By Belle Hatfield
For The Vanguard
Among those in attendance on Aug. 6 for the opening of the Yarmouth Art Society’s exhibit, At the Fishhouses, was Musique Royale’s local committee chair Joan Semple.
She was at the Yarmouth County Museum to hear a talk by former Yarmouth resident Barbara Ellis on the life and work of American poet Elizabeth Bishop, whose poem of the same name was the inspiration for the paintings on exhibit at the museum through August.
This Saturday, Aug. 27, it will be Musique Royale’s turn, when another Elizabeth Bishop centenary event comes to the Père Maurice LeBlanc theatre at École Par-en-Bas in Tusket.
And on Sunday, Aug. 28, At the Fishhouses will be presented through Musique Saint-Bernard at the Saint Bernard Church.
Elizabeth Bishop was a Pulitzer Prize winning poet. Though American, she spent much of her early years in Great Village outside of Truro, and, Ellis commented, identified Nova Scotia with “home.” Her poem, At the Fishhouses, was inspired by her trips along the south shore, and Lockeport in particular. It is only one of several in her catalogue of works that reflects on Atlantic and Canadian themes.
That poem is also the centre around which this weekend’s musical productions have been fashioned.
During these concerts Acadian soprano Suzie LeBlanc will be joined by violinist David Greenberg, the Tempest Baroque Ensemble and Montreal harpsichordist Alex Weimann. Interspersing the musical works – including Purcell, Vivaldi, J.S. Bach, Mozart, plus a Cape Breton and Acadian medley arranged by David Greenberg and the commissioned work, The Silken Water is Weaving and Weaving by Alasdair MacLean – will be recitations of Bishop’s poetry by writer Harry Thurston, a Yarmouth native.
Semple remembers first learning about the planned centenary celebrations in 2009 from Acadian soprano Suzie LeBlanc when she performed a concert sponsored by the Hear! Here! in Yarmouth group.
“She just was so passionate about the plans for this centenary celebration, we all decided then that we would try to get her back here,” Semple says.
Semple and her committee knew they had to make sure Yarmouth audiences got a chance to experience this event. What they couldn’t know then was that the new community theatre in Tusket would be open and available to host this special performance. She says her committee can’t wait to hear this highlight concert in a state-of-the-art, 300-seat performance venue.
“We are very lucky to have this theatre. The staff have been very obliging and we’re looking forward to working with them again in the future,” she said.
Likewise, Musique Saint-Bernard – in its 15th year of offering classical music concert series – is looking forward to hosting this event in the unique acoustical ambience of Saint Bernard Church on Nova Scotia's Acadian shore.
The Saturday evening concert in Tusket begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20, students $10, and will be available at the door. They can be picked up in advance by calling 742-8765 or at the theatre office, located behind the school just off the Tusket exit on Highway 103.
The Sunday performance in Saint Bernard begins at 4 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for those under 12 years of age. Tickets can be purchased at the door.