For over four decades Ottawa guitarist Roddy Ellias has been one of Canada’s most respected musicians and composers. He began his musical adventure improvising on his grandmother’s piano but soon switched to his instrument of choice, the guitar. With a life-long study of jazz and classical music and a masters degree in classical composition, Roddy has devoted his musical life to combining elements, aesthetics and techniques of classical music with those of jazz. He has performed with a variety of jazz, classical and pop luminaries including Lee Konitz, Kathleen Edwards, The Montreal Symphony and Marc Copland.
Sandra Nicholls has written two books of poetry, two novels, song lyrics, reviews, and numerous short stories. Her first novel was short listed for the K.M. Hunter Artists Award for Literature and her second book of poetry won the Archibald Lampman Award. A poem from her first collection took third prize in the international Stephen Leacock competition, and that collection was also a finalist for the Pat Lowther Award. She has just finished her second novel, The Third Road, set in Malaya during the Communist uprising of 1948. Upcoming projects include a third novel, and a third book of poems, entitled Songs for Invisible Ladies. Sandra lives in Ottawa, where she works as a speechwriter for Library and Archives Canada.
Noreen Young was the creator and Executive Producer of Under the Umbrella Tree, a popular CBC Television children's series that ran from 1987 to 1993. From 2005 until 2016 she was Artistic Director of the Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival here in Almonte. She is also known for her caricature puppets of public figures and of prominent local personalities. Noreen was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1995 for her work in children's television. She is joined tonight by puppeteers Bob Stutt and Stephen Brathwaite (both of whom worked with her on Under the Umbrella Tree), Allan Martin (who was heavily involved with Puppets Up! and its more recent iteration Puppets Up Presents), and Sarah Argue from Rock the Arts puppet company.
One of Canada’s leading liturgical musicians, Matthew Larkin has served as Director of Music at Ottawa’s Christ Church Cathedral since 2003. Well known internationally as a recitalist, accompanist, choral conductor, and composer, he has been much engaged in the Ottawa musical scene since 1995, as conductor of the Anglican Chorale (1997-2006) and the Ottawa Choral Society (2005-2012). A Fellow of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, Matthew has recorded extensively with some of Canada’s finest artists and concert choirs, and has appeared as soloist with several of Canada’s orchestras.
When she’s not directing puppeteers, Kris Riendeau is the owner and publisher of theHumm — a monthly arts paper that has been a fixture in the Ottawa Valley for the past twenty years. Shortly after moving to Almonte, Kris began collaborating in various capacities with Noreen Young. Some highlights include directing A Mississippi Mills Christmas Carol, co-starring with Noreen’s puppets in Happy Birthday, Jimmy at the Puppets Up! Festival, and opening for April Wine, Joel Plaskett Emergency and k-os at Winterlude dressed as a 14-foot-tall dancing puppet. Kris was the recipient of the 2007 Mississippi Mills Cultural Achievement Award for her contribution to the cultural fabric of the community.