Tag Archives: Jean-Luc Ponty

Rockin’ The Hall Raised the Roof on Saturday Night

Review by Bill Monahan of Rockin’ The Hall Vol. 2 at Meaford Hall, May 6, 2017

Photo courtesy of Marissa Dolotallis

Saturday night’s concert, Rockin’ The Hall, Vol. 2, was the centrepiece of the Grand Re-Opening Event that took place at Meaford Hall on the weekend to celebrate the balcony renovations.  And it was fitting that it should be.  It could be said that without Meaford Hall the great band that rocked the hall on Saturday night might not exist at all.  And what a band!  Each member of the ten piece company had moments of outstanding performance as they worked their way through a number of familiar songs that were given new energy by the quality of the interpretations.  The performers ranged in age from thirteen to somewhere north of 60, from relative newcomers to award-winning industry veterans, but you would have been hard pressed to distinguish which was which as each seemed to vie with the others to take the audience higher.  All through both sets, audience members were jumping up like Whack-a-Mole in spontaneous appreciation of great moments.  It was clear that each performer loved being there and gave their all.  And a big part of that was the hall itself.

Meaford Hall is truly a gem that puts our little town on a cultural level that punches far above its weight.  As the mayor said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony that preceded the concert, this is the best venue of its size in Southern Ontario.  With the completion of the balcony renovations the long journey to create a world-class venue his reached a sort of culmination, something truly worthy of celebration.

It’s worth remembering that this wonderful achievement is primarily the result of the efforts of dedicated and hard-working volunteers as well as the generosity of citizens who stepped up to cover the lion’s share of the cost.  The Balcony Renovation Project came in on time and on budget.  It was shepherded through that process by talented individuals who brought specific talents to bear for the sake of the community.

While the building and the Meaford Hall & Culture Foundation are essential elements in the success of Meaford Hall, a lot of credit goes to the excellent staff.  This is particularly true in regard to concerts.  Local music fans are very well served by booking policies that put the emphasis on quality Canadian talent.  To attend regular concert offerings at Meaford Hall is to become an educated connoisseur of Canadian talent.  Often the performers are not well-known names (although many are) but because of such judicious booking policies it is pretty much guaranteed that any show booked there will be outstanding.  The hall also has a top-notch technical crew.  It has become commonplace for touring performers to heap praise on the staff and enthuse from the stage about what an exceptional place this is for them to play.  That enthusiasm from the performers is a big part of what makes the shows as good as they are.

The entire show was a flow of unstoppable energy that  gained momentum throughout.

Which brings me back to the idea that this great band that performed on Saturday night would not exist without Meaford Hall.  If you have followed the other articles about Chris Scerri bringing his friends from Port Credit to Meaford, you already know that they have fallen in love with our town and we with them.  And it all began with Chris’s inspiration to bring a show called The Great Canadian Songbook to the Opera House.  Having these talents become part of our local culture has made a permanent change that is putting Meaford on the map as a centre for live music, live original music that radiates primarily from the great programming at Meaford Hall but also provides exposure for exceptional local talent.

An Evening With Victoria Yeh

Victoria Yeh has played often in Meaford since being invited here by Chris Scerri last summer, but this Friday is the first opportunity to hear her in an extended performance.  She’ll be playing at the Red Door Grille in the Meaford Motel through the supper hour starting at seven and running into the evening to 10 pm.  This presents a great opportunity to hear the many voices of her violin in one evening.

Victoria first came one summer night to join Chris at his Leeky Canoe open mic.  She accompanied him on a few songs and everyone sat up and took notice.  Her violin playing has a stirring emotional quality.  She is good at recognizing a tune and adding her own voice to it, jamming.  The violin is so much like a human voice, in the right hands it can “cry and sing”.

Everyone who came up to play that night wanted Victoria to play with them as well and she gamely took on all styles, adding something special to every tune she accompanied.  This virtuosity comes from a long experience as a violinist that has taken her through classical training with a special teacher, a prog-rock band that redefined boundaries, corporate shows that range through jazz and pop classics, and it comes from a musical curiosity that takes her willingly down any path presented to her.

She’s returned frequently since then to join in on the open stage.  She wowed Meaford audiences at the Meaford Summer Concert Series and the recent Rock The Hall Christmas Gala Concert with performances that were all to brief.  This three hour window to perform gives her a chance to stretch out and pace the evening.

 

The Red Door Grille and Pub is a comfortable small room offering a variety of interesting entrees and appetizers, with the emphasis on local suppliers and fresh ingredients.  Victoria says she will start with some classical music through the dinner hour.  “I’ll also be romancing with some classic Sinatra and Broadway,” she says, “and slowly move into more jazz and perhaps pop/rock later in the evening.”  She’ll have time to include some original compositions as well.

Victoria will play some Jean-Luc Ponty, the French jazz composer and violinist who has collaborated with a variety of musical explorers from Frank Zappa to Stephane Grappelli.  He is known for his virtuosity and only the best violinist can play up to the standard he sets.

“I will be taking requests too!” she says.

This is the third in a music series of jazz and classical artists performing Friday evenings at The Red Door Grille.  Still to come are classical guitarist Jamie Edmund Baxter on Jan. 20th and honky tonk piano player Tyler Yarema on Jan. 27th.

This type of bistro performance is a rare treat for Meaford and a good reason to try out one of the town’s newer restaurants.

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Emma Wright and Victoria Yeh Added to Rockin’ The Hall

Victoria Yeh

The Meaford Hall Cultural Foundation has just announced that two outstanding musicians, familiar to Meaford audiences, have been added to the cast of this year’s Rockin’ The Hall show, coming up on December 3rd.  Violinist Victoria Yeh and vocalist Emma Wright are two young women who have moved us with their exceptional talents.

Victoria was invited to Meaford by Chris Scerri early this year when he began his campaign to fill our town with great music.  She joined him at one of his Tuesday night open mic jams and everyone in the room sat up and took notice.  As a classically trained violinist, she knows how to pull emotion out of her instrument, but she has also been improvising since she was in high school.  That first night at The Leeky Canoe, everyone who came up on stage after she played with Chris asked if she would join them as well, and she added a real dimension to every song.  No matter what the style, she made it sound as if she’d been playing it forever.

Born in Winnipeg, her family had moved to Nepean before she started school.  The first time she saw someone playing the violin she didn’t know what it was, but she knew it was what she wanted to do. “When I was four,” she says, “I remember seeing someone playing violin on TV and immediately in my mind I thought ‘Oh! I need to do that!’.  I didn’t know how to ask for it because I didn’t know what it was called, and then a few days later my mother was flipping through the paper and there was a picture of a girl playing a violin and I was like I want to play that!”  That December her father bought her a scaled down violin.