Thursdays Nights on the Edge: Classical Edge Finale

Earlier in the summer, I wrote about Thursday Nights on the Edge, an initiative of the Central McDougall and Queen Mary Park Revitalization Coordinator. In order to bring neighbours together, as well as to highlight the area, a different free activity was organized to take place every Thursday from mid-July to mid-August. These family-friendly events ranged from the geo-caching adventure that I attended, to historical tours, petting zoos and artistic explorations. Attendance varied (partially because all of the events were held rain or shine), but the organizers were anticipating their largest crowd ever for their finale on August 15, 2013.

I convinced my sisters to check out the event after having dinner at the nearby 124 Street Grand Market. When we arrived at McDougall Park, the event was already in full swing.

Thursdays on the Edge

McDougall Park, transformed

The idea behind Classical Edge was to create an elegant, almost gala-style event in a neighbourhood that is known for being anything but. I’d say the organizers succeeded – a stage was set up on the north end of the park, and for the duration of the evening, hosted a series of musicians, including a harpist and the Windrose Trio. Tables topped with linens and candlelit lanterns completed the upscale transformation.

Thursdays on the Edge

Our makeshift seats

Catering staff from Bridges wandered the grounds, passing around free bites of food, ranging from chicken canapés to mini hot dogs.

Thursdays on the Edge


I’ve never seen the park so full. Though I already knew Central McDougall is a diverse community, it was quite something to see on full display. Attendees definitely looked like they were enjoying themselves, from the young ones taking advantage of the playground and open spaces, to adults socializing outside on a beautiful night.

Though I haven’t yet heard if Thursday Nights on the Edge will return next year, I hope they do! They were a wonderful initiative that, with time, will help others see the possibilities in the communities that make up the North Edge.

Edmonton Symphony Orchestra: Late Night Paris

Two weeks ago, Mack and other social media folks were invited to attend an Edmonton Symphony Orchestra concert as a thank-you for having blogged about their shows in the past year. It was a nice gesture, and we happily accepted the tickets.

The tickets say “ESOBLOGGERS” in the top left corner!

The show was Late Night Paris, their second in a series that debuted this year with a later start time (9:30 p.m.), no intermission, and is billed as “interactive and spontaneous” with an opportunity to chat with Conductor Bill Eddins. The concerts also feature live jazz in the lobby afterwards, making for a very full night.

Before the show, we met up with Philip Paschke, the ESO’s New Media Specialist, and organizer of the blogger appreciation event, at Moriarty’s. I was tempted to order a dessert (made by Duchess!), but stuck with a drink. While I enjoyed the very pink Bellini, the stem of the glass was sticky. Ick.


The group eventually made their way to the Winspear, and then parted ways, as we were all given the choice of where we wanted to sit. Mack, Jeff, Brit and I all took the plunge and opted for a seat in the Choir Loft, behind the stage.

Jeff and Brittney

The Choir Loft definitely provided me with a different perspective of the orchestra. Not only were we able to watch the audience from our seats, but spy on the musicians as well, and notice all the small details (page turning, mallet swapping) that go unseen when facing the stage.

The audience

The orchestra

That said, an unfortunate consequence of our placement was an inability to hear what was being said into the microphones, as the speakers in the Winspear Centre face the opposite direction. Brittney said that she didn’t have any trouble discerning the banter between Eddins and Conductor Luke Waldin, but for me, it felt a bit like watching the one-sided conversations with the teacher in Charlie Brown – after some muffled sounds, the audience would erupt in laughter.

Bill Eddins and Luke Waldin

As advertised, the tone of the evening was very light – at one point, Waldin even walked on stage, just before Eddins was about to begin another piece, with a glass of wine in his hand. The mood was noticeably more carefree than some concerts I have been to in the past – I can see how this series would appeal to a wider range of people who might appreciate music but may not have the knowledge that more serious patrons do.

As for the music, I loved the Bizet Symphony in C Major – spirited and uplifting, it was a joy to listen to. Eddins is always fun to watch too – he conducts with his whole body, complete with kicks and full arm sweeps.

The ESO has introduced their concert line-up for the 2010-11 year, and Late Night with Bill Eddins will be back. Your next opportunity will be on January 21, 2011, for Late Night Percussion.

You can read Jeff’s thoughts about the night here and Brit’s post here.

Queen Elizabeth High School’s Night of Music

Dickson and I headed to Annie’s school of Queen Elizabeth High for their annual Night of Music event. It seems I’ve been so far removed from the school environment that I had to be reminded of the positive, infectious energy young people exude when they are focused on achieving a goal. In this case, it was musical performance.

The students did better than I expected, and I enjoyed in particular the rendition of the always charming Barenaked Ladies’ song “If I Had A Million Dollars,” and the vocally-challenging Elvis Presley number “A Little Less Conversation.” Before the acapella group HOJA closed out the concert, the audience was treated to a version of the “Evolution of Dance” (check out the original on YouTube; the guy is now paid to perform his act all over the U.S. at various conferences and events).

Thanks for the invite, Annie!