News from the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra

News from the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra


The ukulele might not be the first instrument you’d associate with a symphony orchestra, but this holiday season the OSO is breaking the mold— join us for a festive fusion of strings and strums that proves music knows no bounds.

Ukulele virtuoso James Hill and his singing/songwriting partner and wife, cellist Anne Janelle (now based in New Brunswick, but natives of Langley and Surrey, BC respectively) celebrate the launch of their new Christmas recording, The Midnight Clear, with this performance.


  • Fri, Dec 15 at 7:30 pm
  • Kelowna Community Theatre


  • Sat, Dec 16 at 7:00 pm
  • Cleland Community Theatre


  • Sun, Dec 17 at 2:00 pm Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre

Boy meets girl, uke meets cello

It’s true: opposites attract. James Hill, “possibly the best ukulele player in the world” (Waikato Times), grew up playing folk, jazz and blues on his ukulele. Anne Janelle, “a cellist of true beauty” (Ottawa Citizen), played only classical music on her cello. But the pair’s differences became their greatest asset: the uke is high, the cello is low; the uke plays short notes, the cello long bow strokes; the uke is all about strumming while the cello radiates melody.

In 2009, James and Anne released True Love Don’t Weep, an album of duets that garnered a Canadian Folk Music Award for Traditional Album of the Year. A mixture of traditional tunes with “fresh vitality” (Country Music People) and original songs, True Love Don’t Weep showcased the duo’s ability “to capture the soul of a song” (Folk World).

Since True Love Don’t Weep, James and Anne have released two solo albums each (James’ Man with a Love Song and The Old Silo; Anne’s Beauty Remains and So Long at the Fair) and toured in over fifteen countries, making their mark not only as accomplished instrumentalists but also as some of the finest songwriters of their generation. Together, they conjure a sound that is intricate, enchanting and engaging: “a crystal clear sound filled with warmth” (Bob Mersereau, CBC Radio). In concert, James is “a dazzling live performer with a genial, low-key sense of humour” (Edmonton Journal) and Anne brings her “gorgeous syrupy voice” (Acoustic Magazine) to songs that are “inventive, entertaining, beautifully written and brilliantly performed” (R2Magazine).

In short, a night out with James Hill & Anne Janelle is “the perfect evening of tunes, stories and musical virtuosity” (Wellington Dominion-Post).

Guest Conductor Jeff Faragher, Music & Artistic Director of the Symphony of the Kootenays, will lead the OSO for the Yuletide Ukulele concert December 15, 16 and 17. Jeff brings a youthful passion and energy to the orchestra. A professional cellist, he has a long history of music performance and excellence.

A new CD for your holiday collection

The Midnight Clear is a sparkling collection of carols and winter songs by James Hill & Anne Janelle. From a stirring re-imagining of “Joy to the World” to an intimate re-interpretation of “Silent Night,” the album traces a long arc through orchestral, traditional and contemporary sound worlds. The Midnight Clear crackles with quiet intensity, rich musical textures and scintillating vocal harmonies. Anne Janelle describes their new album as a “cozy, background soundtrack to the holidays. We hope listeners find it enhances the beauty of the season, wrapping them in a warm blanket of music.”

You can purchase a copy of The Midnight Clear at the concert, and maybe a few extra copies will take care of those last-minute gifts still on your list.

An opportunity to strum along

And here’s another twist: If you own a ukulele — regardless of how well you play it or how long it’s been since you did — you are invited to bring it along to the concert for an opportunity to strum along with James. Chords and lyrics will be provided. Please tune your ukulele to standard G-C-E-A tuning.

Did you know that Friday December 15 Is National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day? How lucky for us that it coincides with our concert series!

National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day was launched by a group of ugly Christmas sweater lovers in 2011 and has been celebrated on the third Friday of December since then. It is meant to help those who feel like the magic of the holiday season has faded over the years to get into the festive spirit and fall in love with Christmas all over again. 

So don your ugliest Christmas sweater for YULETIDE UKULELE, and visit the concierge table in the lobby of each theatre (Kelowna, Penticton & Vernon) for a ballot to enter a draw for a copy of James and Anne’s CD, The Midnight Clear.

Tickets for YULETIDE UKULELE concerts are moving quickly so purchase soon to avoid disappointment! Our new pricing zones for seating and discounted group sales make it easier to experience live orchestral music at a savings. For Kelowna and Penticton shows, contact the KCT Box Office at 250.469.8940; for the Vernon matinee, contact Ticket Seller at 250.549.7469.

Take in a Pocket Orchestra performance this month

Winter Serenade

The OSO Pocket Orchestras are back — small groups of musicians that pop up in unexpected places with music to brighten your day.

On Tuesday December 12 at 4 pm you can enjoy the Slide Rule Trombone Quartet (Wade Dorsey, Bob Rogers, Gord Waters, Angus Armstrong) at the Lake Country Senior Centre (9830B Bottom Wood Lake Rd).

You can hear the Troubadour Quintet (trumpeter Audrey Patterson, violinists Cvetozar Vutev and John Suderman, violist Ashley Kroecher and cellist Martin Krátký) on Wednesday, December 13, 2:30 pm at the downtown Kelowna branch of Okanagan Regional Library (1380 Ellis St.) or on Saturday, December 16, 3:00 pm at the Penticton Public Library (785 Main St.)

Pocket-sized performances for all ages — Baroque to contemporary with a liberal dash of holiday fare. Free to the public!

Buy local and save through Tourism Kelowna

Support local, get exclusive deals, and win prizes with the #exploreKelowna Local Savings Pass.

Access discounts and offers for local wineries, attractions, tours, and so much more, including OSO tickets! Redeem offers at five of the participating businesses each month and you’ll be entered into a monthly draw for a $100 gift card. Learn more here.

We gratefully acknowledge our long-time and generous season sponsor, Peak Cellars.



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