Getting to Zero” as in zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths an zero barriers in receiving treatment.

It’s Back … Good Night Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)… and it’s better than ever!

December 5, 2013 2:09 pm

 It was great back in 1996 the first time it graced the stage of the GCTC and it is fabulous today. Anne-Marie MacDonald’s Good Night Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) is at the GCTC and once again this production is a complete theatrical treat from beginning to end. In fact it’s even better the second time around.

The play centres around one nerdy, but endearing doctoral student/assistant professor, Constance Ledbelly, nicknamed “mouse”.  She’s in love with a sleazoid professor who steals her work, achieves tenure and is offered a position at Oxford, all thanks to Constance.

She, on the other hand, is the laughing stock of the faculty because she is trying to prove that Romeo and Juliet and Othello were originally comedies that Shakespeare altered into tragedies.  By magic, she gets transported into the action of both plays just at a decisive point in each plot and changes the outcome of the plays with funny results.

MacDonald’s plot cleverly weaves together elements of an altered  Shakespearean world where, for example, Romeo and Juliet are a couple of teenage brats (which is a  refreshingly more probably characterization of teenagers than Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers) and where Desdemona is rough around the edges and one tough cookie (a far cry from the unassuming original Desdemona).  Those are but two examples that have you following every twist and turn in the fast-moving plot. This is a must see for all literary buffs, but you don’t need a Ph.D. in literature to get it.   

The acting in every instance is superb.  Actually, every aspect of the play is overwhelmingly satisfying and will have you laughing throughout the whole evening. You are in for a fun night of diversion and escape. Playing now until December 15th, 2013.



Sascha Cole – Desdemona/Ramona

Zach Counsil – Romeo/Iago

Pippa Leslie – Juliet/Student

Margo MacDonald – Constance

Geoff McBride – Professor Night/Othello
Photo Credit: Andrew Alexander 
constance constancedesdemonajuliet

Clear with a Chance of Start-ups: Ottawa Celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week

December 4, 2013 3:20 pm

Jessie Pierre mingles among the buzzing crowd at the Heart & Crown pub on Preston Street. She came to celebrate the launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). It’s a week of events and activities celebrating successful entrepreneurs – with the aim of inspiring more people to start their own businesses.

Pierre wants to start a business that will organize events, festivals and fundraisers. During GEW, she hopes to meet other novices like her and be advised by experienced entrepreneurs.

GEW Ottawa participant Jessie Pierre hopes to take a few lessons from experienced entrepreneurs.

GEW Ottawa participant Jessie Pierre hopes to take a few lessons from experienced entrepreneurs.

“I want to make some connections and find future partners,” Pierre said. “For example, I am looking for a website designer; maybe I will find one and we can work together.”

Pierre has just returned from attending one of the week’s events that left her more than satisfied. “It’s called ‘Mentor Madness’ – it is speed-dating for entrepreneurs. We’ve spent seven minutes with each mentor explaining our business and getting advice from people who are established in the city.”

Launched in 2008, GEW is the world’s largest celebration of innovators and startups. In Ottawa, the week is organized by Invest Ottawa in collaboration with the city’s business community.

“GEW celebrates entrepreneurs and those people who take risks and believe they are better off creating their own job than getting a job,” says Invest Ottawa’s communications manager Alex Pugh.

Ottawa has a strong business community that is open to collaboration, Pugh said. Invest Ottawa has 200+ mentors who volunteer to help out fledgling businesses. The only thing Ottawa lacks, says Pugh, is a strong capital funding environment.

“We have to take our companies to where these venture capitalists are – we need to put Ottawa on the map,” Pugh noted. “What we are hoping is, Global Entrepreneurship Week will help change people’s perception of Ottawa as a government town, and help them understand that there is a very strong, thriving business community here.”

Technology is warming Ottawa’s business climate

Ottawa’s business climate is getting hotter. Each year, temperatures rise with the appearance of another high-tech company on Ottawa’s business map.

Franco Varriano speaks for Startup Ottawa – a not-for-profit, grassroots, volunteer-run organization that provides startups with resources and advice to foster further growth. He says digital, technical and mobile companies dominate Ottawa’s business scene.

CEO of Invest Ottawa Bruce Lazenby (center) at GEW launch party.

CEO of Invest Ottawa Bruce Lazenby (center) at GEW launch party.

“It’s because of history. It’s because of older entrepreneurs in Ottawa who have those connections within the city and in other cities. They were all software and hardware companies. Kanata is a huge tech area, and it’s got translated into a new generation of startups downtown.”

There is a large concentration of young founders between the ages of 18 and 25 in the mobile scene. Varriano explains this phenomenon by low-cost, low-barrier entry, and availability of technology.

“Everybody has got a smartphone, so it makes sense: that if you are going to start a new company with almost no experience or limited resources – you would start at the lowest-costly barrier, which is mobile.”

Varriano says startups face many challenges, from receiving funding to attracting talent. As a result, many founders end up leaving for Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver where they pursue accelerator programs.

“This is the nature of startups: figuring out where we can get the best resources, and how we can overcome these problems in order to make something that people want, and hopefully, make enough money to keep the lights on.”

Last year, GEW hosted 65 events in Ottawa with more than 2,500 people attending. The nation’s capital was the most active city in Canada, GEW-wise.

This year, according to Kathryn Moore, the executive director of GEW Ottawa, the week was “an unmitigated success”, with about 7,000 participants at 83 events across the city.

“What we are hoping to do is really shine the entrepreneurial spotlight on Ottawa,” Moore says. “We want to be the number one city in Canada for entrepreneurism.”

Mayor Jim Watson and Bruce Lazenby, the CEO of Invest Ottawa, congratulate entrepreneurs at the GEW kick-off.

Mayor Jim Watson and Bruce Lazenby, the CEO of Invest Ottawa, congratulate entrepreneurs at the GEW kick-off.

Mayor Jim Watson and Bruce Lazenby, the CEO at Invest Ottawa, joined Ottawa’s entrepreneurs at GEW’s kick-off party.

“The only career you can’t get fired from is entrepreneurship,” Lazenby said. “Your business might fail – you just start another one. It can be a surprising job security and a lot of fun too. Entrepreneurship is a career choice and that’s what people should understand.”

Federal Employees And Retirees Raise $20.1 Million To Date To Support Their Communities

November 29, 2013 9:37 am

On November 28 at the Canadian Museum of Nature, hundreds of federal employees and retirees celebrated the success to date of this year’s Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC), which raised $20.1 million in the National Capital Region. Thanks to these generous contributions, thousands of people in the National Capital Region will continue to have access to a variety of charitable services, such as food banks, emergency shelters, health care groups, addictions counselling and other supports in the community.

“Tonight, we recognize the incredible accomplishments of federal employees and retirees in this campaign,” said Daniel Jean, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and National Chair of the 2013 GCWCC. “Federal employees and retirees have all shown tremendous dedication and spirit and I offer my sincere thanks for your extraordinary efforts.”

Throughout the campaign, federal employees and retirees organized a wide range of fundraising activities, including rock concerts, an amazing race, golf tournaments, fundraiser breakfasts and walk-runs. They also participated in “Seeing is Believing” tours, where they learned first-hand about the work of community agencies in our region and the results achieved through donations to the GCWCC.

“Although many organizations have wrapped up their campaign, there are still events underway and many will continue into the New Year,” Jean said.  “I encourage those who have not yet donated to make a contribution today, as our communities are counting on us.”


A number of Government of Canada departments, agencies and individuals were recognized at the GCWCC Achievement Celebration for their exemplary contributions to the campaign.  This year, the Chair’s Cup for Campaign Excellence was awarded to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for the department’s outstanding results not only in terms of dollars raised, but also participation rates, creativity and enthusiasm. In addition, Jean presented the Mitchell Sharp Award to Myra Conway, Caregiver; and Volunteer with the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County, for her extraordinary contribution to the community. The Mitchell Sharp Award for Meritorious Service was established in memory of the late Honourable Mitchell Sharp and his legendary public service career and contributions as a community leader.

The GCWCC is the largest workplace campaign in the National Capital Region and the greatest local workplace contributor to United Way Ottawa, Centraide Outaouais and Healthpartners.

The GCWCC is managed by United Way Ottawa on behalf of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. The campaign is the largest workplace charitable campaign in Canada and benefits United Ways across Canada, Healthpartners and more than 80,000 registered Canadian charities.

For more information, visit www.gcwcc.org and follow GCWCC on Twitter: @GC_GivingBack (French: @GC_Entraide).

Thirteen Strings presents its ever-popular Christmas Candlelight concert!

November 22, 2013 12:35 pm
David John Pike, baritone

Thirteen Strings Christmas Candlelight Concert takes place on December 3rd at Dominion-Chalmers United Church in beautiful downtown Ottawa. (The concert starts at 8pm sharp.)

The Thirteen Strings is renowned for presenting an intimate and heartwarming early Christmas concert in the beautiful candlelit atmosphere of Dominion Chalmers. This year’s concert opens with a triumphant Advent Cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach: “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” (“Now come, Saviour of the gentiles”) BWV 61. This is the Cantata for the first Sunday of Advent – a season observed as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. In 2013, Advent begins on Sunday, December 1st, so performing this cantata a few days later is very fitting. Joining the Thirteen Strings are the Seventeen Voyces Chamber Choir, and soloists Johane Ansell, soprano; David Menzies, tenor; and David Pike, baritone (above).

David Menzies, tenor

David Menzies, tenor

Next up is Englishman Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols for Baritone, Chorus and Orchestra. The Fantasia on Christmas Carols was first performed at the 1912 Three Choirs Festival at Hereford Cathedral. The work is a single movement which consists of the English folk carols “The truth sent from above”, “Come all you worthy gentlemen” and “On Christmas night all Christians sing” (i.e. the Sussex Carol), all folk songs collected in southern England by Vaughan Williams and his friend Cecil Sharp a few years earlier. These are interposed with brief orchestral quotations from other carols, such as The First Nowell. Again the Seventeen Voyces joins the orchestra as well as featured soloist – baritone David Pike.

Bringing the first half to a beautiful conclusion, special guests – the 23 young singers of the Chorale De La Salle under the direction of conductor Robert Filion. This award-winning choir will sing a variety of Noëls from around the world which will include: the traditional Italian noël “In Notte placida,” “Narodil se Kristus Pan” – a traditional noël from the Czech Republic and the German noël “Still, Still, Still.”

The Second half of the concert will bring together all the performing forces – the Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra, the Seventeen Voyces Chamber Choir and the Chorale De La Salle to perform the Christmas Oratorio, Opus 12, for solo voices, chorus, strings, harp & organ, by Camille Saint-Saëns.

Late in 1858, the Church of the Madeleine commissioned the 23-year-old French composer Camille Saint-Saëns to write an oratorio for that year’s Christmas celebration. Saint-Saëns completed a 10-movement work telling the Christmas story. Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio Opus 12, for solo voices, chorus, strings, harp & organ is an intimate work that requires solo singers, a chorus, and small instrumental forces—an organ, a harp, and strings. In this work, Saint-Saëns blends a number of musical styles—narrative recitatives, folk-like melodies, and passionate operatic solo passages. Joining the choral forces are soloists Johane Ansell, soprano; Heidi Jost, mezzo-soprano; David Menzies, tenor; and David Pike, baritone.

The concert ends with the audience joining the performers in the singing of three traditional Christmas carols. As conductor Kevin Mallon always says – this is the part where, later over Christmas dinner, audience members will boast that lately, they sang with the Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra!

Tickets are available at the door, on line at www.thirteenstrings.ca,  at all CD Warehouse locations, at Compact Music outlets and at Leading Note or by calling 613-738-7888.

Ticket Prices: 

Adults: $45, Seniors: $40, Students: $10

For further information, contact Guylaine Lemaire, Executive Director, Thirteen Strings; (613) 355-5044, info@thirteenstrings.ca

INTERTWINED: A New Kind of Dance Show

November 19, 2013 2:39 pm
Intertwined Poster Website 2

Intertwined – a dance show for the 21st century – will be presented at Centrepointe Studio Theatre on November 28 (showtime is 7:30pm). Intertwined will feature the choreographic works of Tressa Wilson and Claire Berry – local choreographers who are inspired by contemporary dance movement, while honouring the traditions of jazz and classical ballet. The evening will include multiple and very different dance styles, performed by Connect Dance and Exordium Dance Collective. The dancers take to the stage in several interpretations of contemporary movement: some classically inspired, others more primal and pedestrian.

Wilson and Berry trained as dancers in Ottawa before continuing their training abroad.  They now work as dance teachers and choreographers and share the common goal of growing the professional dance community in Ottawa. Their shared vision inspired them to collaborate on a performance that would showcase their choreographic material, as well as feature Ottawa-based dancers.

An open rehearsal will be held at The Nectar Centre, 255 Mackay Street from 4:00-4:30pm on November 23. To find out more, visit www.ccdo.org and www.exordiumcollective.com

Tickets for Intertwined may be purchased online at centrepointetheatre.ca or by calling 613-580-2700.

Get Lost in the Magic of Hamlet

November 18, 2013 9:16 am

There is something fundamentally mesmerizing about Shakespeare’s masterpiece Hamlet. First, the brilliance of the language and the wily combination of words and expressions offer incredible, timeless insight into human behavior. There is also the richness of Shakespeare’s characters, of course.  However, Shakespeare peers into the human soul exposing frailty, innocence, vulnerability and malignant motivations that each contribute to great tragedy.  Each element grabs hold of you and keeps you hypnotized from the first uttered word until the very last.

The current production of Hamlet at the National Arts Centre likely is a version you have not experienced before. For starters, there is only one actor. The incredibly-talented Raoul Bhaneja (who grew up in Ottawa and began his theatrical training here) plays every character, the entire cast. Polonius, Gertrude, Horatio, Ophelia, Guildenstern, Laertes, the evil King Claudius and Hamlet himself, among others. Bhaneja cleverly navigates through the dialogue, never missing a beat, dancing from character to character with mind-boggling ease.

There is no set.  There are no costume changes. There is nothing but Bhaneja, clad in simple black street clothes, on stage capturing your attention and leaving the beauty of the words to keep you spellbound. It is pure Shakespeare.  You are there to hear the play and in keeping with original Shakespeare productions, (a rightfully very confident) Bhaneja keeps the lights bright enough to have eye contact and interaction with the audience. He pulls it off.

His Polonius is appropriately buffoonish, his Claudius conniving and arrogant a particularly humorous Guildenstern is thrown into the mix.  Bhaneja’s Ophelia has the sweet, sad innocence you’d expect. And then there is his Hamlet. Bhaneja offers a fascinating interpretation. It is not a wild, highly passionate Hamlet motivated by sheer emotion. Bhaneja’s Hamlet is reserved, lucid, focused on his strategy of revenge. While his Hamlet does display moments of fire in the belly, Bhaneja’s is a Hamlet fully aware of what he is doing and in complete control.

It is a captivating and creative take on Shakespeare’s work of genius.  You can’t go wrong. It runs until November 23.

For more information, visit http://nac-cna.ca/

Two artists explore “singular narratives” at Arts Court’s ODD Box Studio Theatre November 21-23 (Showtime at 7:30pm)

November 14, 2013 4:00 pm

Series Dance 10 – the curated presentation series of the Ottawa Dance Directive – presents two women artists revered for multidisciplinary and interactive works of dance, theatricality, and art and sound installation.

Still Here – choreographed by Toronto performer Heidi Strauss – and The Goodbye by Ottawa’s own Laura Taler explore singular narratives which fuse human perception, memory, physical presence and history.

Still Here is an intimate living portrait of a woman in a place where things are not always what they seem. Alone in a constructed room, she gains and loses control. Part installation, part fantastical solo drifting between realities, Still Here is a recurrent coming to terms with appearances and eventualities.

The Goodbye is a sound piece that uses an experimental, narrative structure inspired by the World War II experiences of Laura Taler’s grandmother, to propel a small transformation in the participant. The audience is given an MP3 player and asked to follow a series of instructions, including a request to listen to a story and walk through some simple movements. The work explores how memory and history are linked to movement and questions the body’s ability to carry the past without being oppressed by it.

Reservations: https://www.eventbrite.ca/event/8436703407

Info: 613-233-6266 or info@odd-cdc.org or www.odd-cdc.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/odd.cdc

Tickets: $25 Adults / $20 Students

Benjamin Britten’s Britain Presented by Ottawa Symphony Orchestra

9:53 am

The centennial of Benjamin Britten’s birth is the perfect reason to celebrate the music of 20th-century Britain, so for the second concert of its 2013-2014 season, Maestro Jean-Philippe Tremblay will lead the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra (OSO) in performances of Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem and Variations on a Theme of Purcell, as well as William Walton’s Varii Capricci and Edward Elgar’s Sea Pictures.

Guest conductor Tremblay will conduct the 100-member OSO in a concert on November 25 (starting at 8:00pm) in Southam Hall at the National Arts Centre.

“The Sinfonia di Requiem and the Purcell Variations are truly the best Britten has to offer,” says Maestro Tremblay.  “One shows off his wonderful passionate and violent writing, the other his mastery of orchestration and variation.  I look forward very much to make music with the OSO and Julie Nesrallah and to present these amazing compositions.”

In late 1939, Benjamin Britten was given an unusual commission – to write a work for a special festivity by an unspecified government. After accepting, Britten learned that the country in question was Japan, whose government had requested works by composers from several countries to celebrate the 2,600th anniversary of the ruling dynasty. Having recently lost both his parents, Britten was at the time working on the Sinfonia da Requiem, and it was this “symphony in disguise” that he submitted. However, the Japanese government rejected the work, considering its use of titles from Christian liturgy insulting. Audiences have had no such problem with a work that so abounds in energy and clashing tensions of mood, and critics have been just as positive – musicologist Peter Evans claims that the Sinfonia da Requiem represents the peak of Britten’s early orchestral writing.

The soloist in Elgar’s Sea Pictures, mezzo-soprano Julie Nesrallah, is probably best known as the host of Tempo, CBC Radio 2’s flagship national classical music program. She is, in fact, an extremely versatile singer, at ease in all styles, regularly cast in principal roles by leading opera companies across North America and abroad.

To close the concert, the orchestra performs Britten’s famous Variations on a Theme of Purcell. In 1945, Britten was commissioned to compose the score for a film designed to introduce children to the orchestra. Britten decided to write the piece in the form of a theme and variations, and chose as the theme the Rondeau from the incidental music for the play Abdelazar, or The Moor’s Revenge, by the 17th-century English composer Henry Purcell.  The theme itself is stated in full, first by the whole orchestra, then in turn by the woodwinds, brass, strings and harp, and finally the percussion. Then come 13 variations, in which the individual instruments are highlighted.  Each of the variations reflects a different character—some tender, some slightly sardonic, some mysterious, some straightforwardly humorous, all charged with great originality and wit.

Tickets are available from the NAC Box Office and through Ticketmaster. Prices range from $30 to $80 for regular tickets, from $26 to $70 for seniors, and from $18 to $35 for students.

For more information, and for further details about ticket purchases, visit www.ottawasymphony.com

Shaken or Stirred? Who cares? Just get to the 007 Spy/ “Funraiser” Bash on Saturday

November 13, 2013 1:33 pm

Martinis, live music, great food, dancing, Prosecco and 007: a Saturday night can’t get much better than that. It all goes down this coming Saturday, November 16 at the Firehall on Sunnyside in Old Ottawa South.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill neighborhood party. Local designers have teamed up with event coordinators and a whole cast of volunteers to create a night you won’t soon forget. The Firehall will be completely transformed into a Bondian world. “Goldfinger” food provided by Epicuria Fine Foods may be washed down with spy drinks or beer from Ashton Brewery. Besides dancing, spy décor and martinis, there will also be a gambling room if you’re feeling lucky… Anyone looking to capture the fun on film can do so in a photo booth.

Reverb Syndicate will provide live music, with the 007 music repertoire featuring high on the playlist, but the band will also be jamming with its eclectic blend of 60s spy music and classic surf rock material.

Presented by the Old Ottawa South Community Association, a large percentage of the proceeds for the evening goes back to the Firehall, which hosts many fantastic events and programming for kids. This is the fourth year for the themed-party event. The original idea, according to organizer Bess Fraser, “was to promote community spirit – get neighbours socializing in an event just for adults.” However, the night has grown beyond being just an event for the `hood. So wherever you are from, just grab your go-go boots and head to the Olde Firehall because the evening promises to be one wicked blast of rocket packs and laser beams.

Tickets are $50 and can be purchased at www.oldottawasouth.ca

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