Shows to see at this year’s Music and Beyond

Count on Julian Armour to come up with an intriguing lineup for his annual Music and Beyond festival. Among the 75 shows on offer there are some that we feel should be seen and heard, many featuring local talent. For tickets and information on times and locations, please see

Here are some selections:

The Baroque opera Dido and Aeneas opens the festival on July 4 in a gala performance at Dominion-Chalmers United Church. The cast has been assembled by Ottawa native and world class countertenor Daniel Taylor and it features an all-star group of Ottawan and Canadian talent. On July 4 (tonight) Ottawa’s Wallis Giunta sings the role of Dido, the doomed Queen of Carthage. Baritone Geoffrey Sirett is Aeneas. The opera reprises with Ottawa’s Ellen McAteer as Dido.

Pablo Ziegler brings the drama of Tango Nuevo to town in two concerts July 5 and 6.The Grammy-winning Argentine was a friend and colleague of the late great Astor Piazzolla who is the acknowledged master of the form. Ziegler will be working with Ottawa’s Thirteen Strings in the concert on July 5 and will offer some Tango Nuevo on July 6. Get you dancing shoes on.

Ottawa natives Julie Nesrallah and Caroline Leonardelli are launching a new CD called Un Sospiro on July 7 and 8. Their collaboration of voice and harp will offer the soothing balm of beautiful Italian art songs inside the National Arts Centre. Something we may need in the heat of summer.

Here’s the thing: Ottawa guitarman Roddy Ellias has written an opera. The premiere of Sleeping Rough will be on July 10 in the Arts Court theatre. That should be enough to pique one’s interest but add in Ottawa area singers Ian Tamblyn, Helene Brunet, Kellylee Evans and Felicity Williams, along with the amazing puppet creations of Noreen Young, a chamber quartet and jazz musicians such as bassist John Geggie and sax man Petr Cancura and you have a must see. There will be shows July 11 and 12 as well.

Any appearance by Ottawa’s Kerson Leong is something to take in. The young man has been tabbed for stardom since he was a kid and that promise is proving true. He is in demand all around the world as a soloist and he’s still in school. His show is July 12.

The choral music of John Rutter is certainly some of the most sung in the world. His appearance at Music and Beyond is a special event. Rutter wil conduct two concerts at Dominion-Chalmers on July 15 and 16.

There is much more to celebrate at this year’s festival from appearances from Ottawa natives Shannon Mercer in The Triumph of Time and Truth, G.F. Handel’s last great work and violinists Yolanda Bruno and Marc Djokic, who appears with percussionist Beverley Johnston.

The only disappointment is the recent cancellation of concerts by the legendary Borodin Quartet. Oh well, maybe next time.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.