Dates and Venue 1 – 10 August 2014 | John Lawson Park, Millennium Park, the Music Box, and the Ferry Building Gallery in West Vancouver

Reviewer John Jane

Spending British Columbia Day at the Harmony Arts Festival seemed like a really good idea, and several hundred people (including Liberal leader Justin Trudeau) obviously agreed with me. Overlooking the picturesque Burrard Inlet under a warm late afternoon sun, local singer-songwriter Linda Kidder, who lives just a few blocks away from Millennium Park, entertained the crowd at the Garden Stage with a collection of self-penned songs that ranged from mellow to even more mellow. During her career, Ms. Kidder has shared the stage with k.d. lang, Bon Jovi, Susan Crowe, Connie Kaldor and Raffi.

After a brief interval, it was the turn of the ten members of the Vancouver based Mariachi Los Dorados to take up the entire width of the Parc Retirement Living Garden Stage. The musicians of Los Dorados are well known through Western Canada for delivering the passion, love and respect they feel for México and its culture. Dressed in identical, colourful mariachi uniforms and sombreros, the band blew, strummed and fiddled through well-known boleros, Besame Mucho and Si Tu te vas plus that famous Mexican folk song La Bamba.

If you’re finding the weather too hot in the afternoons, then every evening there are Sunset Concerts at John Lawson Park and Garden concerts at Millennium Park (all free). Sunset Concerts start prompt at 7.30 while Garden Concerts start 8.45, so there no overlap.

The Shirleys A Cappella sextet
Photo: John Jane

Returning to the festival on Tuesday evening (Aug. 5), I was early enough to attend the latter half of The Shirleys concert at the John Lawson Park and most of the Kytami concert at the Garden Stage.

The Shirleys are an all-female A Cappella sextet, who delight audiences with their passion, enthusiasm, and singing an eclectic mix of folk, country, pop and gospel. Their repertoire includes original material as well as innovative covers of their favourite songwriters. Their mission to promote joy and happiness through their music staunchly connects with the audience. The Shirleys are: Yael Blum, Karla Mundy, Dawn Pemberton, Karen Lee Morlang, Samantha Taylor, and Victoria Oginski.

Former founding member of Electro-fusion band Delhi 2 Dublin, Kytami returns to the Harmony Arts Festival after a three year absence. Kytami is an enigmatic bi-racial (Japanese and English heritage) violinist who shifts effortlessly across musical genres. She has a stage persona in the same vein as Singaporean violinist Vanessa-Mae, but with more energy.

If you attend the Harmony Arts festival before it ends on Sunday (August 10th), take a look at Matthew Soules’ Vermilion Sands, a temporary installation that is transforming Millennium Park. The ‘egg-carton’ looking structure is supported by scaffolding. The shaped wire mesh covered in growing grass and clover gets automated irrigation. Vermilion Sands will be reabsorbed into the landscape when the Festival ends.

© 2014 John Jane