Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 NYC Winter Jazzfest - January 7 & 8

From a media release:

Boom Co proudly announces:::
Friday, January 7th & Saturday, January 8th

New York, November 3, 2010Brice Rosenbloom of BOOM Collective (formerly boomBOOM Presents) is proud to announce the 2011 NYC WINTER JAZZFEST lineup.  The festival is to be held on January 7th & 8th, 2011 in New York City.

The NYC Winter Jazzfest will take over threeWest Village venues:
(le) Poisson Rouge
Kenny's Castaway
Zinc Bar on Friday January 7th

And five venues:
(le) Poisson Rouge
Kenny's Castaways
Zinc Bar
Sullivan Hall
Bitter End  
on Saturday January 8th.

This marks the seventh year of the annual NYC WINTER JAZZFEST, and our continued mission to showcase top quality jazz and experimental music.

The 2011 NYC WINTER JAZZFEST will feature over 60 different jazz groups at the same time that over 5000 arts professionals will be in New York City for the annual Arts Presenters (APAP) Conference.  Similar to past years the festival will provide an opportunity for artists to showcase in front of presenters, promoters, talent buyers, educators, musicians and avid fans.

Winter Jazzfest offers the opportunity to experience the best of today's new live jazz and experimental music in club venue settings.  Once famed as the focal point of New York City's rich jazz and live music scene, Bleecker Street and the Village provide for an ideal festival experience with jazz and experimental music groups performing all night at five of the neighborhood's esteemed venues within close proximity of each other.

On this night the 2011 NYC WINTER JAZZFEST will continue to redeem the rich jazz heritage of the Village and again will bring jazz fans back to Bleecker Street.  The 2011 NYC WINTER JAZZFEST includes over 60 of today’s most interesting jazz groups from New York, Brooklyn, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, France, Holland, Israel, Germany, Cape Verde, Mali, Cuba, Argentina, England and more.

Currently new jazz groups are under represented, yet they are culturally essential to the continued development and future of jazz and the cultivation of new audiences for jazz.  Jazz artists need support and exposure to the significant institutional booking forum that the Arts Presenters conferences represent.  Winter Jazzfest is pleased to offer a forum for presenters and music enthusiasts to experience and support the future of jazz. The 2011 Winter Jazzfest appreciates generous support from The Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

The 2011 NYC WINTER JAZZFEST will again feature showcases with guest curators Meghan Stabile of Revive Music Group and Adam Schatz of Search & Restore.  In line with the mission of Winter Jazzfest, Stabile and Schatz continue to invigorated NYC's jazz scenes in their own ways by promoting and supporting young and deserving new jazz artists while bringing increasingly growing audiences to the music.  Kenny's Castaways will stage the Search & Restore showcase while Sullivan Hall will house the Revive Da Live showcase.

• Single-Day Festival Passes $25
• Two-Day Full-Festival Passes $35
• Tickets: 
Revive Da Live
Since 2006, the anthem of "Revive Da Live" has rung loudly in uniting prolific, groundbreaking, gifted and versatile hip hop artists & contemporary jazz musicians in combined effort to educate and inspire broader audiences about the depths and origins of today's popular music. Revive Music Group serves as New York’s leader in conceptual and never-before-experienced live music productions—for a jazz and hip-hop celebration giving a unique aural exhibition of the undercurrents connecting the genres and ultimately fans of multiple generations.

Search and Restore
Search & Restore is a non-profit organization founded by Adam Schatz, dedicated to sustaining and expanding the audience for new jazz music inNew York City and beyond. From a series at the legendary Manhattan Knitting Factory, to the first ever Undead Jazzfest, Search & Restore has been presenting mind blowing double-bills and festivals for public consumption. Visit and donate to their current massive Kickstarter project to document the scene for the next year at

• Vernon Reid's Artificial Afrika
• Carmen Souza
• Tineke Postma
• Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
• Nguyen Le by Jean Ber



2011 NYC Winter Jazzfest Showcasing Artists:
• Aaron Goldberg Trio
• Aethereal Bace – 3rd Eye
• Amina Figarova
• Amir ElSaffar
• Anat Cohen Quartet with Jason Lindner
• Andrew D’Angelo’s AGOGIC
• Asphalt Orchestra
• Bad Touch
• Ben Perowsky's Moodswing Orchestra w/ TK Wonder
• Captain Black Big Band
• Carmen Souza
• Charles Gayle Trio
• Charlie Hunter
• Chico Hamilton
• Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth
• Chris Speed’s YeahNO
• The Curtis Brothers
• Dan Tepfer Trio
• Dayna Kurtz
• Derrick Hodge
• Don Byron's New Gospel Quintet
• Donny McCaslin Trio with Uri Caine
• Eric Legnini / Krystle Warren
• Gregory Porter
• Igmar Thomas & The Cypher
• Jacky Terrasson
• Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
• Jacob Garchik Trio
• James Carney Group
• Jamie Baum Septet
• Jason Lindner's NOW vs NOW
• Jen Shyu & Jade Tongue
• Juan-Carlos Formell & Johnny's Dream Club
• Kendrick Scott
• Kenneth Whalum III
• Kirk Knuffke Quartet
• Marcus Strickland Quartet
• Mariani
• Matana Roberts
• Maurice Brown Effect
• Mike Pride’s From Bacteria To Boys
• Miles Okazaki / Damion Reid / Guillaume Perret
• MILK & JADE by Dana Leong
• Nels Cline's Stained Radiance
• Nguyen Le
• Nomo
• Pilc / Moutin / Hoenig
• Portico Quartet
• Proverb Trio featuring Dafnis Prieto, Kokayi & Jason Lindner
• RedCred featuring John Medeski, Ben Perowsky and Chris Speed
• The Respect Sextet
• The Robert Glasper Experiment
• Sameer Gupta's Namaskar
• Shane Endsley & The Music Band
• Sofia Rei Koutsovitis
• Source w/Abdoulaye Diabaté
• Steve Coleman and Five Elements
• Talibam!
• Tia Fuller
• Tineke Postma
• Underground Horns
• (U)nity
• Vernon Reid's Artificial Afrika
• VISIONFUGITIVE: JD Allen + Butch Morris
• Water Surgeons

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christopher Plummer Reprises Tony Award Winning Barrymore in Toronto

From a media release - I'd get my tickets now if you can:


TD presents William Luce's Acclaimed Broadway Play for a strictly limited engagement of 30 performances only January 27 to March 9, 2011 at Toronto's Elgin Theatre

TORONTO:  CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, the two-time Tony and two-time Emmy Award winning actor and a 2009 Academy Award® nominee ("The Last Station"), will reprise his Tony Award-winning
portrayal of the legendary actor, John Barrymore, in William Luce's acclaimed Broadway play, BARRYMORE, for a strictly limited engagement of thirty performances at Toronto's historic Elgin Theatre from January 27 - March 9, 2011.
Having premiered at Canada's Stratford Festival in September 1996, BARRYMORE subsequently toured several US cities, and opened at Broadway's Music Box Theatre in March 1997.  For his indelible portrayal, Plummer won the 1997 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play.  He also won the Drama Desk Award, the Edwin Booth Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Actor in a Play.

One of the world's most distinguished classical stage and film stars, Christopher Plummer has also been hailed as the finest Shakespearean actor to emerge from North America in the 20th Century.  Last season, he starred to critical acclaim  as Prospero in Des McAnuff’s production of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" at Canada's Stratford Festival, and his newest motion picture, "Beginners," co-starring Ewan McGregor, was selected as a special presentation at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.

The entire original creative team of BARRYMORE will be reunited for the Toronto presentation including three-time Tony Award-winning director, GENE SAKS, scenic and costume designer SANTO LOQUASTO, and lighting designer NATASHA KATZ.  BARRYMORE will be presented by TD and is being produced by KEVIN ALBRECHT, STEVE KALAFER and PETER LeDONNE.

"TD is proud to present Christopher Plummer’s return to the Toronto stage in this historic engagement,” said TD’s Vice President-Global Brand & Corporate Marketing, DIANNE SMITH-SANDERSON. "We’re thrilled to be part of such a unique sponsorship opportunity with the potential to expand more broadly across the border and reflect our presence in North America.”

BARRYMORE offers an unforgettable portrayal of legendary actor, John Barrymore, a man of colossal talent and contradictions, also considered one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of all time.  Set in 1942, the final year of John Barrymore's life, BARRYMORE takes place on the stage of a Broadway theatre, where the actor is struggling to recreate his performance in the title role of Shakespeare's Richard III.   Playwright William Luce ("The Belle of Amherst") shows us the many facets of this complicated man and dazzling actor:  the wives and the women... the drink and the profanity... the notoriety and the a portrait that's "fiendishly entertaining and blistering sad," and made all the more indelible with Christopher Plummer's "achingly funny, memorably strong and debonair performance (The New York Times)."

Actor, JOHN PLUMPIS, is featured in BARRYMORE in the role of "Frank," the unseen, off-stage prompter/stage manager who assists John Barrymore with running his lines and coaxing out a performance.

• BARRYMORE will be performed on Monday-Wednesday and Friday-Saturday evenings at 8:00pm at the Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge Street)
• Complete ticket information at this link


A Canadian from Montreal, Plummer made his professional debut on stage and radio in both French and English.  Since his New York debut in 1954, Plummer has starred in many prestigious Broadway productions, including his Tony-winning performances in "Cyrano" (1973) and "BARRYMORE" (1997).  In 2004, he scored his sixth Tony nomination for his performance in the title role of "King Lear" at Lincoln Center.  He garnered a seventh nomination in 2007 for his work in "Inherit the Wind."

Christopher Plummer scored a career triumph last year in his Oscar-nominated performance as Leo Tolstoy in "The Last Station," with Helen Mirren.  He also provided voices for the hit animated films "Up" and "9" and starred with the late Heath Ledger in Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus."  He  narrates Turner Classic Movies' (TCM) "Moguls and Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood," an ambitious, seven-part original production about the making of the American movie industry, which premiered in November 2010.

Since director Sidney Lumet introduced Plummer to the screen in "Stage Struck" (1957), Plummer has appeared in a host of films, including the Oscar-winning "The Sound of Music" (1965), "The Fall of the Roman Empire" (1964), "Inside Daisy Clover" (1965), "Oedipus the King" (1968), "The Battle of Britain" (1969), "The Man Who Would Be King" (1975), "Return of the Pink Panther" (1975), "The Silent Partner" (1978), "Murder by Decree" (1979), "Eyewitness" (1981), "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" (1991), "Malcolm X" (1992), "Wolf" (1994), "Delores Claiborne" (1995), "Twelve Monkeys" (1995), "The Insider" (1999), "A Beautiful Mind" (2001), "Ararat" (2002), "Cold Creek Manor" (2003), "Syriana" (2005) and "Inside Man" (2006) Plummer has been a leading actor at Great Britain's National Theatre under Sir Laurence Olivier, the Royal Shakespeare Company under Sir Peter Hall and, in its formative years, the Stratford Festival of Canada under Sir Tyrone Guthrie and his mentor, Michael Langham.

Plummer's many honours include Great Britain's Evening Standard Award, plus one nomination; two Emmys, plus six nominations; a Genie Award for "Murder by Decree" and Genie nominations for "The Amateur" (1981), "Impolite" (1992) and "Blizzard" (2003).  In 1968, sanctioned by Queen Elizabeth II, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, and he also received the Governor General's Life Achievement Award, an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from New York's Julliard School and additional honorary doctorates from six major Canadian universities. Plummer was elected into the Theatre's Hall of Fame in 1986 and joined Canada's Walk of Fame in 1999.
Plummer's unparalleled life is recounted in his autobiographical memoir, In Spite of Myself (Knopf), published in November 2008.


Playwright WILLIAM LUCE previously wrote the Broadway and London hit, "The Belle of Amherst", starring Julie Harris as the poet Emily Dickinson, for which Ms. Harris won her fifth Tony Award for Best Actress.   Luce has twice been nominated for Writers Guild Awards for the CBS-TV movies, "The Last Days of Patton," starring George C. Scott, and "The Woman He Loved," starring Jane Seymour, Olivia de Havilland and Julie Harris.  He has also written autobiographical plays based on the lives of Lillian Hellman, Charlotte Bronte and Isak Dinesen.

Director GENE SAKS has won three Tony Awards for Best Direction and received ten Tony Award nominations.   He also won a New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Director of a Play and was elected into the Theatre Hall of Fame, among other honours.  As a theatre director, Gene Saks is best-known for his long-term collaboration with playwright and comedy writer Neil Simon, directing "The Goodbye Girl," "Lost in Yonkers," "Rumors," "Broadway Bound," "The Odd Couple", "California Suite," "Biloxi Blues" and "Brighton Beach Memoirs."


KEVIN ALBRECHT founded iSport Media and Management, and is the producer of the current CBC Television smash hit, "Battle of the Blades."  He was named by The Globe and Mail as one of the three most influential people in Canadian sports.

STEVE KALAFER, an independent film producer, is a three-time Academy Award® nominee, and has co-produced five films with Peter LeDonne including the Academy Award®-nominated shorts, "Curtain Call" and "Sister Rose's Passion."

PETER LeDONNE, long affiliated on Broadway as a partner in the landmark theatrical advertising agency, Ash/LeDonne earned his place in Broadway history for pioneering the use of live performance footage in a :60 second commercial television spot that transformed Bob Fosse's musical, "Pippin," into a smash Broadway hit, forever changing the way commercial theatre was marketed and promoted.  LeDonne has subsequently written, produced and directed TV commercials for literally hundreds of theatrical productions, and created television, radio, print and outdoor advertising campaigns for the national tours of rock and pop stars, including Janis Joplin, Frank Sinatra, Sir Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli, Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow, Sir Elton John, and many others.

Canadian Opera Company Opens Season with Magic Flute

From a media release:

COC’s Winter 2010/2011 season launches with playful new production of Mozart’s beloved masterpiece The magic flute

Toronto, Ontario – The Canadian Opera Company’s 61st season continues this winter with a new COC production of Mozart’s mystical and beloved fairytale, The Magic Flute.  COC Music Director Johannes Debus conducts this timeless masterpiece and Tony Award®-nominated director Diane Paulus makes her COC debut with this playful production for all ages.  The Magic Flute also features Canadian opera stars Michael Schade and Isabel Bayrakdarian, singing together at the COC for the first time, in the roles of Mozart’s star-crossed lovers Tamino and Pamina.

• The Magic Flute is sung in German with English SURTITLES™
• The production runs for 12 performances on Jan. 29, Feb. 1, 3, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 18, 20, 23, and 25, 2011.

A humorous, sometimes profound, exploration of the trials of growing up, seeking ideals and finding love, The Magic Flute follows the adventures of Prince Tamino as he undergoes feats of heroism to rescue his love, Pamina, from the forces of evil.  Joining Tamino on his journey is the comic birdcatcher Papageno, who dreams of one day finding his own sweetheart.  The Magic Flute was an immediate hit when it debuted in 1791, with nearly 100 performances taking place in the first year after its premiere, and has been an audience favourite ever since.  The opera’s eternal appeal can be attributed to the music as The Magic Flute features some of Mozart’s most beautiful and purely infectious melodies.

Leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus is COC Music Director Johannes Debus, who recently conducted the COC’s thrilling new production of Aida.  He is joined by director Diane Paulus, a Tony Award®-nominee for Broadway’s HAIR and the Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater, who makes her COC debut.  Sets and costumes by acclaimed designer Myung Hee Cho capture the sense of play and wonder in Mozart’s music, as well as the whimsy and wisdom experienced in the opera’s journey for self-knowledge, truth and love. The lighting is designed by Scott Zielinski.

Canadian tenor Michael Schade performs the role of Tamino.  Last heard with the COC in 2009’s Rusalka, Schade is one of the leading Mozart tenors on the stage today.  COC Ensemble Studio graduate soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, whose stage presence and musicality last enchanted COC audiences in 2010’s Idomeneo and 2008’s Pelléas et Mélisande, is Pamina, a role she recently sang with the Metropolitan Opera.  Canadian tenor Frédéric Antoun, who is quickly becoming a much sought-after performer in North America and Europe, shares the role of Tamino and makes his COC debut with this production.  Also cast as Pamina is COC Ensemble Studio member Simone Osborne, a rising young singer lauded by the New York Times for her “sweet and clear sound, sensitive phrasing and gleaming sustained high notes.” 

Russian baritone Rodion Pogossov, last heard in 2007’s The Barber of Seville and a regular performer with the Metropolitan Opera, returns to the COC to sing the role of Papageno, and recent Ensemble Studio graduate soprano Lisa DiMaria is his sweetheart, Papagena.  Canadian soprano Aline Kutan makes her mainstage debut in her signature role, the Queen of the Night.  Also making their COC debuts are Russian bass Mikhail Petrenko, who is the priest-king Sarastro, and American tenor John Easterlin as Monostatos. Former Ensemble Studio bass-baritone Robert Gleadow, last seen with the COC in 2009’s La Bohème and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, sings the Speaker of the Temple.

Rounding out the cast are many new and returning Ensemble Studio members: graduate soprano Betty Waynne Allison, mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta and graduate mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal are the First, Second and Third Ladies, respectively; bass Neil Craighead sings the First Priest and is joined by graduate tenor Michael Barrett as the Second Priest; and bass Michael Uloth is cast as the Second Armed Man.  Performing the role of the First Armed Man is tenor Gregory Carroll, in his COC debut.  Singing the First, Second and Third Spirits are members of the Canadian Children’s Opera Company.

The Magic Flute was Mozart's final opera, receiving its premiere only three months before his death in December 1791.

Video teaser from The Magic Flute, featuring set and costume designs by designer Myung Hee Cho.

Experience the exciting young singers of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio performing the lead roles in their own performance of The Magic Flute on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.  Under the direction of the same creative team as the mainstage cast, the Ensemble Studio members also appear with the full COC Orchestra and Chorus.

Images are sketches for the characters by Myung Hee Cho:
• The Queen of the Night
• The Crocodile
• The Griffin
• Pamina

Check their website for additional programmes and pre-opera talks.

• Ticket prices for The Magic Flute range from $62 to $281 plus applicable taxes.
• Tickets for the Feb. 17 Ensemble Studio Performance are only $20 or $55
Available online at
• Or by calling COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231
• Or in person at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office, located at 145 Queen St. W.

NEW THIS SEASON: Standing Room
• Standing Room tickets for only $12, go on sale at 11 a.m. on the morning of each performance at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office.
• Limit of two tickets per person.
• Subject to availability.

Young People
• Special young people’s tickets are priced from $31 to $95 plus applicable taxes.
• These ticket prices apply to those who are 15 years of age or under, accompanied by and sitting next to an adult.

Opera for a New Age
• Patrons between the ages of 16 and 29 may purchase $22 Opera for a New Age tickets as of Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 10 a.m.,
Details & tickets available online at

Rush Seats
• Rush seats, starting at $22 and subject to availability, go on sale at 11 a.m. on the morning of each performance at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Next Stage Theatre Fest January 5 - 16 Toronto

At this price - with a heated beer tent too! - Next Stage is a hot ticket for theatre in Toronto later this month. From a media release:

Next Stage Festival
Factory Theatre Mainspace & Studio Theatres
January 5-16

Here's a peek at the line up of plays, and if last year was any indication, it'll be hard to choose what to see.

Created & performed by Nicola Gunn (Melbourne, Australia)
Sound Designer: Luke Paulding / Production Manager: Jason Golinsky
Original Production Design by: Nicola Gunn, Rebecca Etchell and Gwendolyna Holmberg-Gilchrist
A psychological detective story, told with delicacy and subversive humour, about a woman in a bathtub in a hotel in a desert who plunges into the case of a mysterious, disappearing German Woman. It’s about the terror of loneliness, confusion and indecision. And a French woman called Sophie who works in a community centre.

True Edge Productions
By Kristin Grundlack Levinson, Denis McGrath, Mike McPhaden, Michael Rubenfeld, Gregg Taylor, Rick Roberts, Daniel Levinson, Scott Leaver / Directed by: Todd Campbell
Cast: Todd Campbell, Michael Dufays, Christian Feliciano, Casey Hudecki, M. John Kennedy, Scott Leaver, Daniel Levinson, Andrew (Sandy) MacMaster, Simon Fon, Chris Sironi, Christopher Mott, Scott Moyle, Kevin Robinson, Matt Richardson, Siobhán Richardson (nee Chin), Stuart Constable
Wounds of the flesh, a surgeon’s skill may heal, But wounded honour is only cured with steel.
Duel of Ages invites you to explore the infamous legacy of personal combat through an anthology of short plays depicting various ages in the history of dueling. With choreography and performances by some of Toronto’s most talented fight directors and actor- combatants, Duel of Ages is a thrilling exploration of the cult of honour and personal combat. Rapiers for two… coffee for one.

FAIRYTALE ENDING (The Big Bad Family Musical)
Role Your Own Theatre
By Kieren MacMillan and Jeremy Hutton
Originally created for and produced by the Toronto Youth Theatre
Director: Jeremy Hutton / Music Director: Kieren MacMillan / Stage Manager: Dustyn Wales / Choreographer: Ashleigh Powell / Set and Costume Designer: Scott Penner / Lighting Designer: Joshua Koffman / Producer: Lada Darewych / Cast: Meagan Tuck, Christina Gordon, Amanda Leigh, Andrew Moyes, Jennifer Walls, J.P. Baldwin, Carl Swanson, Mike Wisniowski, Maksym Shkvorets
“Into the Woods” meets “The Usual Suspects”. Jill’s favourite fables are ending in tragedy, and she needs to figure out why. With the help of a hard-boiled detective and a trio of storybook characters, she confronts the Big Bad Wolf, Goldilocks, Troll, and the infamous Jack, on her way to uncovering the truth. Fairy Tale Ending is a topsy-turvy yet touching tale of a young girl coming to grips with loss and the reality of growing up.

The Sick! Collective
Directed and created By Judith Thompson
Co-Created/Assistant Directed by Lauren Brotman
Produced by Jack Grinhaus and Sarah Miller-Garvin
Production Design by Beth Kates / Performed by The Company
The Grace Project: SICK sets out to explore the many concepts and ideas relating to disability, illness, challenge, and what it means to be thought of as sick by the rest of the world. The Production gives voice to young people who may otherwise be disenfranchised by their experiences; showing not only the pain and isolation, but the joys and grace with which these remarkable young adults navigate and control their own destinies. The hope of the production is to seek, confront, and understand the many preconceptions about living with challenges, about otherness, and the overall concept of what it means to be labeled SICK.

Rabiayshna Productions
By Darrah Teitel / Directed by Audrey Dwyer / Lighting Designer: Kimberly Purtell
Sound Designer: Thomas Ryder Payne / Set Designer: Jung-Hye Kim /
Cast: Sascha Cole, Jake Epstein, Brendan McMurtry-Howlett, Kaitlyn Riordan
A quartet of radically minded teenagers set out on an adventure of creating high art, sexual becoming and new philosophies that challenge the modern mind. The Apology features Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, Lord George Byron and Clare Clairemont. As they challenge each other’s intellect, they expose their passions, betray one another and create some of time’s masterpieces.

Sulong Theatre Company
Written and performed by Catherine Hernandez
Directed by Ann Powell (Puppetmongers Theatre)
Lola (“Grandmother” in Filipino) is so old and sick she has to be spoon fed by her granddaughter, Grace. But it wasn’t always like this. Over the course of her final meal on earth, Lola explains how it was always her job to find food—even if that meant stealing it. Part confession, part revelation, Lola’s epic tale unravels the entire modern history of Manila from the time of the Thomasites to the second wave of Filipino migration to the United States— one spoonful at a time.

SWAN SONG OF MARIA (A Tragic Fairy Tale)
El Destino Productions & Threshold Theatre
By Carol Cece Anderson
Directed by Mark Cassidy / Dramaturg: Paula Danckert / Ballet Choreographer: Roberto Campanella / Ballet Consultant: Evelyn Hart / Tap Choreographer: Debbie Wilson / Cast: Lili Francks, John Blackwood, and Hilario Duran
In Carol Cece Anderson’s Swan Song of Maria, a radical re-imagining of Swan Lake, tap dancer Jillian and playwright Joe, an aging interracial couple, confront Jillian’s Alzheimer’s and Joe’s ever present muse Maria, a beautiful ballerina. Joe met Maria in the early 1960’s, on a Caribbean island, whose revolution, like his and Jillian’s forty year relationship, has outgrown its idealism. An elegant and powerful fusion of theatre, Cuban jazz, classical ballet, and tap, Swan Song of Maria explores the searing depths of love’s beauty and frailty.

Starving Artists
By David Egan / Directed by Daryl Cloran & Ashlie Corcoran
Set & Costume Designer: Joanna Yu / Lighting Designer: Jason Hand / Stage Manager: Isabelle Ly /
Cast: Shane Carty & Matthew MacFadzean
“Through hope we became monsters. Hope will make a man say or do anything…” In 1845, HMS Terror and Erebus set sail from England seeking the Northwest Passage through the Arctic. Neither ship was ever seen again. Three years later, two men sit in a lifeboat. Ravaged by hunger, and haunted by their memories, they must confront truths they can no longer hide.
Winner of the Herman Voaden National Playwriting Competition (Canada) and the Cameron Mackintosh New Play Award (UK)

• $15 – Evening Performances (7pm and after start time) $12 – Afternoon Performance (6:59pm or before start time)
• $48 – Four Play Pass: – Good for 4 tickets, redeemable in advance by phone or at the door. – Maximum of one ticket per play/pass. – Non-transferable.
• $88 – Eight Play Pass: – Good for 8 tickets, redeemable in advance by phone or at the door. – Maximum of two tickets per play/pass. – This pass can be used by two patrons.
• ID must be shown whenever using a pass. There are no refunds for any unused portion of a pass.

• By phone: 416-966-1062
• Toll Free:1-866-515-7799
• 10am - 5pm, Monday - Friday (excluding Dec 24 & 31)
Online: Click Here - Visa & Mastercard only
• In Person at the McAuslan Beer Tent
• Factory Theatre Courtyard, 125 Bathurst St.
• Jan 5 - 16, 2011, starting 1 hour before the first show of the day
• Cash, Visa & Mastercard (NO Debit or AmEx)

Pianist Stephen Clarke CD Release Jan 3 at (le) poisson rouge NYC

With material from various sources:

Stephen Clarke CD Release
January 3 at (le) poisson rouge, New York
Mode Records "Giacinto Scelsi: The Piano Works"
with music of Scelsi, Radelescu, and Sorabji

Canadian pianist Stephen Clarke has a fondness for new music and Giacinto Scelsi: The Piano Works (No. 4) is his second recording of the eccentric Italian composer's works for keyboard. He'll be launching the CD with a concert at (le) poisson rouge in New York on January 3.

Giacinto Scelsi (1905 - 1988) was born in southern Italy, near Naples to an aristocratic family on an old country estate. He was mostly self taught as a composer, with little formal training, although he did study with a pupil of Berg in Vienna, and with a follower of Scriabin in Switzerland, influences which can be heard in his earlier works. He is perhaps his best known work is the Quattro Pezzi per Orchestra, each on a single note - the concentration on single notes being a frequent element of his later compositions.

Giacinto was himself a virtuoso pianist and wrote a large body of work for that instrument. Interestingly, he was also a poet and essayist, and was published in French during a stay in Paris between the World Wars. While he was little known as a composer until the mid-1980's, very late in his career, he is now considered one of the important composers of the 20th century. His devotion to Asian philosphies like Buddhism and yoga influenced his later compositions, and he's known for idiosyncracies like the fact he never allowed his picture to be used in conjunction with his music - idiosyncracies that mirrored his highly individualistic "outsider" style. His music was recently heard by millions in Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island, and is currently enjoying a renewed interest, with Mode Records taking the role in recording his oeuvre.

The CD:
Mode’s Scelsi Edition continues with the fourth volume devoted to his piano works
The Works for Piano 4
Hispania “Triptyque pour piano” (1939)   (24:01)
Suite No. 5 “Il Circo” (1935)   (19:46)
Suite No. 6 “I Capricci di Ty” (1939)   (26:03)
Stephen Clarke, piano

Stephen Clarke has performed in festivals in Europe, Canada and the U.S., among these the Donaueschinger Musiktage and the Berliner Festwochen. He has appeared as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. He also plays in a duo with violinist Marc Sabat and has worked with a number of ensembles. Recordings include works by Giacinto Scelsi (Mode Records). Mr. Clarke studied composition at the University of Toronto and has written works for various ensembles. His own projects have included Canadian premieres of works by Scelsi, Feldman, Wolpe and Ustvolskaya. Composers who have written for him include Matteo Fargion, Michael Hynes, and Udo Kasemets. Recordings include a solo CD of works by Toronto-based composer Udo Kasemets (hatArt).

For a taste of the CD and concert, this is Giacinto Scelsi's "Action Music" for solo piano, performed by Stephen Clarke.  Stephen Clarke plays Scelsi's Action Music - IX. Con fuoco (the last of 9 short movements). (The visuals are static but the music more than makes up for that.)

The Details:
Monday, January 3, 2011
6:30pm - 9:30pm
(le) poisson rouge
158 Bleecker ST. Btwn Thompson & Sullivan
A CD Release Concert for Mode Records' "Giacinto Scelsi: The Piano Works"
with music of Scelsi, Radelescu, and Sorabji
Tickets $15 and available online here
Doors 6:30PM | Show 7:30PM | All Ages

Monday, December 27, 2010

Obsidian/Nightwood Production brings Pulitzer Winning Ruined to Toronto

From a media release:

Obsidian Theatre Company in association with
Nightwood Theatre presents the Toronto premiere of
the Pulitzer-Prize-winning play, RUINED

January 16 to February 12, 2011 at the Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs

Toronto, ON… Obsidian Theatre Company in association with Nightwood Theatre is thrilled to present the Toronto premiere of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize award-winning play Ruined. Written by Lynn Nottage and starring theatre and film veterans, Yanna McIntosh and Sterling Jarvis, the story is set in a small mining town in the civil war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ruined follows a young woman’s path to Mama Nadi, a savvy businesswoman who, in the midst of a complex civil war, both protects and profits from the women whose bodies have become battlegrounds. At once heartbreaking and captivating, Ruined pays homage to the courageous and resilient women who must piece themselves together after the ruin.

Philip Akin, Obsidian Theatre Company Artistic Director and director of Ruined, remarks, “It was in 2008 that I first heard of this play and I have been working to produce it ever since. Ruined is a necessity for me. Well perhaps more of an obsession really. This story has hit me deep inside and no matter what, I needed to bring this play to the stage. This is a play of survivors. Not victims. And that is an African story that you do not see very often. The women in this play are the distillation of many women who have survived horrors we can only imagine and yet they are still wrapped in humanity. How could I not want these people to live here for our audience?”

Ruined stars seasoned theatre, film and television veterans, Yanna McIntosh and Sterling Jarvis. Akin has assembled an impressive creative team for this Toronto premiere including set designer Gillian Gallow, Costume Designer Nadine Grant, lighting designer Rebecca Picherak, Sound Designer Chris Stanton and stage manager Michael Sinclair.

Written by Lynn Nottage
Directed by Philip Akin
Starring Yanna McIntosh and Sterling Jarvis with Richard Alan Campbell, Marci T House, Daniso Ndhlovu, Muoi Nene, Thomas Olajide, Anthony Palmer, Sabryn Rock, Marc Senior, Andre Sills, Sophia Walker
Set Design by Gillian Gallow, Lighting Design by Rebecca Picherak
Costume Design by Nadine Grant, Sound Design by Chris Stanton
Stage Manager: Michael Sinclair

LYNN NOTTAGE, Playwright
Lynn Nottage was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1964. Her parents were a schoolteacher and a child psychologist. Keen on theatre from an early age, she attended New York’s High School of Music and Art, before Brown University and Yale School of Drama. Her work often deals with the lives of African Americans and the struggles of women. Apart from Ruined, Intimate Apparel is probably Nottage’s best known play, centered on the story of an African-American woman’s journey to independence, with her moving to New York to pursue her dreams and becoming a seamstress. Ruined itself won several high-profile awards including an Obie for Best New American Play in 2008, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2009 and most recently, co-winner of the newly established Horton Foote Prizes, awarded on August 30, 2010 named in honour of the late legendary writer. Lynn Nottage is a visiting lecturer at Yale School of Drama and sits on The Dramatists Guild Council, an alumna of new American dramatists.

Philip Akin is an accomplished actor/director/producer and has been the Artistic Director for the Obsidian Theatre Company since 2006. 
Most Recent Directing:
Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage (2010) for Obsidian Theatre/ Citadel Theatre and the Canadian Stage Company, Factory Theatre: Toronto the Good by Andrew Moodie (2009), Obsidian Theatre Company: Black Medea by Wesley Enoch (2008),Born Ready by Joseph Jomo Pierre (2008), Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage (2008), International Playwrights Forum (2008) 
Shaw Festival: Topdog Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks & Ground Zero Productions: West Indies Diary by Pat Darbasie

The Details:
DATES: January 16 to February 12, 2011
MEDIA/VIP: Thursday January 20, 2011
SHOW TIMES: Tuesday to Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Wednesday 12:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs, 26 Berkeley Street, Tickets are available by calling (416) 368.3110 or
SINGLE TICKETS: On Sale NOW Prices range from $15-$35

Birdman -The Brute Chorus Single Release

One of the great things about having this blog is that people have introduced me to so many interesting artists. From a media release - and especially  recommended if you like Nick Cave, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, and the Arctic Monkeys:

Birdman - The Brute Chorus Single Release

London's eight legged rockers The Brute Chorus celebrate the festive winter spirit with Birdman, their third release from their sophomore album How The Caged Bird Sings. The single will be released on Jan 16th, 2011 via The MuseBox/EMI Distribution.

Birdman is a voodoo-infused rockabilly gem with a frenetic atmosphere that embodies the rock n roll spirit of Jerry Lee Lewis. The undeniable sense of urgency is what makes The Brute Chorus such a compelling live act, and the attention they've received, both in their native UK and internationally, lies in their ability to also reflect this so intensely on record.

The Brute Chorus - Could This Be Love? from XXXVIII on Vimeo.

• The single Birdman can also be purchased on iTunes, along with the rest of The Brute Chorus discography (no video of it available at the moment btw).

Brighter at Night - Ash Koley Single Release

From a media release - this is brand new music from fast rising Canadian pop duo Ash Koley. It's catchy, cute and upbeat, and they get extra points for employing Canadian dancers in their videos.

Ash Koley - actually consisting of Ash Koley and Phil Deschambault.

This is their second single, Brighter At Night from their debut album, Inventions.

I also like Don't Let Your Feet Touch Ground.

Friday, December 24, 2010

CD Review: Chamber Music by Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Ségal

CD Review: Chamber Music
by Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Ségal
Six Degree Records - for release January 11, 2011

You can catch up on the background of both performers in an earlier post - and listen to the CD via streaming at the link in the title. And, if you're lucky enough to be in NYC January 9, you can catch them live at GlobalFEST.

Much is made in the media of "global fusion" and collaborations and the politics thereof. This coming together of musical minds is more the result of a natural synergy between two virtuosi whose understanding of each others' art simply transcends all boundaries.

Notes of the kora fall like drops of silver over the moodier strains of the cello as the instruments dance around and with each other. The first impression of the CD is one of an overriding beauty, pure and simple, and you can see the close musical relationship between the two artists in this clip, which is Chamber Music, the title track:

It's this piece in particular that I'm hooked on; I find it playing in my head, calling me to put the CD on again and again and again. The two musicians explore a rare sense of ease with each other in a variety of modes. Some of the music is swingy and percussive, elsewhere it's more dissonant and in tune with new classical music. I also heard shades of the Baroque in places, and moods from upbeat to mournful.

Ballaké Sissoko takes a virtuoso turn on the track Houdesti, and on Regret - à Kader Barry they're joined by voice both spoken and sung. Despite a vibe that I'd describe as laidback overall, it's not tune-out new Age background music. I found myself wanting to move and dance to the gentle, yet insistent rhythms.

There's a certain aesthetic in this recording that's very poetic and quite haunting in nature. I'll end it with this from the website:

Ballaké a un secret, il habite la nuit, le silence est son guide.
Par une étrange photosynthèse, Ballaké se transforme quand le soleil se couche, la fatigue disparaît, les ennuis aussi, l'oreille devient un magnolia géant... Alors le jeu commence. Les musiciens connaissent tous le plaisir du jeu de chambre. « After Midnight Session », les jazzmen disent « After affair », double sens merveilleux, concert intime d'après club, ou cigarette des amoureux apaisés. La kora de Ballaké et mon violoncelle sont certes vieux et vénérables mais, dans la nuit de Bamako, ils ont la beauté d’enfants calmes.

Vincent Segal

(CD cover illustration by Benjamen Flao)

1. Chamber Music 5’31
2. Oscarine 5’41
3. Houdesti 8’52
4. Wo Yé N'gnougobine 5’51
5. Histoire de Molly 5’31
6. "Ma-Ma" FC 5’12
7. Regret - à Kader Barry 3’45
8. Halinkata Djoubé 5’08
9. Future 3’15
10. Mako Mady 6’06

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Free Screening of Monty Python's The Holy Grail at The Royal Toronto

From a release - the Royal Cinema Toronto presents the perfect après Christmas treat - FREE of charge:

The Royal presents a FREE holiday treat
* 2 screenings of MONTY PYTHON & THE HOLY GRAIL
Directors Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam
Starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin
1975, 91 minutes

• Sunday December 26th @ 4:30pm
• Monday December 27th @ 7pm

Sets The Cinema Back 900 Years!

...“Silly, sophomoric, and slapped together, but would you want it any other way? ” - Chicago Reader

“Has been so quoted and requoted that the scenes and words feel tattooed onto the psychic membrane.” - Globe and Mail

This classic Monty Python comedy, directed by Pythons Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, is a hilarious send-up of the grim circumstances of the Middle Ages as told through the story of King Arthur and framed by a modern-day murder investigation. When the mythical king of the Britons leads his knights on a quest for the Holy Grail, they face a wide array of horrors, including a persistent Black Knight, a three-headed giant, a cadre of shrubbery-challenged knights, the perilous Castle Anthrax, a killer rabbit, a house of virgins, and a handful of rude Frenchmen.

One of my favourite scenes:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye & other shows at the Studio Museum Harlem

Any Number of Preoccupations
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and other current shows
at the Studio Museum, Harlem

on view to March 13, 2011

Any Number of Preoccupations is artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye's first solo museum show, and takes up the main space of the Studio Museum. Born in Britain of Ghanaian descent, Lynette's work is exclusively portraiture and figurative, but taken into a kind of conceptual realm.

The show includes works completed between 2003 and 2010, with many large canvases in the main area, and smaller pieces in the smaller room to the side. Her subjects are also of African descent, and I walked through the whole show before reading that they were actually fictional characters. I was quite amazed - they come across as so fully realized, people with histories and personalities. I wasn't surprised to find that she's also a writer of short stories that often have inconclusive, open endings.

The portraits are remarkably individual. Lynette works quickly, often finishing a piece in one go, and apparently discards many of them even as she keeps others. In terms of technique, they contain the elements of classic contemporary painting. The brushstrokes are fluid, most often in depicting cloth and almost to abstraction of the form.

In each piece, there seems to be one element that stands out by reason of colour and/or motion. Sometimes it's cloth, sometimes an element in the background - in 2010's Debut, the woman wears a white flower in her hair and there's one on the frame, as if she's about to step out (like Highriser - pictured).

In Diplomacy III, (also pictured,) a group portrait, it's a robed figure in white, along with a female figure in white and pink that stand out against all the men in dark suits. Reclining figures only appear in a couple of the smaller pieces. In some, the composition is quite dark, with the figure emerging more as you step away from the canvas - in those pieces, it's the eyes that pop out at you. In Significant Donkey's Feat (pictured,) it's the kinetic face and wild hair.

Other shows include The Production of Space, works from the permanent collection that speak to a relationship between bodies and public space. Permutations of the concept included Dawitt Petro's 2009 piece "Harlechrome", incorporating photos taken walking around Harlem. He examines the surfaces in particular, the textures of concrete, brick, stairs and walls.

Cameroonian artist Barthélemy Togou's staged confrontations on trains, at airport security checks and at border crossings feature wooden suitcases and other theatrical details, and are documented in photographs. They seem somewhat ambiguous in nature - half comedic, but also pointing at darker realities. Alice Attie's contribution included photographs of uniquely apt found locations, like Wake up Blackman spraypainted on a brick wall behind a fence.

Dave McKenzie's amusing video We Shall Overcome features a guy in a mask (I think it's Bill Clinton) walking along 125th Street, waving to the puzzled public as the song plays.

I also enjoyed Dawoud Bey's Harlem, USA (1975-79) inspired by James VanDer Zee's show at the Met. This set of black and white photographs capture the neighbourhood and its people in barbershops, on the street, in doorways, everywhere.

There was lots more to take in, too much to cram into one post, including a black and white show downstairs, the VideoStudio and Mark Bradford's Alphabet - all of them worth taking in.
Matana Robert's SoundStudio makes a really interesting addition to the visual pieces.

Images of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye's work:
• Highriser 2009  Oil on canvas
• Diplomacy III 2009, Oil on linen, 190 x 250 cm
• The Signifying Donkey's Feat 2003

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Global is Over: Here Comes Trouble Music Minifest in NYC Jan 7

From a media release - I've seen Razia Said live - a high energy show - and the rest of the line up looks great:

Here Comes Trouble:
Six Acts Let Tradition Run Wild on January 7, 2011 at 92YTribeca

“Global is over. Long live the local!” declares Olivier Conan, musician and mastermind of New York’s Barbès Records. Local traditions—when channeled by hip, skilled artists drawing on close personal connections—become the freshest, coolest of sounds, taking both upscale arts centers and down-and-dirty dance floors by storm.

A confident burst of cutting-edge tradition will strike at “Here Comes Trouble”—presented by Trouble Worldwide and Barbès Records.

The details:
• January 7, 2011 at 92YTribeca, 200 Hudson St. (intersection of Canal)
• Tickets are $15. Doors open at 7 pm for an 8 pm show.
• Ticket info is available at this link or 212.601.1000.

Tradition can make plenty of trouble, as this year’s artists prove: Human beat boxes boom and bap next to Quebec-style kitchen clogging. Roots-driven hardcore vallenato from Colombia’s Caribbean coast (via L.A.’s hot clubs) sways boldly along side a cabaret singer with a Brechtian pedigree and a cache of classic Romanian Gypsy songs. The gentle pulse of Madagascar bumps up against cascades of hard-hitting Indian beats.

“It’s not about hybrids anymore. It’s about doing what you love and live and know, and running wild with it,” exclaims Greek-Albanian-Spanish-Egyptian-Brazilian music industry veteran Alexandra Casazza, who runs the San Francisco booking agency Trouble Worldwide, a co-presenter of the diverse mini-fest.

“Performing arts centers are opening up to new audiences, in hopes of bringing younger people to the venues,” Casazza explains. “What they’re finding is that that there are these youthful, high-energy artists who know how to reach across genres and generations, thanks to their smart, deep approach to local traditions from all over. Bands like trans-Mediterranean Watcha Clan or Slavic Soul Party! get young folks in the door and get the older patrons dancing.”

For the third year in a row, Casazza has teamed up with fellow world music troublemaker Conan, who shares her ear for innovative, organic artistry. Both sense a new and exciting openness to local tradition, presented masterfully. “Hybridization was a way to make unfamiliar global music more palatable to new audiences,” reflects Conan. “But musicians aren’t making world music anymore; they make their music and play it the intense, funky way it’s been played for generations.”

8pm: Sanda Weigl

Singing songs she learned as a child with effortless flair (she has family ties to Bertolt Brecht and long career in German theater, after all), Sanda Weigl creates a fresh approach—right down to her all-Japanese band—to Romanian Gypsy gems thanks to her polished yet vulnerable voice.

"...a Tom Waits-bred cross between Cape Verdean Chanteuse Cesaria Evora and German vocal visionary Dagmar Krause …" –San Diego Union-Tribune

8:45pm: Razia (Cumbancha Records)

Singer and songwriter Razia Said's nomadic life has taken her across Africa to France, Italy, Ibiza, Bali and New York City, but despite these wanderings, her heart and soul remains inexorably tethered to Madagascar, the land of her birth. With a jazz-inflected grace reminiscent of Joni Mitchell, Razia calls for more awareness and action to save the unique natural environment of her island home. (She's pictured below)

9:30pm: International Body Music Festival Sampler

Music you can see, dance you can hear.  Evocative and visceral, the International Body Music Festival concert explores the sonic possibilities of the human instrument with an amazing roster of artists from the Americas, including legendary beatboxers, contemporary takes on Quebecois kitchen clogging, and modern remixes of African American traditions like hambone.

This is really cool:

10:15pm: A very special guest from Canada…Not to be coy, but we may just have a secret special guest hop out of the audience and onto the stage.

11:00pm: Very be Careful

A Caribbean soul and a California heart have sustained a decade of ceaseless romp-downs and raucous times for L.A.’s vallenato veteranos Very Be Careful, inciting 10s of 1000s of men, women, children, and even some wild animals, to boogie to the Colombian coastal beat.

11:45pm: Non Stop Bhangra

Imagine a scene from a Bollywood movie smack in the middle of a thumping nightclub---swirling colors, the rhythm of pounding feet, and the relentless energy of brilliant beats. Add some dancehall vocals and serious live percussion, and you have the Bay Area’s wildly popular answer to India’s high-energy bhangra.