The Epistle of Q — Chapter Sixty-Four

And how is the ski season going, you ask?
Not bad actually. We have been getting a fair amount of snow on Apex and with the new owners employing new groomers and with a new upbeat feeling in the air, things are unfolding reasonably well for a January. After ten [10] days on the hill I’ve managed to ski a total of 91 runs which translates into 41,022 Vm’s *i.e. Vertical metres). The total distance skied is standing at 213.4 kms and my maximum speed reached on any given day has ranged from a low of 52.9 km/h to the best so far at 78.2 km/h which was reached on a really nice run on a really nice day on really nice skis!!

But life has been more than simply skiing…

I’ve managed to wrap up the various iterations of a grad course that I was teaching his autumn via distance. The course dealing with ethical issues in public health leadership at one point had my students in Pakistan, India, Australia and the Okanagan. All bright, all inquisitive, all determined to help their health systems get to better. Every tele/conference was a delightful learning moment for me, and judging from the assessments from each participant, it was more than worthwhile for them too. I now have only one more such ethics course which I launched this month — CUE is closing the Graduate Certificate programs in public health at the end this calendar year.

The Okanagan Symphony put on another very enjoyable, very entertaining concert this past weekend. Entitled “Viennese Delights” it featured the talents of young “potential stars” from the UBC Opera Ensemble as well as two exquisite dancers from Vernon’s City Dance (a Dance Studio). It was at times whimsical, at other times overpowering. The dancers gave us a sense of what would have been happening on the ballroom floors of Vienna in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. It reminded me at times of the formal dances we held in my old high school (Madoc High) and in college days (quite some time ago, according to my grandkids!!). But as neat as those moments were, the real impacts of the evening came when the college students came out to sing. They were all good — some were even more than good. They performed works by Franz Lehar, Jacques Offenbach, and Johann Strauss Jr. There were solos such as Vilya Lied (Vilya’s Song) and Chacun a son gout (Price Orlofsky’s song), duets including Lippen Schweigen (Waltz Duet) and Die Uhr Duett (the Watch Duet), one trio — Trinke Liebchen, trinke schnell, and twice the full ensemble came out to perform excerpts from different finales. The talent certainly puts to rest any concern that Canada doesn’t have a new generation of Opera performers waiting in the wings. These kids are good — and Rosemary Thompson the Conductor of the OSO certainly gave them great backing from the Orchestra to show off their talents.

On other musical notes I was at the Dream Cafe twice in the past few days. This is an amazing little gem, as I have mentioned before. The first show was Connie Kaldor who is maybe the best spokesperson for the prairies and the province of Saskatchewn in particular. She is an excellent song-writer, a wonderful singer and very funny. When she leads off a song about some part of Saskatchewan and talks about wedding receptions in the local community hall, any of us who have ever been to one immediately is taken back to that moment in time. Her album Wood River is a classic, but hardly encompasses her range of interests and talent — if you haven’t heard her, get at least one CD; if you haven’t seen her, find out when she is playing within 400 kms and drive there…you will not be disappointed. Our show also featured her entire family — her francophone husband (with roots not far from my own link to that province — his in Willowbunch, mine is Pambrun) is the solid musical backdrop — base, guitar, vocals — a solid musician who originally was a star in his own right in the province of Quebec. He is usually with her on tour. But this time we were treated to their two sons — one a recent graduate of the Masters in Music program at McGill, trained in opera (and he gave us a stirring example of just how good he is — almost as good as Hannah Rollwage of PEI fame) but now leading a gypsy band (and he led us through a fantastic musical tribute to that genre). The other brother went to Paris to study Jazz, but he specialized in the Violin as an instrument of Jazz. He may be quirky but he is very good. He demonstrated some very interesting musical approaches using his violin in a jazz context. The amazing thing is that he is also almost celtic in his playing at times — he would be so accepted in the Maritimes (he also could have been a basketball standout I’m sure as he is TALL!!).

Earlier this week the “Good Lovelies” also appeared at the Dream Cafe. They too are an amazing group. Since I last saw them they have added both a bass player and a drummer. Both do add something, but most of the time I must admit I just enjoy their singing and their story-telling. There is a good deal of banter on stage, but it always takes second place to their beautiful vocals and wonderful sense of musical intuition. They always seem to know just the right tempo, or chords or instruments to use to deliver the maximum impact of each song. They don’t tour as often as they should — partly because they live in different parts of the country now and a couple of them have kids. So if they are within 200 kms of you, don’t miss the opportunity.

The final musical notes relate to jazz. On Sunday the local Anglican church launched another calendar year with their Jazz Vespers service (3rd Sunday of each month, except in the summer) and this one was up to the usual standards. The priest I’ve known for a number of years (and whose wife is a spectacular musical leader) has been transferred to Ontario (that province’s gain for sure) and there is a new interim priest. He still hasn’t really grasped that the service is not about him — he needs to learn how to shift the focus onto the music in the Bible and how examples of that can be brought to bear within the context of a service featuring great, uplifting jazz. Once he gets that right, then the services will again flow a little smoother — thankfully the musicians have been at it long enough that they can deftly overcome interruptions or inconsistencies. One of these days I’d like to try my hand at leading a jazz vespers…maybe it’s harder than I think!!

The other jazz moment was at Zia’s in Summerland. This place is a big old stone house converted into a very good dining emporium. If you are in the Okanagan in the summer, checking out wineries, craft breweries & distilleries, golf courses and beaches, do take time to stop in at Zia’s for a lovely dinner. If you are here any other time (probably doing the same thing, although in the winter you might want to try Apex as well for skiing) check the calendar and see if Zia’s is hosting any musical moment — especially if the Allan Crossley Combo is playing. Don’t worry if your chair doesn’t face the musicians — just close your eyes and you will soon find yourself thinking of the “Fabulous Baker Boys” or perhaps imagining what it might have been like in Chicago in the 20’s or even in New Orleans. This group knows jazz, has a great singer too and the musicians all come together in a way that shouts out “we know jazz and we want to share that knowing with you, the audience”. While the meal was great, as were the people at my table, the real treat was the music. It made my day.

Last evening, after attending the local “100 men in Penticton” fund-raiser (we are now over 100 men and so given out $10K at each meeting, split 80%/10%/10% among three presenting charities) I drove to Oliver for their film club’s showing of “Lost in Paris”. As opposed to some previous showings which left me wondering not just why was the film selected but why did the director even make it, this film was wonderful. Exceedingly funny and not entirely implausible. Made by Belgium film-makers, starring a diversity of brilliant actors, with a story that has an obtuse Canadian connection, this film is a must see. It has some interesting shots of Paris, but that pales in comparison to the plot lines, dialogue and acting chops…it is downright funny. I’m laughing now just thinking of some of the scenes, including an eulogy delivered at the funeral of a person the orator doesn’t even know (partly because it isn’t even the right person). Not sure where all this TIFF film might be seen, but try to find it…too good to miss.

And that is about it for the moment. I just got a call from the RACE team at the cardio unit at PRH — they’ve had a cancellation today and would like me to come in shortly. Since I am not exactly sure what they intend to do, my curiosity is such that I think I will go in a day early. Enjoy your weekend. I will discuss this “cardio moment” sometime going forward. Also, the Scotties are starting tomorrow (yes I know, on Robbie Burns Day no less — and by the way, I’ve been asked to speak at St. Andrew’s Dinner tomorrow evening — I’ll post my speech afterwards, it’s going to be unique, perhaps!!) and I will try to give occasional up-dates on my impressions of that stupendous event.

Keep smiling…
g.w.

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