Swift Current Arts Council offers diverse concert lineup for 2023-24 season

Andrew Allen’s Christmas-themed concert takes place Dec. 3.

By Matthew Liebenberg


A diverse lineup of artists will be performing in Swift Current during the upcoming 2023-24 Stars for Saskatchewan concert season.

This annual concert series is organized by the Swift Current Arts Council and all performances take place at the Living Sky Casino Event Centre from September to April.

“We’re really excited about this lineup,” Swift Current Arts Council Administrator Helen Arnold said. “It’s got some international flavour, it has some dance, there’s a Christmas show in there, we have a comedian coming, we have ballet coming, some folk music, guitar players, piano players. It’s a great mix of different types of entertainment.”

It is no easy task to put together a concert season that caters for various musical tastes, but feedback from audiences helps the Arts Council board members with their decisions.

“In the past we’ve done some polling of the audiences and talking to subscribers and getting their feedback on what they would like to see in the season lineup,” she noted. “We try to fill the season with a good variety of entertainment that the audience has requested and we try to pick some shows from every different genre of music or dance or drama sometimes. So we’re pretty excited about the lineup we have for this year. It’s filled in nicely and we have a good season coming up.”

A key part of the process happened last fall, when Arnold and Swift Current Arts Council board members attended the Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils Showcase weekend in Saskatoon, where live performances by artists assisted representatives from different arts councils with their concert decisions.

“They do a 15-to-20-minute mini performance for us,” she said. “So it’s a weekend packed full of listening to great performers and then trying to make a decision on who we bring in from that. It’s a highlight of being on the board of the Arts Council. It’s a really fun weekend. It alternates between Regina and Saskatoon every year.”

The Swift Current Arts Council will not select all the artists for an upcoming season from the performers seen at the showcase weekend.

“Because we’re a larger arts council, we can bring in some of our own as well,” she said.

There will be 10 concerts in the 2023-24 regular season as well as two additional standalone concerts that are not included in the subscription series.

“We typically try to throw in a couple of those extra shows,” she said. “It just depends who’s touring through and what tour we can pick up on. We’re happy to bring those two in and to include them in our offerings for this year.”

The regular concert season kicks off on Sept. 26 with the Mediterranean music of Toronto-born musician Pavlo. He has released 15 albums in his 20-year career and two reached gold certified status. He has received two JUNO nominations for his music, which blends Greek, flamenco, Latin, and Balkan influences into contemporary pop.

The next concert on Oct. 22 features the virtuosic vocals and harmonies of the Volare Tenors, a classical-crossover trio from Edmonton who came from solo careers in opera, musical theatre and pop music to create this “popera” group.

The JUNO award-winning progressive folk-roots band Leahy will perform at the Nov. 16 concert. The seven band members, all from the Leahy family, are accomplished multi-instrumentalists and the high-energy show also includes passionate singing and step dancing.

Canadian singer-songwriter Andrew Allen will put the audience in a festive mood at the Dec. 3 concert. His Christmas-themed performance will offer new takes on classical holiday songs as well as original material.

The Prairie Debut concert on Jan. 11 will present the music of the Buzz Brass quintet. They showcase their skills through original performances reinterpreting classical works on trumpet, horn and trombone. Their repertoire varies from classical to ragtime to jazz. They have performed around the world and was a top 10 pick at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The Rory Gardiner concert on Feb. 13 will be a different experience that combines music with stand-up comedy. He received a 2018 Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) nomination and he has performed with country acts such as Keith Urban. His stand-up comedy videos have received over 50 million views and his YouTube sketches have been featured on Funny or Die and on America’s Funniest Videos.

Anne of Green Gables – The Ballet will be performed by Ballet Jörgen on March 9. This production is the first time that the famous Canadian novel has been authorized for creation as a full-length ballet.

The show Piano Heist on March 18 features musicians Nico Rhodes and Patrick Courtin in an unconventional performance of piano music that includes elements of theatre, comedy and audience participation. Their show will feature music varying from classical piano pieces to boogie woogie and romantic ballads.

The March 25 concert will present singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jack Garton, who will be performing original folk and blues songs and sharing some stories from his unusual day job as a gravedigger. He plays both a trumpet and accordion during his show with backing from a rhythm section.

The Stars for Saskatchewan regular season concludes on April 13 with a performance by Saskatchewan’s Jake Vaadeland and the Sturgeon River Boys. He had a breakout year in 2022 by winning two Saskatchewan Music Awards (Roots/Folk Artist of the Year and Album of the Year) and four Saskatchewan Country Music Awards, including the Songwriter of the Year and Emerging Artist of the Year.

The first of two additional concerts during the season will be the musical revue Oh What a Night! on Nov. 10. It is a musical tribute to the rock and roll and doo-wop band Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It is directed by award-winning Broadway producer and director Michael Chapman and written by Motown producer George Solomon.

The second additional concert on Feb. 29 will present The Great Canadian Roadtrip, an evening of country music with performances by award-winning country duo Doc Walker, two-time CCMA Male Vocalist of the Year winner Jason McCoy and Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Michelle Wright.

Arnold felt the wide range of artists featured in the upcoming concert performances and the different elements represented in various shows will make this a memorable season.

“I would say this season is more unique than ever,” she said. “It still has all those genres of music that our audience is looking for and I know it’ll be a season to remember, for sure.”

Tickets for the 2023-24 Stars for Saskatchewan concert season are available at www.ticketpro.ca or by calling 1-888-655-9090. Tickets will also be available at the door on the day of a concert.

Subscribers save on regular season ticket prices and new subscribers during the season will still qualify for those lower prices. There is another discount option with the three for $99 package, offering tickets to any three regular season performances.

For more information about the 2023-24 concert season and for the latest updates, visit the Swift Current Arts Council Facebook page (@swiftcurrentartscouncil) or website (www.scartscouncil.ca).