Stratford is Alive with Music
Here in Stratford, music is as much a part of life as the swans on the Avon . We love all of it—from the sweet poetry of a Celtic songstress, operatic vocalists of the world stage and up-and-coming country, folk and rock artists, we want all the music we can get.
Our love for music shows with the number of artists coming from and visiting Stratford: did you know the legendary Duke Ellington dedicated “Sweet Thunder” to Stratford? And one of Oscar Peterson’s career-making concerts was recorded here? Glenn Gould summered in and swooned over Stratford for many years, and Ben Heppner is a regular visitor.
In that classical vein, Louis Applebaum and John Boyden represented Stratford on the world’s classical and opera stages—as do Roger Honeywell, James Westman and Gary Relyea now.
In terms of contemporary music, Richard Manuel of The Band, and John Till—a key member of Janis Joplin’s band—were both born and raised in Stratford. Juno Award-Winning artist Ron Sexsmith , Loreena McKennitt , one of the world’s most eclectic and successful folk musicians, and Ali Matthews , an award-winning Christian artist, all currently live and create in Stratford.
The tradition continues with new artists, such as Dayna Manning , Emm Gryner and Graham Van Pelt . In fact, Juno winner Brian Dickinson credits his youth spent in Stratford as one of the reasons he’s enjoying a successful career as a jazz pianist.
Stratford’s Music Highlights & Contemporary Music Scene
Whatever time of year you visit Stratford, you will be treated to musical events and concerts from churches, heritage concert halls and in our parks and gardens. Check out some of our musical highlights below:
- The Stratford Concert Band has been a Stratford musical institution since 1907 and is recognized as one of Ontario’s best community orchestras.
- The Stratford Symphony Orchestra is a regional orchestra that offers classical music concerts to Stratford and surrounding communities. “A Life-Enriching Experience Through Live Music Performance.”
- The Stratford Concert Choir was formed 27 years ago and is 70 voices strong. The Choir sings mainly from the classical repertoire and their concerts often include other musical forces, like the Stratford Concert Band, children’s choirs and many great soloists.
- The highlight of the year is Stratford Summer Music with musical artists of international stature filling our concert halls, parks and churches in July and August.
- The Blyth Festival presents its Ontario Open Country Singing Contest that gives every budding Idol a chance to air their pipes and win some great prizes.
- The celebration of savoury ribs and soulful blues takes place each June along the banks of the beautiful Avon River at the Stratford Blues and Ribfest .
- INNERchamber is a new chamber music concert series in Stratford, with a vision for reshaping the typical concert-going experience.
- Spring brings out the blooms in our gardens but it is the start of our musical concert season starting with the Kiwanis Festival of the Performing Arts every April.
- Start Stratford ‘s arts and culture magazine offers profiles and features on the writers, performers and artists who make Stratford their creative home.
Stratford’s contemporary music scene is one of the most vibrant in Ontario. From alt-country to folk, indie-rock to dance, we are pleased to present a few of our local musical artists and links to sample their music:
- Dayna Manning daynamanning.com
- Justin Bieber justinbiebermusic.com
- Michael Bannerman upsideofmaybe.com
- Thorn and Roses thornandroses.net
- Brad Canning bradcanningmusic.com
- Upside of Maybe upsideofmaybe.com
- Ron Sexsmith ronsexsmith.com
The place Justin Bieber calls home
Everybody knows it—Justin Bieber is from our town, and we’re proud to say it! Although he’s now an international musical sensation, he still comes back regularly to visit his good friends.
When Justin was growing up, there were a lot of places around Stratford where he hung out that now have special meaning for him. From the steps of the Avon Theatre, where he first started singing and earned enough to take his mom to Disneyworld, to the place he went on his first date—these locations are a part of Justin’s journey.
To let you take the same journey as Justin, we’ve created a map for you to tour Justin Bieber’s Stratford. The schools he went to, the ice cream parlour he visited after soccer games and even the skate park where he learned some tricks.
Download our Bieber-iffic Map of Stratford to start your tour. Printed maps are available at Destination Stratford, 47 Downie Street, Stratford for $1.00 each
Don’t miss the Justin Bieber Steps to Stardom Exhibit at the Stratford Perth Museum.