Much-loved Cowichan Camerata director Garth Williams is hanging up his baton this year. Might you be his replacement? (Submitted)

Lexi Bainas column: Music, dinner theatre, and the search for a conductor

Our esteemed founder and enduring musical director/conductor Garth Williams is retiring.

Ann Mendenhall just sent a note that Chemainus Classical Concerts is back with The French Connection on Sunday, March 11 at 2 p.m. at St. Michael’s Church.

The piano duo of Susan de Burgh and Ed LeBarron will be playing.

Check out or 250-748-8383 for ticket prices and availability.


Just heard from H.L. (Woody) Reimer that big changes are coming at the Cowichan Camerata String Orchestra (CCSO).

“Our esteemed founder and enduring musical director/conductor Garth Williams is retiring. Our 11th season Spring Concerts on April 20 and 22 will be Garth’s final appearances at the helm. At this time we are searching for a new musical director and conductor to lead us into our 12th season starting in August.”

So, the group is looking for a new director for their two dozen musicians of all ages by Aug. 1.

Here’s the deal:

“Are you a string player and music educator who loves to play music of all kinds and is interested in conducting a community orchestra? Rehearsals are held on Saturday mornings from September to May, with one or more concerts concluding each of the fall and spring terms. Good oral communication and teaching skills are a must, along with a playful and flexible attitude. You will work with the Board of Directors and orchestra members to choose a variety of music across genres (baroque, classical, romantic and modern, to pop, folk, musical theatre and movie scores). Collaboration with other musical groups is encouraged and musicians often play local gigs as fundraisers in the summer months. For more information about the orchestra please check out our website . The CCSO can also be found on Facebook at

If this sounds like a great musical opportunity for you, please email your expression of interest together with resume as soon as possible to the search committee chair at A detailed job description is available. The closing date for accepting applications is April 30, 2018.”

The Camerata has been responsible for furthering the dreams of many Valley string players. Let’s hope this great effort can continue.


Nick Both from Ramada Duncan just leaned over the back fence with some events at the River Rock Bar & Grill in March. They include TL Douglas (March 9), Ear Candy (March 10), Mary Egan (March 16), Ultimate Music Trivia Challenge (March 17 and March 24) and Teri Wood (March 23).


Megan Caldwell at Riot Brewing in Chemainus chimes in, too, with lots of fun this month.

“We have added a couple events to our March calendar: Saturday, March 17, at 8 p.m. St Patrick’s Day celebration with Cabin Fever and a special cask (a small batch of beer). No cover.

Friday, March 23 at 8 p.m. West Coast duo, Lawson Kelly is back at the brewery. No cover. Cheers Cowichan is offering rides to and from the Duncan area for this show. $25 per person both ways or $40 per couple both ways. Call 250-710-7391

Saturday, March 24 from 11 to 4 is a Pop up Bike Tune-up with Cowichan Cycles. $25 will get you a 30 minute appointment with a bike specialist from Cowichan Cycles and a beer. All proceeds will go to The Riot Squad MS bike team. Call the brewery at 250-324-7468 to reserve your spot. Walk-ins will be accommodated if time permits.

Wednesday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m. is Cooking Class with Ester. She will be demonstrating the ease of creating healthy meals with Epicure products. RSVP to the brewery by March 23 to reserve your spot. 250-324-7468.


Those lively folks at Merridale are cooking up their first annual Prohibition Dinner Theatre night on March 17, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Consider this: “Step back in time, or should we say ‘swing’ back in time, to the Roaring Twenties, when the whole Island was dry, except the hippest, coolest, most popular speakeasy North of the border, The Dale.

“From the moment you arrive at Merridale you will be transported to a bygone era. With live jazz music, swing dancing, farm to table food and appetizers, and a playful theatrical production that will make you laugh, cry and wish it was 1920 again — it’s truly a special time at The Farm — or should we say, The Dale.”

Appetizers, a long table dinner, and a live performance with an interactive theatrical production, live music, and a special performance by actress/singer Charlotte Denton, this is an event not to be missed, says Merridale owner Janet Docherty.

“We are so excited to offer our guests an opportunity to sing, swing, step back in time, and be part of that playful part of our history. When Charlotte Denton starts belting out Cole Porter tunes, and Karen Elgersma comes on stage to tell you the story of ‘the Dale’, you will be transported to a time that is both enchanting and a true escape from the ordinary.”

For tickets to this special night, call Merridale at 250-743-4293 or go online to

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