Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Theatre Centre Toronto: New Home, New Works, New Season January 26 to June 14 2014

From a media release:

The Theatre Centre celebrates new home with new work, new artists

• Carbon 14: Climate is Culture Performance Series (January 26 to February 9 2014)
• Sea Sick: Alanna Mitchell (March 19 to 23 2014)
• Quebec’s L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres presents Cabaret Brise-Jour (Shattered Cabaret - March 26 to 29)
• Belgian theatre director Tine Van Aerschot’s one-woman/two-ghost show, We Are Not Afraid of the Dark (May 14 to 17 2014)
• Mammalian Diving Reflex and their youth-troupe The Torontonians, The Theatre Centre will co-produce an epic, interactive performance called Promises to a Divided City (May 30 to 31 2014)
• The Tracy Wright Global Archive (June 4 to 8 2014)
• Self-Conscious Theatre, in partnership with Abilities Centre and The Theatre Centre share The Book of Judith (June 12 to 14 2014)
• Studio 180 Theatre - the Canadian premiere of Mike Bartlett’s punchy comedic drama COCK (April 4 to 27 2014)

• Box Office: | 416-538-0988

Historic space transforms into live arts hub and incubator with programming featuring work by L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres, Alanna Mitchell, Cynthia Hopkins, Mammalian Diving Reflex, Tine Van Aerschot and more

Toronto, ON – The Theatre Centre recently announced a series of exciting partnerships and collaborations programmed to celebrate the organization’s move to their newly renovated home in the historic Carnegie Library on Queen St. West in early 2014. General & Artistic Director Franco Boni will animate the live arts hub and incubator with 10 new performance pieces presented from January through June, along with hosted rentals and a series of artistic residencies.

Formed in 1979, The Theatre Centre is committed to providing space, funding, public profile and mentorship to new work and new generations of artistic leaders by providing the infrastructure and resources needed to make art, from idea to production. In the past 35 years, the organization has had more than 10 homes, affordable only because of structural impediments, bad locations, or both. To find a permanent home, The Theatre Centre launched a capital campaign to raise $6.2 million to revitalize the space at 1115 Queen St. West, seizing the opportunity to move into a heritage building with a rich history as a cultural and community hub. The Theatre Centre will preserve the tradition of the building as a space dedicated to public use with a renovation of 11,797 sq. ft. that will include a main performance hall, a lobby café, a rehearsal hall, gallery space, green room, green-roofed terrace and office space. The fundraising campaign is almost complete, with a final push launched via an Indiegogo campaign on ovember 5.

“Since its inception, The Theatre Centre’s artistic and community leaders have been dreaming about space, imagining a fully-equipped theatre full to bursting with new ideas, fierce debate and great art,” said Boni. “In 2014, when we open the doors to our new home, we celebrate a renewed commitment to artists from all disciplines, devoted to the investigation of ideas, and serious about discovering surprising solutions to seemingly unsolvable questions. Of equal importance is our pledge to our community to make our new home accessible, responsive and welcoming. We feel a great responsibility to uphold the legacy of this 100-year-old building that has served as an anchor in our neighbourhood; it’s been a gathering place, a place for joy, learning and sharing stories, and a place for justice and provocation and we will celebrate this commitment with our 2014 programming.”

The year starts with Carbon 14: Climate is Culture Performance Series (January 26 to February 9), produced in partnership with Cape Farewell Foundation, and presented as part of Carbon 14: Climate is Culture Exhibition + Festival - a four-month long cultural engagement, addressing various aspects of climate change. Featured pieces include musical performances from internationally renowned Inuit artist Tanya Tagaq and experimental glam-pop duo Post-Normal; a solo performance piece by award-winning author/journalist Alanna Mitchell; a blend of live poetry and discussion led by UK performance poet Sabrina Mahfouz and Canadian spoken word artist Ian Kamau; a new performance art piece by Yellowknife, NWT based-artist Reneltta Arluk; and a live, cross-disciplinary performance with a 15-piece chorus and band led by a New York performance artist, composer and musician Cynthia Hopkins.

Another part of Carbon 14: Climate is Culture Performance Series produced in partnership with Cape Farewell Foundation, Sea Sick by Alanna Mitchell runs March 19-23. A powerful and deeply personal solo performance by Alanna Mitchell, adapted from her award-winning book. Mitchell discovers the secrets of the ocean, faces the demons of the deeps and finds hope.

From March 26 to 29, Quebec’s L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres will present Cabaret Brise-Jour (Shattered Cabaret), with eight musicians borrowing from the repertoire of Kurt Weill to sing about the best and worst of the human condition in a work at the crossroads of theatre, cabaret, visual arts and performance, creating “music that can be seen”.

In May, The Theatre Centre presents acclaimed Belgian theatre director Tine Van Aerschot’s intensely intimate one-woman/two-ghost show, We Are Not Afraid of the Dark (May 14 to 17). Inspired by the late actor Tracy Wright and her battle with cancer and performed by Valerie Buhagiar with two pre-recorded voices, Claire Marshall and Don McKellar, the piece is based on conversations between Tine and Tracy at the time of Tracy’s illness and offers a somewhat unusual guide to dealing with fear in an attempt to understand our transient lives.

Collaborating with culture production workshop Mammalian Diving Reflex and their youth-troupe The Torontonians, The Theatre Centre will co-produce an epic, interactive performance called Promises to a Divided City (May 30 to 31). Audience members (the citizens of the Divided City) will be counted, classified and asked to step up and save the city, with one hand firmly placed on a sacred book, chosen from the vast collection in the custom-curated ‘Library of Babel’ created in the space via a year-long book drive.

The Tracy Wright Global Archive (June 4 to 8) is a new project honouring the work and career of long-time Theatre Centre collaborator Wright that challenges five artists to explore a burning question and create a new work by engaging deeply with communities in locations around the world, seeking answers to their questions. Daniel Brooks, Jani Lauzon, Denise Fujiwara, Marcus Youssef and Nadia Ross will travel to the American South, the Mojave Desert, Japan, Egypt and India respectively, sharing their experiences through various forms of presentation – a lecture, a dance work, a shared meal, an installation, a soundscape, or a straight-up one-on-one chat.

Self-Conscious Theatre, in partnership with Abilities Centre and The Theatre Centre share The Book of Judith (June 12 to 14), created by acclaimed theatre artists Michael Rubenfeld and Sarah Garton Stanley in consultation with Judith Snow, an artist and former advocate with quadriplegia. The musical play about a self-anointed preacher who is passionately driven to change the lives of others before changing his own, will be presented in performance at Abilities Centre in Whitby, ON.

The Theatre Centre’s Residency Program, designed to support artists in developing new work and to facilitate collaborative creation, will welcome five new artists/groups with two-year partnerships. Tailored to the specific needs of each participating artist or collective and the idea or artistic impulse they wish to explore, incoming Residency artists include Jess Dobkin; Ian Kamau; Hannah Moscovitch, Maev Beaty and Tova Smith; Heidi Strauss / adelheid; and Dan Watson and Christina Serra. Playwright, director and actor Ravi Jain will serve as artistic director in residence, working with Boni to program work for the new space.

LTR (Long-Term Relationships), a unique long-term partnership opportunity that allows non-venued theatre companies to make The Theatre Centre their home base for several seasons, will also be launched with inaugural LTR partner Studio 180 Theatre. In addition to providing space to create and produce productions, this new program will offer partner companies the stability to make long-term strategic planning and programming decisions. The first of many companies to ‘move in’, Studio 180 Theatre, is an acclaimed Toronto-based company that produces hard-hitting, political, socially significant, contemporary theatre that provokes public discourse and promotes community engagement. In April, Studio 180 Theatre will present the Canadian premiere of Mike Bartlett’s punchy comedic drama COCK (April 4 to 27).

Rental productions hosted at The Theatre Centre over the course of the year will be carefully curated, in keeping with the organization’s mandate. Inaugural rentals, along with a Producing Series to be launched in the new home will be announced in the coming months.

CD Release: Toronto's Random Order with Black Lipstick Kiss January 30 2014

From a media release:

Thursday, January 30, 2014 @ Virgin Mobile Mod Club, 722 College Street, Toronto

Tickets online

Alternative rock/reggae band Random Order release their new spine-tingling, zombie-fied CD Black Lipstick Kiss on Thursday, January 30  at Toronto’s Virgin Mobile Mod Club. Blending reggae, rock and ska influences, Random Order’s live performances are dynamite and the energy explosive.

There’s nothing random or orderly about this band Random Order. Sometimes described as “rock ‘n’ reggae” the group is one of Toronto’s best, longstanding underground treasures. And now with their third album plus a stunning video of the title track, the band is set to achieve new heights, exploring the dark links between pleasure and pain.

Lead vocalist/guitarist and founding member Lynn Phillips, is the driving force behind Random Order. The vocal style ranges from playful rap, to soulful reggae, to blow-you-away punk/funk and rawk – Lynn even barks and growls at times when the edginess ramps up in live performances. The meat and potatoes of this group are Lynn, who plays lead guitar with a definite Jimi Hendrix influence, and trombonist John Jowett, who adds memorable flavour, flourish and fun to the mix. Adding the groove are drummer Caterina Marchese, percussionist Anita Graciano and bassist Bryant Didier.

The new CD BLACK LIPSTICK KISS, features “Zombie-fied zigzagging pulp fiction tango-rock reggae, ”straddling the edge of thriller ska and a hint of ‘50s candy pop. Having drawn comparisons to bands such as The Au Pairs, The Slits, and The Clash in previous years, Random Order’s new music now reflects more of the Clash sound, circa London Calling. The title track “Black Lipstick Kiss” was spawned from lead singer Lynn Phillip’s passion for sexy, dangerous, spy soundtracks and movies like Dawn of the Dead and anything by Quentin Tarantino. The CD highlights high-energy tunes with complex arrangements, as in the epic “Black Heart,” the horn-driven surf rock instrumental “Do It In Quattro,” and also includes intricately layered vocal harmonies such as those in the ska-drenched “Spoiled.”

Random Order has toured all over the world, playing in Tokyo, Guatemala, Milwaukee, Holland, and Belgium. Their music has been heard on radio stations all over Canada, in Ireland and Berlin, and they played Milwaukee Pridefest where they opened for Salt-n-Pepa.

They are fast becoming known as a dynamic supergroup who pack floors quickly with politics you can dance to. But however they’ve been described, Random Order's sound is certainly unique.

Random Order
A CD Release party for Black Lipstick Kiss
The Mod Club, 722 College Street, Toronto / 416-588-4663
Thursday, January 30 – Doors @ 8:00 pm
$18 adv / $20 at the door

Theatre @ York Presents The Beggar's Opera January 28 to February 1 2014

From a media release:

The Beggar's Opera
Why are the Laws levelled at us? Are we more dishonest than the rest?
Theatre @ York embraces the question with edgy production of
The Beggar's Opera -  January 28-February 1, 2014

- At its London premiere in 1728, John Gay's rollicking Beggar's Opera caused a sensation. Lampooning the politics and public morality of the day, it became an instant hit.

In 2014, York University's Faculty of Fine Arts brings together professional and emerging talent in theatre, music, dance and digital media in an edgy new production of this satirical masterpiece.

Adapted and directed by interdisciplinary theatre artist Gwen Dobie, Theatre @ York's Beggar's Opera previews January 28, opens January 29 and runs to February 1. It unfolds as a play within a play with a decidedly modern vibe, bringing the audience into the action. The show  transforms York University's Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre into the Lincoln Fields Correctional Institute, where visitors are subjected to 21st century  surveillance measures to witness the 'inmates' performing within.

Well-known television host Pamela Parker reports live from Lincoln Fields, a medium-security prison for men and women in present-day Toronto. She's researching a story on the workings of the criminal justice system - in particular, the effectiveness of incarceration and the programs available to inmates to help them reintegrate into society once they're released.

The facility is run by the socially progressive prison warden Beckett Benjamin Graff, a lover of theatre who believes in the therapeutic power of the arts. Graff decides that the gang members, prostitutes, con artists and thieves serving their time at Lincoln Fields will benefit from the opportunity to put on a play that mirrors their plight: a play about the social ills, human failings and moral choices that have put them behind bars. The inmates have volunteered to design and perform a production of The Beggar's Opera.

The story revolves around the love triangle between the thief Macheath, Polly Peachum, the sheltered daughter of Macheath's fence, Mr. Peachum, and Lucy Lockit, the jailer's daughter. It's also a tale of corruption, social inequality, and malfeasance in high and low places. Thieves, gangsters, politicians, lawyers ... who can tell them apart?

Director Gwen Dobie's approach to the production is grounded in the concluding sentence of Gay's play:  The lower sort of people have their vices as well as the rich: the poor are punished for them.

"I considered The Beggar's Opera in relation to our 21st century world," said Dobie. "Is it just a period piece, a quaint relic of a rougher, tougher time? To find out, I researched the issues it deals with - politics and the law, poverty and social inequality, executions, body-snatching and dissections, financial crimes, embezzlement and stock market manipulation - in our time.

"And of course, all these things - even body-snatching! - are still with us today," said Dobie. "It's apparent that since John Gay set quill to paper, the social ills he writes about haven't been resolved. Issues of poverty, inequality and social justice remain at the forefront of our society."

Dobie teaches movement for actors and devised theatre in York's Department of Theatre. She is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Out of the Box Productions, a performance fusion company that creates original works integrating drama, dance and opera. Her directing credits with Out of the Box include Opera Erotique, which toured in BC (2004) and was remounted in Toronto (2010); Sound in Silence, which played at the Belfry Theatre in Victoria BC (2008) and the Theatre Centre in Toronto (2009); and Bugzzz ~ A Cautionary Tale at Toronto's Wychwood Theatre (2012). Other directing credits include the Aventa Ensemble's North American premiere production of the Danish opera On this Planet by Anders Nordentoft (McPherson Playhouse, Victoria BC, 2007) and the world premiere of Canadian composer Christopher Donison's opera Eyes on the Mountain (Opera Studio, Alix Goolden Hall, Victoria BC, 2001). Most recently, Dobie directed the well-received production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas at York University (2012) and Handel's oratorio Solomon, conducted by Stephanie Martin, for Toronto's Pax Christi Chorale (2013).

Musical direction for Theatre @ York's Beggar's Opera is by music professor and noted choral composer and conductor Stephanie Martin, with musical preparation by renowned mezzo soprano Catherine Robbin, head of York's classical vocal music program. The singing cast features students in York's performance programs, with live accompaniment by a chamber orchestra led by Floydd Ricketts. Supporting the action are six members of the York Dance Ensemble, York's pre-professional repertory company, performing original choreography by Professor Michael Greyeyes. Digital media creative production is headed by interdisciplinary media artist Don Sinclair, coordinator of the Digital Media Program in the Faculty of Fine Arts. Theatre professor James McKernan, a specialist in sustainable theatrical scenographic technologies, is the producer.

A talented team of undergraduate theatre students is handling all aspects of the production design and execution, from sets and costumes to sound and lighting design. Live and pre-recorded audio and visual projections created by York's rising young digital media artists create an immersive environment where the audience's every move is tracked by the watchful eye of security cameras and controlled by disapproving prison guards.

York University's Faculty of Fine Arts is one of North America's premier schools for the visual and performing arts, media and design. With more than 3,400 undergraduate and graduate students and 245 faculty, it is the most comprehensive professional training and research institution in the field in Canada, offering conservatory and academic studies in all the fine arts: dance, design, digital media, film, music, theatre and visual art/art history.

Theatre @ York presents The Beggar's Opera
by John Gay, adapted and directed by Gwen Dobie

musical direction by Stephanie Martin
choreographed by Michael Greyeyes

preview January 28, opening January 29, runs to February 1
Tues-Fri at 7:30pm; matinees Fri & Sat at 1pm
Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre, Accolade East Building, York University
4700 Keele St. Toronto | Map & Directions:

Performance Schedule:
Tues. Jan. 28, 7:30pm - PREVIEW
Wed. Jan. 29, 7:30pm - OPENING
Thurs. Jan. 30, 7:30pm
Fri. Jan. 31, 1pm & 7:30pm
Sat. Feb. 1, 1pm

Box Office: 416-736-5888 |
Admission:  $17 | students & seniors $12
Preview: $5 Tues. Jan. 28
Groups: $7 (10 or more). Fri. Jan. 31 matinee group: $5

World Music: Mundial on the Road Showcase January 23 2014 in Toronto

From a media release:

Thursday, January 23, 2014 at Lula Lounge, Toronto

Doors 7pm
$15 for three concerts
Dinner reservations guarantee seating, 416 588 0307 or
Special delegate dinner package and transportation available
10% discount on food for CAPACOA conference badge holders

TORONTO - The first of its kind in North America, MUNDIAL MONTREAL (November 18-21, 2014) is a world music conference & festival that celebrates our rich cultural diversity through a variety of showcases while creating an unprecedented network of world music presenters and professionals with a common goal: to develop professional opportunities!

Mundial is becoming the premier meeting place in North America for professionals in world music. The conference is crafted with a prime selection of artists, attended by some of the top presenters, and offers targeted networking activities for all involved.

Three of the artists presented at last year's Mundial are coming to Toronto's Lula Lounge.

With roots in Peru and raised in Sudbury, Ontario, this stunning and powerful singer performs her own original material in Portuguese, Spanish, English and French. A favourite of Ontario presenters, Cano has performed at Sunfest, Luminato, Neruda Arts Festival and Lula Lounge. As an actress Patricia has worked with Tomson HIghway and Le Théatre du Soleil. Her debut album This is the New World was co-written with Brazilian guitarist Carlos Bernardo.

WORLD MUSIC GROUP OF THE YEAR at the 2013 Canadian Folk Music Awards - two-time JUNO nominee Jaffa Road is a highly acclaimed ensemble comprising some of Canada’s most exciting and innovative interpreters of inter-cultural music. Their music creates a unique sonic landscape that draws inspiration from the worlds of Jewish music, Arabic and Indian music, modern jazz, electronica, rock, pop, and dub. Their genre bending fusion has delighted audiences from BC to Nunavut to Newfoundland gaining fans and prestigious awards along the way.  Their song, L.Y.G. won Grand Prize and the Lennon Award in the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the band was also awarded Best World Music Artist at the  Toronto Independent Music


Malika Tirolien is fast becoming a new Caribbean star of soul and jazz.  The melodies of his young Antillean artist are enhanced by her mastery of the piano and gospel influences. While inspired by contemporary western music, Tirolein continues to explore the repertoire of her native country, creating a truly innovative style. Malika Tirolien has collaborated with many artists including Gregory Charles, Coral Egan, Nate James and Lara Fabian as well as part of the group Steel Pulse.

Jorge Miguel’s mission is to offer the flamenco tradition through the fingers, voice and feet of an ensemble committed to its authentic spirit. Jorge Miguel is a Spanish Canadian guitarist and composer from Toronto. His family comes from Cadiz, a city in the flamenco heartland and he has spent much time living and studying there.

The Canadian Arts Presenting Association/l'Association canadienne des organismes artistiques (CAPACOA) serves the performing arts touring and presenting community through its commitment to integrate the performing arts into the lives of all Canadians. CAPACOA takes initiative in providing leadership, knowledge, communications, skills development and advocacy on behalf of its members and within the arts presenting community.

CD Release: Gregg Lawless 'Footnote' January 25 2014 in Toronto

From a media release:

From Garbage Heap to Honouring Hands -
Lawless’ ‘Footnote’ CD Coaxes New Music From Recycled & Discarded Instruments

Gregg Lawless CD Release – “Footnote”
with Mark Inneo -- drums (The Tenors), Fergus Marsh -- bass (Bruce Cockburn), David Matheson -- accordion, guitar, B3 (Ron Sexsmith), John Sheard -- piano (Vinyl Cafe)

WHERE: Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas St W, Toronto
WHEN: Sat Jan 25th, 2014 - 8:30pm
TIX/INFO: $25 adv / $30   416-531-6604 

Listen at the link

[Toronto ON] 
Thomas Edison once said, ”To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” Gregg Lawless takes this further with the release of Footnote – an homage to the discarded – at Toronto’s venerable Hugh’s Room, January 25th. 

The title song explores the feelings of rejection you're left with when a relationship ends - that you’re just a footnote in the larger chapter of life. At the same time, Lawless incorporates a passion for seeking out discarded guitars – those homeless, broken and damaged instruments that could be considered nothing but footnotes themselves. He brings them back to life in every sense - repairing them, then showcasing them on his songs – coaxing their old souls to shine through a dusty old tube amp – itself rescued from the garbage.

The tunes on this album, and the treatments Lawless gives them, are as varied and unexpected as the "resurrection" stories of the vintage instruments he plays. Footnote is a tasty smorgasbord of powerful moods and sentiments, incorporating everything from acoustic roots to blues-rock; power pop to country; ragtime to reggae – each song expertly recorded with the help of veteran musicians, including drummer Mark Kelso (Bonnie Raitt, Herbie Hancock), bassists Fergus Marsh (Bruce Cockburn) and Marc Rogers (Norah Jones, Sarah Harmer), Hammond  B3 player Denis Keldie (Etta James, Jeff Healey) and pianist John Sheard (Mary Margaret O’Hara, Ian & Sylvia Tyson), together with vocal assists from Lawless’ cousin Michael. Supported by this crackerjack cast, Lawless works musical magic.

The title track is an unabashedly lovely song, featuring great slide guitar work and a lethally-tender vocal from Lawless, as his guitar gently weeps.

“Piece of Me” is another keeper, with exceptional mandolin and Lawless’ flawless dobro, and those noteworthy backup voices in all the right places. Steve Briggs’ tasteful mandolin solo joins Lawless for a slightly country finish.

“You Ain’t Callin’” is the album’s shining star, showcasing compelling vocals, rich harmonies and phenomenal music – the ring of Lawless’ distinctive, Rickenbacker-like guitar melding with exquisite B3.

A completely irreverent cover of Elvis Presley’s “All Shook Up” – sounding more like Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way” than anything swaggering out of Memphis – closes off the record. A barrage of dirty slide guitar meets a fat drumbeat, rich B3 and the gentle coo of backup vocals, making a convincing argument. Brimming with the confidence required to tackle such a sacred classic, this off-hand cheekiness is Lawless’ raison d’etre.

Perhaps it’s Lawless’ small-town roots in Aurora and Grafton that inspired him to not only dream big, but to dream differently. True to his name, Lawless went rogue, making unconventional career choices. For one thing, his musical tours took him far from the bright lights of the big city to rural Ireland and remote regions of Africa. He spent many a summer not playing music festivals, but running songwriting workshops as musical director for Camp Trillium, a camp for children and families affected by childhood cancer.

You can tell from these ten songs that Gregg Lawless is a believer, and no matter what condition we find ourselves in, there is shimmering potential within that can’t be glossed over or denied. Footnote is audible proof of that fact.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Atom Egoyan Directs Mozart's Cosi fan tutte - on Stage to February 21 2014 in Toronto

From a media release:

The Canadian Opera Company:
atom egoyan plays with farce, folly, love and fidelity in coc’s new production of mozart’s così fan tutte
January 18, 24, 29, February 1, 6, 7*, 9, 15, 18, 21, 2014

Tickets here

Toronto –
The Canadian Opera Company opens its 2013/2014 winter season with Così fan tutte (or The School for Lovers), Mozart’s wry comedy about romantic love, fidelity and temptation. Sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™, the COC’s Così fan tutte comes to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts for 10 performances on January 18, 24, 29, February 1, 6, 7*, 9, 15, 18, 21, 2014.

Renowned Canadian director and filmmaker Atom Egoyan directs and COC Music Director Johannes Debus conducts this new COC production full of farce and folly.  Egoyan’s staging of this popular Mozart opera celebrates the common human experience of joyful, innocent love while also exploring deeper, more private complexities. Taking his inspiration from the opera’s subtitle, The School for Lovers, Egoyan sets the action in an academy where love is examined, dissected and manipulated to illuminate the characters’ struggles with fidelity and temptation. Debus leads the internationally acclaimed COC Orchestra and Chorus through Mozart’s sublime score.  In addition, the sections of recitative in the opera will be accompanied by Debus on piano.

Così fan tutte features an exciting cast of opera’s up-and-coming talent and established stars. Soprano Layla Claire, mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta, tenor Paul Appleby and bass-baritone Robert Gleadow take on the roles of the four young lovers. World-renowned Canadian soprano Tracy Dahl makes her welcome return to the COC stage, after a 19-year absence, as Despina. One of opera’s most distinguished and sought-after lyric baritones, Sir Thomas Allen, makes his highly anticipated COC debut in the role of Don Alfonso.

Cast as the two sisters entangled in an explicit wager to test their faithfulness are two Canadians, and recent graduates of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Program. Soprano Layla Claire (COC debut), hailed for her interpretation of Mozart in performances across North America and Europe, is Fiordiligi. COC Ensemble Studio graduate Wallis Giunta, praised by the New York Times for her “chocolaty and penetrating mezzo-soprano voice,” is Dorabella.

Singing the roles of the sisters’ fiancés are two of the most exciting young male voices emerging on the world’s leading concert, recital, and opera stages. American tenor Paul Appleby (COC debut), also a recent graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Program, is one of the most inspiring new voices of his generation and sings the role of Ferrando. COC Ensemble graduate bass-baritone Robert Gleadow, who has continued to make his mark on the operatic and concert stages around the world since his graduation from the Jette Parker Young Artists program of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, is Guglielmo. As Despina, soprano Tracy Dahl helps instruct the young women in the ways of love and fidelity. Over the course of her career, Dahl has appeared on the operatic world stages of La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and the Châtelet in Paris, to name a few.

Baritone Sir Thomas Allen is the wily Don Alfonso, instigator of the fidelity-testing scheme. An established star of the great opera houses of the world, Sir Thomas Allen recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of his debut with Royal Opera House Covent Garden, where he has sung no fewer than 50 roles. Equally renowned on the concert stage, he appears in recital in the United Kingdom, throughout Europe, in Australia and United States and has performed with the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors, with many acclaimed recordings to his name.

Award-winning set and costume designer Debra Hanson makes her COC debut with Così fan tutte, drawing inspiration directly from the action of the opera, and tying the opera’s themes to a visual design that is at once period-specific and historically fluid. Michael Walton, whose work has been seen with opera and theatre companies across Canada and the United States, makes his COC debut as the lighting designer.

About Così fan tutte
Often described as Mozart’s most perfect score, Così fan tutte features some of opera’s grandest music for ensembles as well as breathtakingly beautiful arias. Così fan tutte premiered in Vienna in 1790. Due to some critics finding its subject matter too scandalous, the opera was rarely performed in subsequent years and only started to gain in popularity in the middle of the 20th century. It’s now one of the most popular operas across the world.

Così fan tutte was last performed on the COC mainstage in 2006.

The exciting young singers of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio perform the lead roles in their own performance of Così fan tutte on February 7, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the February 7 performance are accessibly priced at $25 or $55.  See ticket purchasing details below.

Single tickets for Così fan tutte are $12 – $332 (includes applicable taxes). Tickets are available online at, 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.

For more information on specially priced tickets available to young people under the age of 15, standing room, Opera Under 30 presented by TD Bank Group, student groups and rush seating, visit

Dance in Toronto: 10 New Short Works by Marie-Josée Chartier January 24 & 25 2014

From a media release:

Petites danses
10 new short works by Marie-Josée Chartier
Young Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto | Distillery District, Toronto

Friday January 24 and Saturday January 25 2014
Two different programs per night
Menu #1: 7p.m. | Menu #2: 8:30 p.m.

Tickets: $10, or $18 for both menus
cash at the door only ~ no advance sales

TORONTO - How do we see music? How do we hear dance? It is from this premise that Chartier has created a programme of petites danses in response to two specific works by Canadian composers Linda Catlin Smith and John M. Sherlock. This new production brings together a stellar mix of twenty-five performers, two lighting designers and one filmmaker to premiere these works all created by choreographer and director Marie-Josée Chartier.

The audience will experience four choreographic versions to each musical work assembled in two different menu programs.  Smith’s In the high branches will be performed as a quartet of men, a solo, an improvised trio and a duodectet (twelve) of young dancers. Necklace by Sherlock will take life in three short films and one solo dance. Each menu program will present two versions of each musical piece so the audience will witness the other versions in the later performance.  Each program (7pm and 8:30pm) will be complemented by one work choreographed to iconic minimalist musical works Coming together by Frederic Rwreski and I am sitting in a room by Alvin Lucier.

Chartier is intrigued at how we respond, react, compare or are moved by the performance as we become increasingly familiar with the music in the course of an evening.

The performance and creative team include a great mix of artists well known to Toronto audiences: Julia Aplin, Alex Bleim, Tom Brouillette, Cameron Buttrum, Caryn Chappell, Marie-Josée Chartier, Peter Chin, Emilio Colalillo, Peter Earle, Mairéad Filgate, Dayne Hamilton, Nicole Lavergne, Emily Law, Kathleen Legassick, Andrew McCormack, Claudia Moore, Kevin Ormsby, Rebecca Picherak, Michaela Reichenbach, Simon Rossiter, Kassandra Sciacca, Ashley Shimizu, Miko Sobreira, Heidi Strauss, Darryl Tracy, James Trowbridge, Dan Wild and Christopher Willes.

About Marie-Josée Chartier and Chartier Danse
A multi-faceted artist, Marie-Josée Chartier moves easily between the worlds of dance, music, opera and multi-media in the roles of choreographer, performer, director, vocalist or teacher. Her choreographic works have been presented in dance series and festivals in Canada, Europe and Latin America and have been featured on documentary films presented on national television and film festivals. Her choreographic repertoire is greatly influenced by contemporary visual art, music and literature in terms of concept, composition and dynamic structure. In 2003, Marie-Josée Chartier founded Chartier Danse in order to support her creative activities.

Images by Don Dixon & Bill Blackstone
Video from last year's tour of Stria (not one of the petites danses)

Brazilian Guitar: Badi Assad in New York City (Jan 20 & 23 2014) & L.A. (Jan 31 2014)

From a media release:

CD & Tour
Life-changing experiences: acclaimed Brazilian guitarist Badi Assad returns to the world stage with new album, plus New York Guitar Festival and Los Angeles concert appearances in January 2014

Get the CD Between Love and Luck (Quatro Ventos)
• See concert details at the bottom of the post

Thoughts on New Release Between Love and Luck

One of Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Guitarists and the winner of the 2013 USA Songwriting Competition in the World category, Badi Assad has enjoyed over 20 years on the world stage as one of the finest Brazilian guitarists of her generation— many would argue that she is indeed the top of the line. The younger sister of legendary classical guitarists Duo Assad, Badi released 10 albums from 1989’s Danca Dos Tons through 2006’s Wonderland. Then…. Silence, until 2013 brought us her new CD Between Love and Luck.

Now back on the world stage, Assad brings her perceptive approach to songwriting and virtuosic guitar to New York and Los Angeles in January 2014, including a striking new score for a rare early 20th-century Chinese film tackling some of the same issues that still haunt women today at the New York Guitar Festival.

Where did Badi go for those years? The answer turns out to be simple and a great adventure all at the same time. She explains: “Where have I been? My last CD, Wonderland, was released in 2006. The big reason for my disappearance was because, in 2007, the most amazing creation of my life happened: the birth of my beloved daughter Sofia. That’s when I decided to leave the big city and devote myself fully to the amazing adventure that is motherhood…. And in the silence of the countryside I started to compose like crazy! It was a really creative and inspiring moment.”

That moment turned into Badi’s first album of completely original material, Between Love and Luck. It’s also her foray into independence as an artist: the new album was released on her own Quatro Ventos label.

Old adventures (and mismatched meetings) mix with new ones like maternity as a result of a new love and delicious new manias: how to love and seek one’s own balance of wanting the new. The new album also speaks about addictions like working hard or dependent relationships… and this craze for love. Yes, because love is also chronic, in the literal sense of the word: long term, what happens repeatedly and often.

An infectious template of original arrangements throughout, Between Love and Luck opens with the relentlessly driving Ultraleve. Over a canvas filled with sparkling moments of guitar virtuosity, ethereal vocal backgrounds, fat horn punches, and a bass line that would make Motown proud, Badi sings of caresses at moonlights, laziness at sunrise, and priceless trips, perhaps down love’s corridors.

Immediately following this romantic opening, life as a working parent intrudes as the alarm clock in Pega No Coco reminds us about getting up early and getting to work! Again, the groove is the main thing here as moments of crunchy metal-esque guitar chording trade sonic space with decidedly modern sounding electronica as Badi’s protagonist makes it through another day in the life.

Luckily for those fond of live guitar performance, Badi is hitting the road to present her new music to US fans. This January, New York area audiences will have a unique opportunity to hear the fruits of Badi’s labor via two performances at the prestigious New York Guitar Festival, which has been garnering wide accolades since its inception in 1999. In addition to performing, Badi is honored to be co-director of the NYGF in 2013.

On Monday, January 20, Badi co-curates and performs in a six hour guitar marathon celebrating the classical guitar in North and South America, contrasting rich traditions with bold experimentation. Badi has crafted an evening of propulsive rhythm and sensuous melody from South America, and caps the evening’s show with her stunning world-beat fusion of pop, jazz and Brazilian music.

A highlight of the NYGF will occur on Thursday, January 23 in the award-winning Merkin Concert Hall as Badi premieres her score for one of the best-known films of China's cinematic golden age: Wu Yonggang’s 1934 debut The Goddess, the story of a prostitute working the seamy streets of Shanghai to afford an education for her young son. Badi speaks about the challenges and rewards in composing this highly anticipated work: “My approach to score this movie is to let my intuition guide myself. It is a very dense and sad story. It is so incredible to realize that some of the ‘problems’ and ‘prejudice’ are still alive and strong nowadays. How frustrating is to face a sort of failure in so many facets as a Human Being…it has been a challenge to score it... In the sense that I’ll have to perform it live. As I don’t have too much experience working with loops and electronics I’ll have to compose with what I can perform live and solo which decreases the endless possibilities and resources. But I love the challenges to interfere in the natural sound of the guitar, using props to modify its natural sound such as a stick under the strings provoking the listeners to discover which instrument that is? Or when I use a piece of wet fabric to scratch the strings sounding like a high pitch instrument, or when I play the guitar with one hand and a small percussive instrument with the other and so on. Of course my voice and vocals are going to be all over the place and I’m going to use other instruments as well such as a kalimba (African thumb harp), various small percussion instruments, a copper pipe (imitating a flute – played while I play the guitar simultaneously), a set of tuned ceramic pieces... “

It’s an intriguing challenge, and one that is sure to enthrall the audience at its premiere.

Moving on to the West Coast, Badi makes an appearance January 31 at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. “Shine A light” ( is a benefit concert and fundraising campaign produced as an integral part of new charitable program called Shine A Light. The program was created in partnership with Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Organization (IREO) (, Celerity Educational Group ( and Celerity Global (, and The Muse Collective. The Jan 31 concert will mark the launch of this program and will be focused on raising awareness about the dire challenges facing the Syrian War Refugees and raising funds to bring renewable energy solutions to the refugee camps. With the recent devastation in the Philippines brought about by Typhoon Haiyan, a portion of the proceeds will be used towards assisting in the recovery operations of the hardest hit areas. 100% of the events’ net proceeds will be used to fund renewable energy projects that bring both immediate and long term benefits to the people and communities in need in both areas.

As a world class guitarist, and now as a delightfully versatile composer, Assad has been enthralling audiences throughout her career. Don’t miss the experience of the new world of music this winter with Badi Assad!


January 20, 2014
Merkin Concert Hall, 129 W. 67th Street - New York, NY - Tix: $25, Show: 7:00 pm

January 23, 2014
Kaufman Music Center, 129 West 67th St. (btw Broadway and Amsterdam) - New York, NY - Tix: $25, Show: 7:30 pm

January 31, 2014
Orpheum Theater, 842 Broadway - Los Angeles, CA - Show: 8:00 PM

Images by Danielle Marafon & Claudio Soares

Free Talk: David Cronenberg with Piers Handling January 21 2014 at OCAD Uni Toronto

From a media release:

OCAD University
President’s Speaker Series presents:
A conversation between David Cronenberg and Piers Handling

Free Talk -Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 7 p.m. (please note seating is limited)

OCAD University is pleased to present a free public discussion between Piers Handling and David Cronenberg.

Cronenberg, the master of the macabre, creepy obsessions and weird fantasies, is coming to OCAD University to talk about the relationships among technology, art, cinema, architecture, design and city landscapes. The iconic Toronto-based Canadian filmmaker will be interviewed by Piers Handling, Director and Chief Executive Officer of TIFF.

During Cronenberg’s 40-year career as a filmmaker, his works have included independent, experimental, science fiction, horror, thriller and studio productions including Videodrome, The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, Crash, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method and Cosmopolis. Cronenberg is the recipient many awards, including France’s prestigious Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres, a Special Jury Prize at Cannes, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

Piers Handling is responsible for leading both the operational and artistic growth of TIFF. Since 1994, under his diretion, TIFF became an internationally renowned cultural institution and opened TIFF Bell Lightbox, a permanent home for all of TIFF’s year-round film, educational and exhibition programming. Handling is the former Deputy Director of the Canadian Film Institute (CFI), taught at Carleton and Queen’s universities and has published extensively on Canadian cinema. He holds an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from OCAD U.

OCAD University
Auditorium (Room 190), 100 McCaul Street, Toronto

Jazz by 3: Lara Solnicki, Fern Lindzon, Sinal Aberto with Luanda Jones January 21 2014 in Toronto

From a release:

Lara Solnicki, Fern Lindzon, Sinal Aberto with Luanda Jones
Three fabulous small jazz ensembles in one night! With Ted Quinlan, Gord Sheard and Mark Kelso. Each group features celebrated bassist George Koller.

Sunday, January 19, 2014
Doors 6pm, show at 7pm

$15 or $49 dinner package includes three course dinner and show.
Dinner reservations guarantee seating. 416 588 0307,

TORONTO - Three ladies of jazz in one hot show - January 19, 2014 at Toronto's Lula Lounge.


"...One of the finest jazz singers to emerge on the Canadian scene..." - Stanley Péan, host: Espace Musique/Radio Canada

A graduate of The Glenn Gould School/ Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto-born Lara Solnicki has been praised for her "beautiful voice, warm, grave and measured." (Christophe Rodriguez, Le Journal de Montreal) and her "stylish and sensual interpretations of The Great American Songbook." (Mark Rheaume, CBC).

Lara Solnicki's debut at Lula features trio-band mates Ted Quinlan, guitar and George Koller, bass, in a colourful performance featuring orignials, standards and a preview of songs from the soon to be released second CD.


"Fern Lindzon is an engaging pianist and singer who brings an unassuming authority, an inquiring spirit and a natural grace to contemporary jazz." - Mark Miller, jazz writer

JUNO Award nominee Fern Lindzon is a multi-faceted pianist/vocalist/composer with a technique that The WholeNote calls "intricate, yet commanding," and her latest CD Two Kites, "breathtakingly beautiful."

Fern's second CD, Two Kites (2011), with saxophonist Mike Murley, bassist George Koller and drummer Nick Fraser, was nominated for a 2012 JUNO Award as Vocal Jazz Album of the Year. It has also drawn admiring comments from the New York pianist Fred Hersch and the British singer Norma Winstone, as well as from reviewers for The WholeNote, Los Angeles Jazz Scene and several other publications.


Sinal Aberto is an exciting Brazilian jazz quartet featuring outstanding musicians from Brazil and Canada. The group brings a jazz approach to a repertoire consisting of classic Brazilian songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Chico Buarque, Djavan, Pixinguinha, Cartola and others, as well as vibrant original compositions by band members Gordon Sheard and Luanda Jones. 

Featuring: Gord Sheard (keys and arrangements), George Koller (bass), Mark Kelso (drums) and Luanda Jones (vocals). 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mississippi Hill Country Blues: Cedric Burnside at drom (New York City) January 24 2014

From a release:

CEG & Nolafunk Present Cedric Burnside
January 24, 2014
at drom (New York City)

Mississippi Hill Country Blues, Funk, R&B and Soul

Tickets Here

Cedric was born and raised in Holly Springs, Mississippi. At the young age of 13, he began touring around the world playing drums with his grandfather, North Mississippi blues legend R.L. Burnside also known as "Big Daddy". In late 2006, Cedric & Lightin' Malcolm teamed up and toured as "The Juke Joint Duo" which produced the award winning record, ‘Two Man Wrecking Crew'. In 2010, Cedric collaborated with his younger brother, Cody Burnside, and his uncle, Garry Burnside, to create The Cedric Burnside Project. They created a new genre of music by infusing Mississippi Hill Country Blues, Funk, R&B and Soul that will keep your foot stomping all night long! Following the passing of his brother, Cody, Cedric keeps the flame burning, touring with Trenton Ayers.

Cedric has performed and Recorded With: R.L. Burnside, Burnside Exploration, Jimmy Buffett, T Model Ford, Bobby Rush, Honey Boy Edwards, North Mississippi Allstars, Galactic, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, Widespread Panic, John Spencer Blues Explosion. Cedric also just won the 2013 Memphis Blues Award for Drummer of the Year. This is the third time Cedric has won this prestigious award.

Doors     9PM
Show     9.30pm
Advance Price     $15 / $20 day of
Door Price     $20

A Conversation with Edith Head on stage January 17-19 2014 in Toronto

From a media release:

CAFTCAD presents A Conversation with Edith Head
Canadian premiere brings costume design icon back to life
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre - Toronto
January 17 - 19, 2014

Buy tickets

Toronto -
The Canadian Alliance of Film & Television Costume Arts & Design (CAFTCAD) presents Susan Claassen in A Conversation with Edith Head, by Paddy Calistro and Susan Claassen. The one woman play is based on the book Edith Head’s Hollywood by Paddy Calistro and Edith Head.

A Conversation with Edith Head is playing in Toronto, January 17-19, 2014 at 8:00 pm in the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. It is a behind-the-scenes feast of great movie lore and delicious stories providing insight into Hollywood’s legendary costume designer, Edith Head. At A Conversation with Edith Head, audiences hear Miss Head tell her own story. It’s a tale as fascinating as the history of the film industry itself, filled with humour, frustration and glamour.

The play, created when Susan Claassen was inspired by watching a television biography of Head, comes to Toronto directed by Claassen and produced by CAFTCAD. To aid with production costs, CAFTCAD, a not for profit organization, launched an Indiegogo campaign. It aims to raise $10,000. CAFTCAD’s vision is to increase awareness of the value costume arts and design bring to the industry. They represent a powerful element in the collaborative process of filmmaking, furthering international recognition of the creative talent we have in Canada.

In her 60 year career, Head worked on 1,131 motion pictures, dressing Hollywood heavyweights like Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, received 35 Academy Award® nominations and won an unprecedented eight Oscars®. In addition, Edith Head was nominated for a BAFTA in 1975 for the epic The Man Who Would Be King, starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine.

CAFTCAD is a not for profit association of individuals interested in promoting Costume Design for film, television and media from both an artistic and technical perspective. Our goal is to enrich our community with artistic presentations, seminars, workshops and social networking events.

Opening in Toronto: Big Bad Wolves - January 17 2014

From a media release:

Video Services Corp. presents
A film by Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado

Opens Friday January 17, 2014
• Toronto – Cineplex, Yonge & Dundas, 10 Dundas St. E
• Ottawa – Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank St.
• Victoria – The Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas St.
• more Canadian cities to follow.

Big Bad Wolves, Quentin Tarantino’s “best film of the year” opens in cities across Canada January 17 from Video Services Corp (VSC).

Described as “mesmerizing from start to finish,” by The Hollywood Reporter, Big Bad Wolves involves a series of brutal murders that put the lives of three men on a collision course: the father of the latest victim, a vigilante police detective and the main suspect in the killings – a religious studies teacher arrested and released by a police blunder. It follows Israeli filmmakers Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado’s first feature, Rabies, which caused a sensation at its 2010 debut at the Tribeca Film Festival as Israel’s first horror film. Big Bad Wolves asks the question, “does being the victim give you the legitimate right to turn into a bloodthirsty vigilante?”

Writer/directors Keshales and Papushado took their inspiration from contemporary society, explaining that, “existential anxiety serves as Israel's foundation and attempts to define and reinforce the legitimacy of the state: a fear of terrorist activities, primarily kidnappings, unremitting feelings of being persecuted, inherent intolerance and macho behavior topped with a historical craving for vengeance create an ideal breeding ground for extreme actions and subsequent reactions.” Big Bad Wolves is their attempt to address those issues.

“The rapturous reception the film received at the Fantasia Festival earlier this year has been repeated at screenings across the world and we’re excited to bring it to theatres in Canada,” stated VSC President Jonathan Gross, “Aharon and Navot have made a thought-provoking film that will have audiences talking.”

The film will be released on VOD, iTunes, DVD and Blu-ray later in 2014.

About Video Services Corp.
Founded in 1993 by former rock critic Jonathan Gross, Video Services Corp. is a leading independent DVD distributor with offices in Toronto and Los Angeles and a vast catalogue strong in television, sports and comedy. VSC’s releases include  Corner Gas, Comedy Now! Starring Russell Peters and Spectacle: Elvis Costello With…. Recent theatrical releases include Union Square, with Oscar® winner Mira Sorvino, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, from writer/director Roman Coppola and  The Matchmaker from Israeli filmmaker Avi Nesher. VSC also owns the e-commerce websites, and

Official Selection:
2013 Tribeca Film Festival
2013 AFI Film Festival
2013 Fantastic Fest
2013 Fantasia Festival
2013 Chicago International Film Festival
2013 Philadelphia Film Festival
2013 Toronto After Dark Festival
2013 Vancouver International Film Festival

Cheval Noir Award for Best Film – 2013 Fantasia Festival
Best Screenplay – 2013 Fantasia Festival

Amnesty International "Films for Change" Series - THE SQUARE - January 17 2014 in Toronto

From a media release:

Amnesty International "Films for Change" Series - THE SQUARE
Friday, January 17, 2014 - 6:30pm
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
506 Bloor St. West, Toronto, Ontario

Amnesty International Films for Change Presents The Square - Join Amnesty International Toronto (AITO) for the first installment in the 2014 Films for Change series!  AITO is proud to present a limited engagement of the award-winning documentary The Square, Friday, January 17 2014 at the Bloor Hot Docs cinema.

The Square follows a diverse group of Egyptian activists, armed only with cameras and the power of social media, as they risk their lives to build a liberated society.  Directed by Egyptian-American Jehane Noujaim, The Square follows these activists not only through the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, but also through the turbulent years that followed.  Defiant, courageous, and inspiring, The Square has been called “a remarkable portrait of Egypt’s false dawns, and worthy of its Oscar buzz” by Time Magazine.

The Square was first released as an unfinished cut at Sundance in 2013, and was awarded the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary.  However, even as the filmmakers were accepting their awards, the activists featured in the film were returning to the streets of Cairo, as the country’s first democratically elected president began granting himself extraordinary powers. It was clear that the fight was not over, and the filmmakers returned to Cairo to capture what would become the second part of this developing story.
Following the film, AITO will host a panel discussion focusing on the important issues raised in the film.

Where: Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 506 Bloor St. West (Bathurst & Bloor)
When: Friday, January 17, 2014 at 6:30 PM
Cost: $11.00, tickets are available at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema Box Office

Tickets Nearly Sold Out! Green Porno Live on Stage with Isabella Rossellini at BAM (Brooklyn) Jan 16-25 2014

From a release:

Tickets Nearly Sold Out!
Green Porno
Live on Stage
Conceived and performed by Isabella Rossellini
Written by Isabella Rossellini and Jean-Claude Carrière
Staged by Muriel Mayette
Jan 16—Jan 25, 2014
at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music)

Part of 2014 Winter/Spring Season

Art-house luminary Isabella Rossellini reveals the surprisingly kinky and confounding mating rituals of insects and marine life in this one-woman show, adapted from the celebrated Sundance Channel series of the same name.

With day-glo costumes and paper puppets, Rossellini channels a host of reproductive oddities based on a text by the influential French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière (The Mahabharata, 1987 Next Wave; The Tin Drum). Part nature documentary, part DIY cartoon, Green Porno is a cheeky, delightful zoology lesson brought vividly to life by Rossellini’s singular flair for storytelling.

English translation by Sofia Groopman

Post-Show Artist Talk
with Isabella Rossellini
Moderated by Suzanne Braun Levine
Tue, Jan 21

Actress Isabella Rossellini discusses her creative process, the origins of her acclaimed Sundance series Green Porno, and how it came to the stage. Free for same-day ticket holders.

Fishman Space
RUN TIME: Approx 1hr 15min
FULL PRICE TICKETS:  $120 ($30 rush*)
Eight ticket limit per household.
*Rush Tickets: A limited number of $30 rush tickets will be available for purchase starting 90 minutes before each performance, at the BAM Fisher box office (321 Ashland Pl). Limit two tickets per person. Rush tickets are only available for purchase in person.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Habib Koité: New Album Soô & North American Tour January 31 to March 7 2014

From a media release:

Home is Where the Heart is for Habib Koité: New Album Soô Spotlights Mali’s Diversity
Guest Appearances by Toumani Diabate and Bassekou Kouyate—and Habib’s First Banjo

The tour kicks off January 31, 2014 in Sebastopol, CA - check out the full tour at the link

Aeolian Hall, London, ON - February 13, 2014
The Mod Club, Toronto - February 14, 2014
L'Astral, Montreal - February 15, 2014
City Winery, New York City - March 6, 2014

With all the turmoil that has hit Mali since singing guitar master Habib Koité’s last recording, it is no wonder that his February 25, 2014 release, titled Soô (which translates to Home in English), was recorded in his own home. But the civil strife in Mali was not what drove the musician to do his first home recording. The real reason simply was—just like many other established musicians—because he could. What started as a logistical decision paved the way for the album’s theme.

For a musician, on the road for long stretches, home becomes a dream, a vision. A place to treasure. But this home is much more than four walls. It’s a chance to draw together all the strands of his life – his music, his friends, his countrymen. A chance to breathe, to reflect, and to make some changes.

“On this album most of the songs are played by new musicians,” Koité explains. “I had the same band for 22 years, they played on all my albums and tours everywhere in the world. All my albums, I did with them.” It was time for fresh blood; only bassist Abdul Berthe remains from the old lineup. Even the engineers were new – one of them Koité’s twenty-year-old son.

Habib Koité’s Soô has had a complete makeover. Not only personnel, but songwriting and instrumentation. The drum kit has gone, replaced with a percussionist on calabash and djembe. And with this album, Koité has brought the banjo home to Africa. After playing with American bluesman Eric Bibb on 2012’s Brothers in Bamako and on tour, Koité adopted Bibb’s six-string instrument belonging to Eric Bibb.

“It gives another effect to my sound, something new,” says Koité. “Issa, my other guitarist, said ‘Wow, I’ve never played this instrument.’”Neither had Koité, but he knew he wanted to hear the banjo in his new music along with the brand-new guitar which was a gift from a fan in England. It has a wide neck, like his familiar nylon-stringed instrument, but this uses metal strings. “The sound is so great. I fell in love with it and decided to record all the songs with this guitar.” But he made a few changes, switching to heavy strings for a cleaner sound. “You can hear it on ‘Drapeau,’” he observes, a song which features just Koité and the guitar. “I muted the bottom strings. You can hear the bass lines and the treble separately that way.”

Singing in Malinke, Bambara, and Dogon, and incorporating styles and rhythms from all over the country, Koité brings together the diversity of ethnicities of Mali on Soô. But that’s a perfectly natural feeling to him. Growing up in Kayes, he was surrounded by a Babel of tongues, and that continued when he moved to the the capital, Bamako. A student of classical guitar, he also learned jazz on his way to becoming a master of the instrument, “the African Clapton” as he’s been called. And from the start he’s relished mixing things up in his own music. On his 1995 song “Fatma,”Koité crossed cultural borders playing a sonrai style from the North, creating a hit in Mali. Ten years later the great singer Afel Boucoum told Koité that he was shaken by this song. “he thought it was familiar, but somehow very different.”

That mix of Malian musical cultures is very much in evidence on Soô. It’s an album that looks squarely at his native land, a country torn apart by violence over the last two years – a time when a real feeling of home couldn’t be more vital. On “Diarabi Niani,” for instance, Koité takes a traditional rhythm then gives it a twist by adding a bridge which wouldn’t normally exist. And with “Bolo Mala” he sings in Malinke, but over a Kassonké rhythm from his own Kayes, before adding a few words in Spanish.

Koité addresses many of the issues facing Mali at the moment. Under the beautiful lilt of “Dêmê” is the serious issue of people helping each other and living together peacefully. But there are other problems to be addressed: the forced marriages highlighted in “Need You,” where the iron fist is hidden beneath the velvet glove of a gorgeous melody, or “Khafolé,” the traditional story of a mother loses her young child to a circumcision gone wrong. This song was first performed over a hundred years ago when a group of women were protesting to the chief of the Blacksmiths, the group traditionally in charge of circumcision.

“In the big cities, it’s going down in popularity,” Koité notes. “But it still continues in small villages.”

And sometimes he makes his point without words. “Diadjiri” is completely solo, a reminder of Koité’s virtuosity on the fretboard. But it’s also a song made famous by Fanta Damba, one of the first Malian singers to find fame in Europe, a song about war and its horrors. It’s a piece that will have been resonating in the minds of all Malians in recent times, and when Koité lets his fingers do the talking, the melody more eloquent than any voice.

But Soô is a place of joy, too. “Balon Tan” celebrates soccer, a vital part of life in Mali.

“Every afternoon after school you can see boys of different ages playing soccer in the dust,” Koité explains. “Parents come to watch and talk. It's an important point of meeting where you learn to live together. And everybody goes home at the end of the day.”

Home. Always home. Even in “Tekila=L.A.,” a memory of times with friends in Los Angeles, he compares the city to the place closest to his heart – Mali – while the banjo connects people on both sides of the Atlantic. And “Terere,” featuring the legendary Toumani Diabaté on kora and the n’goni of the masterful Bassekou Kouyate, is a celebration of the strings that power Malian music.

Home. The place that brings everything together, as he sings on the title track, “Soô.”

“The word soô is a symbol of the heart,” Koité reflects. “It’s the center of your life, the heart of life. It’s a place with your family, the place where you have old friends. A place where you know the climate. It is all of those. That’s what soô means. Your sweet home. It’s where your life makes sense.”

Habib Koité will be taking his home on the road in North America from January 31 – March 7, 2014.

Images by Dirk Leunis

Photographic Art: J.W. Bush at Sealed Art (Hamilton, ON) January 25 to February 25 2014

From a media release:

J.W. Bush - Watermarks
Opening at Sealed Art Gallery, Hamilton, ON
January 25 to February 25, 2014

• Opening Reception January 25, 2014 - 5 to 9pm
• Photographs are in series of five only 225.00 CAD each

HAMILTON, ON - Enigmatic and evocative, J.W. Bush's latest show of photography opens on January 25, 2014 at Sealed Art Gallery.

Jeff is a long time self-taught photography artist who's been exhibiting his work in Hamilton for decades. The former owner of the J.W. Bush Gallery has been a well-known member of Hamilton's arts community. His work has included stints volunteering for the City and he's often documented Hamilton's arts scene along with providing photography services to poets, musicians and theatre artists and general design work - but no weddings! He hopes to re-open the gallery as a photographic centre in the future.

The show includes experimental music on the Korg M1 Syntech, provided by Rob Vecera, mixed and produced by J.W. Bush. A strongly visual thinker, he lets his images and poetry do the talking for him.


telling stories coming from far away
starting explosions creating life to form
frequencies, light,  magnetism,  reactions and heat. 
a flat plain just before a forest,
a mystical place, somewhere here or there,
or in the scene of a eerie past.

topical textures, looking yet like charcoal sketches
new emerging forms

emerging from earth humanoid figures
sensual overtone
you can  see bird like figures

ghostly faces on spirit land
many eyes too one
wipe away clean

beads of rhythm
natural universal language

mystical forest from long ago
or future


Music from Guinea Recently Released: Stronghold Sound's Sembeh Ma Fa Fe: Roots Volume

From a media release:

CD Release:
Stronghold Sound is back with its second volume of Sembeh Ma Fe Fe (roots volume) - December 10, 2013

Buy the album here
• Check out my post on the first release here

In this follow-up to their earlier Guinean compilation, Stronghold Sound releases, Sembeh Ma Fa Fe: Roots Volume, a lively selection of home-grown soul, folk, salsa and traditional djembe percussion from this musically rich West-African country.

After focusing on the Middle East in their most recent full length release, Khat Thaleth: Arab Hip Hop in the wake of Revolutions, the Stronghold Sound’s producer Dub Snakkr goes back to Africa and digs deeper into the musical heritage of Guinea. The second volume in the Sembeh Ma Fa Fe series features tunes that share some of the roots of the musical traditions of the region. From the powerful polyrhythms of the djembe, to the soothing cyclical melodies of the balafon, to the longing cries of the grio, each instrument is rich with history and significance; even the Mandeng kings prized them as near to possessing supernatural powers.

Amongst the featured elder artists Mybaby (Kadiatou Sylla) stands out, performing her own blend of salsa infused Guinean folk. Also, Aicha Sidibe sings a classic form of traditional folk called Mamaya, Geizu accompanies the percussive group Balandougou Kan bringing you a taste of village life, and Blondi (Alseny Camara), a modest man whose voice startles you with its depth of emotion and power sings alongside the traditional gunguma.

Then there are the newer generation artists: Saran Diabate who teams up with her talented brother, Lanciney Diabate, on bass to create a kind of traditional Guinean soul with a funk foundation, Cissoko Aboubacar, a talented singer in a family of vocalists who offers something akin to Guinean blues also in the Mamaya style, and Alessane (Alassane Bangoura), a young and talented percussionist with a voice both innocent and passionate, who sings alongside the balafon in a number that reminds one of Conakry island living. Lastly, Sekou Keita and Bondo Sidibe lead the percussion ensemble, Balandougou Kan, in arrangements that show the interlocking beauty and raw energy of tam tam Mandeng, or djembe music.

In addition, Stronghold Sounds adds 4 dancefloor remixes (released earlier this fall exclusively on 7’’ vinyl as Guinea Folk Remixed) by Captain Planet (Bastard Jazz), J-Boogie (OM), Chief Boima (Ghetto Bassquake, Dutty Artz) and Giku, and Stronghold Sound’s own Dub Snakkr.

Closed to much of the world since independence, Guinea is home to many masters of Mandeng traditional music and culture. In parallel with these masters of tradition is a new generation of artists who have embraced reggae, hip hop and r&b as their own and worked on their individual expressions within these genres. After years of dictatorial rule, the nation has recently experienced its first democratic election and emerges anew to share its rich musical culture.

Sembeh Ma Fa Fe, translated from Susu as, ‘strong sound coming,’ is a two volumes compilation that is being released separately.