Meet the Artist —Mireille Asselin, Soprano - theHumm January 2022

Meet the Artist —Mireille Asselin, Soprano - theHumm January 2022

Internationally acclaimed soprano and Almonte resident Mireille Asselin returned home briefly after performing the role of Amore in the Vancouver Opera’s production of Glück’s Orfeo ed Euridice, before setting off again to perform as a soloist in Handel’s masterpiece Messiah with the Rhode Island Symphony Orchestra. Mireille will be performing with pianist Frédéric Lacroix and violinist/violist Brenna Hardy-Kavanagh on January 16 at the Almonte Old Town Hall, in a poignant program dedicated to the memory of Michael Macpherson, a beloved community member and ardent supporter of Almonte in Concert. Despite her busy schedule, she found time to sit down with Maureen Nevins, Artistic Director of Almonte in Concert, for an interview.

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

Mireille Asselin: I have many music lovers in my family but no professional musicians, so I didn’t really know that a music career was an option until I was in high school and saw my peers preparing for their university auditions (I was in De La Salle’s fantastic arts program in Ottawa). I remember trying to choose between a music or a science degree at that age, and it essentially came down to the fact that I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t at least explore an opera career before opting for an alternative. Luckily, one thing sort of led to another and I’ve been able to slowly build my career over the years, having been given absolutely wonderful opportunities along the way. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else!

What have been the greatest challenges of your career to date?

Well, the most recent challenge has certainly been adapting to the curve balls thrown at my industry by Covid. All performing work essentially evaporated for over a year, so the challenge was not only “how do I make an income”, but also “what do I do with my time?” and “who am I if I don’t sing?”. It was immensely challenging to see my friends and colleagues lose their livelihoods, homes, and sense of purpose… but also equally heartening to then watch them reinvent, create, and thrive in new and ever-changing landscapes. It has ultimately led to lots of really wonderful new virtual and recorded projects, innovations in virtual rehearsal capacities, and a renewed focus on equity and diversity in our field. Clearly, the challenges continue with new variants shuttering concert halls once again. But artists are a resilient bunch, and I will do my best to continue to advocate for them and support my community.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

This is largely out of my hands, to be honest! I see which contracts and projects come in and try to fit them into my jigsaw puzzle of a schedule. But every so often I have the opportunity to curate a recital like the one I’ll be doing here in Almonte, and I have free rein to dream up something new. In this particular case, it started as a request to make a concert that would honour the memory of Michael Macpherson, and so I was able to take inspiration from some of his favourite music and let my imagination lead me from there.

Who are some of your favourite musicians or composers, past and present?

Favourite musicians include Edith Piaf, Glenn Gould, Beverly Sills, as well as basically everyone I get to work with on the concert scene (my colleagues inspire me!).

Favourite composers – past: Poulenc, Bach, Mozart, Handel and Stravinsky. Present: Cecilia Livingston, Fred Lacroix, Serouj Kradjian and Mark Sirett (you’ll hear them all on our program at Almonte Old Town Hall!).

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

This is a tough one. In the past, I would have said making my living entirely from music and getting to work with the top ensembles and theatres in the world. But I think that’s an overly simplistic definition in our post-pandemic reality. I am reminded that so many truly phenomenal musicians make a living by piecing together a variety of income streams, making them no less of a success. And some of the best art is in fact being done off the boards of the huge glitzy stages, which frankly aren’t as nimble and able to adapt to changing times. It is also an immense privilege to be able to make music, in person, with other musicians. One I will no longer take for granted! So now I would simply say, success as a musician is being able to make music joyfully, and regularly.

What would be the most important piece of advice you would offer to aspiring musicians?

I would tell them to honour what makes them unique. The classical music world used to be much more rigid and unwelcoming of the blending of different styles and approaches. That is no longer the case. Yes, practice. Yes, work hard on your technique. Yes, be resilient and learn to take constructive criticism. But also, do not erase where you come from or silence what you have to say. These things are critical and will help you stand out in a crowd.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

Here in Almonte, with my husband and my dog, bopping around to my gigs as needed and hopefully making time in my schedule to finally see the famous “Light Up the Night” I’ve been hearing so much about. ?

Mireille will be performing on January 16 at 2pm in the Almonte Old Town Hall. The performance will also be live-streamed, with the recording available to view on-demand online until January 18. For further information and ticket purchases, please visit . Almonte in Concert is also very pleased to have Mireille on their Board of Directors.


Jack Stekelenburg — “Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood?” - theHumm January 2022

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

Ten years ago I wrote that “Renfrew metal sculptor Jack Stekelenburg enjoys challenging our preconceptions of art. Following in the footsteps of his philosophical and artistic mentors, he creates art as an unconscious, unscripted, wordless act of emotional expression. He also plays and experiments and grows as an artist.”

Sixteen years ago the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau inspired a construction worker from Renfre......


Pop, Pivots & Pirouettes
Folkus presents The Pairs & Tragedy Ann,In-Person and Virtually!
- theHumm January 2022

By Sandy Irvin

With excitement and joy, Folkus planned their 20th season this fall. We’re still hoping for joy, and we’re pivoting and pirouetting and taking all the precautions we can to ensure a safe and beautiful evening together. We really wanted to put Tragedy Ann and The Pairs on our stage because they absolutely love to sing, and they bring a delightful energy to the stage.

One of the things we really miss is gathering together. But some of us still aren’t ready to. And that’s ok. To make sure that peo......


** CANCELLED ** The Snow Moon Festival - theHumm January 2022

By Kris Riendeau

From the organizers of the Snow Moon Festival: "Unfortunately, after much discussion, we've made the difficult decision to postpone the festival to (February 4) 2023."

One thing is certain in these uncertain times — creativity is alive and flourishing in our area! Local venues have expanded patios, poured out into parking spaces, and even used hula hoops to socially-distance audience members keen to keep on experiencing the joys of live performances. Now that winter is upo......


Meet the Artist —Mireille Asselin, Soprano - theHumm January 2022

Internationally acclaimed soprano and Almonte resident Mireille Asselin returned home briefly after performing the role of Amore in the Vancouver Opera’s production of Glück’s Orfeo ed Euridice, before setting off again to perform as a soloist in Handel’s masterpiece Messiah with the Rhode Island Symphony Orchestra. Mireille will be performing with pianist Frédéric Lacroix and violinist/violist Brenna Hardy-Kavanagh on January 16 at the Almonte Old Town Hall, in a ......


Bane of All Things — a Début Novel - theHumm January 2022

By John Pigeau

Growing up, Leo Valiquette was fond of fantastical stories. The Star Wars saga, Tolkien’s Middle Earth books, and classics like Charlotte’s Web — these were the made-up worlds Leo liked to inhabit. Later, in high school, he liked to make up stories and was admittedly “a Dungeon & Dragons nerd.” At some point, he fashioned himself a decent writer, too. Now, many years on, he has realized a lifelong dream and published his first novel, an epic fantasy called Bane ......


Carleton Place Library Reopens to the Public - theHumm January 2022

After a year-long renovation, the Carleton Place Public Library is open to the public again!

The updated interior features new meeting rooms, a laptop bar, new shelving and flooring throughout, energy-saving LED lighting, and fun reading cubbies for kids.

“The new interior is vibrant, accessible and welcoming,” explains library CEO Meriah Caswell. “We are thrilled to be able to welcome the community back to their library and want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding during......


Almonte Lectures - theHumm January 2022

By Glenda Jones

Resolved: that the winter of 2022 will continue to provide interesting events.

Almonte Lectures continues to live up to that resolution. The live-streamed editions held on the last Friday evening of each month have proven very popular, with up to one hundred participants tuning in every session.

The winter series will kick off on January 28 with Kris Riendeau’s presentation on the history and value of community theatre. Well-known as the editor of theHumm, Kris has been on the stage at the Almont......


A New Year: Determined Action!
Lanark County Creates Its Climate Action Plan
- theHumm January 2022

By Chandler Swain

Ahhh, good old January. Our time-honoured month to make clear, focused goals. It’s very common to do this on a personal basis, wanting to improve our health and wellbeing and initiate or complete projects and plans. But the wider view of this concept includes setting goals for our community: most specifically in this very challenging time, those that address the Climate Crisis.

We are all aware of the crisis that is looming if we don’t take the steps necessary to make our county — Lanark Count......


Birdhouse Bonanza 2022 - theHumm January 2022

By Glenda Jones and Barb Carroll

Good news! The second annual online birdhouse auction, code name Birdhouse Bonanza, is coming in the last two weeks of April, 2022. This year’s proceeds will go to the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust to enable them to continue improving the High Lonesome Nature Reserve off Carbine Road in Pakenham. It is fitting that the MMLT is dedicating this event to the memory of the late Michael Macpherson who loved High Lonesome and worked diligently to protect this site during his lifetime.

The improvements at High Lonesome will include:



Not In My Back Yard?
An Ode to Community Gardens
- theHumm January 2022

By David Hinks

A community garden for every neighbourhood? There are many reasons why folks are turning their thoughts towards growing a few potatoes and carrots: global supply chain disruptions, extreme weather events, organic food untainted by chemicals, local food insecurity, just looking for a healthy outdoor activity, higher costs in the grocery store, more time on our hands for home projects, and the need to find something healthy for the kids to do are only a few!

So why grow food in a community ......


Mary Berry Comes to Carroll Side Road - theHumm January 2022

By Glenda Jones

Mary Berry, that paragon of pastry and smiling tourist guide, has chosen to visit our humble home for an upcoming “Notflix” series. It’s a little intimidating to think we’ll be up there with the Downton Abbey castle, but hey, this is our castle, so I’m sure I can haul out the stops to make her stay the epitome of elegance and social grace.

She arrived last Friday as it began to snow. Her limo pulled up and TV crews, cameras, cables and lights were everywhere as the three dogs exploded out the d......


Arts CP Call for Artists
- theHumm January 2022

Arts Carleton Place is looking for between 40 and 55 talented artists for their spring Fine Art Show & Sale. Taking place at the Carleton Place Arena from April 30 to May 1, this year’s show ......


Virtual Caregiver Training
- theHumm January 2022

A free five-week virtual Practical Caregiver Training Course is being offered to people living in Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Counties. The goal is to make the caregiving experience safer and les......