Algoma Fall Festival
Held at Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, originally for three weeks each fall so that between performances visitors might enjoy the rich colours of the changing leaves for which northern Ontario is famous. The festival began in 1973, organized by the Algoma Arts Association, a citizens' group formed in February of the previous year. By 1988 it was four months in duration, lasting from September to December. It has been supported by funds from private donors, corporations, the OAC, the Canada Council, and the city of Sault Ste Marie, and reached audiences averaging 25,000 per year over the first 15 years.
Music, dance, theatre, films, workshops, visual arts exhibitions, crafts displays, and particularly concerts and workshops in the schools have been regular features. The education program has gradually expanded with the increasing presence of artists in the schools throughout the year sponsored in whole or in part by the festival. By 1990 attendance at ticketed events averaged between 5000 and 7000 per year. Performances are held at local churches and schools and at the Civic Centre, the James Norris Centre, and the White Pines Auditorium.
Among those who appeared at the first festival were Elyakim Taussig, Jean Bonhomme, Maria Pellegrini, Dinah Christie and Tom Kneebone, the Festival Singers, and the Interfaith Choir of Sault Ste Marie. Another regular feature of the festival is the Algoma Festival Choir, founded by Nicholas Goldschmidt in 1974. Established as a permanent choir in 1975, it also performs throughout the year, independent of the festival. The Amadeus Ensemble, BBC Scottish SO, Canadian Brass, Elmer Iseler Singers, Mary Lou Fallis, Maureen Forrester, Angela Hewitt, Oliver Jones, Pauline Julien, Anton Kuerti, André Laplante, Nexus, Nimmons 'N Nine Plus Six, the Orford String Quartet, Arthur Ozolins, Oscar Peterson, the Tapestry Singers, Toronto Consort, TS, Vienna Boys' Choir, and Jon Vickers are among those who have performed at the festival.
The children's program has included such performers as Sharon, Lois and Bram, Bob Schneider, and Charlotte Diamond, and the program has also included puppet theatre groups and ballet companies such as the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Les Ballets jazz de Montréal, and les Grands Ballets Canadiens. In 1976 the festival presented Britten's Noye's Fludde, with Ingemar Korjus and Barbara Ianni, and in 1977 it offered two Menotti operas, The Telephone. In 1979 Opera in Concert performerd Les Pêcheurs de perles and in 1982 the festival mounted a production of Hansel and Gretel. It has premiered several commissioned works, including Milton Barnes' Serenade in 1974, Larry Crosley's Variations on a Canadian Folksong in 1975, Louis Applebaum's Algoma Central in 1976, and John Arpin's Summer Suite in 1977.
Artistic directors have been Thomas Hahn 1973-4 and Nicholas Goldschmidt, who became associated with the festival at its inception, serving as consultant 1973-6 and assuming the position of artistic director in 1977.
See also Music in Sault Ste Marie.