Musical Milestones: 35 Years of Song in Elora

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It all started with a vision. And a kitchen table.

It seems that great ideas are hatched around this cornerstone of social interaction. In 1979 it was no exception as Noel Edison, Michael Purves-Smith Annette Smith and Bill Ellis nurtured an idea that would last 35 years and revolutionize arts and culture in Centre Wellington.

Good company. Good conversation.  Great ideas.

Since then some incredible things have happened at the Elora Festival – now an internationally acclaimed music festival featuring performers from around the globe; floating concerts on a barge in the Elora Quarry, captivating performances by stars such as Sarah McLaughlan Natalie MacMaster and Serena Ryder, world premiers of Visions through Darkness by Srul Iring Glick and Timothy Sullivan’s chamber opera Florence.  There has also been Juno and Grammy nominations for the beating heart of the festival – the Elora Festival Singers – a professional choir that has released numerous recordings on the Naxos label and performed at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall in New York City and the Musikverein in Vienna.

Originally dedicated to the presentation of music from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the festival’s mandate was widened in 1983 to include classical works from all periods and to provide events appealing to a broad musical palette. Each summer’s program offers more than twenty major events over a three-week period and is an assortment of choral, chamber and orchestral performances, together with multi-media spectaculars and intimate evenings of pop, jazz, folk and world music.

In celebration of the Elora Festival’s 35th anniversary, this summer’s concert series lives up to its reputation as a world-class musical happening. There are some remarkable performances scheduled for this July in the picturesque village of Elora, including David Fanshawe’s epic work, African Sanctus. Based on the composer’s journeys and audio recordings up the Nile River, African Sanctus is an immersion in a cross-cultural musical experience. The performance will feature a keynote address by the executive director of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, Ilana Landsberg- Lewis, as well as drumming demonstrations, an outdoor market, and various displays of African artifacts.

Sharron Matthews

Staying true to the festival’s mandate of diverse programing, the queen of comedic cabaret, Sharron Matthews, takes to the stage on July 26th with a sidesplitting mélange of mash up melodies and pull-no-punches hilarity. A born entertainer, Sharron Matthews brings her Big Broadway Show to the Elora Festival with an impressive resume of work behind her in television and theatre, including roles in Les Miserables and Mean Girls.

Latin Fusion Trio


Additional highlight acts include CBC Radio’s Tom Allen in a chamber music cabaret meets story-telling opus entitled The Judgment of Paris, the much-admired Latin Fusion Trio appearing with belly-dancer Ishra, and the Afiara String Quartet teaming up with world-famous clarinetist, James Campbell and his son James – a superb guitarist and songwriter in his own right.

Undoubtedly cause for celebration, this summer’s concert series features a closing weekend appearance by The Tenors at the festival’s premiere venue, The Gambrel Barn, on July 25th. Formerly known as The

The Tenors

Canadian Tenors, these platinum-selling operatic pop icons have shared the stage with such luminaries as Paul McCartney and Celine Dion. An appearance by The Tenors at the Elora Festival is truly icing on a well-deserved anniversary cake.

Reserve your slice of the celebration by ordering tickets at!