Opera legend Ben Heppner wows audiences at Collingwood Music Festival fundraiser
Sunday afternoon, June 5, renowned Canadian tenor Ben Heppner and the brilliant pianist Daniel Vnukowski performed a moving interpretation of Richard Strauss‘ Enoch Arden, from the heartbreaking poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson during his tenure as Poet Laureate of England in 1864. Mr. Vnukowski gave a brief introduction to the various “leitmotifs” (main musical themes) found in the score, followed by a dramatic and colorful performance featuring the two artists .
Mr. Heppner’s recitation of the poem and Mr. Vnukowski’s nuanced performance kept the audience in a state of suspense throughout the musical tale: After being caught in a shipwreck and missing for ten years, Enoch had been declared legally dead and his beloved wife Annie had moved on to a new suitor. Tennyson captures the rich footage of Enoch’s fateful sojourn and Annie’s tormenting pain and her longing for Enoch before moving on.
At the end of the hour-long recital, the audience rewarded the performers with an extended standing ovation. Ben Heppner then answered questions from the audience regarding his incredibly long career of performing at major opera houses around the world. This was followed by a short encore that Mr. Heppner once sang at an after-concert party at La Scala in Milan, Italy: “I Don’t Wanna Rock and Roll” by Maury Yeston.
Daniel Vnukowski, also Artistic Director of the Collingwood Music Festival, exclaimed: “It has been a glorious and historic day in the making and I would like to once again thank Ben Heppner for sharing his remarkable artistry with us, to our dear hosts JC Pennie & Marilyn Field of Windrush Estate Winery for opening their chateau for this event, and to everyone who worked so hard to make it a success: the board of administration, the treasurer, Staff, Members, Friends of the Festival, Sponsors, Donors and dozens of volunteers. We were also delighted to welcome Ben’s fans and festival supporters from around and as far away as Calgary and Ottawa!”
The concert was then followed by a silent auction, during which local Collingwood painter, John Wallace Burton, had donated one of his stunning oil landscape paintings of Georgian Bay, which fetched $3,500, helping to raise additional funds for the festival.
The event raised over $20,000 to continue the festival’s mission to provide exceptional and memorable musical experiences each summer in the South Georgian Bay region, featuring award-winning artists in the fields of classical , world, jazz and indigenous genres. Additionally, this major fundraiser helps expand the festival’s FREE youth programs taking place at the nearby Duntroon Highlands Golf Club, which offers an enchanted musical course coupled with the serenity of nature – all outdoors with a charming view of the bay.
From July 8-15, 2022, the Collingwood Summer Music Festival will bring audiences the brilliant symphonic power of the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, a program of popular spirituals with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, the swingin’ a cappella “Countermeasure , and more.
Vnukowski is thrilled to announce that The New Classical FM is offering the chance to win a VIP festival package. The prize includes an overnight stay at 11 Rooms Boutique Hotel in Collingwood town centre, an Italian dinner for two at Brunello and a terrace breakfast for two at Petit Espresso Post as well as 2 Gold Passes for the Collingwood Music Festival.
To enter the draw and order tickets, visit https://collingwoodfestival.com or call (705) 416-1317.
Photo credit: Tjalling Photography