The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony was founded out of necessity; in 1945, the Grand Philharmonic Choir was preparing a recital and needed tuneful accompaniment for the harmonic voices. Once its backup duty was over, however, the newly convened orchestra quickly established itself as an independent source for both classical and pops concerts performing more than 100 concerts annually in the Waterloo region. Now home to 52 on-staff musicians, the orchestra continues its decades-long tradition at venues around Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, and Cambridge. From his position as music director, Edwin Outwater oversees the joyful noise, which ranges from baroque to Beethoven to the Beatles and Broadway. Since assuming the role in 2007, Outwater has been one of the orchestra's most vigorous boosters, arranging the group's first commercial recording in a decade, engineering an exploration of prog rock in collaboration with the Institute for Quantum Computing, and knitting sweaters for each musician's instrument.
During Reel Babies movie showings, theatres transform into child-friendly arenas where new parents can enjoy recent releases while tending to tykes. Empire Theatres keeps the auditorium lights dim and lowers the volume on new films such as Our Idiot Brother, One Day, and The Debt, ensuring an environment conducive to child-care. Parents can transport their mini-me to the auditorium's "exersaucer", baby swing, and play mat, allowing young minds to expend energy otherwise spent solving Fermat's Last Theorem. Additionally, a changing table and bottle warmer ensures parents can remain in the theatre for all reunion scenes between protagonists and their coffee makers.
Initially conceived as a one-off event in 2010, The Smoker's Club has since expanded, presenting fans with tours that unite skilled rappers and expert beat makers. One of the original members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Grammy-winning wordsmith Method Man spouts off dexterous rhymes in a gravely voice obtained by chugging asphalt smoothies everyday for breakfast. Curren$y gently cradles ears with laid-back flow, and frequent Smoker's Club collaborators such as Smoke DZA and Fiend buoy the evening with additional verbal fireworks. The Kool Haus provides a vibrant environment for the musical proceedings, ensconcing guests in a hip nightclub atmosphere with music mixed by Toronto-bred DJ Agile. An enormous dance floor proffers guests with ample space for unabashed rug cutting and wind sprints between marching bands.
A growing haven for live music, The Hive serves up inspired pub fare, specials, and a flotilla of drinks at its newly renovated home. Fill hollowed torso trunks at lunch or dinner with a menu of sizzling burgers, sandwiches, wings, and more. House specialties, such as the Hive garlic burger and the Hive mile-high club sandwich of succulent chicken breast and bacon help carnivores cover all the important meat groups, and veggies represent in the traditional caesar salad, vegetable spring rolls, and crunch-laden battered mushrooms (appetizers run $5–$8; entrees $8–$10). Celebrate a special occasion, such as Bring Your Mustache to Work Day or every Thursday's $0.30 wing night with a drink at the bar while taking in the aural splendour of live bands or relaxing on the large outdoor patio (weather permitting).
The popular preschool television series Roll Play comes to life in Roll Play Live Animal Party, a vibrant concert tour that engages toddlers and toddler overlords in frolicking exercises of the imagination. Featuring live performances from the effervescent duo Splash'N Boots—winners of the coveted Canadian Children’s Group of The Year award—the interactive smile stampede of Roll Play Live Animal Party allows children to revel in their animalistic instincts without the need to pack tranquilizer darts. Audience members can have their faces painted in the likenesses of adorable critters before the stage is drenched in black lights, revealing ultraviolet animal designs lit up under the expanses of the darkened theatre. As the musical adventure bounds along, kids are encouraged to wail like monkeys, laugh like hyenas, and extrapolate like caffeinated dolphins to the tunes of their favourite Roll Play songs. At the end of the adventure, nippers and snappers take part in the evening's swan song by creating their own boisterous Roll Play song.
Made up of amateurs, students from Wilfrid Laurier University, and seasoned professionals, the 34-member Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra is truly a community ensemble. And the group takes its cultural responsibility seriously—each season, they delve into the lesser known works of beloved 18th and 19th century composers to unearth and play forgotten gems. Before presenting pieces by such luminaries as Beethoven and Mozart, the orchestra invites audiences to pre-concert performances from a small ensemble.