Artistic Director and Vocal Coach: Olivia Whiddon
Olivia moved back to Kenora, ON in 2011 for what was supposed to be a short stay on the road to a larger centre. Upon moving to Kenora she discovered a growing arts community in what Money Sense Magazine called a “cultural wasteland” (hence the tongue-in-cheek title for the inaugural Kenora Opera Theatre concert.) Since moving, Olivia has formed relationships with Kenora’s arts community including: Ruth Girard, Wayne Kelso, Len Mark, Eleanor MacDonell, the Lake of the Woods Museum, the Lake of the Woods Arts Community (LOWAC), the Kenora District Festival of the Arts, harpist Esme Boone, visual artists, including Teresa Bowyer, Irene McCuaig, Holly Friesen and John Paul Lavand, and DanceWorks Kenora’s lead director and instructor, Erin McCuaig.
As a member of the artistic community in Kenora, Olivia has teamed up with the Lake of the Woods Museum, collaborating on several performances, including: The Rat Portage Review, For King and Country: An Evening of WWI Music, Picture This! and most recently, Love, Loss and What I Wore. “Love, Loss and What I Wore” found Olivia working alongside director, Nicola Cavendish. She has also performed in concerts with the Lake of the Woods Concert Series, as a guest artists with the Kenora Strings and a frequent member of Trylight Theatre Co.
Olivia has spent more than half her life on stage in community and professional productions. In addition to Olivia’s stage work, she has also recorded a number of jazz pieces with highly regarded Canadian jazz pianist Wayne Kelso. Their recordings include the piece “For Orit – Thank you”, which they co-wrote. She and Ruth Girard also recorded the classical album “All Roads Lead to Rome” with Mr. Kelso.
In her spare time, Olivia pursues her interests in ballet and harp, including building her own Waring harp in 2016. She has been able to add elements of both to her teaching and performing. She has written for several projects, including a blog post for SPARC (Supporting Artists in Rural Communities), an essay on Kenora’s Hilliard Opera House for the Lake of the Woods Museum’s Common Ground event and publication, and the Kenora Opera Theatre production, “Conversations Overheard in a Coffeehouse.”
Chief Advisor and One Woman Orchestra: Ruth Girard
Ruth Girard is a semi-retired teacher of piano and music theory. When she’s not busy accompanying soloists, ensembles, and musicals, she maintains her involvement with Kenora Strings, Winds of the Woods Flute Ensemble, Sunset Country Handbell Ringers, Knox United Church choir, and TryLight Theatre.
Photographer and Social Media Lead: Olivia Friesen Kroeker