Elora Festival

Elora Festival (Three Centuries Festival 1980-4, Elora Three Centuries Festival 1985-9). Annual summer festival begun in 1980 in Elora, a picturesque 19th-century town near Guelph, Ont.

Elora Festival

Elora Festival (Three Centuries Festival 1980-4, Elora Three Centuries Festival 1985-9). Annual summer festival begun in 1980 in Elora, a picturesque 19th-century town near Guelph, Ont. The festival is the realization of a vision shared by Michael Purves-Smith, an early music specialist at Wilfrid Laurier University who was the festival's first artistic director, and Noel Edison, a local organist, choir director, and music teacher who succeeded him as artistic director in 1983. Originally focused on the performance of music of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries (hence the name Three Centuries) the festival's mandate was broadened in 1983 to include music of all periods and to provide events appealing to a wide range of tastes. Each summer's program offers some 20 major events over a two-week period (expanded to three weeks in 1991) and is a blend of vocal, choral, instrumental, and orchestral performances, together with music from the pop, jazz, and folk traditions. From the outset festival organizers have used Elora's historic landmarks to advantage. Its churches have provided the congenial environment in which most of the performances take place. An old mill (used as a restaurant), located by a waterfall, In 1984 a limestone quarry with superb natural acoustics began to be used as the venue of gala evening concerts enhanced by special lighting effects. Srul Irving Glick's oratorio Visions through Darkness: An Oratorio of Our Time was premiered at the 1988 festival, and Timothy Sullivan's chamber opera Florence was previewed at the 1991 festival and scheduled for its premiere at the 1992 festival. Among the great variety of performers who have taken part are Salome Bey, Douglas Bodle, the Boys' Choir of Toronto, James Campbell, Mark DuBois, the Elmer Iseler Singers, Mary Lou Fallis, Sandra Graham, Ofra Harnoy, Elizabeth Keenan, Norbert Kraft, Moe Koffman, the Mainly Mozart Orchestra, Ann Mortifee, Nexus, the Orford String Quartet, Arthur Ozolins, Susan Prior, Catherine Robbin, Quatre en Concert, Peggy Sampson, Nancy White, and the Woods Family. Many festival performances have been broadcast by the CBC. The Elora Festival Singers conducted by Edison appear at the festival each summer and in 1988 released a recording, Nine Lessons and Carols for Summer (WRC1-5338).


Further Reading

  • Durichen, Pauline. 'A musical past returns to life,' Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 24 Jul 1980

    Everett-Green, Robert. 'Expansion plans afoot as annual festival opens,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 31 Jul 1989