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Chamber players putting a new spin on the classics

Cathy Dobson A small group of classically trained musicians are launching a new concert series to feed their passion for playing and meet a thirst for live entertainment.
Members of the Bluewater Chamber Players are, from left, Jackie Pritchard, Caitlin Mason, Barbara Armstrong, Dan Sonier, and Tessa Catton. Troy Shantz

Cathy Dobson

A small group of classically trained musicians are launching a new concert series to feed their passion for playing and meet a thirst for live entertainment.

“We’ve had a very good response so far,” says cellist Barbara Armstrong, co-founder of the Bluewater Chamber Players with violinist Jackie Pritchard.

“We have played very little in the last 16 months, since all the arts stood still with the lockdowns and restrictions,” said Armstrong.

“Jackie and I got talking and this idea we had was like a spark.”

Rounding out the chamber group are flutist Tessa Catton, pianist Dan Sonier, and violinist Caitlin Mason.

The five know each other well and several have played together with the International Symphony Orchestra.

“We’ve also mixed and matched with one another many times over the years, performing at events or weddings,” said Armstrong.

“We’re all highly-trained, highly-qualified musicians who have played all our lives. We’ve missed it so much during the pandemic and we’re anxious to begin performing again.”

The Bluewater Chamber Players have four concerts scheduled the inaugural season: Oct. 24, Dec. 10, Feb. 27 and June 26. Each concert is at a different venue, including St. Giles Church, The Lawrence House Centre for the Arts, Sarnia Library Auditorium ,and Seaway Kiwanis Pavilion in Canatara Park.

Catton and Sonier have taken on the job of selecting the music. The Oct. 24 performance, now in rehearsals, will be a mix of classical and modern works, Armstrong said.

“We are doing a Bach Sinfonia, Rachmaninoff Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor, but also lighter, non-classical pieces like Best Day of My Life (released in 2014 by American Authors) and When I’m 64 by The Beatles. It’s going to be a real variety.”

Catton and Sonier are also rehearsing the Mad Hatter Flute for the first concert.

The Dec. 10 performance will include Christmas music at the Lawrence House, and showcase works by local artist Peg Kivi prior to the concert. Proceeds from each show will go to several different charities, starting with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The group hopes support for the first concert series will lead to a second, with special guests invited to join.

Armstrong said COVID-19 still presents a challenge for the chamber players because the protocols could still change. Ticket sales are based on Ontario’s Stage 3 rules, which allow 50% capacity indoors with mask wearing and social distancing.

“We’ve decided to sell 50 tickets and we certainly hope the rules don’t change,” said Armstrong.

The Bluewater Chamber Players have a Facebook page at


WHAT: Inaugural performance of the Bluewater Chamber Players

WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 24, 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.

WHERE: St. Giles Presbyterian Church, 770 Lakeshore Rd.

TICKETS: Adults $25; seniors and students $20; 14 years and younger free. Proceeds to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Sarnia-Lambton. Purchase by emailing Armstrong at [email protected].

The Bluewater Chamber Players, seen in rehearsal at St. Giles Presbyterian Church on Aug. 25. Members are, from left, Tessa Catton, flute; Caitlin Mason, violin; Jackie Pritchard, violin; Barbara Armstrong, cell;, and Dan Sonier on piano.Troy Shantz

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