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Elly on the Arts: Looking back at some cultural memories

"The first column of a new year and here we are, in the middle of a seemingly never-ending cold snap in the midst of a certainly never-ending pandemic! We feel the need to shake off the doldrums, how about you?"
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A choir singing.

The first column of a new year and here we are, in the middle of a seemingly never-ending cold snap in the midst of a certainly never-ending pandemic! We feel the need to shake off the doldrums, how about you? There is not very much to highlight in the arts and culture scene in our little northern region anyway. Some endeavours are going on apace - the Uptown Emporium; online talent showcases like the recent Honky Tonk Angels project by CC Trubiak - But the real backbone of the performing arts, live productions, still cannot happen.

So, we have chosen to look back at some of the great performances of the past. We have some wonderful memories particularly of the big musical productions of the past 20 years but we know the history of Flin Flon holds many more, from the 1940s, ’50s and ‘60s and perhaps some from before or after. Do you have a memory of that time you want to share? If you do, send it along. We can’t promise your name will be up in lights, but there are readers of The Reminder who will love to see how your memories and theirs come together or conversely, differ.

We will start off with memories of the Flin Flon Community Choir’s second trip to New York City in 2013. Maybe you are asking, “Why not the first one?” There is a simple reason - we weren't there. We were already living back in Flin Flon and singing with the community choir, but only a (relatively) few members went on that trip. We understand from friends’ reports that it had some incredible and long-lasting repercussions (think Three Brides for Kasos) however, the Messiah trip will live on in many folks’ memories.

There were many members of the Flin Flon Community Choir on the trip and many more citizens of Flin Flon/Creighton/Denare Beach along for the show. We arrived in New York City in bits and pieces but most of the contingent had made it there by Thursday, Nov. 28 - which is American Thanksgiving. Of course, it’s also the day of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The parade always looks so wonderful on TV with those giant balloons of Pikachu and Snoopy flying along. Our little family contingent travelled by subway all the way from Harlem, where we were staying in a marvelous apartment on 118th Street West, down to 33rd Street and walked around the block to Macy’s to await the arrival of all the floats and bands. Unfortunately, approximately 45 per cent of the population of Manhattan chose to convene in that spot and we literally saw the bottoms of all of those balloons go by to recorded music that was muffled by the sheer numbers in the crowd.

We have since learned that there are many viewing platforms set up en route, much closer to our then-home, for anyone who wants to get there early enough to claim a seat. Only Edgar and Mary Wright had the ‘wright’ information. In fact, they had done all manner of research on free stuff to do in NYC and managed to have the best time during the trip.

We had been to New York several times before (and have been there a couple of times since) but never for Thanksgiving. We also take a little pride in not planning because, well you know, we like to be spontaneous and open to everything. That works for Broadway shows mostly (if you don’t mind what you see) and for galleries and museums. It doesn't work for Thanksgiving. Who knew? We realize we have not talked at all about the actual performance of Messiah and it was worth talking about. Stay tuned, there is more to this tale.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that NorVA Centre and Gallery are still highly functional during this COVID-19 time. The January exhibition is Honour and Reverence, an exhibition of beaded photographs and wearable art by Pat Bragg, an artist from the Yukon. The artist talk and reception will be held Jan. 28 at 5 p.m. in the gallery. A workshop on beading and multimedia projects will also be held Jan. 29 at NorVA for adult participants. Cost is $50 and includes supplies. A workshop for teens (though adults are also welcome) will be held Feb. 5. Cost to youth is only $20, thanks to the financial support of local business Kentucky Fried Chicken - cheers to them. Call the NorVA Centre to book a spot as social distancing protocols apply.