Similkameen embraces music and theatre

Residents of the Similkameen will have lots to do this weekend with entertainment hitting several stages in communities on both ends of the valley.

  • Aug. 16, 2011 4:00 p.m.
Orkestar Slivovica

Orkestar Slivovica

Residents of the Similkameen will have lots to do this weekend with entertainment hitting several stages in communities throughout the valley.

Princeton’s Traditional Music Festival will be taking place on two stages in the centre of the city and  running all weekend.

The downtown streets will be closed for the festival that begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday,  with a public street dance and Irish ceilidh band.

Saturday and Sunday’s musical performances will be running from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with music that features mainly Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, Manx and Breton with a focus on Irish music.

Instruments planning to be played that highlight these traditional styles of music include the fiddle, banjo, guitar and bagpipes, among others.

“The music originates from the very people whose lives it chronicles. It is not only an expression of life on the sea, in work camps, mines and factories but it also speaks of childhood and family life. It is not the music of concert halls but rather of the streets, pubs, picket lines, weddings, funerals and family kitchens, the music that belongs everywhere to everyone,” said festival organizers.

Music won’t just be found on the stages. Mmini-jams and guerilla dances will be happening all around town culminating in a Saturday evening town-wide party.

Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat founded the festival four years ago. The couple has been heavily involved in traditional music all their lives and wanted to share it with the Princeton community upon moving there.

“We would have big musical parties on the coast. We decided we could share the music with each other and the town, bring the musical community together,” said Ruebsaat.

“The festival has become a bit bigger since its first year but we would like to keep it small so we can keep the intimate relationship between the audience and the performers.”

Over the course of the weekend, there will be about 50 acts in which 120 musicians will be participating.

On the other side of the valley, a dozen children, aged seven to 12, will be performing in the Box Theatre, a production at the Grist Mill Tea House in Keremeos on Friday at 10:30 a.m.

Dave Cursons, the program coordinator, decided to stage the solo performances in five separate cardboard box stages inspired by a  similar presentation he saw last spring.

The program, run by Similkameen Family Literacy, runs from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. this week, ending Friday with the student’s performances. performances.

Each youngster is spending the week producing their own short play, preparing costumes and decorating the boxes with the guidance and support of Cursons and volunteers.

The children’s theatre program has been running for five years, each of which was a different and unique theatrical week-long workshop.

“Musical theatre is the best way for children to develop, they gain an ability to speak in front of other people while getting to use their creativity at the same time,” said Cursons, who has been working with children and in musical theatre for the past 45 years.

The Friday morning performances are free to attend and will be approximately two minutes long each with five in total, in which an audience of two will watch from outside each box.

For more information on the Princeton Traditional Music Festival visit or for more information on the Box Theatre call Cursons at 250-499-5417.