There’s No Business Like Snow Business

April 5, 2016 – Winnipeg, MB

Some of this amazing journey I’m taking across the country to record numerous orchestras for my upcoming True North: The Canadian Songbook project might be alternately called the “Tarmac Tour.”

The reason? For the second time in several weeks, we sat on a runway for five hours while awaiting lift off due to the effects of some fluffy white stuff suddenly deciding to make up for a threadbare Toronto winter. By depositing over 15 cm of its collectively cold carcass all over the city the night before, flights are being delayed, including ours.

Thankfully, producer Don Breithaupt and conductor Martin McDonald were already in Winnipeg to oversee the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra sessions at Centennial Hall, but there was a sense of panic on my end, because although we were supposed to land at 9:30 a.m. local time, we didn’t get to Winnipeg until 2 pm: an hour after the rehearsal started.

Marty wanted me to sing with all the symphonies during the rehearsals so that the orchestras would have a live sense of what we were doing with the songs and make it a little more human, and I had missed an hour. 

So with the True North project manager Darlene Sawyer and arranger Peter Cardinali in full tow, we ran to the venue as soon as we touched down. The orchestra had already finished rehearsing one song. After a long break to accommodate my arrival, we got to finish the other two. 

The sessions went well – the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra played so beautifully. For me it was an especially exciting preview, since I’m booked to play with WSO as the first official concert date of the True North: The Canadian Songbook tour that launches at the end of May 2017. It was nice to perform with them and get to know them a little.

And the recording even sounded better than the rehearsal, so I’m pumped!

We spent the evening at the very cool Mere Hotel, located along the Red River, and it was distinctive because it featured a touch screen that radiated different streams of colour from your hand, so you could create your own little moments of art.

It was a quick trip, but very effective – the arrangements are stunning and we were back in Toronto within 24 hours, defying our winter-like spring with warm thoughts of our Winnipeg experience. 

So far, snow good.


Melanie Vaugeois and Eleanor McCain at the Mere Hotel in Winnipeg

Peter Cardinali

Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra – Manitoba Centennial Concert Hall


Photos: Greg Locke


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