Music: Swing shift

Sometimes I think my ears take so much music out of the world that it’s only fair to put some back. That’s why I’m on the volunteer board of Ottawa’s Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra, a lively little ensemble — guess how many players, and what they play — that has quietly become one of the capital’s most venerable cultural groups.

Next year is our 35th season. It marks the beginning of a brand-new era for Thirteen Strings. To get ready and to help pay the bills, we’re having a spectacular gala fundraiser concert on Friday, June 4 at the auditorium of the National Gallery of Canada. I hope this blog’s Ottawa readers will consider attending.


Oliver Jones, the legendary Montreal jazz pianist, will be our guest soloist. He’ll bring his trio and a trunkload of his own string arrangements, so the Thirteen Strings will accompany Oliver for several tunes.

• This concert will mark the début of Kevin Mallon as our new artistic director. Kevin’s from Ireland. He played violin in Europe’s finest orchestras before moving to Toronto, and to conducting. As a conductor specializing in Baroque repertoire, he has more than 30 CDs in international release. He’s funny, his enthusiasm is infectious, audiences love him. We’re so lucky to have this guy as our new principal conductor.

• I’m very proud to announce that Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, who’s Chief of the Land Staff on his way to a new assignment, has consented to be the event’s Honorary Chair. Gen. Leslie is one of a bunch of Ottawa dignitaries who’ll be coming out to hear Kevin and Oliver swing the orchestra.

Tickets for the event, with schmoozing before and after the music, cost $150 and are available here. A partial tax receipt will be provided. I think it’ll be a fantastic way to kick off the summer.