What a difference a month makes. At the end of September, when we were reviewing choices for the October picks, outdoor events were still being explored by artists and organizations. This brought larger audiences together in a distanced fashion. With the weather turning colder, cases rising and the government returning regions- or considering returning regions- to a modified Stage 2- many events are turning virtual again. Still, some events are moving forward in person, while others are moving towards a hybrid format. Here are our picks for this month. 

Sarah Slean (Burlington Performing Arts Centre)

This year should have been a good one for multi-disciplinary artist and three-time Juno nominee Sarah Slean. In addition to releasing a new album in January with Symphony Nova Scotia, Slean had also planned a number of concerts across the province and Quebec both independently and with Hawksley Workman. While many of these concerts were cancelled at the start of the pandemic, some have continued virtually, and others have been rescheduled. A regular fixture at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, Slean will be physically present for two performances at the Centre on November 7. Audiences can expect a compelling performance, likely combining storytelling, poetry and music from the singer-songwriter’s extensive discography. Tickets are clearly going fast– one performance is already sold out.  

Hamilton Film Festival

Venturing away from the newly closed Staircase Theatre, the Hamilton Film Festival has found three dedicated film venues across Hamilton for the 15th edition of the Festival, taking place from November 7-15. Spanning a total of nine days, and a wide variety of programming, including several short film series (documentaries, war films and comedy films), this year’s Festival will take place at the Westdale Cinema, Playhouse Theatre and Starlite Drive-in, providing a range of options for film lovers, regardless of where they live in the city. For those preferring to watch from home, the Festival has also partnered with local TV station Cable 14 to broadcast select documentaries. 

Reclaiming Hamilton Author Talks (Supercrawl)

In the absence of this year’s downtown festival, Supercrawl has pivoted to present a free series of virtual performances in downtown Hamilton this autumn. On November 13 & 14, the Festival presents a two-day, live-streamed mini-conference celebrating the launch of new book Reclaiming Hamilton: Essays from the New Ambitious City. The book, an anthology of essays and stories that examines the current reinvention of Hamilton, will be presented virtually through conversations and panel discussions. The opening event brings together editor Paul Weinberg with local publisher Noelle Allen about the development and conception of the book, while that evening’s panel discussion is moderated by local MP Matthew Green and promises to look at how the city has changed over time. For any artist in Hamilton- whether they’ve been in the city for an extended period of time, or have newly arrived as part of the recent cultural renaissance, this event is sure to provide important context, conversations and connections.  

Reflections from Russia (Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra)

The pandemic has forced the Hamilton Philharmonic to reexamine their plans for the season. With no large orchestral works planned, the Orchestra has instead focused on smaller, intimate concerts that showcases the strengths of individual players. The Orchestra’s November 14 concert, Reflections from Russia, brings together six members of the HPO’s string section to present iconic chamber music works by composers who lived during the cold war. Audiences can expect to hear works from favourite composers like Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Best of all, a single ticket provides access to the streamed concert for an entire household, and concerts are available for thirty days after the premiere date- making the $27 ticket price a deal.

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