Chamberfest isn’t just your grandma’s festival (but you can bring her too)

Michael Morreale, 22, moved to Ottawa in May 2011 and is a producer at CBC. He plans on staying in town as long as there are almond croissants in the market.

We put up with the ‘razor-blade up your nose’ cold of Ottawa winters because of the promise of Ottawa summers. The allure of the city’s parks, patios, bike trails and festivals is the carrot in front of our collective noses that keeps many of us from moving to the Caribbean.

The only problem is that there are more summer festivals than time, and I’m here to make the argument that Chamberfest2011 is a festival not to miss.
I know what you’re thinking. You think that classical music is for those with grey hair or posh British accents.

This year’s Chamberfest smashes that myth with innovative concert programming designed to attract young people looking for something a little different. Forget everything you’ve heard about classical music making you smarter and check out a concert for something relaxing, engaging and unique.

The festival runs from July 23 to August 5 and offers 97 performances with more than 300 artists. You can get the full schedule here but I’ve highlighted three performances not to be missed.


Sat. July 23 at 1:00 p.m. Rideau Hall, FREE.

Local fiddler and step-dancer Stephanie Cadman teams up with classical superstar Lara St. John for an hour of jaw-dropping Celtic pyrotechnics. It’ll be a high-energy performances with many shady spots to sit and watch from.

Carmen on Tap

July 24,29 and August 14,21 at 7 p.m. Velvet Room, 62 York St., $80.

Imagine a night at the opera where you can wear jeans, grab a pint or step out for a smoke if you wish. Carmen on Tap has no stage and blurs the line between opera and real life. Includes dinner.

Simone Dinnerstein

Fri. July 29 at 7 p.m. Dominion-Chalmers United Church, 355 Cooper St., $35.

Mrs. Dinnerstein has a fantastic story. She always wanted to be a piano performer, but when labels wouldn’t pick her up, she financed her own recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Eventually a label noticed and the recording shot to number one on Billboard’s classical music charts in just one week. It even outsold The White Stripes on Amazon.

I could’ve highlighted so many more performances here. From new music to latin accordion to the National Youth Orchestra, there’s music to float anyone’s boat over at Chamberfest. It’s a perfect chance to try something new in Ottawa. I promise you’ll leave thinking it’s more than just your grandmother’s festival (but you can bring her along too!)

Chamberfest has discounts for students, seniors and members of the Canadian forces. All the information you need is here.

Welcome to Local Tourist Ottawa, Michael – we hope to see more of you soon!