Posted by: Roland Graham, DOMS Founding Artistic Director
Southminster’s weekly noon-hour series continues to beat the odds. Originating as a one-off 6-part Lenten series in 2013, answering the staggering community response, the series was extended that year until June, and then from September to December, and other than its annual two-month break during the summer months, it hasn’t stopped since.
Now in its eleventh season, Doors Open for Music at Southminster – bearing a hastily-donned temporary moniker that stuck – has become a fixture of the Ottawa scene. Among the flagship ministries of Southminster United Church, the program caters to music lovers who attend with frequency ranging from once-a-season to once-a-month and more.
Patrons sustain the series with cash donations at concerts and online through Southminster’s profile on Canadahelps.org (search Canadahelps + 47147). Many patrons express their support with regular monthly donations, for which Canadahelps.org provides a mechanism, and some even send lump sums once or twice annually. Combined, they keep the program going.
Among local musicians, DOMS means many things: for some, it’s a place to break in a new program of music, for others – the jazz and pop cats in particular – an alternate venue and opportunity to meet a new fan base. For most of them DOMS offers a gig at an unconventional and appealing time: no need to turn down other gigs or teaching to play at lunch-time mid-week, and by 1 pm they’re free to carry on with their day, payment for services in hand!
Southminster and I, as founding artistic director and producer, are fond of bragging how DOMS “has never missed a week,” including through the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which concerts were live-streamed each Wednesday at noon hour from an empty church to the limitless audience of the world wide web. That adaptation has proven a permanent addition to the DOMS production plan, and as a result, many series regulars now watch DOMS concerts remotely as often as they attend in person.
Numbers in attendance haven’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels, but we aren’t concerned. The artistic landscape has changed and the DOMS formula has proven resilient.
Since 2020, the ‘formula’ has included Steinway D606, the spectacular new 9-foot concert piano that came to Southminster following a community fundraiser that levied 110% of the funds needed for the church to purchase the piano outright. The piano sustains DOMS and DOMS sustains the piano: with weekly concerts comes a production budget to keep the piano in top shape through regular tuning, helping the church carry the instrument and provide it safe haven, and in turn keeping the piano accessible to musicians and music lovers across the region.
DOMS kicks off the 2024 season on Wednesday, January 10 with a celebrated piano-cello duo comprising award-winning Canadians Meagan Milatz, “une pianiste remarquable, avec une palette expressive semble sans limites” (Le Devoir), and Cameron Crozier, a cellist of uncommonly “rich imagination and a keen mind” (Diapason), playing music by Bach, Mendelssohn and Schuman. From there the weeks unfold with classical, jazz, choral, instrumental, chamber, vocal music and more.
Featured in the January 2024 OSCAR.