Festival Recap: Music & Beyond

Ottawa Life’s Festival City Series is back! We'll provide a unique look at some of your favourite events.
We’ll go beyond the music with artist interviews, volunteer profiles, concert reviews and spotlights on
the tastes, sights and sounds of the festival season. 

Your city! Your festivals and events!
Like a good sunscreen, Ottawa Life has you covered.

Photos by Tori Izzio-Meloche

Music is basically essential to our livelihoods and sanity. Think about it – do you ever go a day without listening to something?  We can turn to it when times get tough, Ellen’s got us all dancing to it, it marks milestone’s (like the first dance at your wedding) and  I could go on and on. A very important element of music is that it’s our universal language – whether you’re into hip hop, jazz, rock, folk, heavy metal, classical etc,  music unites us. It makes us forget our differences, like culture, race, identity, age. We have to make the most out of our summer here in the 613, because it really does not last that long. And when I think of Ottawa summers, I think of festivals (and a little bit of festival fashion). I know that Bluesfest is a huge draw, but at the same time something is happening that you may very well not know about, and that is Music & Beyond.


To put it simply, Music & Beyond is a classical music and multi-disciplinary arts festival. Presenting for the first time in July 2010, they demonstrate that music can be interesting in various formations. They strive to link other art forms and cultural disciplines including visual art, drama, poetry, dance, architecture, circus, magic, science, comedy, law, food and wine, and even yoga. Other than the fact that I find this a brilliant idea, so I’m sold, the goal is to attract a very broad audience – people of all cultural backgrounds and demographics. And a major part of its mandate is building new audiences for music and the arts, with a special emphasis on young people.


A really cool and important part of Music & Beyond is their strong year-round commitment to youth. Studies have shown that young people who are exposed to music have stronger mathematical skills, better memories, longer attention spans, better social skills and are more creative. Music and Beyond provides many opportunities for young people to engage in classical music. Throughout the festival, there is extensive programming for young people and families. For example, the first Sunday of the festival focuses on The Ottawa Family Music Expo – a free day-long event held on the grounds of the University of Ottawa. Also, a “Pizza Concert Series” sponsored by Gabriel Pizza was introduced this year, offering a close-up experience with performances by world-class musicians and….. don’t forget – pizza! My favourite part of the festival is a new element to the year round programming that was launched in 2015 – Music & Beyond Reaches Out. This program offers hands on opportunities and performances in the fall and spring in Ottawa’s elementary and secondary schools. In addition there are always opportunities for local youth to rehearse and perform alongside some of the world’s best. These are transformational experiences that these kids will remember forever, and you can help them out by buying a ticket and listening some lovely music – eazy breezy!


As I was browsing through the SEVENTY FIVE concerts throughout the three weeks, I saw a series of what was called “Coffee Concert: Yoga and Music”, similar to the Pizza Concert. This sounded a bit strange, but I like out of the norm so I found a friend and we headed out on a Saturday morning to Dominion-Chalmers Church for 9 AM. It wasn’t exactly your typical yoga class, especially given the setting. It was more of a gentle yoga, but the level was okay with me as I’m looking to ease into fitness anyways. After about an hour of stretching our bodies, it was time for the coffee and the concert. There were tables set up around the room, you could grab some goodies (danishes, croissants) and some coffee, and just sit back, relax and enjoy the sounds of Caroline Leonardelli on the harp and Pascalle Margely on the flute.

Unfortunately, classical music may be relayed as stuffy and boring, but it’s kind of the exact opposite. It’s very diverse, it’s inspired many of the greatest musicians throughout history, and it’s incredibly underrated. If this genre of music is totally foreign to you, listen to one piece of classical music a day – I think you just might fall in love with it. Combined with the fact that “performance” is the key trend through the Music & Beyond Festival, you won’t be left unentertained. Come out next year and give this festival a go. Within the music, there is so much emotion, from upbeat pieces to powerful and thought provoking one’s. It’s simply truly beautiful and an amazing thing to listen to.

Click here to visit their website and learn all the information you need to know, so you can mark it into your schedule for next year!