Ottawa

Strings, street-circus acts and a silversmith: 3 things to do this weekend

A massive string performance in Hintonburg, international buskers invading Sparks Street and a visit from Japansese artists are among your choices for long-weekend fun.

Grammy award-winning violinist James Ehnes leads a string love-in at Hintonburg Park

#1000Strings, a re-working of Canadian composer John Oswald's Spectre, had its world premiere in downtown Toronto in 2015. (Sean Waisglass)

Music and circus acts take to the streets of Ottawa this long weekend, while a visit from Japanese artists is a labour of love.

Play along with James Ehnes

Grammy Award winning Canadian musician will lead more than 100 local string players in performance on Sunday. 0:39

Grammy Award-winning Canadian violinist James Ehnes is in town, performing intimate concerts at Ottawa Chamberfest. On Saturday he's taking the music outdoors, and inviting string players of every age and ability to join him in a mass live performance of Canadian composer John Oswald's Spectre. In the original recording of the work, Oswald employed multi-layer overdubs to simulate the sound of a 1,000-piece string orchestra.  

Multimedia arts group Music in the Barns has reworked the piece into #1000Strings, a live, interactive concert experience that brings string players of all kinds together to create one big musical moment.

"I think it's going to be a lot of fun," said Ehnes. "It's a very interesting and moving piece, and it's a way for us to connect musicians, professionals and amateurs, from all over the capital."

Interested musicians signed up on the Chamberfest website, where an instructional video is also posted. At last count, more than 100 are taking part.

  • Where: Hintonburg Park, 101 Duhamel St.
  • When: Saturday at 11 a.m.
  • Cost: Free.

Street circus

Australia's Zap Circus brings pyrotechnics to Sparks St. for Busker Fest. (Zap Circus)

Fire eaters, acrobats, jugglers and clowns from all corners of the globe invade Sparks Street this weekend at the annual Ottawa International Busker Festival. 

It's a grittier, street-level circus compared to what's going on under the striped tent in Gatineau, where Cirque du Soleil is weaving its magic with high-powered special effects and elaborate costumes and choreography.

The best street buskers are geniuses at pulling a crowd and keeping them — right until it's time to pass the hat at the end of their performance. Their acts are suspenseful and eccentric and full of individual personality, involving a lot of audience participation and broad comedy.

The one man cabaret is taking part in Ottawa's Buskerfest. 0:22
  • Where: Sparks Street mall
  • When: Friday until 10:45 p.m; Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m to 10:45 p.m; Monday 11 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
  • Cost: Pay what you like.

From Japan with love

It was love at first sight when Montreal documentary filmmaker Tony Girardin visited Japan for the first time three years ago. He was showing a film at a festival and was captivated by the culture and the kindness of his hosts.

"It was a very human experience," said Girardin. "Ever since then I've been wanting to give back, and invite Japanese people to come to Canada to experience something similar."

Girardin has organized the Go Somewhere! Japanese Art Tour, which brings five prominent Japanese artists, including painters, a print-maker and a silversmith, to Canada for the first time. 
Much of the Go Somewhere! Japanese Art Tour depicts contemporary life in Japan. (Sandra Abma/CBC)

The Embassy of Japan in Ottawa is hosting one stop on the tour — an exhibition of depictions of contemporary Japanese life, folklore and abstracts. On Saturday at 2 p.m., the artists Tomoko Aso, Akiko Takeuchi, Kurumi Wakaki, Mami Yonekura and Tsubomi Yonekura will be at the exhibition to meet the public and speak about their work.

  • Where: Embassy of Japan, 255 Sussex Dr.
  • When: Weekends 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Meet the artists Saturday at 2 p.m.
  • Cost: Free.