News Articles

Performing arts festival set to go

By Heather Latter
Fort Frances Times
April 1, 2015

The 75th Rainy River District Festival of the Performing Arts is set to begin next week, with local performers of all ages taking part in four different divisions.
“We have a great committee and everything is starting to come together especially because of the members that have been on for a long time as they know what is expected,” said Festival committee chair Cynthia Donald.
“I’m looking forward to the next couple of busy and exciting weeks, and anticipating some fantastic performances from new and seasoned performers,” she noted.
“I’m especially excited to see some of the entries from those who have entered the Festival for the first time,” Donald enthused.
The Festival will begin with the drama division, with French drama on Tuesday (April 7) and English drama running Wednesday through Friday (April 8-10) next week.
This will be followed by Piano (April 13-17), Instrumental (April 20-21), and Vocal (April 22-24).
Donald noted the division programs are available online at Participants are encouraged to check out the program and note the date, time, and venue for each of their performances.
“Please take notice of the schedule that is on the website,” Donald stressed. “We are jumping around quite a bit with new venues this year because Knox is being renovated.
“I would like to thank St. John’s Anglican Church, New Beginnings and the Christian Reformed Church [in Emo] for helping us out this year, as well as Fort Frances High School and Robert Moore School,” Donald explained.
She added programs will not be sold in advance, but will be available to purchase at the door of each session.
But she urges people to print out their own copies of the pages they require to bring along with them.
Donald also said the Festival has seen an increase in the number of participants this year, especially in the drama category.
“The teachers really got on board this year,” she enthused about the increase in choral speaking entries.
“It’s great to see so many classes participating.”
She noted Festival performances are open to all members of the community to attend and support the performers.
A $2 admission fee is charged for each session.
The annual “Highlights” concert, which showcases the best performances from the three week Festival, will follow on Sunday, May 10 at the Townshend Theatre.
“And as always, we are in need of volunteers to help run the Festival,” Donald stressed.
“So anyone from the community who has an interest in volunteering to help at any of the venues, or wants to be involved in the committee, can let us know,” she added.
She added it’s a great way for high school students to earn their volunteer hours needed to graduate or for others looking to give back to the community.
Anyone who would like to help out is asked to contact Maureen Hahkala at 274-1034.
Donald also thanks all of the donors, as well as those who have provided a helping hand in the Festival preparations.
“This is wonderful opportunity for our young and seasoned performers to have a chance to show case their talents,” she stressed.
The committee also is thrilled to have four outstanding adjudicators for the 2015 festival, including two who have local ties to Fort Frances.
Carole O’Brien, who is the French drama adjudicator, resides in Winnipeg, but attended Fort Frances High School in her teen years.
A Fine arts honours degree in photography, followed by independent studies in creative writing, theatre and philosophy, came together in 1992 when she made her first film.
O’Brien is also a recipient of the NSI Drama Prize and has worked at the Winnipeg Film Group.
O’Brien is fluent in both French and English and has recently completed a Masters degree in City Planning (MCP) (community planning).
The English drama adjudicator for this year’s Festival also hails from the Rainy River District.
Brian Hagarty grew up in Rainy River, lived in Fort Frances and Devlin for years and currently resides at Clearwater Lake.
He has a love of theatre and has been an active member of Fort Frances Little Theatre for 25 years, with performances in more than a dozen shows.
Hagarty also co-wrote and directed the play, “Who Promised You Paradise,” and is currently acting in the upcoming production of “The Office,” which is set to hit the stage April 23-25 at the Copper River Inn.
Eleanor Epp of Brandon, MB will be the piano adjudicator this year.
She completed her ARCT in Piano Performance, as well as the ARCT Teacher’s diploma and has been associated with music festivals for many years.
Epp teaches all levels of piano and theory, currently at the E-Gre Conservatory of Brandon University, as well as maintaining a studio from her home and in the Minnedosa area.
She serves as pianist in her church, and she accompanies local choirs, instrumentalists and vocalists.
The committee’s final adjudicator is Dr. Darlene Chepil Reid who will adjudicating both the instrumental and vocal divisions. Hailing from Thunder Bay, Chepil Reid is a member of the Executive Board for the Canadian Federation of Musicians Thunder Bay Local 591 and performs regularly on tenor/ bass trombone, tuba, baritone with Roy Coran’s Jazz Big Band, ThunderBrass quintet, and the Thunder Bay Community Band.
She is director/arranger for ThunderBrass and has been commissioned for vocal and large ensemble arrangements with vocal and instrumental soloists with the TBSO and the TBCB.
Chepil Reid is currently an examiner with Conservatory Canada and a Contract Lecturer in the Lakehead University Music Department teaching history, theory, film music, composition and orchestration.
“We’re very excited to have these adjudicators with us over the next few weeks,” Donald expressed. “I’m certain they will share their knowledge and inspire our local performers.”
For more information, call Donald at 274-3384 or visit