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About "James Reaney"

James Reaney has covered everything from operas to Neil Young concerts to baseball's World Series in more than 30 years at The London Free Press. Now, he concentrates on London entertainment in his Saturday Today section column and Forest City lore in a Saturday Comment section column called My London. He is the host of two weekly video. lfpress.com features. One is Reaney's Pick, an online platform for London performers. The other is It's On, a guide to the best of the local scene. James is a passionate supporter of the Jack Richardson Music Awards, which host an annual gala and other free events in London's only not-for-profit recognition of our musical excellence. He is also on the board of the King's University College Centre for Creativity and an active member of the London & Middlesex Historical Society.

Glenn Miller in #ldnont in 1942

- March 1st, 2015

Glenn miller RCAF Harry Warren Metzler 1942

Sunset Serenade broadcast: Flying officer Metzler* from the Canadian Armed Forces with Glenn Miller (at right)

 Bassist Doc Goldberg can be seen in the background.

*This is J5666 Squadron leader Harry Warren Metzler (b. 13 March 1914 – d. 31 March 1944)

 The above picture was taken by an amateur photographer Gordon McLeod. He passed away in 1993. Sadly, no photograph was taken by the London Free Press. (photo courtesy of Christopher Doty) 

JBNBlog bows to Glenn Miller ( March 1, 1904- 1944), the American  bandleader who played a famous gig at the old London Arena on Jan. 24, 1942.

Quebec-based Glenn Miller expert Alain LeBlanc is seeking information on Donald Gordon McLeod, a London businessperson and amateur photographer. The image of Miller and RCAF squadron leader Henry Warren Metzler is a poignant one. Both men were to die in 1944. It is also poignant that the late London historian Christopher Doty sent the image to LeBlanc. Chris continues to inspire JBNBlog .

Any information about McLeod or the image will be passed on to Alain LeBlanc, who has helped London researchers on many occasions. Alain would like to reach out to McLeod’s family.

Here’s a personal moment . . .

Memories: My beloved remembers her mother receiving a boxed set of 45s of Glenn Miller hits from her father at Christmas c. 1958. The box was pale green and there were about four to six records in it . . . her parents must have danced to Glenn Miller sounds in England during the Second World War. My  beloved remembers listening to Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree. Who were the singers, JBNBlog wonders.

Over to Alain LeBlanc:

The above picture was taken by amateur photographer Gordon McLeod. He passed away in 1993. Donald Gordon McLeod was born in London, Ontario in 1914. A businessman with a life-long interest in photography, he would pursue various formats over the decades starting with black and white and then moving on to colour in the 1950′s. He gained much recognition for his work both nationally and internationally. Mr. McLeod also taught photography and audio visual techniques in London schools. Although most of his negatives were lost in a basement flood in 1968, some of his work still survives in private collections.

Here are details on Glenn Miller’s death from glennmiller.com . . .

Tragic End

As his band prepared to embark on a tour of Europe, Miller boarded a flight to Paris on December 15, 1944 to make preparatory arrangements for the rest of his group. Sadly, the transport on which Miller was a passenger disappeared over the English Channel and was never recovered. The disappearance of Miller’s aircraft may have been caused by bad weather. However, records also suggest that bombs, jettisoned by Allied bombers returning from an aborted mission, may have inadvertently struck the plane. Even after Glenn Miller’s disappearance, his army band continued to play for troops, performing up until August 1945, at which time the group returned to New York and its members were discharged.

Philip Chiu is from #ldnont too

- February 28th, 2015

philip chiu

Philip Chiu, in an undated image courtesy of  philipchiu.ca . . . caption says Smiling for the camera

Over at The Free Press this week, JBNBlog noted cellist Cameron Crozman was coming home from Paris to play in a Jeffery Concerts event on Friday (last night) at the LPL’s Wolf Performance Hall . . . Cameron shared the stage with violinist Timothy Chooi and pianist Philip Chiu.

The concert was great … but the key thing here was the moment Philip Chiu talked about spending many years in London — what? After the concert,  a former teacher at Central said Philip would often excuse himself from English class saying he had to study at the Glenn Gould conservatory in Toronto. Must have been true, the teacher said with a smile.

Philip talked about the Mendelssohn piano trio on Friday’s program which turned out to be JBNBlog’s favourite . . . & also made the first-ever mention (go ahead, prove me wrong!) of The Three Stooges at a Jeffery Concerts event …. which was his affectionate way of saluting his on-stage allies & himself.

As it turns out, JBNBlog may have written about Philip back in the 2000s . . . here’s what the LFP had in 2007 (quite a lineup  by the way)

The 2007 finale of the Canadian Music Competition this week finds the London region represented by young string players and pianists.
Cellist Cameron Crozman and violinist James Enns join pianists Brendan Alexander, Elisa Jinga and Philip Chiu in one of Canada’s top music competitions.
Woodstock pianist Jacqueline Mokrzewski will also attend. National results are expected soon.

Back to 2015 . . . don’t know the results … but will follow Philip properly from now on.

Here’s some background via debutatlantic.ca ….

Philip Chiu has been widely acclaimed for the brilliance and sensitivity of his playing, as well as for his ability to connect with audiences. He appears regularly in concert halls and stages throughout Canada. His concerto debut in 2005 was Prokofiev’s 3rd Piano Concerto with Maestra Tania Miller, as winner of The Glenn Gould School Concerto Competition. After an extended period of near-exclusive chamber music-making, he has returned to solo work, recording his first disc in the spring of 2012; a collection of works by Liszt for the XXI-21 label.

An exceedingly sociable pianist, Philip has concertized extensively as a one of Canada’s most sought-after chamber musicians. He recently recorded a disc of Schubert duos with violinist Jonathan Crow, has toured Canada with various colleagues: violinist Andrew Wan, with pianist Janelle Fung as part of the Fung-Chiu Duo, and recently toured with Debut Atlantic alongside cellist Genevieve Guimond. He has performed with such artists as Matt Haimovitz, Stefan Dohr, principal horn of the Berlin Philharmonic, Larry Combs and Craig Morris, former principals of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and trumpeter Jens Lindemann.

As an acclaimed accompanist-coach, Philip has been an invited professor-accompanist at the Conservatoire de musique de Montreal, is a staple at McGill University, and regularly accompanies at l’Universite de Montreal. He travels frequently across Canada and the U.S. to accompany for national and international competitions. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Canada (Toronto and London, ON), Philip is currently based in Montreal. He received his Performance Diploma from The Glenn Gould School while studying with Jenny Regehr and Marc Durand, and continued his studies with M. Durand at the University
of Montreal.


Eldon House IC will rawk on March 8

- February 27th, 2015

charlotte Owen Harris

Charlotte Owen Harris (1828-1854), undated image courtesy of eldonhouse.ca 

JBNBlog will have the pleasure of being in the company of nine (we hope) poets Possessionsing, three ace musicians & a bunch of terrific music at the Eldon House interpretive centre on March 8 . . . Stephen Holowitz has sent along notes about the program.

Which should be great. The impression here is that a considerable amount of music has been discovered at Eldon House . . . Stephen & company will share some of it. JBNBlog’s job will be stay out of the way of all that talent — while seeing if we can add any details tracing it to Charlotte Owen Harris or perhaps one of her sisters.  Will be checking in with Eldon House for details soonest.

Details from Stephen follow & then the Eldon House information via Richard Young on Facebook:

Here’s Stephen . . . (slightly edited)

The musicians are

Rachel Snow – voice

Sigmar Martin -violin

Stephen Holowitz -piano


. . .  and special guest poets reading their work from the collection “Possesions” – here are words from the Poetry London website

Full of the unexpected, this poetry anthology published in May 2010 celebrates the 175th anniversary of Eldon House, London’s oldest surviving residence, with selections by 27 contemporary London poets.

Each poem, in its own way, investigates the significance of the house, the experiences of its inhabitants and the preservation of its artefacts. Revealing the secrets behind its white exterior and papered walls, Possessions is a collection of poems widely reflective of Eldon House, thoughtful, playful, respectful, and irreverent.

Edited by Christine Walde and Cornelia Hoogland of Poetry London, in association with Museum London, Possessions inspires readers to reimagine their relationship to London’s colonial past.

Vocal pieces will include art songs by Mendelssohn, Donizetti and parlour songs from the period sung by Rachel

Instrumental selections for violin and piano in the European style will include Waltzes. Quadrilles, Gallops and Marches by Johann Strauss Sr., Joseph Labitzky, William Charles Levey . Much of this instrumental music was found copied by hand in the archives of Eldon House.

It represents music that was popular at the time and part of the musical life of the Harris family- mostly in social and recreational settings

. . . & here are the if you go (& JBNBlog hopes you do) details …

Eldon House the Forest City’s Home Musical Concerts series continues with “Music and the Harris Family”, Sunday March 8, 2:30 pm. in Eldon House Interpretive Centre.

Songs and readings capturing the spirit of London Ontario during the mid-19th century with special presentations of music discovered in Eldon House archives. Featuring Stephen Holowitz and friends. Limited space available. Registration is required. To register please call 519-661-5169.

Cost: $20.00 + HST per person. http://www.eldonhouse.ca/


A bow to Grant Hopcroft

- February 26th, 2015

_grant_hopcroft Mike Hensen

Grant Hopcroft, was at ReThink London at the convention centre
Thursday May 3, 2012

As a friend & admirer of fine Londoner Grant Hopcroft, JBNBlog read LFP colleague Patrick Maloney’s scoop about Grant’s departure from city hall with mixed emotions.

Here’s a quick take on the details: “Grant Hopcroft, the city’s deputy mayor in the 1990s, ran to become mayor in 1997 but was defeated by incumbent Dianne Haskett. Three years later, he made the rare post-political step into the bureaucratic ranks, ultimately becoming city hall’s intergovernmental liaison. . . . By week’s end he’ll have finished his lengthy career at city hall. Though there are indications a restructuring is afoot, other city staffers have been told he’s retiring.”

We first talked in detail during the Talbot Streetscape era & the idealism of that time inspires me still.

In recent years, London has been through a shameful period in our municipal government history (on the elected official side)  – it seems unfair here that after the era’s end (hooray!), Grant Hopcroft is departing just as a new era is beginning.

Well. Politics isn’t always fair to the elected or administrative dwellers in its universe.

It was unfair, too, when Grant Hopcroft (backed by a non-partisan, informal coalition) lost to Dianne Haskett in 1997 —  after the campaign, I told Grant I had often voted for unsuccessful candidates, but never for such a classy one & seldom in such classy company.

Grant Hopcroft calmly took that praise under advisement, with a smile . . . & that’s where JBNBlog’s memories are going now.


Musicians of Orchestra London teamed with FCTE. Yay!

- February 25th, 2015

Musicians of Orchestra London FCTE


Joseph Lanza, left, helps lead  Forest City Talent Education string players in MoOL educational event on Feb. 21 in London  . . . image courtesy of  Facebook.com/orchestralondoncanadamusicians

Under-reported by JBNBlog until now, a terrific music event took place last Saturday in #ldnont . . . the Musicians of Orchestra London gathered with young players to share their expertise & passion.  It was the first time that’s happened, Yay.

“(It) may become the first of more such occasions for us as the M of OL reinvent their orchestra and continue to demonstrate their interest in working with students in our program,” Forest City Talent Education founding director Pat Burroughs said before the event . . . which should have alerted all in JBNBlog. Anyway. By all accounts it was great . . . & next time, we will be on the case.

In advance. So you can experience some of the joy, too.

Here are the details thanks to MoOL media ace Thea Boyd:


London, Ontario – The Musicians of Orchestra London continued their commitment to the community by presenting a joint workshop and concert with the Forest City Talent Education string program on Saturday, February 21, 2015. “From the moment the first note was played, the students were enthralled,” said Kerri MacDonell, mother of four children enrolled in the FCTE. “The Musicians of Orchestra London and the FCTE programme are both absolute treasures. Our community would not be the same without them.”


Concertmaster Joe Lanza addressed parents and students saying, “This is an important day for us, as it is our first educational activity since OLC closed its doors and it is the first time that we have collaborated with FCTE. Education and working with young musicians is a passion for us and it is very fulfilling for us to be with you today.”


The morning session began with the professional musicians and students sitting side-by-side in an orchestral rehearsal. The Musicians of Orchestra London then presented a short concert featuring some selections from Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik and Spring from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The workshop culminated with students joining the Musicians of Orchestra London to perform a movement from Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.


The FCTE Saturday Morning Program was founded by Patrick Burroughs 28 years ago and he was delighted with the results of this first collaborative effort, “The sound created when members of our Senior Orchestra played Tchaikovsky with the professional musicians was so strong and creative that it will last in our students’ memories for a long time. Thanks to Joe Lanza and his colleagues for the inspiration they brought to us all. It was a wonderful brush with professional performers.”


In closing, MacDonell added, “We really hope an orchestra returns to London soon. This concert was an unparalleled opportunity for our young FCTE musicians, and it was a critical step forward for the Musicians of Orchestra London. We wish them well – may they be back soon to fill our lives with passion and beauty.”


The Musicians of Orchestra London are committed to providing the people of London with music for all tastes, performed at the highest level. We believe every concert we perform is an opportunity to connect with our audience, and with the community in which we live.