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Photo C/O @hamiltonwinterfest

By: Natalie Clark

Hamilton has been getting its fair share of the winter weather this season, so in what better way to embrace it than to explore all that Winterfest 2019 has to offer?

Winterfest is a two-week long affair that features winter events in and around the city. Beginning Feb. 1, there will be free and paid events held throughout Hamilton such as open skate, live music and various themed events. Take a break from studying and enjoy the winter weather while taking part in this timely Hamilton tradition.

 

Live Music by Matt Mays

Juno Award winner and Hamilton born indie rock singer/songwriter Matt Mays will be performing at Hamilton Central Public Library on Feb. 10. Mays is currently on his Dark Promises Tour and will be making a pit stop in his hometown for an intimate show. Head on down to Hamilton Central Public Library for some of the best music Hamilton has to offer. This is a paid event and tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.

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Frost Bites Performance Festival

Frost Bites is a four-day event in partnership with Hamilton Fringe featuring some of Hamilton’s best theatre performers. Each night, artists will perform “bites” of theatre shows that are meant to last no longer than 20 minutes each. The festival will also be taking place on Feb. 14 to Feb. 17 at two community locations, the New Vision United Church and St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church.

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Celebrate Black History Month in Hamilton

On Feb. 13, Winterfest will be holding a lecture featuring guest speaker Kojo “Easy” Damptey, an afro-soul musician and scholar-practitioner. Born and raised in Ghana, he attempts to address societal issues and enact change in the world with his lyrics. He will be speaking on behalf of stories of existence, resilience and resistance. The event is free and will be held at the Historic Ancaster Old Town Hall. All are welcome to join the celebration and commemoration of Black History Month.

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Learn to Knit

Stressed? Bored? Dying to pick up a new hobby? If any of those resonate with you then this beginners knitting course may be up your alley. For $90 you’ll learn the basics of knitting over the course of three classes, running on Wednesdays from Feb. 13 to Feb. 27. Grab a group of friends and head down to the Art Aggregate in East Hamilton for all the tips and tricks you need to know about knitting.

 

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Tai Chi Open House

In honour of the beginning of the Chinese New Year on Feb. 5, Barton Stone Church will be hosting a Fung Loy Kok Taoist Tai Chi Open House on Feb. 9. This event is free and includes a demonstration and class, as well as various hot drinks including tea and apple cider! There will be volunteer staff available to chat with you about their class schedule, as well as information about the benefits of Taoist Tai Chi. The event is sure to be a warm evening full of new learning experiences.

 

The Canteen

The Canteen is one of Hamilton Winterfest’s signature events. Featuring live music from a variety of artists, including Hamilton-based singer/songwriter Ellis, a cozy fire, winter marketplace and various other events, this event is worth the trip to the Battlefield House Museum & Park National Historic Site on 77 King Street West. The location is also known as one of Canada’s most significant monuments of the War of 1812. Aside from participating in the event’s attractions, you are also welcome to explore the museum and historic grounds on site. This is an all-day event taking place on Feb. 16 starting at 10 a.m.

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Graphic C/O Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra

By: Andrew Mrozowski

From Jan.12 to Jan.19, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra will run their fourth festival in their composer festival series. This year, the focus will be on Baroque-era composer, Johann Sebastian Bach.

“Bach is arguably the most influential and relatable composer of all time. His beautiful orchestral music and his fascinating life will be a joy for everyone to experience. I do think that Bach is the ultimate composer. He has that perfect balance of musical skill, transcendent spirituality, and human emotion,” said Gemma New, the music director for the HPO.

The HPO has partnered with various venues and amateur orchestras across Hamilton with the goal of teaching the community more about composers’ music and life.

“What we really wanted to do was connect people in the community to a single composer’s work and give the public many different perspectives on that particular composer,” said Diana Weir, executive director of the orchestra and McMaster alumna.

With previous festivals spanning the lives of Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn, the HPO has seemingly been on a roll with the popularity of their artist festival series and the community’s engagement.

“We really wanted to do something to see amateurs and professionals work together in other organizations. [Hamilton] has a very strong amateur music scene, so everything must reflect what Hamilton is interested in and what Hamilton needs,” said Weir.

“Music contributes to a person’s sense of wellness and we are committed to explore how to use our artists to contribute to the wellbeing and life satisfaction of the community.”

This year, there are nine different events spanning the course of the seven-day festival. There is an event for everyone in this year’s Bach Festival whether you are an avid fan of this era or not. The Sil has highlighted three events that students may enjoy:

 

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Tuesday January 15 | 7:30 p.m.

Bach’s Coffee House

Redchurch Café and Gallery, 68 King Street East

Inspired by Bach’s coffeehouses in Leipzig, Germany, HPO’s Associate Concertmaster Lance Ouellette is hosting a casual night in conjunction with Redchurch Café and Gallery. Enjoy Bach on the violin accompanied by beer, prosecco, or a latte as well as the current art exhibition, Fell Through by Paul Allard and Jonny Cleland.

Tickets $20


Thursday January 17 | 5:30 p.m.

Bach Happy Hour

Shawn & Ed Brewing Co., 65 Hatt Street, Dundas

The fan favourite event returns to Shawn & Ed Brewing Co. Enjoy a night of Bach music performed by an HPO trio while drinking specialty beer at this local craft brewhouse.

Bar opens at 5:30 p.m. Music and drink pairings from 6-7 p.m..

Tickets $20 in advance, $25 at the door.


Saturday January 19 | 7:30 p.m.

Glorious Bach and Pro-Am Jam

FirstOntario Concert Hall, 1 Summers Lane

Concluding the week-long festival, expert Baroque conductor Ivars Taurins and the HPO are putting on one final show featuring the works of Johann Sebastien Bach. At the end of the concert, stick around for the Pro-Am jam.

You can have the chance to perform with professional musicians and conductor Ivars Taurins in this professional-amateur jam session of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by J.S. Bach.

Tickets start at $10

Must purchase a ticket to register and participate in Pro-Am Jam

 

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This festival is different from other music festivals you may find. As the HPO’s main goal is to break down barriers to access in the community, they’ve aimed to make the events affordable, especially for a student-budget. They’ve also brought the music outside of the typical performance in a concert hall where guests may feel intimidated.

“I really hope that people will feel like they are connected to the HPO and [the HPO] is connected to the community. The HPO is somewhere where people can develop memorable experiences with their friends and loved ones,” said Weir.

So enjoy a drink and listen to Bach at a café, or perhaps go to the library and attend an insightful talk and beautiful performance, wherever and however you experience the Bach Festival the HPO will be sure to take you back to the Baroque-era.  

 

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[spacer height="20px"]The AGH BMO World Film Festival is Hamilton’s largest Festival of international, independent, and Canadian film. This year over 60 films will be screened between October 11-21, and in honour of its 10th anniversary there are some extra-special things happening throughout the 10-days.

AGH Film Curator, Ryan Ferguson, works year-round selecting an impressive program of films that not only celebrate the power and beauty of film, but also highlight different issues in our present-day society.

There are many films for the LGBTQ+ audience this year. Love, Scott is a documentary about Scott Jones, a gay musician who was the victim of a hateful attack and is now paralyzed from the waist down. Scott will be attending the screening on October 17 for a Q&A period and will talk about his journey. Other highlights include: The Miseducation of Cameron Post (October 15) , starring Chloe Grace Moretz, and Rafiki (October 19), a film banned in its home country of Kenya. The closing-night party of the Festival will feature a screening of the documentary Paris is Burning (October 20) with a drag-show hosted by Hamilton’s own queer event planners #AdamandSteve.

If you like a little fun with your films, one of the Festival’s cult-classic themed events are sure to be an excuse to get a group of friends together. On October 13, join Girl on the Wing for a romantic screening of the 90s classic Romeo and Juliet set in a church filled with candles and other atmospheric touches. For another blast from the past, grab tickets to see Spice World on October 17, featuring the Spice Girls during their peak in the 90s. To cap off the evening, join us for 90s karaoke afterwards at Toast, a local wine bar, hosted by The Eye of Faith.

A film festival that takes place in October wouldn’t be complete without some horror flicks! You can expect classics like the haunted ballet academy flick Suspiria (October 11), unexpected beauty in the offbeat November (October 21), and a don’t-mess-with-me Nicholas Cage in the action-packed Mandy (October 13). These are all sure to get your Halloween season off to a spooky start.

To find out more information about the AGH BMO World Film Festival, head to www.aghfilmfest.com for the full schedule and to buy tickets. Follow along on Instagram @at_theagh or with the hashtag #aghfilmfest. Remember the days where you had to go to a video store to pick out a movie? Check out the Film Festival Video Store Pop-Up at Redchurch Cafe & Gallery (68 King St East), an interactive experience complete with retro VHS cases for each film! Take a look – with so many options at this year’s Festival, you’re bound to find a film that speaks to you.

Screening Locations:

 

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In our latest issue, we caught up with some musicians, artists, designers, and chefs showing off their craft on the streets!

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On the outskirts of campus, McMaster graduates prepare a story of an apocalyptic diner to be performed at the fourteenth annual Hamilton Fringe Festival. For many of those involved, ???????????????????? ???????????????????? preludes the next big step in pursuing a career in the local theatre industry in Hamilton and beyond.

Full story is available at https://www.thesil.ca/fringe

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On the outskirts of campus, McMaster graduates prepare a story of an apocalyptic diner to be performed at the fourteenth annual Hamilton Fringe Festival. For many of those involved, First Class preludes the next big step in pursuing a career in the local theatre industry in Hamilton and beyond.

First Class was first shown as part of the McMaster Theatre Programs’ graduating classes’ Honours Series Performances, and was selected via lottery to show alongside over 300 live performances from July 20 to July 30 at this year’s Fringe Festival.

The drama centers around three strangers trapped in a diner just days before the world ends. The three fight over the news of a spaceship, which is set to give the lucky few a first class ticket to a new, habitable planet.

McMaster Commerce graduate YiJian Zheng plays Benny, a young, gifted inventor with a villainous disdain for the poor, and who has had the privilege of having his ticket purchased for him by his parents.

Theatre program graduate Christina Stolte plays his foil. Her character, Callie, is a single mother, who is frantically finishing her application to earn a spot on the ship for her and her son.

The diner owner, Deejay, mediates the two and is played by Mohawk television and broadcasting student Funsho Elegbeleye.

The story explores themes of privilege, immigration and seeks to explore the grim question of who deserves to live or die when given the choice.

“I've always wanted to pursue a more artistic career. Singing, and [now] acting. I came to Mac mostly because my friends were here and they took commerce and my parents wanted to me have a commerce degree so that's what I chose. [But] my real passion is acting …"

YiJian Zheng

Co-writer and co-director Omobola Olarewaju was able to insert her own experience as a former international student into the characters.

“Coming from privileged background in Nigeria I was able to have both ends of the privilege [experience] … So I was privileged back home and came here and the international student life isn’t quite as [privileged] as what I came from I noticed there are a lot of limitations based on the fact that I'm not a citizen,” said Olarewaju.

“Deejay's character is kind of in the middle … I put a lot of my own experience into because he is also an international … an immigrant at the end of the world. [He] doesn’t have food ration rights, doesn’t have any of the normal things that people are entitled to, but still makes things work.”

This year, Olarewaju graduated from theatre and film and the economics programs at Mac, and like other members of the First Class team, she is immediately seeking to further her career in the theatre or film industry. She is currently working on a book, continuing her life-long practice of writing, while also seeking opportunities to work in television and film.

Unlike his fellow cast members, Zheng entered McMaster planning to pursue a career in commerce. In his third year, this changed when an extra male role needed to be filled for the McMaster School of The Arts’ production of Lady In The Red Dress.

“I've always wanted to pursue a more artistic career. Singing, and [now] acting. I came to Mac mostly because my friends were here and they took commerce and my parents wanted to me have a commerce degree so that's what I chose. [But] my real passion is acting … so when my friend told me about this opportunity with Lady in the Red Dress I took it."

Zheng resides in Richmond Hill, and currently has a full-time job to support his endeavour into a potential full time acting career. He hopes that opportunities to work in theatre, whether that’d be finally landing a role in a musical or working in the technical aspect of production, and that those opportunities present themselves close to the GTA.

The Fringe Festival is a means of showcasing the Hamilton theatre community, and it is this community that has both Stolte and Elegbeleye hoping that they can launch their careers in Hamilton specifically.

“[Hamilton] might not seem like the place to go if you were looking to be a skilled actor but I feel like it will get there, and aim hoping to be part of the people who find that, inspire that or who bring that to life ... I feel that Hamilton is going to be [my starting point]. ... it already is. People see that at the Fringe,” said Elegbeleye.
Elegbeleye has been acting in a variety of different productions since childhood, and has performed for two years at McMasters’ African Students Associations’ Afrofest. Currently, he is working a working on a web series titled Catalyst.

“[Hamilton] might not seem like the place to go if you were looking to be a skilled actor but I feel like it will get there, and aim hoping to be part of the people who find that, inspire that or who bring that to life ..."

Funsho Elegbeleye

Stolte has been part of school and community theatre productions since her childhood. Originally hailing from Burlington, she also sees Hamilton as a place for making connections with theatre industry veterans.

"Some theatre in some location is awesome, but not so much in a career sense — more in a recreational sense. In Hamilton, I have a very distinct feeling that it is very productive in a career sense where you could get a lot of really good experience ... that will then help with furthering a career in acting or anything to do with theatre really,” explained Stolte.

While this may be the last chance to see First Class, it may not be long before the names behind the production appear again in Hamilton’s theatre and independent film scene. For these artists, writers and technicians, Hamilton continues to be an increasingly attractive place to hone their craft.

First Class will be play at Mills Hardware from July 20 to July 30. Show times and more information about the Fringe can be found at http://hamiltonfringe.ca/

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On June 24, Barton Street East was closed off for an afternoon for festivities to bring awareness to the area and celebrate the potential of its local scene. It was complete with live artists, sports tournaments, plenty of green space provided by rolling out grass, 4600 square feet of it, for the first year at its Green Street Challenge and a couple breweries were on hand too.

In a city where McMaster and Mohawk continue to have a significant amount of influence from the more obvious areas such as Westdale to the core areas of downtown and beyond, Barton Street represents a part of Hamilton that has relied on itself to evolve past its former struggles. A community effort from top to bottom, the festival continues to grow from its humble origins in a single park in a way that successfully mirrors its upwards trend.

A family festival by design, it featured over 25 000 attendants and over 70 vendors divided between four different sections: community, shopping, service and good eats.

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Since its inception in 2009, Supercrawl has gone from an ambitious festival for which the sky was the limit to an increasingly corporate event that features cookie-cutter versions of indie-rock bands and little else.

Every September, those that aren’t already engaging in the nauseating practice of blindly lauding their city (#hamont, if you were unaware) for the growth of its burgeoning art scene or the arrival of yet another coffee shop with a cute origin story, flock to James Street in their Sunday best (Blundstone’s and MEC) to take in mediocre bands like The Arkells (who were introduced as Hamilton’s version of The Beatles last year—yawn, I’d take Migos over both of them) or washed-up has-been’s from the early aughts indie-rock heyday like Kevin Drew, touring their latest solo record purely meant to pay the bills.

Those that had money at this past incarnation will have found somewhere to spend it amongst the fleet of food trucks and other vendors, while those that didn’t, namely Hamilton’s homeless population, were nowhere to be found within the blockaded streets to ensure that the wealthy patrons  making their lone annual visit to the downtown core wouldn’t be bothered by the sight of real problems like systemic poverty.

The insertion of Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones into the lineups over the past two years might incline me to give Supercrawl a break if their presence at the festival didn’t reek of the faux-progressiveness of having a “token blackie” (as per Kanye West’s “Spaceship”). That the two most prominent musicians of colour to have visited Supercrawl in recent time both played soul/funk music (brilliantly, I might add) is depressing as it suggests that there is no room for other genres like rap or R&B that Hamilton’s wealthy elite might not find as palatable. It’s a shame that such is the case when there’s talent like Hamilton’s own Emay or Toronto’s Daniel Caesar, among many others, waiting around to be booked.

Something about recent lineups that featured revered but vanilla artists like Spoon and Yo La Tengo suggests that the  Supercrawl booking staff have decided on the lineup by flipping through old copies of the now-defunct SPIN magazine (although the inclusion of Monster Truck this year indicates they read The Hamilton Spectator—a worse thought). That has to be the case, or otherwise I’m just not in the required tax bracket one has to be in to enjoy a set where Daniel Lanois continues to ride Brian Eno’s coattails well into 2015.

Turning away from the mediocrity of the festival product, even the attention that Supercrawl brings the city is one-dimensional. In the past couple of years it seems like every entrepreneur that read about Toronto professionals migrating to Hamilton invested in the area with profit being their end goal. One only has to look at one of Hamilton’s most Instagrammable buildings for signs of this, with a portion of the Lister Block’s ground floor having recently become home to Wendel Clark’s Classic Bar and Grill. The former Toronto Leaf is one of many retired athletes to invest in an obnoxious eponymous sports bar and is certainly guilty of beating a white knight drum.

In a recent interview with The Hamilton Spectator, Clark said, “We want to be a part of the downtown and trying to help bring life back to the city and help get people downtown. You want to keep life going and people down there. It enhances the city, and hopefully we can help be a big part of that.”

While dissecting a shoddily-worded sound bite from a former hockey player might be considered poor form, the sheer generality of Clark’s intentions and the unvaried demographic of old white people that I’ll call Tommy Bahama-wave baby-boomers I’ve seen there whenever I’ve walked by is worrying. To think that thirty dollar steaks are going to in any way enhance the city is more than a little arrogant, and detracts from the more important work to be done throughout the Hamilton community. If you’re in need of a watering hole, just go to The Brain.

With the imminent arrival of the new Liuna GO station just down the street and the unfortunate promise of more disappointing Supercrawls to come, James Street is in danger of emulating Westdale in its snobby catering to the “well-meaning” upper classes.

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