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Stratford Summer Music 2018 lineup

By Keith Tomasek, May 10, 2018

One of the highlights of my summer is always the Stratford Summer Music festival. It’s one of the most eclectic and exciting music festivals in the world. The respected British music journal, Gramophone, named Stratford Summer Music one of the top festivals on the continent and the only Canadian festival to make the distinguished list of the top twelve summer music sites.

The heart and soul of Stratford Summer Music is the artistic producer John A. Miller who will retire at the end of the 2018 season. As he planned the season with his departure looming, Miller invited back some musicians who made their mark in the past and hand-picked others to make their festival debut under his tenure.

Click on an image below to link to the respective performance

First and foremost of the returning musicians is the world-renowned pianist Jan Lisiecki.
Stratford summer music, Jan Lisecki

Jan Lisiecki
Lisiecki regularly plays to sold-out houses at the finest concert halls around the world. In Stratford, if you get your tickets soon, you can see him in an intimate setting on Saturday, August 25 at 3 pm at The Avondale.

Stratford Summer Music has created a reputation for devising unique musical experiences that bring together musicians who would rarely appear together anywhere else.

On Monday, August 20, Ron Sexsmith teams up with musicians from Stratford’s INNERchamber, Music Director Andrew Chung, vocalist Barbara Fulton and narrator Mike Nadajewski. It’s the première performance of Ron Sexsmith’s new “Songs from Deer Life” with orchestrations by Ben Bolt-Martin.

Ron-Sexsmith, stratford Summer music

Ron Sexmith
Monday, August 13, Tanya Tagaq, the 2014 laureate of the distinguished Polaris Prize, and a forceful advocate for her Inuit brothers and sisters, will be performing along with a screening of the silent docudrama, “Nanook of the North.” Tagaq’s performance, drawing on the modern expression of Inuit culture, formed by Tagaq’s upbringing in Cambridge Bay/Iqaluktuutiaq, Nunavut is the perfect pairing for the iconic 1922 film.


Tanya-Tagaq, stratford summer music

Tanya Tagaq

Kiss The Cod at Stratford Summer Music

Back by popular demand, are The Ennis Sisters, Maureen, Teresa and Karen. Thursday, July 26, they’re performing with their Island kin, Bob, Mark, Chris and Billy a.k.a. Shanneyganock. There’s even an after-party at a secret location reserved for 100 attendees following the concert.

Ennis-Sisters, stratford summer music

The Ennis Sisters
From Newfoundland, the Stratford Summer Music festival takes you on a journey travelling further east to the Mediterranean when the Canadian Arabic Orchestra performs along with special guests including the St’at’imc artist/dancer, Laura Grizzlypaws, from British Columbia and Sufi whirling dervishes. This performance, Sunday, August 19, promises to be a magical night bringing together artists exploring a fusion of Western and Eastern music.

Stratford summer music, Canadian-Arabic-OrchestraThe Canadian Arabic Orchestra

The Blind Boys of Alabama are returning Monday, July 30. I saw their energy-packed soul-stirring performance last time they were in town and highly recommend this multiple Grammy Award-winning act that the New York Times says reinvented gospel music by “adding jazz and blues idioms and turning up the volume.”

 stratford summer music

The Blind Boys of Alabama
Orchestre de la Francophonie returns for their fifth visit. The ensemble of 60 young musicians performs two concerts, the second of which is a free, family-friendly performance, on Sunday, July 22 at 7 pm in Stratford’s Market Square, featuring Monika Dongmo, winner of the Concours Musical du Canada 2013.

Monika-Dongmo, stratford summer music

Monika Dongmo
Another free performance not to be missed is Autorickshaw. This Canadian trio has performed at The Kennedy Center in Washington DC, The Stockholm Jazz Festival in Sweden and across India including Chennai and Bangalore, and at the prestigious Jaipur International Heritage Festival in Rajasthan. See them on the Music Barge, August 2,3,4,5.
Autorickshaw, stratford Summer Music


Favourite Friday Nights

The Cabaret series is always my favourite way to spend Friday nights in Stratford.

Friday, July 20 | Bruce Dow, A Funny Proposition

Bruce Dow Stratford Summer musicAnother legendary Canadian performer returning to Stratford, who also happens to have been a guest on my podcast, is Bruce Dow who has received numerous awards for his work including the 2015 Helen Hayes Award and the 2014 Dora Mavor Moore Award for
Outstanding Performance. His endearing sense of humour and massive talent never disappoint.

Friday, July 27 | John MacLeod’s Rex Hotel Orchestra

Rex-Orchestra, Stratford Summer MusicIf you’ve ever searched for jazz in Toronto, you’ve probably landed at the Rex Hotel. This summer some of Canada’s finest jazz and studio musicians, led by veteran jazz trumpeter John MacLeod, will be headlining the second Stratford Summer Music cabaret.

Friday, August 11 | Carole Pope, Mystery Tour

Stratford Summer Music Festival, 2015 lineup, Carole PopeThe legendary Canadian songstress Carole Pope returns to the Revival house. Before you see the show don’t miss my podcast with Ms. Pope recorded last time she performed at Revival House.

Friday, August 17 | Heather Bambrick’s Jazz Ceilidh

Heather-Bambrick, Stratford Summer MusicRounding out the Cabaret series is the return of Heather Bambrick’s Jazz Ceilidh. It’s always a delightful evening with Heather at the helm. Someone once said that when Heather takes the stage, it’s as if “Ella Fitzgerald meets Carol Burnett at a Newfoundland Kitchen Party.” Backed by her quintet and her friends, the guys of Cadence, this will be a genuinely jazzy Newfoundland party.

There are many, many other excellent performances to see.

Visit Stratford Summer Music for the full schedule or click on any of the images above for concert details and tickets.

The season sponsor for Stratford Summer Music is Bard’s on Market Square.

Let’s keep in touch.

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Stratford Summer Music 2018 lineup

Keith Tomasek
10 May 2018
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