Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oka! Soundtrack Release February 1 2012

From a media release:

Oka! soundtrack (Oka Productions - release: February 1, 2012)
Channeling the Waterdrum: Chris Berry and the Bayaka Pygmies’ Close Collaboration Resonates on the Oka! Soundtrack

African music master meets intensely creative, egalitarian hunter-gatherers to create gorgeously recorded, deeply complex score for feature film.

Beats fly from drums made of the living roots of towering trees, or from the surface of flowing water. Songs, born of highly complex structures, spring from multi-part improvisation. Rhythmic cycles extend to lengths that baffle outsiders’ ears. Music both expresses and creates the moment, with spontaneous compositions leaping out in joy, or contemplative flute melodies drifting through the late night village to encourage dreams and peace.

This is the music of the Bayaka (Pymgies) and the Oka! Soundtrack (Oka Productions; release: February 1, 2012). Directed by Lavinia Currier (Passion in the Desert) and starring Kris Marshall (Love, Actually), the film tells the story of ethnomusicologist Louis Sarno, a leading expert on Bayaka music who ignored a life-threatening disease to live for three decades among these forest hunter-gatherers and record their music. Filmed and recorded on location in the remote tropical forests of the Central African Republic, Oka!’s story, the film, and the soundtrack were intimately shaped by Bayaka artists.

Going far beyond previous recorded encounters with this unique music, musician and engineer Chris Berry used multitracking techniques generally left in the studio and brought them to the Bayaka’s home turf. He worked with the community to write songs and to harness the sonic qualities of everything from earth bows to midnight flutes, from resonant roots to cupped palms on water. The result is a crisp, lush perspective that captures the full glory of the Bayaka egalitarian spirit and endless musical creativity.

“You just can’t frame it like Western music,” Berry explains. “It’s very complex, and make no mistake: Bayaka musicians know exactly what they are doing. And the most ingenious thing about it is that while they stick to this order, everyone is free. They express that moment and get at the power and beauty of where you are, right there.”

In just such a moment, Essandje, a highly respected woman in the community, leaped into overdubs. At first, the Bayaka singers weren’t quite sure why they had to follow Berry’s suggestion, put on headphones, and sing over their previously recorded tracks in the thatched shelter Berry used as his base.

But Essandje got it (Her nimble, rich voice rings out on “Mua” and “Wild Yam”). And within days, so did everyone else, with her guidance. “When Essandje broke the barrier, that’s when the magic started happening,” Berry recalls with a smile. “After a few days, the women came to me and said, ‘We want to write songs, and we want do to it with you.’”

“The women are the stars of Bayaka music, “Berry says, “When the women start to sing, the men shut up.” Many Bayaka songs come to them in dreams. Etoo (“Yetoo’s Dream”) asked Chris to record the songs she had dreamed in the forest. “‘One day,’ she said, ‘I dreamed a song. When I woke up singing it, my husband was singing the same song,’” Oka! director Lavinia Currier recalls.

Berry’s recording rig was designed to make breaking barriers easy. He had honed it as part of a collaborative effort with globally minded composer Paul Winter, who had invited Berry to join in on a project chronicling the music found along birds’ migration routes. Berry, an American-born multi-instrumentalist who spent more than a decade in Zimbabwe studying the mbira (thumb piano), had recorded thousands of hours of African music, multitracking in the field instead of simply hanging a mic or two over musicians or grabbing a few catchy samples.

Bayaka sounds presented a particularly fascinating challenge: “A lot of the other African music I recorded had lots of rules and stable, regulated roles for the musicians and parts,” Berry explains. “But with the Bayaka, everyone gets to improvise if they stay within certain loose parameters. The music reflects their society, because no one is leader and no one is follower. They all play together, with four or more intermingling songlines. It’s like trying to record Mingus, Coltrane, Miles, and Dizzy, all soloing at the same time, yet all playing together perfectly” on tracks like the bawdy, intricate “Bottlefunk Girls.”

This complexity and freedom first gripped Sarno as he headed into the forest, and astounded Berry as he worked and played music with the Bayaka. Compositions feature rhythmic cycles that feel extremely long by Western standards: “We have a 12-bar blues,” Berry notes. “Just imagine a 54-bar blues, or a 67-bar blues, and you’re getting close to the Bayaka.”

Music is a constant activity, but not really a subject of intellectual discussion for the Bayaka. For the Bayaka, a person’s personality is expressed in song and dance. Berry had to spend time with them, dancing and singing (two concepts expressed by a single word, “eboka ” in Bayaka language), improvising and listening. In addition to striking songs, he heard an elder playing flute as he strolled past sleepers late at night (“Mboyo Flute”) and the subtle resonance of the earth bow (“Molimo”). “The earth bow may be the oldest instrument on earth,” explains film director Currier, who like Berry, worked intensively with the Bayaka musicians. “A length of twine is stretched from a bent sapling and anchored in the ground where there is a hollow resonance, then plucked like a double bass.”

Jubilant Bayakas returning from trading at a nearby village played the tree drum, a living forest trees whose roots boom below ground (“Tree Drum and Gano”). “The Gano is a storytelling song, related to the Bantu “Griot” tradition, and, distantly, to American blues,” Currier notes. “Many Gano songs tell of the Bayaka’s ancestors, when people were related to and spoke to the animals, to chimpanzees and gorillas.”

As he worked closely with the Bayaka, Berry was allowed to record a purely female activity, waterdrumming, when Bayaka women cup their palms to create bubbles of air that can be tuned and played with a marimba-like resonance (“Waterdrum”). The women performers, who usually make this music while bathing, agreed to dive in clothed while Berry risked several mics to capture the full, splashing effect.

Yet Berry also wanted to pass along more than just the sounds of his newfound collaborators; he wanted listeners and film viewers to get closer to the visceral experience of being there with musicmaking Bayaka. Berry thoughtfully added bass lines, percussion, and additional frequencies so that the recording would transmit the full feel of the performances, from the rumble of roots to the quiet bounce of the earth bow. He also knew he was creating sound to go with the film’s narrative of intense emotional journey and cross-cultural encounter.

“Making a soundtrack with musicians like the Bayaka is a translation process. If you don’t translate it, many listeners won’t get it. Yet most projects get over-translated,” Berry muses. “It’s easy to misunderstand music that’s so complex, that comes from a very different kind of community from our own. I hope this scoring approach becomes more of a trend when we’re dealing with other cultures; there’s a lot of mutual learning and growth to be had if we let others speak. If we let their voices come through.”

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Indie Film Review: Moon Point Opens in Toronto Feb 2-9

Update February 6 - Moonpoint Held Over

(Toronto – February 6, 2012) Who says Canadians don’t like indie films?

INDIECAN’s first release, Moon Point, directed by Sean Cisterna, opened this past weekend at AMC Y&D, to cheering fans, who helped make it one of the top 6 highest grossing films, out of 19, at the popular theatre venue. All to say, that Moon Point has now been brought back for a second week (to February 16).

“I’ve been saying all along that Canadian indie films matter,” says jubilant INDIECAN distributor Avi Federgreen, “ and in reality its been proven that Canadian films matter by the response to Moon Point this past weekend.”
directed by Sean Cisterna
starring: Nick McKinlay (Darryl), Paula Brancati (Kristin), Kyle Mac (Femur), Kristen Gutoskie (Sarah Cherry), Special Cameo Appearance by Christian Potenza

Opens One Week Run In Toronto
Beginning February 3, 2012
AMC  Yonge + Dundas - 10 Dundas St. E.

Q & A with filmmakers and cast
following evening screenings on Feb 3rd + Feb 4th
One Night Special Screening 
February 2, 2012 - 7:00PM
The Royal - 608 College St.
Q+A with filmmakers and cast

Post Screening Party  - 9:30PM
a number of bands from the film performing live
Revival - 783 College St.

I'm most often suspicious of films or books that are billed as 'quirky' - too often taken as a synonym for forced and superficial cool than any real sense of the whimsical, but Moon Point is an engaging film that actually lives up to its PR. It follows Darryl and friends in a kind of oddball road movie - slash - romcon - slash - coming of age story.

Femur is Darryl's wheelchair bound, engineering genius friend. He's devised a souped-up electric wheelchair just as Darryl comes to him with his plan to travel to Moon Point, a nearby town where Sarah Cherry, a hometown girl made good - and Darryl's grade school crush - is shooting a vampirish movie. Since neither has a driver's license, the wheelchair and its attached cart become their ticket to ride. Shortly after they set out down a gravel country road, they hook up with Kristin, a young lady on the run from her boyfriend and her past.

The premise is on the absurd side, and the opening scenes a bit clunky as they establish Darryl as the family's underachieving loser, stuck in his mother's house without gainful employment - or prospects - at 23, but big on philosophy, politics and other rationalizations. But just when you think the movie will sink into predictable mediocrity, it rises above it with a real and genuine sense of the unusual peopled with a host of eccentric characters (like Art Hindle in a banana suit) and unexpected moments like the creepy guy who stops to pick up Kristin roadside, "Can I see your feet?" he asks.

Flashbacks take us back to Darryl and Sarah Cherry as adorable preteen moppets, he earnest and in love, she as a precociously worldly child actress. There are funny scenes and the emotional points ring true too. In the present of the story, the three road warriors bond as they face a series of surreal adventures, but then break apart again just when I was expecting a Hollywood finish. The film's not afraid to show Darryl's flaws and weasely side while still making him sympathetic. It's sentimental without being syrupy or using unrealistic film clichés to save the day. I liked its understated charm and yes, it's quirkiness.

Sean Cisterna's feature is written by Robert Lazar, produced by Cisterna and Christian Potenza, and executive produced by Avi Federgreen.  The film also includes an assortment of popular Canadian actors in cameo roles, such as Art Hindle, Jayne Eastwood, Linda Kash, Laurie Elliott, Jessica Holmes and James Hartnett, just to name a few.

Moon Point played the festival circuit with great success, showing at the Anchorage International Film Festival, at Cinefest in Sudbury, Edmonton International Film Festival, Calgary International Film Festival, and the Film North Festival, where Moon Point won the People's Choice Award.

Moon Point is the first film to be distributed by INDIECAN ENTERTAINMENT, a new distribution company introduced in November by veteran film producer Avi Federgreen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference Jan 26-29 in Toronto

From a media release:

dance Immersion brings top dance talent from
around the world to Toronto for the
International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference & Festival
Connecting our Diasporas through Dance

The conference at a glance

TORONTO, January, 2012
- dance Immersion brings top dancers and dance companies of the African diaspora from around the world to Toronto in four dance showcases running as part of the prestigious 24th Annual International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) Conference & Festival in Toronto, January 26 - 29, 2012.

The IABD Conference & Festival has become the convergence of ideas and interaction for the dance community, with a focus on those who serve the black diaspora and features over 30 dance companies and artists from countries such as Australia, Canada, Cuba, Germany, Ghana, Jamaica, UK and USA, among others. Included are special guest dance instructors Sean Cheesman of So You Think You Can Dance (Canada & USA) and Garth Fagan, choreographer of The Lion King.

This four-day event brings people from around the world together around issues that are relevant to dance within the global dance ecology. The IABD Conference & Festival provides opportunities for audiences and participants to network and share in an international arena with dance professionals through dance classes, panel discussions and auditions for international companies.

At the heart of the conference and festival are four Showcase Presentations that take place at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Exhibition Place featuring artists and companies ranging from renowned to up-and-coming:

- Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (New York City), a company that has performed for an estimated 23 million people in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents, as well as millions more through television broadcasts, and, in 2008, was designated a "vital American cultural ambassador to the world" by U.S. Congress.
- Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble (Denver, Colorado), an international, cross-cultural dance arts and educational institution rooted in African American traditions that has toured around the world, and provides training and education aspiring dancers as well as outreach to at-risk youth.
- Dallas Black Dance Theatre (Dallas, Texas), a diverse, multiethnic troupe of dancers and the oldest continuously operating dance company in Dallas. The company has performed modern, jazz, ethnic and spiritual works for 2.5 million arts patrons and 1.5 million children worldwide.
- Lula Washington Dance Theatre (Los Angeles), a world-class contemporary dance company that travels worldwide with contemporary modern dance works that reflect African American history and culture, with many of its dancers coming from Lula Washington's own inner city dance studio.
- Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco) (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) a celebrated company with a legacy of breaking barriers and building bridges across cultural divides, while consistently putting on electrifying performances with superbly trained dancers.
- Compagnie Danse Nyata Nyata (Montreal), an enterprise of contemporary artistic expression that explores and develops the aesthetic of African dance as it relates to music, poetry and related art forms.
- Ballet Creole (Toronto), a company of dancers and drummers active in the Canadian dance scene since 1990, fusing traditional and contemporary Caribbean and African dance to create, preserve and present dance works that testify to the rich heritage of those cultures.
- Nafro Dance Productions (Winnipeg), Winnipeg's only African contemporary dance company, which has been performing exciting and thought-provoking pieces across Canada since 2002.
- National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica (NDTC), founded in 1962 at the time of Jamaica's independence. The company blends traditional Caribbean dance drama and ritual with contemporary modern dance and ballet, examining social issues, religious themes and folklore as well as abstract dance.
- Salia ni Seydou (France/Burkina Faso) was founded in1994 and has won several prizes in festivals and competitions such as the Concours de Danse Contemporaine Africaine d'Afrique en Créations (AFAA) (1994), and the Choreographic Encounters of Africa and Indian Ocean (1998).

International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference & Festival
Connecting our Diasporas through Dance
Thursday, January 26 - Sunday, January 29, 2012
Showcase Presentations: Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 190 Princes' Boulevard, Exhibition Place
Showcase Presentation tickets: $50 ($35 Student/Senior/CADA/IABD)
Call Arts Box Office 416-504-7529 or visit danceimmersion.ca

CD Release: Wassoulou Foli Feat. Virtuoso Drummer Taga Sidibe Feb 1 2012

From a media release:

CD Release: Masterful Drumming & ‘Funkified’ Beats Reach Rapturous Heights
Wassoulou Foli, Wassoulou Drumming At Its Best
Set to release February 1, 2012

Los Angeles, CA
- Independent record label Kanaga System Krush (K.S.K.) releases Wassoulou Foli with drumming virtuoso Amadou ‘Taga’ Sidibe and friends featuring ‘Tu’ Sinayoko.

Hot on the heels of grassroots label K.S.K.’s last release Dambe Foli this past Fall, they follow-up with another powerful album Wassoulou Foli. Featured, Sogonikun Djembe traditional Wassoulou music at its best, boasting of the talent emanating from this musically rich region.

Drumming aficionado's will certainly find a wealth of listening pleasure in this album’s percussive mastery yet the epic level of musicality and pairing together with ‘Tu’ Sinayoko’s divine vocals makes it a must-have for music lovers the world over. The beats and verses sung, beckons to lovers of Jazz, The Blues, Funk and Hip Hop offering them an authentic audio journey back to the birthplace of these genres. Label founder Aja Salvatore acclaims “it is an album of soulful singing and drumming from one of my favorite musical regions in Mali. One can hear a lot of "funk" in these beats.”

Wassoulou, has produced some of Mali’s most acclaimed masters the likes of internationally renown vocalists Oumou Sangaré, Sali Sidibe and Nahawa Doumbia. This album is no exception; it is a clear reminder that this region remains a musical hotbed producing this next generation. Home to Master Sogonikou Djembe Fola , Amadou ‘Taga’ Sidibe who masterfully plays the Sogonikun Djembe with hands so nimble. His lightening fast attack on this smaller djembe, cousin to the Manding Djembe showcases a répertoire replete in authentic, traditional Wassoulou rhythms from Sogonikun to Didadi. Abdoul Doumbia, Master Djembe Fola and former Professor of African Studies at Brown University found this album so compelling he enthusiastically says "K.S.K. should record five albums of Taga. He is a master of the highest level of Wassoulou music."

Taga is a renown figure throughout Mali drawing crowds into the thousands. He is both a revered hunter and musician versed in Sogonikun. A kind of music typically performed during ceremonies meant to uplift and beat back negativity. He is often called on to hype up audiences and entertain the occasional bush spirit he says. Listeners around the globe now get the chance to take in this soulful experience. This his first headlining album, showcases his superlative skills with complex drum solos roaring between verse and chorus. Oz Fritz, a Sound Engineer and collaborator with Bill Laswell, Herbie Hancock, Bob Marley and many others calls “Taga a master, and Tu’s voice angelic.”  He hails “This is an amazing album!”

Taga represents one of the last bastions of traditional djembe drumming played in contrast to the all too common ballet style. Staid and true, his répertoire has been passed down through an ancient lineage. Learning at the hands of Mansa Bagayoko, Taga was hand picked to rigorously study drumming and continue an authentic tradition so integrated into daily life. Whatever challenges one might face, music remains a source of wisdom and healing for the soul.  Salvatore echoes music’s role in Mali and beyond he explains, “music is not separate from life, it is intertwined to deal and cope with daily living.”

Joining Taga with lead vocals is the novice and up-and-coming songstress ‘Tu’ Sinayoko. She sets her sights to be the next ‘Songbird of Wassoulou’ with her passionate vocals so emotive and uplifting. Her voice remains in perfect key, as she magically weaves through verse upon verse. On chorus is vocals by Sita Diarra with Shaka Diallo accompanying on the Djembe and Lansine Sidibe on the Konkoni. Last but not least on the Bari Dun Dun and Konkoni is Taga’s lifelong musical companion, Yakoub Sidibe. The incredible interplay between Taga and Yakoub has been honed since childhood when they first began playing together more than thirty years ago on the Kamalen N’Goni. The keenest of ears can sometimes hear up to forty variations of a single rhythm.

This charged album is infused with the potency of the drum that takes listeners on a journey of encouragement, well wishes and offers words of wisdom. Along with the enormous musicianship that any a serious percussion enthusiast and student of drumming could appreciate, it showcases music’s profound ability to transcend culture and language as could not be more evident. Tu’s vocals affective and seer-like as she sings that we all need hope in life, one can not help but feel the heart stir.

In addition to Wassoulou Foli, Taga and Tu join other renown Malian musicians to be featured in "Music in Mali: Life is Hard, Music is Good" a feature-length documentary on musicians and musical traditions from West Africa also produced by K.S.K. and due out Summer 2012.

About Kanaga System Krush
Kanaga System Krush (K.S.K.) is an independent record label, operating on a fair-trade principle, focused on the preservation and promotion of traditional music from West Africa. By bringing this music to the world market, K.S.K. is opening new channels to an old tradition, as well as providing direct support to the carriers of this ancient knowledge. K.S.K. and acclaimed producer/engineer Oz Fritz have produced and released nearly a dozen albums over the last five years, most notably Lobi Traore’s career-topping electric live set Bwati Kono.

Dance On Camera Film Festival 2012: January 27-31 in New York City

From a media release:

The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Dance Films Association announce the 40th edition of
January 27-31, 2012
New York City - Various Venues

List of films
Event Schedule

Opening Night World Premiere of JOFFREY: MAVERICKS OF AMERICAN DANCE will also mark the first collaboration between DFA and Emerging Pictures

New York City – The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Dance Films Association are pleased to announce the lineup for the 40th edition of Dance on Camera. The dynamic series will take place from January 27-31 and dance lovers will discover an array of stimulating films, many of them premieres, and diverse disciplines ranging from classical to street – from the refinement of ballet coaching to the intense individuality of club dancing. The fourteen programs in the series include focuses on peerless international artists such as Natalia Makarova and Robert Wilson, historic dance presenters and companies such as Jacob’s Pillow, the Joffrey Ballet, and Pilobolus, innovative choreographer Wayne McGregor, and the inspired director Clara van Gool.

“Film is the natural bridge among all the arts, and there is perhaps no greater aesthetic affinity than that which exists between the cinema and dance, two mediums based on motion,” says Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Program Director Richard Pena, “Dance on Camera has become a vital part of our annual offerings, as each year it presents both cutting edge works alongside milestones of the dance/film genre.”

The opening night celebration will launch with the World Premiere of JOFFREY: MAVERICKS OF AMERICAN DANCE and include attendance by the filmmaker, Bob Hercules, and many cast members. The film, and Q&A, will have a simultaneous premiere for dance enthusiasts in participating theaters across the country and marks the launch of the film’s release by Hybrid Cinema, who is also responsible for spearheading the partnership between DFA and Emerging Pictures for this event. This collaboration also marks the first time that a film has simulcast its world premiere out of a major festival. Audiences across the country will also be able to participate in the Q&A through a live Twitter feed.

Highlights of this year’s DANCE ON CAMERA include FREE “Meet the Artists” forums, which will bring audiences and dance fans up close and personal with established and emerging directors and choreographers. A series of shorts will also screen free for the public and an exhibit of bold photos and posters by Herbert Migdoll, painter and official photographer for the Joffrey Ballet, will be displayed for the entire month of January, at the Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery at Walter Reade Theater.

“This year’s festival coincides with anniversaries for the Joffrey Ballet, Pilobolus, Jacob’s Pillow, and Eye on Dance.  We are thrilled that this festival is proving to be a valuable means of bringing together emerging, as well as established artists to celebrate the multiple ways dance film can inspire artists as well as audiences,” says Deirdre Towers, Festival Curator for Dance Films Association.

“While Dance on Camera Festival does not adhere to a particular aesthetic, we try to reach far and wide to find films that connect dance and camera in ways that will surprise and inspire viewers to deepen their interest in both mediums,” says Joanna Ney, co-curator of the festival. “This year’s selection offers a diversity of subject, style and genre aimed at the traditionalist as well as the iconoclast.”

Dance on Camera, the world’s longest-running and most celebrated event dedicated to the growth and development of dance on film as an art form, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. DFA’s Festival is made possible with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Consulate General of Spain, Cultural Department of the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Japan Society, and DFA members.

**Tickets are on sale at the Walter Reade Theater’s box office and online at FilmLinc.com. Discounts on tickets are available for students, seniors, Film Society and Dance Film Association members. Everyone can enjoy special package discounts. For more information visit FilmLinc.com. Public Screenings will be held at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater (located at 165 West 65th Street) and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (located at 144 West 65th Street). The photo exhibit is at The Freida and Roy Furman Gallery (located at 165 West 65th Street).**

CD Release: Putomayo's Brazilian Beat January 31

From a media release:

Putumayo Goes Indie:
Brazilian Beat Uncovers the Roots-Powered Edge of the Worldwide Brazilian Music Scene
"Brazilian Beat" drops January 31

Glittering break beats are at home with bouncing berimbaus while rolling Afro-Brazilian rhythms, retro samba soul and velvety bossa nova vocals mesh and groove organically. This is the unstoppable Brazilian Beat (Putumayo).

Selected from tens of thousands of songs collected by the pioneering label created to introduce new global music to broad audiences, Brazilian Beat chronicles the vibrant indie scene in Brazil and around the world. Musicians are taking samba, bossa nova, and MPB (Brazilian popular music) and deftly incorporating electronica, soul, funk, and just about every other music imaginable.

• The release will be available in-stores at Whole Foods, 10,000 villages, and Barnes and Noble.
• It will be available digitally on Bandcamp.
Stream all tracks here

Sultry or upbeat, the tracks on this compilation of hip, rootsy artists aim to raise listeners’ moods and introduce even die-hard fans to a new crop of Brazilian music innovators. Featured alongside unsung icons such as samba soul master Marcos Valle (pictured below) are rising new stars like Tita Lima, daughter of the bassist from psychedelic hipster darlings Os Mutantes.

Brazilian music has bubbled into an indie scene-to-beat-all-indie scenes in underground clubs and on small labels from São Paulo to Rome. “You can go to Italy and find a hot bossa nova scene, and they have their own sound,” like Roman bossa band BungaLove’s “Minha Loucura,” explains Jacob Edgar, longtime head of A&R for Putumayo and passionate follower of the Brazilian music scene. “These retro sounds end up back in Brazil and shake things up.”

A diverse array of young musicians, such as Fino Colectivo, draw on Jorge Ben’s lush ’70s samba-soul sound—and transform it. It’s a realm of discovery, even for ardent followers of global music. “One of the exciting things we at Putumayo do is introduce artists to people who don’t know them,” says Dan Storper, head of Putumayo and avid musical traveler and collector. “It has to be upbeat and melodic, and it has to move us.”

“We’re probably the most voracious music listeners on the planet,” Edgar exclaims, “and we have an elaborate process of cataloguing the tens of thousands of tracks we hear. As we’re listening and traveling, we just keep hearing great music that seems to work together.”

This exhaustive, music-driven approach uncovered artists such as Michigan-born, Brazilian singer-songwriter Mônica da Silva or the Brazilian child-star turned pop diva Bruna Caram (pictured above), whose carefree vocals dance over cool horns and sparkling keys on “Feriando Pessoul.” It unearthed the wonderfully gritty sounds of a long-unreleased super group session led by New York-based Brazilian saxophonist Leo Gandelman (Brazilian Groove Band’s “Bananiera”) and highlighted the earthy pleasures of Rio-based Rogê’s clavinet-flecked samba (“A Nega e O Malandra”).

“You can really hear the intersection between past and present in the music of Brazilian artists,” Storper reflects. “We didn’t make an effort to seek it out; this is what musicians are doing. They respect their traditional music but are adding new flavors with real passion.”

**Brazilian Beat is available at selected music, book, gift, and specialty stores around the world, and for digital download on www.putumayo.com, iTunes, Amazon and selected online stores. World Music; release: January 31, 2012**

CD Release: Chilean Rapper Ana Tijoux's La Bala (Nacional Records)

Update March 2012:

A new free download from Ana Tijoux that I wanted to share.  It’s an up-tempo remix made for the club by LA’s global bass connoisseur Captain Planet, who turns “Shock” into a 3ball dancefloor banger:

From a media release:

CD Release: Ana Tijoux's La Bala
From Nacional Records
Out January 24, 2012

I wanted share with you the new album from Latin America’s premier female rapper Ana Tijoux, released Jan 24th exclusively on iTunes

• The lead single “Shock” is now available for free download in the US + Mexico as the iTunes “Single of the Week”.  

La Bala is Ana Tijoux’s highly anticipated follow-up to her 2010 GRAMMY nominated breakthrough debut 1977, which you may have heard Ana Tijoux’s “1977” recently on the hit TV show Breaking Bad, or seen her as the featured guest on NPR’s influential “Tiny Desk Concert” series. 
Tijoux made her U.S. debut performing at SXSW in 2010 and has since toured the U.S. and Europe, with stops at New York’s Central Park Summerstage, San Francisco’s Outside Lands and Chicago’s Lollapalooza, plus a very special live performance during GRAMMY weekend with The Roots as her backing band.

Shock, the first single, is a call to arms that grows in intensity with the gradual but sure build of a Bolero. Her politically charged message - in support of the Chilean young people fighting for the right to a free and universal education, relies on the eloquence of her words and her earnest delivery rather than on any "shock" value of its own. Its thoughtful and melodic.

Short Film: The Man That Got Away Premieres at the Berlin Film Fest 2012

Update February 22, 2012:

Hey! So the film won the DAAD Prize for Best Short Film at the Festival, with special mention of my friend's "outstanding music"!

This comes from my friend/multi-talented choir meister & musician Bryce Kulak's newsletter:

The Man That Got Away
Premieres at the Berlin Film Festival 2012

From Bryce Kulak

I have some exciting news to share with you!

A World Premiere in Germany: "The Man That Got Away" at the Berlin International Film Festival

In spring of 2009 I began collaborating on a movie-musical short film with Trevor Anderson, director and producer at Dirt City Films. (Click to read more about the film!) We wrapped up production in fall of 2011. I composed music for six new songs, and also wound up starring in the film as Trevor's great uncle Jimmy.

The soundtrack was recorded at Doug Organ's Edmontone Studio, and we shot entirely on location in a spiral parking garage in downtown Edmonton. Now, after a lot of hard work and much anticipation, we are gearing up for our big trip to Berlin for the film's world premiere at the 62nd Berlinale film fest! It's the only Canadian short accepted into the festival. Needless to say, I'm super excited to watch the film on the big screen with a live audience. There will be several opportunities to catch the film during the festival, and we've also been invited to a special screening and artists' talk at the Canadian Embassy. It's exciting!

Of course, Berlin isn't the only place you can catch a screening of "The Man That Got Away." There will be a private screening, for crew and supporters, in Edmonton on February 25th. To receive an invite, donate to our CD soundtrack fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo. There are various rewards available for each donation level (including copies of my album "Tin Can Telephone"), so check out the perks!

A Fundraising Event
Because the budget for the film is gone, I'm paying my own way to be at the premiere in Germany. To that end, I'm playing a fundraising show at Le Balluchon Raymond (click for details!) in Toronto, on Thursday January 26th, doors at 7:30pm, show at 8pm. Tickets are $20 at the door (fundraiser!); come, and I'll sing for you. You'll even get to hear a sneak preview of the soundtrack!

THE MAN THAT GOT AWAY movie trailer from Trevor Anderson on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Met Opera's The Enchanted Island - In Person or Live In HD January 21

From a media release:

The Sixth Season of The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD 
Continues at Select Cineplex Entertainment Theatres with

The World Premiere of 
Saturday, January 21 - 12:55 p.m. EST

Broadcast live via satellite, in high-definition and 5.1 digital surround sound

Starring Penticton, British Columbia native
and Toronto native ELLIOT MADORE as Lysander

Running time: Approx. 3 hrs 30 min, including one intermission
Host: Deborah Voig

• To purchase advance tickets, see the complete Met: Live in HD schedule and the list of the more than 100 participating theatres, please visit www.cineplex.com/events.

• If you happen to be in New York City, you can buy tickets for performances January 21, 25, 28 & 30, 2012

The Enchanted Island is a world premiere opera that combines great music of the Baroque era with an all-new, English-language story. The score combines selections from more than 30 operas, cantatas, and oratorios by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and other masters of the Baroque period. The story, by the English theater artist Jeremy Sams, combines two of Shakespeare's best-known plays in a lighthearted "mash-up."

The four young lovers from A Midsummer Night's Dream find themselves shipwrecked on Prospero's island from The Tempest, leading to a tortuous web of comic and dramatic romantic entanglements. The extraordinary cast includes Joyce DiDonato as the sorceress Sycorax; David Daniels as her nemesis, Prospero; Danielle de Niese as the air spirit Ariel; Luca Pisaroni as the monstrous but soft-hearted Caliban; Lisette Oropesa as Prospero's daughter Miranda; Anthony Roth Costanzo as the noble Ferdinand; Layla Claire, Elizabeth DeShong, Paul Appleby, and Elliot Madore as the Midsummer lovers; and, in a star cameo, Plácido Domingo as Neptune, god of the seas. William Christie, an early music specialist of worldwide acclaim, conducts-in his first Live in HD appearance. The visually spectacular production is by Phelim McDermott (Satyagraha). Deborah Voigt hosts the transmission.


"Irresistibly entertaining...a light-hearted romp with enough fizz to send a dozen champagne corks popping." - Associated Press

"A terrific cast...a brilliant production team...fanciful, clever, and touching." - The New York Times

The Year of the Dragon: CIBC LunarFest 2012 Jan 20-24 in Toronto

From a media release:

CIBC LunarFest 2012
Ring in the Year of the Dragon at Harbourfront Centre Toronto
Friday, Jan. 20-Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012

Harbourfront Centre is pleased to announce that CIBC LunarFest, the celebration of the Lunar New Year, will be held from Friday, Jan. 20 through Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. CIBC LunarFest is Canada's premier presenter of contemporary expression in Asian arts and culture, and this year’s festival, celebrating the dawn of the Year of the Dragon, will be centred on the theme of “Treasures of the Sea.”

The Lunar New Year is celebrated across a range of Asian cultures, and in 2012, CIBC LunarFest, Canada’s newest celebration of this ancient festival, comes to Toronto. Debuting in 2009 in Vancouver as a Winter Olympics Cultural Olympiad event, the festival endeavors to reach not only new Canadians, but also long-time residents, in order to share in the diversity of Canada. Through cross-cultural collaborations, new forms of artistic expressions are created and celebrated.

Lanterns play an important role in the festivities, as the Lantern Festival marks the end of the holiday period. At CIBC LunarFest, the festival’s centrepiece will be a giant Lantern Aquarium. Inside, a variety of exhibitions of traditional and contemporary arts created by some of Taiwan’s foremost artisans explore the world under the sea. In addition, the hundreds of children who have submitted their drawings on the festival’s theme of “Treasures of the Sea” will recognize their own work inside the Aquarium.

This winter, Harbourfront Centre presents programming that questions the BIG iDEA of perspective. Gain perspective on the Lunar New Year at CIBC LunarFest through a range of activities for the whole family: games, crafts, theatre, skating, holiday culinary options and much more, including Lunar Skate, a part of Harbourfront Centre’s DJ Skate Night series. A sampling of the activities on offer are below.

For additional information and complete event listings, the public may visit harbourfrontcentre.com or call the Information Hotline at 416-973-4000. Harbourfront Centre is located at 235 Queens Quay W, in the heart of Toronto’s downtown waterfront.


The Boy, the Shark and the Sea: A Puppet Show by the Taiyuan Puppet Theatre Company

Sat. Jan 21 and Sun. Jan 22 from 2-3 p.m. and 5-6 p.m.
Based in Taiwan, the Taiyuan Puppet Theatre Company finds new and creative ways to enhance the traditional art of puppetry, and has performed around the world. This production, which features lessons about our interactions with the natural environment, tells the story of a boy, his tarot-root-doppelganger, a friendly shark and the community around them. Audiences will have a chance to interact with the puppets and puppeteers after each performance.

Lunar Kids Workshops

Sat. Jan 20-Tues. Jan 24 from noon-8 p.m.
A range of workshops will get the whole family involved in Lunar New Year traditions. Experience the magic of lantern-making, paper-cutting, traditional couplet-making and many more fun-filled activities.

Lunar Kids Game Station

Sat. Jan 21-Sun. Jan 22 from noon-8 p.m., Mon. Jan 23-Tues. Jan 24 from 12-8 p.m.
A variety of fun and unique games tied into the celebration. Find out what’s in store for your Year of the Dragon in the Fortune Teller Game, test your knowledge of the sea in the Red Envelope Game, and give your brain a tease in the Memory Game. Stop by the vendor booth to sample Lunar New Year cuisine (food vendor will be open from 5-8 p.m. on Mon. and Tues. Jan 23 and 24).

The Natrel® Rink
Open daily, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday until 11 p.m.
Enjoy Toronto’s favourite artificially-cooled outdoor rink while skating to music and taking in the beautiful surroundings of Lake Ontario and the Toronto Islands. On-site skate rentals, change rooms, rental lockers and skate sharpening are all available.

Lunar Skate
Sat. Jan 21 from 8-11 p.m. (Natrel® Rink)
Part of Harbourfront Centre’s DJ Skate series, the Lunar Skate party will feature lanterns, skating activities, music and more.

CIBC LunarFest showcases multi-disciplinary artistic expressions; in addition to visual installations, programs in 2012 include puppet shows, workshops, traditional New Year’s games and culinary treats. A series of Lunar Skate programs will also see the merging of Lunar New Year with Canadian skating culture. The festival runs from Friday, January 20 to Tuesday, January 24, 2012 in Toronto and Wednesday, February 1 to Sunday, February 5 in Vancouver. CIBC LunarFest is produced by ACSEA, the Asian-Canadian Special Events Association. LunarFest.org

NFB's Landmark Inuit Film Project Unikkausivut in Toronto - To February 2

From a media release:


NFB Mediatheque presents Inuit-themed films and activities
continues to Feb. 2, 2012

Toronto, January, 2012 -
The NFB Mediatheque in Toronto will be featuring the National Film Board of Canada's landmark Inuit audiovisual legacy project Unikkausivut: Sharing Our Stories from January 14 to February 2, with screenings, workshops and discussions at 150 John Street.

The Inuit have a long and vibrant tradition of passing tales and legends down from one generation to the next using visual arts and storytelling, while the NFB has been documenting life in the Arctic for decades. Unikkausivut brings together 70 years of NFB films by and about Inuit, drawn from more than 110 titles - the most important collection of Inuit films in the world.

The Mediatheque's Unikkausivut events are being presented in partnership with the Museum of Inuit Art.

Unikkausivut is also available as a DVD box set and online at http://www.nfb.ca/playlist/unikkausivut-sharing-our-stories/, and is being distributed to over 50 Inuit communities across the North. Until January 31, visitors at the NFB Mediatheque will be able to save 10% on the purchase of this two-volume box set.

Unikkausivut was produced by the NFB in collaboration with the Inuit Relations Secretariat of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and the Government of Nunavut, Department of Education, with the support of Inuit organizations.

Inspired by the classic NFB film How to Build an Igloo included in Unikkausivut, and one of the NFB's most popular films online the "How to Build an Igloo" free drop-in activity is open to all during Mediatheque business hours through the end of January. Cameras in the Interactive Lounge will capture the action and edited pixilation films will be posted on the Mediatheque Facebook page.

Free Favourites at Four: January 25
Each Wednesday afternoon, the NFB Mediatheque presents favourite NFB titles on the big screen for free - the perfect midweek break and an easy way to catch up on NFB classics. On January 25, Free Favourites at Four will feature a selection of short works from Unikkausivut at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.:
• Canada Vignettes: June in Povungnituk, Alanis Obomsawin
• Kamik, Elise Swerhone
• The Last Days of Okak, Nigel Markham

Screening and panel discussion, January 26

Join special guests for a free screening and discussion about the landmark Unikkausivut project on January 26 at 7 p.m. Titles presented:
• Canada Vignettes: June in Povungnituk, Alanis Obomsawin
• Canada Vignettes: Vignettes from Labrador North, Roger Hart
• Silapiqujippat (If the Weather Permits), Elisapie Isaac
• Nunavut Animation Lab: The Bear Facts, Jonathan Wright

Ciné-jeudi February 2
The Mediatheque is also presenting Inuit-themed programming at Ciné-jeudi, its regular series of free French-language screenings on the first Thursday of every month. On February 2, the Mediatheque will offer screenings from the francophone version of the collection, Unikkausivut: Transmettre nos histoires, starting at 7:30 p.m.
• Canada vignettes: Povungnituk au mois de juin - Arctique québécois, Alanis Obomsawin
• Kamik, Elise Swerhone
• Martha qui vient du froid (Martha of the North), Marquise Lepage

The February 2 screenings are in French without English subtitles.

More about Unikkausivut: Sharing Our Stories
On DVD, Unikkausivut is a two-volume box set of three discs each, featuring 24 new or classic NFB Inuit films. Canadians also have access to more than 40 films online, at nfb.ca/unikkausivut, where they can stream films free of charge, including new titles from the NFB¡¯s Nunavut Animation Lab project and Stories from Our Land collection. Users are able to access news about Inuit productions and NFB development initiatives in the North and purchase films to download. With over 110 documentary and animated films by and about Inuit, the NFB will be adding more films online on a regular basis.

Films in Unikkausivut are available in English, French and Inuktitut, versioned in the Inuit dialects of each of the four regions in which they were made. An advisory committee comprised of representatives from key Inuit organizations has helped to ensure that Unikkausivut reflects the interests of all Inuit regions. Project development advisors are Martha Flaherty, Peter Irniq and Zebedee Nungak.

The Spirit of the Drum: West African Drums & Dance January 20 in Toronto

From various sources:

The Spirit of the Drum
Mohamed Diaby & Manding Foli Kan Don
9:30pm Friday, January 20, 2012
Waterfall Indian Tapas Bar & Grill Inc.
303 Augusta Avenue (Kensington Market) - Toronto

Enjoy an intimate evening of West African drums and dance with Mohamed Diaby and Manding Foli Kan Don. Come out and enjoy the sounds of Guinea.

Mohamed Diaby began playing the djembe at age seven, under the supervision of his elder brother Moustapha. By fifteen, Mohamed joined Africa Djole, led by Fode Yulla. Mohamed later joined Les Merveilles de Guinea as lead drummer, touring all over West Africa, including Sierra Leone. Kemoko Sano, Artistic Director of the world famous troupe Les Ballet Africains, requested Mohamed to join his troupe. In April of 1995 Mohamed arrived in America to play at New York City's Symphony Space. Today, Mohamed is basedin Toronto and travels around the world teaching and performing.

He brings decades of experience to his role as Artistic Director of Manding Foli Kan Don, a Toronto-based group that perform music from the Manding area. The name Manding Foli Kan Don means to play, sing and dance the music of the Manding people.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tickets Running Short for Kevin Spacey in Richard III at BAM to March 4

From a release:

Bank of America presents
The Bridge Project
Richard III
Produced by BAM, The Old Vic & Neal Street
Part of the 2012 Winter/Spring Season
Jan 10—Mar 4, 2012

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Sam Mendes

“Mr. Spacey gives fierce and flashy physical life to every twist of a power-mad man’s corkscrew mind.” —The New York Times

Brooklyn, New York City - Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey owns the stage as Shakespeare’s outrageous villain Richard III. At the climax of the Wars of the Roses, Richard watches his brother ascend the throne of England and confides in us—with all the profound bitterness of an outcast born with a hunchback and malformed leg—his intention to seize the crown. Navigating an imposing assemblage of some of Shakespeare’s greatest female characters, Richard—played brilliantly by the mercurial and mordantly funny Spacey—lusts for power, assuring his own bloody rise and fall.

Academy Award winner Sam Mendes directs the transatlantic cast in the final production of The Bridge Project, a three-year partnership uniting BAM, The Old Vic, and Neal Street.

BAM Harvey Theater
Run time: 3hrs 20 min with intermission
Season tickets start at $24 (Jan 10—29 only)
Full price tickets start at $30
Prices vary by performance dates and times
8 ticket limit per household

Co-commissioned by and produced in association with Athens and Epidaurus Festival, Centro Niemeyer Spain, Doha Film Institute, Hong Kong Arts Festival, The Istanbul Theatre Festival (IKSV) &The Istanbul Municipal Theatre, Kay and McLean Productions, Napoli Teatro Festival Italia, SHN-Carole Shorenstein-Hays & Robert Nederlander, and Singapore Repertory Theatre.

The complete acting company is as follows: Maureen Anderman, Stephen Lee Anderson, Jeremy Bobb, Nathan Darrow, Jack Ellis*, Haydn Gwynne*, Chuk Iwuji, Isaiah Johnson, Gemma Jones*, Andrew Long, Katherine Manners*, Howard W Overshown, Simon Lee Phillips*, Gary Powell*, Michael Rudko, Annabel Scholey*, Kevin Spacey, Gavin Stenhouse*, Hannah Stokely*, Chandler Williams

*Indicates British member of company

Scenery by Tom Piper
Costumes by Catherine Zuber
Lighting by Paul Pyant

Projection by Jon Driscoll
Sound by Gareth Fry
Music by Mark Bennett

Musical Coordination and Direction by Curtis Moore
Fight Direction by Terry King
Artistic Associate Gaye Taylor Upchurch
Casting by Daniel Swee and Maggie Lunn

International Tour Producer Claire Béjanin

The COC's Lavish Tosca Jan 21 to Feb 25 in Toronto

From a media release:

one of the world’s most popular operas comes to life in the coc’s lavish production of tosca starring canada’s adrianne pieczonka
January 21 to February 25, 2012

– One of the most popular operas of all time, Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca, opens the Canadian Opera Company’s 2011/2012 winter season.  The COC brings back its lavish 2008 production by director Paul Curran, showcasing renowned Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka in her COC role debut as the passionate and fiery heroine.  Italian conductor Paolo Carignani, former general music director of Oper Frankfurt, makes his company debut leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus.  Tosca runs for 14 performances on Jan. 21, 25, 29, 31, Feb. 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 16, 21, 23 and 25, 2012 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts and is sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™.

Tosca’s fast-paced plot is full of romance and intrigue.  Set in Rome in 1800, Tosca is a famed opera singer whose lover has revolutionary sympathies.  In trying to protect the man she loves from a blood-thirsty chief of police, Tosca finds herself caught in a web of corruption, lust and betrayal and ultimately commits an act of murder.  The title role is one of the composer’s most complex and fascinating heroines, fit for great operatic actresses.  Pieczonka, most recently with the COC last spring in the title role of Ariadne auf Naxos, calls Tosca her “dream role” and has drawn high praise for her portrayal since making her role debut in 2008: “She was radiant,” says the Los Angeles Times, and “Pieczonka’s Tosca is the quintessential diva, rendering her signature arias with ease and verve” describes SF Weekly.  Sharing opera’s hallmark “diva” role is American soprano Julie Makerov, whose vocalism and dramatic intensity as Tosca has made her “every inch the imperious diva, moving from flashing-eyed jealous lover to abused woman to penitent murder,” says the Florida Sun Sentinel.  Makerov returns to the COC following outstanding acclaim for lead performances in 2010’s The Flying Dutchman and 2008’s Rusalka.

Making their COC debuts as Tosca’s lover, Mario Cavaradossi, are two tenors recognized by the world’s leading opera companies for their dramatic and vocal prowess: Uruguayan Carlo Ventre and American Brandon Jovanovich.  The opera’s evil chief of police, Baron Scarpia, is sung by American baritone Mark Delavan, making his company debut in a role that he’s imbued with “leering lust and the total technical control of a vocal palette that could paint as many colors as the drama demands.” (Associated Press)

Celebrated American bass-baritone Christian Van Horn makes his COC debut as the escaped political prisoner Angelotti.  Canadian bass-baritone Peter Strummer (1993’s Tosca and Le nozze di Figaro) returns to the COC as the Sacristan.  The role of Spoletta, Scarpia’s henchman, is shared by tenors David Cangelosi, making his company debut, and COC favourite John Kriter.  COC Ensemble Studio members bass-baritone Neil Craighead and baritone Adrian Kramer are Sciarrone and a Jailer, respectively.

Tosca’s Empire-era costumes and stunning sets of chapels, palaces and fortresses of 19th-century Rome are brought to life in the set and costume design of Kevin Knight, and the atmospheric lighting design of David Martin Jacques.

Tosca premiered to mixed reviews in 1900, but has since become one of the most performed operas in the world.  A staple of the operatic repertoire, Tosca is an unforgettable theatrical experience and features some of the composer’s most deeply felt and dramatic melodies.

This production of Tosca is a COC co-production with the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet.

Single tickets for Tosca are $12 – $318 (includes applicable taxes).  Tickets are available online at coc.ca, by calling 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office, located at 145 Queen St. W., Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Standing Room
Sixty $12 Standing Room tickets are available at 11 a.m. the morning of each performance, in person only 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 $22.50 to $107.50 (includes 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 Jan. 7, 2012 at 10 a.m., online at coc.ca or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office.  Opera for a New Age is presented by TD Bank Group.

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.

Atom Egoyan Directs Martin Crimp's Cruel and Tender Jan 21 to Feb 18 in Toronto

From a media release:

Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Atom Egoyan directs award-winning actress Arsinée Khanjian for the first time on stage

Canadian Stage presents
Martin Crimp’s Cruel and Tender
January 21 to February 18, 2012

Toronto, January, 2012 –
Canadian Stage presents Cruel and Tender, a provocative play by Britain’s foremost contemporary playwright, Martin Crimp. Directed by celebrated filmmaker Atom Egoyan, this searing drama is based on an ancient Greek tragedy, but is set against today’s war on terror.

The production is a return to the stage for Egoyan, who has not directed a theatre production in Canada in the last 20 years, though he has been honoured for stage direction in Europe and New York in addition to helming an award-winning production of Die Walküre for the Canadian Opera Company in 2006. Renowned actress Arsinée Khanjian (Andromache, The Sweet Hereafter) plays the lead role, marking the first-ever live theatre collaboration between Egoyan and Khanjian.

Cruel and Tender will run in Toronto from January 21 to February 18, 2012 (Opening night: January 26) at the Bluma Appel Theatre in the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts (27 Front St. E.). Tickets from $22 to $99 are available online at www.canadianstage.com, by phone at 416.368.3110, or in person at the box office.

Written by noted playwright Martin Crimp, who will join the company in Toronto on opening night, Cruel and Tender updates Sophocles’ Trachiniae (or The Women of Trachis). Sophocles’ tale tells the story of Heracles, Greece's national hero, and what happened when he sent a captured princess home to his pining wife while he was away plundering the neighbouring village of Euboas.

In Crimp’s bold and visceral re-telling, Heracles is transformed into a modern military general (Daniel Kash) fighting a war on terror in bloodstained Africa. His pampered wife Amelia (Arsinée Khanjian) waits at home; unaware her world is about to be shattered with the arrival of Laela, a young African woman for whom her husband has committed unspeakable atrocities. Shockingly contemporary, Cruel and Tender is as much about the private wars waged in the domestic sphere as it is about modern politics.

“Cruel and Tender exemplifies playwright Martin Crimp’s extraordinary capacity to layer stories and his incomparable rich, poetic language,” says Canadian Stage Artistic & General Director, Matthew Jocelyn. “The play deals with international wars and an army general willing to create the worst of genocides to feed his own desires. Who better to bring this story to life and create something clear and deliciously theatrical for the audience than Atom Egoyan?”

“While aspects of the play seem ripped from today’s headlines, Cruel and Tender is also a powerful study of contemporary marriage,” adds Egoyan. “It looks at the web of relationships – between children, friends, professional associates, even past lovers – that swirl around any marriage, while providing an astute and critical study of contemporary warfare. The richness of the narrative and its characters is a testament to the playwright’s sensitivity and intelligence.”

Award-winning actress Arsinée Khanjian will lead the cast in the tour-de-force role of Amelia, the wife of The General, who eagerly waits for her husband to return from battle only to discover his motives for war are disturbingly personal. Cruel and Tender also reunites Egoyan with actor Daniel Kash (Fugitive Pieces, The Line) who starred in Egoyan’s Gross Misconduct in 1993 in the role of the tormented General. Alongside Khanjian and Kash, a talented cast including Nigel Shawn Williams (Topdog/Underdog, John Q), Thomas Hauff, Jeff Lillico, Abena Malika, Cara Ricketts, Brenda Robins, André Sills and Sarah Wilson appear.

Cruel and Tender after Sophocles’ Trachiniae
Written by Martin Crimp
Directed by Atom Egoyan
Cast: Arsinée Khanjian (Amelia), Daniel Kash (The General), Nigel Shawn Williams (Jonathan), Thomas Hauff (Richard), Jeff Lillico (James), Abena Malika (Laela), Cara Ricketts (Physiotherapist - Cathy), Brenda Robins (Housekeeper - Rachel), André Sills (Iolaos), Sarah Wilson (Beautician - Nicola)
Set, Costume and Properties Designer Debra Hanson
Assistant Set & Costume Designer Michael Gianfrancesco
Lighting Designer Michael Walton
Sound Designer John Gzowksi
Projections Coordinator Cameron Davis
Stage Manager Michael Sinclair
Assistant Stage Manager Kristen Kitcher
Fight Director Simon Fon

Canadian Stage presents Martin Crimp’s Cruel and Tender at the Bluma Appel Theatre in the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts (27 Front St. E.) from January 21 to February 18, 2012 (Opening night January 26). Performances run Monday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.

Tickets from $22 to $99 are available online at www.canadianstage.com, by phone at 416.368.3110, or in person at the box-office. Discount tickets are available through the Sun Life Financial Arts Accessibility Program.

Image of Atom Egoyan, Jeff Lillico, Arsinée Khanjian in rehearsal by Bruce Zinger