Reminded to Enjoy Hometown Culture with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra

I am always amazed as I grow older and return to old stomping grounds, how very fortunate I was to have grown up in a community so rich in the Arts and to have been exposed to so much from such a young age.  I have long had this appreciation with the theatre, much of which I attributed to Grandfather and summers on Vancouver Island, but in truth I owe both my parents a big thank you for this too, especially Dad’s yearly Christmas present of taking us and whomever our various significant others were to a musical every year.  What I didn’t appreciate quite so much was the great music I’d grown up with, been surrounded by and exposed to, probably as I myself am somewhat limited in my music abilities. It has taken me years to appreciate that my gift with music is the ability to dance to it and not care who’s watching.

As I’ve started to write about musicians I enjoy, it hit me that in Canada, my teenage stomping grounds of Hamilton, Ontario is the birth place of much Canadian musical talent.  Why then hadn’t I been aware of this as a teenager?  I blamed the fact that I was too young to frequent the drinking holes where these musicians were playing. Instead I use to get taken out to hear classical numbers at Hamilton Place.  At least that’s what I blamed for my lack of memory for the incredible musical talent that Hamilton held, until a week ago Saturday, when I found myself once again seated in Hamilton Place, waiting for a night of classical and Celtic music with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and Cherish the Ladies.


Must say, was rather pleased with our seats.


As the lights went down and the music began, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of what I heard, and then flooded back the memories of how much incredible talent I had heard in this very space, including The Three Tenors. What amazing talent we had in this auditorium, from the local talent in the Orchestra (including a neighbour, Stefan Kitai, on percussion), to musical and dance talent attracted from other parts of the country, the States and the World.  I love it when artists from other places come together to collaborate and create something of beauty together and that is exactly what we we got that night. Locally ~ the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, from Stratford ~ Dan Stacey (fiddler & dancer), from Cape Breton ~ Martin MacDonald (conductor), from the States & the UK ~ Cherish the Ladies ~ Joanie Madden, Mary Coogan, Mirella Murray, Grainne Murphy, Kathleen Boyle & Deirdre Connoll (Celtic Group), and from the States & Australia ~ Hammerstep ~ Garrett Coleman & Jason Oremus (Irish Dancers).

The first Act had me enraptured in the beauty of classical Celtic music of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, that could have brought tears to my eyes were it not for Martin MacDonald having me in stitches of laughter.  He probably actually brought tears to my eyes, but for a very different reason.  When the intermission hit, I could hardly wait for it to be over and the second Act begin and for Cherish the Ladies to hit the stage.



I must admit, that I was glad that the second Act had such a different tone and style, as it made it hard to compare the two Acts and meant that it didn’t take anything away from the beauty of the first Act.  Where in the first Act you were bathed in the gentle beauty of Celtic Music from the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, the second Act was a foot stomping good time with Cherish the Ladies, Dan Stacey, Garrett Coleman, Jason Oremus and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, literally. There was a lot of foot stomping on-stage, especially from Dan Stacey, Garrett Coleman & Jason Oremus, and all I wanted to do was hop out of my seat and join them. It certainly didn’t take much to get any of us in the crowd up and out of our seats for a standing ovation, with which we were pleasantly rewarded with an encore.  Good thing too, as I was so tempted to yell “Encore, Encore!”, but was wondering if that would have me banned from the auditorium for life, even if this didn’t feel like a piece of stuffy classical music, where one should provide a subdued polite and sophisticated clap.



A wonderful evening and a much needed reminder of all the marvelous cultural experiences we have at home, as well as abroad.  What are some of your favourite experiences in your hometown?


  1. says

    Sounds like a wonderful evening with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. I can see why that brought to mind how many things there are to enjoy in your own hometown. I’m always being struck by how much there is in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live — there’s just not enough time to take it all in!

  2. says

    Love it. I often come back from travels and try to view my city not as just my home, but through my explorer’s eyes. I’ve bee wanting to write some pieces about that even, I do believe you’ve inspired me to stop thinking about it and just do it!

  3. says

    It’s so neat to focus on your own hometown sometimes and what it has to offer. Of course, it’s in the eye of the beholder and you can find interesting things anywhere if you’re really looking… What I loved about Hamilton is the escarpment and looking down from the top over the city and up from the bottom. It’s a neat city, even if it’s not my hometown:) My current hometown, Boston, has its annual Southie St. Patrick’s Day parade coming up. We always start out with an Irish breakfast (complete with blood pudding and a black & tan) and then head down to the raucus (but family friendly) event. Something NOT to miss in Boston, if you ever get a chance!

  4. Cynthia says

    We have a lot of super cultural events in Cape Town, two of my favorite are the summer musical concerts in Kirstenbosch Gardens where you can have classical, pop or jazz bands and then also the annual Jazz Festival which has now become an international event. Would love to visit Hamilton some day and see your Philharmonic Orchestra.

  5. Michael Figueiredo says

    That sounds like a lovely evening. :) I agree with you—sometimes we forget that our own hometowns can offer all sorts of good things, including culture!

  6. says

    Sounds like a great way to spend the evening. I absolutely love my hometown and miss it much. One of our great traditions is also the philharmonic, but we’re famous for having (supposedly) the second-biggest street festival in the world: the “Fall Festival” each October in Evansville, Indiana.


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