The long, hot days of summer are coming to an end, and with them go the open-air festivals, fireworks competitions and blockbuster art exhibits.
But fear not, arts fans, there’s still lots to do before the Rideau Canal opens for skating.
In fact, fall is traditionally the busiest time for the arts. As we get back into the routine of work and school, classical-music concerts resume, art exhibits are unveiled, theatre companies raise the curtains on new productions and bands head out on the road.
And let’s not forget the usual circuit of fall fairs, Oktoberfest bashes, Thanksgiving dinners, Halloween parties and December’s feast of festive concerts.
What’s more, this year we’ll also see celebrations of once-in-a-lifetime events such as the legalization of cannabis on Oct. 17 and the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War on Nov. 11.
Here’s a look at 14 of the hottest shows in town this season:
Beethoven Festival, NAC Orchestra, Sept. 13-22: To show off the recent renovation of the National Arts Centre’s Southam Hall and to kick off their 50th anniversary season, the orchestra will perform all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies, conducted by musical director (and new dad) Alexander Shelley. There’s also a series of lectures, free noon-hour concerts and even a fun family show called Ludwig van Cranky Pants on Sept. 16.
School of Rock, Broadway Across Canada, Sept. 23-30: The first of four musicals coming to Ottawa in the 2018-19 season is based on the 2003 film starring Jack Black as a goofy teacher who empowers his students by turning them into a rock band. It features songs from the film, as well as 14 new tunes by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and a band made up of young musicians.
Anthropocene, Canadian Photography Institute at the National Gallery of Canada, Sept. 28 to Feb 24, 2019: The new multi-media exhibition by master photographer Edward Burtynsky with filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier explores the impact of humans on Earth through photographs, films, high-resolution murals and several augmented reality installations. Their new documentary, Anthropocene, screens at the gallery on Sept. 27, presented by TIFF 2018.
Elton John, Canadian Tire Centre, Sept. 28: The pop superstar plans to hang up his bejewelled spectacles at the end of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, a three-year world tour that stops in Ottawa this month. Expect a career-spanning performance from the 50-year veteran of the music industry.
Tom Wilson & Lynn Miles with the NAC Orchestra, NAC, Oct. 4: Musician-author Tom Wilson and Ottawa singer-songwriter Lynn Miles join forces with the NAC Orchestra in the first concert in a series of commissioned works pairing songwriters with the orchestra. For Wilson, it will be a literary and musical journey based on his recent memoir, Beautiful Scars, while Miles will present orchestral arrangements of her tunes.
Cowboy Junkies, Shenkman Theatre, Oct. 11: It’s been 30 years since their breakthrough, Trinity Sessions, but the haunting folk-rock of Canada’s Cowboy Junkies is back on the radar, thanks to the hushed excellence of All That Reckoning, their first album in six years.
Ricky Skaggs, Centrepointe Theatre, Oct. 17: The country-music icon brings his hot band, Kentucky Thunder, to Ottawa for a show that’s sure to find some fans celebrating the day’s big news: the legalization of cannabis. Not Skaggs, though. As a perfectionist with strong Christian beliefs, Skaggs bans alcohol and drugs within his camp. In other words, he’s no Willie Nelson.
Steve Martin & Martin Short, TD Place Arena, Oct. 20: The two comedians team up with new material and a variety of musical sketches for a show they’re calling An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life. They’ll be joined by Martin’s bluegrass pals in the Steep Canyon Rangers, as well as jazz pianist Jeff Babko, who’s part of the Jimmy Kimmel Live house band.
Vespers, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, NAC, Nov. 1-3: The new full-length ballet by choreographer James Kudelka is a mythological tale set to Monteverdi’s baroque masterpiece Vespers, with elaborate costumes and a special appearance by Canadian ballet superstar Evelyn Hart as Everywoman.
Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, NAC Orchestra, Nov. 9, NAC: Two days before the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, Alexander Shelley leads a performance of Britten’s masterpiece, which was written as a memorial to the fallen. To honour the composer’s desire to bring nations together, the orchestra will be joined by Germany’s National Youth Orchestra, Russian soprano soloist Albina Shagimuratova and two Canadians, tenor Isaiah Bell and baritone James Westman.
Jack White, TD Place Arena, Nov. 9: The Grammy-winning rocker is touring Canada this fall with his third solo album, the ambitiously weird Boarding House Reach. It’s a cellphone-free concert so you’ll have to stash your device in a locking pouch, provided at the venue, and actually pay attention to him and his band ripping through 20 years of rock n’ roll.
Loud, 27 Club, Nov. 15: The blue-eyed Montreal hiphop sensation, who’s known as the Eminem of Quebec, has been making history in la Belle Province, reaching the top of the region’s radio charts with his summer banger, Toutes les femmes savent danser, evidently the first time a hiphop tune has hit No. 1.
Paul Klee exhibit, National Gallery of Canada, Nov. 16-March 17, 2019: On loan from the Berggruen Collection from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the exhibit features 75 works, including watercolours that are rarely seen because of their sensitivity to light. An early modernist with a geometric flair and bold theories on the use of colour, Klee’s work has fascinated people for a century.
The Hockey Sweater, NAC English Theatre, Dec. 5-16: The centrepiece of the NAC’s English theatre season is an all-Canadian musical smash, The Hockey Sweater, based on the timeless short story by Roch Carrier and directed by Stratford Festival hitmaker Donna Feore. Produced last year by Montreal’s Segal Centre, it features a cast of 17, including several youngsters, with music composed by Jonathan Munro.