Mezzo-soprano White Sparrow (Debi Wong) and lutanist Solmund Nystabakk perform at Chemainus’ St. Michael’s Church. (Submitted)

Lexi Bainas column: Keeping me in the loop means those Valley stories just keep pouring in

If you have A&E news to share, let us know and we’ll spread the good word

A&E news is just pouring in to my desk these days. A big shoutout to all the enthusiastic folks who keep me in the loop.

First up this week, well-respected Valley pianist and accompanist Ruth Williams, (who has bailed me out of onstage trouble more than once), has passed along a message for music lovers.

“My daughter, Natalie Williams Calhoun, plays with a string group called the Atlantic String Machine. This group is coming to play in Duncan on Tuesday, April 3,” she says.

This is a great opportunity to come down from your chocolate high. (I know about those lovely little individually wrapped eggs that slip so easily into pocket or purse.)

This talented group are playing at Duncan United Church starting at 7:30 p.m.

The astonishing program includes everything from Bach’s Brandenburg ‘Concerto No. 2’, arranged by Williams Calhoun, to ‘Bolero’ by Ravel, to ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by the Beatles, to ‘Swing 42’ by Django Reinhardt and much more.

It’s a musical feast for the ears.

Tickets are $20 for adults, and $10 for students. Get them at the door, but get there early to get a good seat.


The SPCA has been in the news quite a bit lately, but not on my pages.

However, I have good news for book lovers.

Make your way to the SPCA shelter at 7550 Bell McKinnon Rd. for the SPCA book sale on Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Nick Versteeg, one of our favourite Cowichan Bay town criers, says, “We are excited to be planning Celebrate Cittaslow Cowichan, which will be taking place April 26, at the Oceanfront Suites at Cowichan Bay. The evening will feature food from local chefs, drinks, and entertainment, along with a silent auction and raffle featuring local artisans.”

In other words, expect a tasty event indeed.

“The main goal of the evening is to raise funds to create two yearly Cittaslow awards: the Brock McLeod Award, for best sustainable farm practices, in memory of a great local farmer, Brock McLeod of Makaria Farm; and the Cittaslow Environmental Award, for a company or organization that best demonstrates sustainable environmental practices,” he said.

For tickets to this event visit: They are bound to go quickly, so don’t hang about waiting to decide.


The indefatigable Marion Priestly has just leaned over the back fence to share that Chemainus Classical Concerts are presenting Romeo and Juliet featuring White Sparrow (Debi Wong), mezzo-soprano, and Solmund Nystabakk, lute. They’ll be wafting their music through the atmospheric confines of St. Michael’s Church on Willow Street on Sunday April 8, starting at 2 p.m. “In this musical telling of Romeo and Juliet, the themes of impossible love and overwhelming passion will unfold through ballads from the original play and from Shakespeare’s England,” she says. Canadian Wong and Norwegian Nystabakk travel from their home in Finland to perform works by Campion, Jones, Johnson, and Rosseter.

Tickets at the door are $20 for adults and $5 for under 18s. To buy in advance, check out for a list of places to get them for $17.


Fresh from a triumphant presentation of the musical Crazy for You, musical guru Phil Newns of Brentwood College, passes along the note that the West Coast Concert Choir Festival is coming to the school’s beautiful T. Gil Bunch Performing Arts Centre on April 20.

“We have a full line of eight participating choirs during the day, and an evening concert featuring five of Vancouver Island’s finest choirs. Three esteemed adjudicators will adjudicate our daytime choirs; Dr. Adam Con, Erica Phare-Bergh and Brian Wismath. The daytime school choirs include Discovery Elementary, Glanford Middle, Gulf Islands, Ballenas, Lambrick, Shawnigan Lake and Brentwood College.

“In the evening your choral treat called West Coast April Choirs will include; Vox Humana Chamber Choir, directed by Brian Wismath, the Cowichan Valley Youth Choir, directed by Sheila Hilton-Johnson, Brentwood College Vocal Ensemble, directed by Phil Newns and Tristan Clausen, South Island Harmony, directed by Allan Jacques and the Soundings Vocal Ensemble, directed by Denis Donnelly. “

So mark your calendars for an outstanding day and evening of choral entertainment. There is no charge to attend the daytime choir performances and adjudications. The daytime choirs perform from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

“In the evening our show starts at 7 p.m. and we ask for a $10 or more donation at the door, with proceeds going towards the CMS Food Bank.

Check out for more details.


Katie Daniel, vice-president of the Imagine That! group, has chimed in to point out that the gallery at 251 Craig St. is featuring two artists in its display windows starting March 30.

In the main window, check out Robert Andrews: Wooden Boxes and More.

According to Daniel, he “creates beautiful hand-crafted boxes from selected hardwoods found on Mayne Island. His boxes have a smooth velvety touch on the exterior, and his interiors often feature nested shelves. From the tiniest of boxes which might hold one precious piece of jewelry to larger boxes which could corral all of your electronic devices, his boxes are a treasure.”

In the boutique window, look for Robin Millan: Eclectic and Fun.

“Millan uses a number of different media to create her work. She often uses papier mache to create three-dimensional animals, but also hand-paints reclaimed furniture, creates totes from fabrics, and keeps people chuckling with ‘A Bit of Cheek’ — a series of fun-loving, chunky, naked ladies. She also works with hydrostone, creating three-dimensional castings and wall hangings of her original sculptures.”

She wants you to smile as you look at her work, and you will, according to Daniel.

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