News

Welland Port Colborne Concert Association ready for 70th year

Laura Barton

By Laura Barton, Tribune Staff

Colllectif9, a classical string band from Montreal, QC, will be performing at the end of the Welland Port Colborne Concert Association 2017-2018 series.Danylö Böbyk/Special to the Tribune

Colllectif9, a classical string band from Montreal, QC, will be performing at the end of the Welland Port Colborne Concert Association 2017-2018 series.Danylö Böbyk/Special to the Tribune

The Welland Port Colborne Concert Association already has its 2017-2018 season lined up for its 70th year.

The association’s artistic director, Ros Battye, describes the concert series as something that can’t be “pigeonholed” and rather says it’s an eclectic mix of entertainment.

“They’re all very different,” she said of the six shows in the series, which begins Oct. 21. “We like to mix it up a bit from year to year.”

This season, in celebration of Canada’s sesquicentennial, every artist is Canadian. There is still a variety of musical styles, however, ranging from jazz to covers of Canadian staples and a brass quintet to North America’s only coal miner’s choir, The Men of the Deeps.

Battye said the association recommends people buy memberships so they can experience all the shows. While looking at the list of upcoming acts might lead some to believe they’d only like one or two of the shows, she said people tend to be surprised by what they end up liking.

Over the years, she said she’s heard people say plenty of times they don’t like jazz or dance or opera or whatever the show happens to be, but they come out at the end of the show having enjoyed it. Battye said purchasing a membership allows people to open themselves up to new experiences at an affordable price of $155 for all six shows.

Individual tickets are available for the shows, but are limited and not guaranteed, she said.

The concert association is a non-profit organization run completely by volunteers and the funds raised go towards a number of things, such as the upkeep and upgrades of the 1052-seat J.W. Ennis Auditorium at Welland Centennial Secondary School, where the performances are held.

Battye said each year the concert association donates $5,000 to go toward the auditorium.

“We do a lot more than simply offer concerts to the public,” she said.

The group also offers opportunities for students to be a part of the show, whether performing or behind the scenes work. Last season, a number of Centennial’s students were involved in the Ballet Jörgen’s Swan Lake; this coming season, students will have the opportunity to be a part of a master class with the season’s finale performers, Collectif9, a classical string band from Montreal, QC.

As other concert associations, such as Niagara Concerts, are ending their shows for good, Battye said it’s important for people to know the Welland Port Colborne Concert Association is still running. She invites people who enjoyed those other shows to come give theirs a try.

So far, she said there are 850 memberships sold, so they’re going quickly, as are individual tickets. In the past the organization only sold by memberships, but when waitlists extended to the near-decade mark, the group decided to change things up to give more people opportunity to go.

In the future, the hope is for tickets and memberships to be available through online purchase, but for right now they’re only available by calling Membership Administrator Hilda Belcastro at 905-788-1648.

The full list of shows, with descriptions of each performer or group, is available at wellandportcolborneconcert.org.

lbarton@postmedia.com

Twitter: @LBartonTribune