Monday, July 22, 2024

The Sweet Sounds of Spring and Beyond

Submitted By Jen Burak

The SweetWater Springtime Live concert was held on Friday, May 12 at the Historic Leith Church. Being relatively new to the region, I was a first-timer, expecting a charming little concert in a quaint venue; something pleasant and low key in the pastoral surroundings.

Instead, what I experienced at Leith Church was astounding. The concert was dramatic, passionate, otherworldly, and a rare opportunity to sit a stone’s throw away from two Canadian musical treasures.

Artistic Director/Violinist Edwin Huizinga, along with Juno award-winning pianist Philip Chiu, held the audience spellbound with a program that included Brahms, Debussy, Franck, Ravel, and a specially commissioned piece for Philip Chiu by modern composer Alice Ping Yee Ho.

The antithesis of a stuffy classical music affair, Springtime Live connected beautifully with the audience. Pianist Philip Chiu was witty and disarming, sharing personal stories with ease, inviting the audience in. He recently won a Juno award for his solo album Fables and has several prestigious awards to his credit. He’s acclaimed both for his brilliant pianism and welcoming stage presence.

There were no moments when the audience drifted off, or sat politely waiting for the next piece to begin. There was no checking of watches or faraway gazes with minds wandering at this event. The performers had us; we were transported on a musical flight, and I for one left Leith Church floating.

According to Bonnie Hizaka, a SweetWater newbie, “This was perhaps the most mind-blowing concert I’ve ever been to! The passion and energy of these two world-class musicians was incredible and seeing them perform in such an intimate setting was an unforgettable experience.”

Artistic Director and stellar violinist Edwin Huizinga stole the show with his passionate performance of Ravel’s Tzigane, a dramatic Gypsy-inspired piece containing dazzling elements so technically difficult that the audience leapt to their feet at its conclusion.

If you missed this spring concert, never fear! There is more to come in the fall. The SweetWater Music Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, offering up a concert series entitled Baroque and Beyond from September 12-17 at a range of venues across Grey Bruce.

The finale concert, entitled Baroque and Roll, will be held right here at Meaford Hall on September 17, featuring rock star violinists Mark Fewer and Edwin Huizinga playing selections from the baroque triple threat: Vivaldi, Corelli, and Bach.

There are a limited number of festival passes and single tickets are also available. You don’t want to miss this cultural extravaganza. Some extraordinary musicians are coming to Grey Bruce for this 20th anniversary season. Artistic Director Edwin Huizinga has curated what looks to be a phenomenal musical journey for the audience! It’s gonna be sweet!

For concert details visit

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