Concert cornucopia: Music and Beyond makes itself at home in Sandy Hill this summer

Paula Kelsall

Music and Beyond Festival executive director Julian Armour, with sons Francis (left) and Pascal (right) took shelter from the rain after a performance at the Tulip Festival in May.
Photo Harlequin Studios

One of the best things about living in Sandy Hill is our proximity to many of Ottawa’s signature attractions and events. This year, the Music and Beyond festival is raising this advantage to a new level. The festival is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, with over 100 concerts and other musical events, more than a third of which will take place right in our neighbourhood. St. Joseph’s Church on Wilbrod Street, allsaints event space on Laurier Ave., the Ottawa Art Gallery and the University of Ottawa—all will be part of the festival, which runs from July 4 to 17.

On Sunday July 7, the festival’s annual Music Expo for families will take place on and around the grounds of Ottawa U. from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. This free event will showcase over 200 short concerts and other musical treats. Parents and kids will be able to meet musicians, try different instruments, build their own instruments and take part in a musical scavenger hunt. The festival’s executive director, Sandy Hill resident (and father of four) Julian Armour, says his boys love this event, which aims to make music as much fun as skateboarding, video games, and movies. Look for the action in and around Tabaret Hall, St. Joseph’s Church on Wilbrod Street and across Laurier at the university’s music building, Perez Hall.

St. Joseph’s will be the site of many concerts, including two featuring the choral powerhouse State Choir Latvija. Local singers will be particularly interested in the choir’s July 8 performance, which will be a choral workshop including a discussion of Latvian song traditions and a chance to sing along. St. Joseph’s will also host a performance of Bach’s complete Brandenburg Concertos over two evenings, with Montreal’s Ensemble Caprice.

Enjoy the music of Orava Quartet and  the excellent acoustics of  allsaints event space on July 5.

allsaints event space will be hosting concerts in its refurbished and air-conditioned main space, the sanctuary of the former Anglican church. Musical genres will be varied here, with artists including the Brazilian Guitar Quartet, English tenor Charles Daniels, and Montreal band Kleztory, with their repertoire of traditional world music. Julian Armour is particularly pleased by the thought of festival goers being able to enjoy meals, coffee or a glass of wine in allsaints’ café, Working Title, before or after their concerts. This pleasure will be highlighted on July 7 when the café hosts a brunch, followed by a concert upstairs.

At the Ottawa Art Gallery there will be two opportunities to see a new film by Sandy Hill filmmaker, Koa Padolsky. Le chemin des juifs relates the story of David Shentow, who survived the Holocaust and came to Ottawa after WWII. These screenings will be accompanied by a live performance of the film’s original score. Meanwhile, at Freiman Hall on the U  of O campus there will be several screenings of another locally made film, Sarah MacDougall Meets the Ghost of Beethoven. This one is directed by Kevin Reeves, director of local chamber choir Seventeen Voyces, and features Julian Armour playing a music teacher.

Of course, there is plenty of Music and Beyond programming happening just beyond Sandy Hill, as well. Festival passes and tickets to individual concerts are for sale online, and passes can also be purchased at Books on Beechwood, Librairie du Soleil, and other Ottawa music and book stores. For full details, see the Festival website at