Tuesday, May 23, 2017
   
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No Rideau Centre stage at the Ottawa Jazz Festival this year

There will be no Rideau Centre stage at the Ottawa Jazz Festival this year and there are no plans to replace it.

"Heavy-duty" construction in the mall means there will be no Rideau Centre stage at the Ottawa Jazz Festival this year. ©Brett Delmage, 2013

That could mean 15 fewer concerts where listeners can hear local musicians at The Ottawa Jazz Festival in 2014, and a significant loss of local performances since the festival lost its World Exchange Plaza Stage in 2011. The only remaining stage featuring local performances will be the OLG Stage beside Ottawa City Hall, which featured 12 local groups plus two day-long showcases for student bands in 2013.

“We're not doing the jazz series this year,” Cindy VanBuskirk, the Rideau Centre General Manager, told OttawaJazzScene.ca.

“The whole property is under redevelopment but that area in particular is going to be seeing some heavy-duty work through the next six to nine months. We won't be doing our jazz or blues series this year, but we will definitely be back at it next year, in 2015.”

VanBuskirk said that even the elevator that the stage has been adjacent to is moving.

Ottawa Jazz Festival Executive Director Catherine O'Grady confirmed the loss of the stage for 2014, and said the festival was not looking for a replacement.

“We have lots of opportunities for local artists to perform at the Festival. We're quite confident that we have a nice showcase in which we celebrate local presence in the community, and that's all I have to say.”

VanBuskirk said that “there was a clear understanding on their [The Ottawa Jazz Festival's] part that we were about to embark on a redevelopment that could impact on our ability to host them this year. Once we became crystal clear from a scheduling perspective that the space is available/not available, that was communicated to them.”

“It would be a question of months ago, not weeks ago or anything like that. It's been quite some time.”

At the 2011 media launch of the Ottawa Jazz Festival, Programming Director Petr Cancura told OttawaJazzScene.ca that the the World Exchange Plaza had not renewed their stage sponsorship.

“We'll have to replace that. We'll work on that for next year.”

OttawaJazzScene.ca emailed area musicians who might have been performing at the 2014 festival. Of those who responded and knew where they were playing, all stated that they will be performing at the OLG Stage, not at the Rideau Centre.

The Ottawa Jazz Festival's local stages have been important opportunities for listeners to discover new musical projects and area musicians. In 2013, the Rideau Centre stage presented

In 2012, the Herbie's Hill project, featuring the music of Herbie Nichols and Andrew Hill was presented on the stage by Michel Delage, Steve and Alex Bilodeau, and Steve Boudreau. In 2011, new projects by Renée Yoxon and René Gely, and Sol da Capital were heard on the stage.

The Rideau Centre Stage has been normally packed with listeners enjoying the free performances, both in chairs near the stage, and standing and listening from above. However, because of the hard, reflective surfaces of all the walls and floors in the area and the high ceiling it could be difficult to get good sound there.

   – Brett Delmage

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