Turning 10 this year, Ottawa’s Music and Beyond Festival will swell to program 100 events during its two-week run, including, in keeping with its “beyond” branding, combinations of classical music with everything from circus performances to readings of Sherlock Holmes stories, to discussions of mental health.The festival, which runs from July 4 to 17, will also feature concerts by the Bennewitz Quartet, the Orava Quartet, the State Choir Latvija, genre-bending violinist Alexandra Da Costa and many others, including the cream of Ottawa’s rich classical music scene. Performances of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos plus celebrations of Mozart, Handel and Brian Law, the conductor who loomed large over Ottawa’s music community in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s before moving to New Zealand, are also on the bill.“Every year has been you try to top what you did before,” said Julian Armour, the artistic director of Ottawa’s Music and Beyond festival. To mark the festival’s 10th anniversary, “we wanted to make sure that we made a bit more of a statement … something that is really celebratory and really fun,” he added.“My goal really is that there’s something for everybody, I don’t care what their tastes are,” Armour said. “It’s like a menu with everything on it, you can just choose.”Some leading and intriguing choices from the festival are below.OPENING GALA: MUSIC AND CIRCUSWhen and where: Thursday, July 4, 7:30 p.m., Dominion-Chalmers United ChurchWhat happens when you pair the eight-member Cirque Fantastic Troupe with 10 classical musicians? Acrobatics accompanied by works by Robert Schumann, Ludovico Einaudi and others. Juggling to the sounds of Bizet, Chopin, Mendelssohn and Kabalevsky. A contortionist contorting while Mozart plays. BENNEWITZ QUARTETWhen and where: Friday, July 5, 2 p.m. at Dominion-Chalmers United Church; Saturday, July 6, 7:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church; Sunday, July 7, 7:30 p.m. at Dominion-Chalmers; Monday, July 8, 7:30 p.m. at Almonte Town HallBased in the Czech Republic, the award-winning quartet will be practically unmissable during Music and Beyond’s week, giving four concerts at the rate of one a day starting June 5. Do your homework to determine whether you would rather hear programs featuring, for example, Bach, Mendelssohn and Beethoven or Mozart, Martinu and Dvorak or a celebration of Czech composers. SLEEPING ROUGHWhen and where: Tuesday, July 9, 7:30 p.m. and Wednesday, July 10, 7:30 p.m. at the Great Canadian Theatre CompanyWhen this puppet opera that addresses the issue of homelessness debuted at last year’s Music and Beyond festival, the work by guitarist Roddy Ellias and librettist Sandra Nicholls made a harrowing impression and packed an emotional punch. Unique in sound and appearance, this creative triumph deserves to be staged again. This time, Montreal vocalist Sienna Dahlen will voice one of the characters, replacing Toronto’s Felicity Williams. MUSIC AND MENTAL HEALTHWhen and where: Monday, July 8, 7:30 p.m., Dominion-Chalmers United Church; Wednesday, July 10, 2 p.m., First Baptist ChurchToronto psychiatrist Paul Grof will be on hand to discuss mental health and disorders as they affected the lives and work of composers including Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Schumann and Dvorak. ALEXANDRA DA COSTA: STRADAVARIUS BaROCKWhen and where: Thursday, July 11, 7:30 p.m., Lansdowne Park, Horticulture BuildingAccompanied by his rock band, the young Montreal-based violinist, who won a Juno in 2012 for Classical Album of the Year, is applying his 1701 Stradivarius to a heavy metal remake of Vivaldi, some jazzed-up Bach and a futuristic Pachelbel’s Canon. MUSIC AND IGOR GOUZENKOWhen and where: Friday, July 12, noon, Dominion-Chalmers United ChurchIt turns out that Igor Gouzenko, the Soviet cipher clerk who defected in Ottawa in 1945, was a “big, big classical music fan,” Music and Beyond’s Armour said. Because Armour became fascinated by Gouzenko’s story, he will present a concert that Gouzenko would have loved, which will include works by Beethoven and Tchaikovsky and traditional Russian music. MUSIC AND LAWWhen and where: Friday, July 12, 3 p.m., Dominion-Chalmers United ChurchThe Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, former chief justice of Canada, returns for a third time to a Music and Beyond stage to tell colourful stories about the run-ins that various great composers had with the law. Music by Beethoven, who was jailed for vagrancy, Debussy, Chopin and others are on the bill.
MILOSWhen and where: Saturday, July 14, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 14, 7:30 p.m., Dominion-Chalmers United ChurchMontenegro-raised guitarist Miloš Karadaglić is also known more simply as Miloš, and perhaps even more memorably as “the hottest guitarist in the world,” according to one British music scribe. Well, OK then. No doubt his renditions of Mozart, Piazzolla, and tunes by The Beatles, accompanied by strings and percussion, will be beautiful even if you have your eyes closed. SHERLOCK HOLMES AND MUSICWhen and where: Monday, July 15, noon, First Baptist Church“I’ve always loved those books,” Armour said of Arthur Conan Doyle’s treasured Sherlock Holmes novels. “There are lots of music references, and Holmes played the violin.” Actor Peter Howarth will bring the fictional great detective to life, and music by Mendelssohn, Paganini, Chopin and others are on the program. BRIAN LAW GALAWhen and where: Wednesday, July 17, 7:30 p.m., Dominion-Chalmers United ChurchIt might be easier to note who won’t be taking part in this concert paying tribute to the revered long-time conductor. Taking part will be: the NAC Orchestra; the Camerata Singers; members of the Ottawa Choral Society; members of the Ewashko Singers; members of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra; Junior Thirteen Strings and Camerata Strings. Best of all, Law will be coming from New Zealand to Ottawa to conduct everything.