Musical complement to Penetanguishene’s Rendez-Vous Champlain

Midland Mirror

PENETANGUISHENE – One of the last people who can speak the Wendat language is a consultant for a special composition commemorating French explorer Samuel de Champlain’s arrival in the Penetanguishene area.


Brookside Music Association commissioned the piece, called “Wendake/  Huronia,” which will be performed throughout the region in time for this summer’s Rendez-Vous Champlain event. It takes the perspective of the Wendat people when Champlain landed in the area 400 years ago.

“It’s such a rich culture. The cultural life of our community is important,” said Brookside artistic director John French.

John Steckley, a professor of liberal studies at Humber College, is a leading expert in the Huron language and has been brought on to help the performers perfect their pronunciation of some Wendat words.

The six-movement composition by distinguished Canadian composer John Beckwith aims to take audiences from pre-contact times through Champlain’s arrival, a lamentation of European influence and the hope for reconciliation.

The piece features writings from the 1600s, such as poetry, a Jesuit narrative and a description by Jean de Brebeuf of the Feast of the Dead ceremony at the Ossossane bone pit in Tiny Township.

Work by Wendat poet Georges E. Sioui will also be incorporated.

The performers will include 20 members of regional choirs, including from La Clé d’la Baie in Penetanguishene, the Toronto Consort, alto vocalist Laura Pudwell, baritone Theodore Baerg as narrator, and First Nations singers and drummers.

Toronto Consort artistic director David Fallis will conduct the choir members, who will sing in French and Wendat. English subtitles will be displayed. The 30-minute show will also feature music from period instruments.

Music lovers “can go anywhere and hear a string quartet,” quipped French.

“Wendake/Huronia” will premiere July 30 at St. Paul’s United Church in Midland, and French said he hopes to organize a discussion panel.

The composition will also be performed in Parry Sound and Barrie on July 31 and in Meaford on Aug. 1.

“I’m quite thrilled with how this is turning out,” said French.

Summer concert series expands to Meaford Hall

Meaford Express

A series of concerts comes to Meaford Hall this summer through an expansion of the Midland based Brookside Music Association.

Z-meafordhallX-NO10-CF___ContentFeatured in the series are performances by the Toronto All Star Big Band, Susan Aglukark and Sultans of String among others. A total of seven concerts will be held at Meaford Hall as part of Brookside’s: Festival of the Bay.

“We are excited to be working with Meaford Hall to expand our summer festival in order to bring outstanding musical presentations to another state of the art venue,” said John French, Founder and Artistic Director of Brookside Music Association.

The series features world class performers beginning with the Toronto All Star Big Band on July 4, Adam Crossley July 11, Mauro Bertoli and Wolfgang David July 17, ‘Wendake/Huronia’ featuring the Toronto Consort Aug 1, Africville Stories featuring Jackie Richardson and Joe Sealy August 8, Susan Aglukark Aug 14 and the Sultans of String August 29.

For fall, ‘Stories and Songs of Stompin’ Tom’ featuring Whiskey Jack, goes on stage September 12.  Prices vary – become a Brookside Loyalty Member to receive $5 off per ticket throughout the series. Tickets go on sale April 17.

Brookside Music Association is a not-for-profit organization with a mandate of promoting the love of music. Now in its fifth year, the organization is run by a volunteer Board of Directors and is supported by The Ontario Arts Council, The Ontario Media Development Corporation and Heritage Canada.

“Being part of the Festival of the Bay series ensures both visitors and residents have plenty of reasons to attend events at Meaford Hall this summer,” said Meaford Hall Manager Susan Lake.

For more information about these events please visit or