In 2014, after “35 Terrific years in Toronto”, classical composer and artistic director Michael Pepa moved to Cobourg bringing his concerts with top performers with him. Since then he has produced a number of concerts with some of Canada’s top violinists, cellists and pianists. Initially planned to be in St Peter’s Church, the Concerts moved to the Loft when repairs were required for St Peter’s roof. So far, one concert has been in Victoria Hall but the word is getting out and the Loft may not be big enough to stage future concerts so more may be coming to Victoria Hall. The concerts are called Les AMIS concerts and their program plus more about them can be found on the Les AMIS web site (link below).
Michael Pepa started Les AMIS 60 years ago to help get new performers established and although he’s now on the third generation, some are still working with him 10 – 15 years later. Over the years, Les AMIS has had over 30 tours in Europe and Japan – most recently promoting Canada 150 in three European cities. They still have concerts in Toronto but his musicians have said they love it in Cobourg – especially performing in Victoria Hall with its great acoustics.
The Concert in Victoria Hall was one of two presented to celebrate Michael’s 80th birthday – it featured the Canadian Sinfonietta, conducted by Tak-Ng Lai with four soloists: violinists Lynn Kuo and Joyce Lai, cellist Rachel Mercer and pianist Erika Crinó. The first “birthday” concert was in Markham on January 12 and the concert in Cobourg was on January 13 with a big audience (photo below). Michael has teamed up with Ross Pigeau and Ken Prue to market his events and Ross and Michael presented their case for a $6000 municipal grant at tonight’s Council meeting. Their strategy is to grow the audience enough that it will end up moving to the Concert Hall at Victoria Hall to get more space.
Les AMIS Strategy
as presented to Council
- Make Cobourg a beacon for the High Arts
- Attract patrons from large cities (e.g. Toronto)
- Cooperate with community music groups
- Introduce patrons to the works of contemporary Canadian and international composers
But to do that, I would think they would need to keep prices down with grants – not only from the Town but also from sponsors, upper tier governments, Arts councils and the New Horizons Senior program. Tickets are typically $25 – not bad for something you might otherwise have to go to Toronto for. At the recent Concert in Victoria Hall, there were about 200 in the audience with about 40 from Toronto.