3 arts events to check out this weekend in Ottawa

New sounds — both ethereal and visceral — are on this weekend's list of three arts-and-culture events to see in Ottawa, along with free art at the National Gallery of Canada.

There's also free art at the National Gallery of Canada

Trails, a local high school student, performs her original music at Black Squirrel Bookstore and Espresso Bar Saturday evening. (Sandra Abma/CBC News)

New sounds — both ethereal and visceral — are on this weekend's list of three arts-and-culture events to see in Ottawa, along with free art at the National Gallery of Canada. 


Local musician Trails is only 18, but she's already a seasoned performer on the Ottawa concert and coffee house circuit, where she's made a name for herself with ethereal and introspective original music.

When not performing as Trails, she's Allie O'Manique, a Grade 12 student who hails from just outside Manotick.

It's her proximity to nature, she said, that inspired her stage name. 
Listen to 18-year-old local musician Trails' acoustic take on one of her songs. 0:55

"There are a bunch of forests and trails behind my house, and I spend a lot of time in those trails," said O'Manique.

"I think a lot my music sounds like my experience going through those trails. The melodies repeat and weave into each other, which kind of sounds like walking."

Trails opens for atmospheric Vancouver singer-songwriter Ora Cogan, in what is sure to be a dreamy double bill at Black Squirrel Books and Espresso Bar.


The Old Ottawa South arts hub provides a cozy venue for intimate concerts, book readings and — as it's located just across from the Mayfair Theatre — after-movie discussions.  Local musician and barista Gary Udel books the talent and says the floor-to-ceiling stacks of books make for ambient acoustics. 

When: Saturday night at 9 p.m. 

Where: Black Squirrel Books and Espresso Bar, 1073 Bank St.

Cost: Tickets are $8 and can be purchased at the door.

Baseballs on the keyboards

A classically-trained concert pianist, Kara Huber says she enjoys collaborating with living composers to make new music. (Kara Huber)

Kara Huber is a Grammy-nominated concert pianist who's adept at the classical repertoire.  YouTube videos show her resplendent in an evening dress, tinkling the ivories while performing music by Rachmaninoff and Gershwin.  

But there's another more daring side to this musician: the one who pounds the keyboards with her fists, her feet, and even baseballs.

It's not a gimmick, however. These unusual musical techniques are written in to compositions by contemporary composers who are pushing the edges of music. 

"I love playing new music. I love performing music by living composers," said Huber. "They are composers I can talk to and ask questions."

"You can't really do that with Rachmaninoff and Gershwin," she added.

Huber is performing the final concert in a series presented by the Ottawa New Music Creators, a collective of local composers, performers and musical innovators.

Her program will include works by Alexina Louie, Annie Gosfield,  and two world premieres by Ottawa composers Leonard Lightstone and Jarrett Jacklin.

When: Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Freiman Hall, University of Ottawa, 50 University Pvt.

Cost: $10 at the door.

Free art

Admission to the National Gallery of Canada is free this Sunday, as part of International Museums Day. (Sandra Abma/CBC News)

This weekend is your chance to see a number of new and exciting exhbitions at the National Gallery of Canada — for free.

Thursday was International Museums Day, and to mark it the gallery is opening its doors to all comers on Sunday.

When: Sunday, May 21, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: 380 Sussex Dr.

Cost: Free.

About the Author

Sandra Abma


Sandra Abma is a veteran CBC arts journalist. If you have an event or idea you want to share, please do at sandra.abma@cbc.ca.