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Classical Music Picks on Youtube

The Classics on Youtube

There are about a zillion and a half music videos on youtube, sooo much to sample, but here are some of my favourites, the ones I listen to and watch over and over.

Modest Mussorgsky/orch. Ravel - Pictures at an Exhibition
Most of the time I'd not say that I'd chosen these videos for their visuals - it's the music, the performance that's really paramount - but here, it's also filmed in a way that's much more interesting than the usual fare:

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra at the BBC Proms in August 2006

Part 1 of 4
Part 2 of 4
Part 3 of 4
Part 4 of 4

The painting of Mussorgsky is by Ilya Repin.

An excerpt from Schubert's Symphony No. 8 in B minor, the "Unfinished" - the best parts! - Fabio Bernoni conducting the Praga Sinfonietta in France, 2004.

Wagner vs Wagner - and even though I grew up in a classical music loving household, I still learned more of it from Warner Bros. than my parents.

Herbert von Karajan …

After Waking - A Literary Night Out

After Waking Literary Event
Sunday, December 27 6pm*
The Social Bar
1100 Queen Street West, Toronto
(downstairs from the Spin Gallery)

*Please note the time change - I'd originally put 7pm, but it starts at 6pm!

If you're in the Toronto area and looking for something to do during that weekend between Christmas and New Year's, I'll be Emceeing and reading at a literary event with a difference. If you've ever been ever so slightly bored (or perhaps more) at a literary reading by an author's earnest but dull delivery, fear not. The readers at this event have been hired as actors to bring life to the work in a way that the author really can't. I can speak to this as a writer myself. I know when I'm reading my own pieces, it becomes at least partly about ego, you're concerned with how you're coming off as a writer as well as how the piece itself is received. In this case, as an actor/reader only, I know I'm concentrating solely on breathing life into t…

Tommy Wiseau's The Room is a Blast

The Room
Written & directed by Tommy Wiseau (2003)
Producer & Executive Producer: Tommy Wiseau
Starring Tommy Wiseau, Juliette Daniel, Greg Sestero, Phillip Haldiman

Monthly screenings now at The Royal Toronto

People throw plastic spoons and have impromptu games of football - and that's the audience! They yell at Lisa's unfaithful ways, and shout corrections when the characters in the film claim to be together for seven years at the end after mentioning five years at the beginning, or remind Claudette of her breast cancer diagnosis... Screenings of The Room, a film by one Tommy Wiseau, are definitely an audience participation event.

"Can you ever really trust anyone?" So asks The Room, the indie film to end all indie films, during the course of its tortured 90 minute plot. Wiseau plays Johnny, a "successful banker" who lives with Lisa (Daniel). He thinks they're about to get married, but Lisa's bored, and starts sleeping with his best friend Ma…

TrueAfricanArt.com

TrueAfricanArt.com

Gathinja Yamokoski came to the United States seven years ago. A painter since childhood in her native Kenya, she knew the long tradition of African painting and its evolution into an active contemporary art scene. It was a world she found largely ignored in her new home, to her surprise. She began TrueAfricanArt.com as a business minded way of beginning to redress that balance.

Based in Westchester County, TrueAfricanArt.com isn't a gallery in the conventional sense, (although, if you are in the NYC area, they will gladly arrange a viewing). It's an online portal to the work of artists who live and work in Africa. In Kenya, artists network to find opportunities, (the off-line version,) and word soon spread that she was looking for pieces to sell. While sales initially began with the work of artists culled from art galleries, in March of 2009, her husband returned to Africa on a buying trip. They now sell the work of over 40 artists, and maintain a small staff …

Nicholas Roerich - Man and Museum

Nicholas Roerich Museum
319 West 107th Street (at Riverside)

I stumbled across the Nicholas Roerich Museum on my very first visit to NYC. It's tucked into a lovely three storey townhouse in the Upper West Side on what looks like a mostly residential street - you don't know it's there until you actually walk by it. Full of paintings (he was prolific, producing about 7,000!) and antiques, it's definitely worth a visit, and they run a series of poetry readings and classical music concerts on Sundays too. Above and beyond his work and collections, however, you'll be amazed at the incredible life led by a man who was actually a key figure in the arts and beyond in the first half of the 20th century, someone who's been virtually forgotten on this side of the Atlantic. And - just a note before I get into his story and work, you might wonder about the plethora of images I'm using with this post. Much of his work falls under the copyright laws of India and Russia, and…

Choclo y la Orgía Cósmica - Africa Meets Ecuador

Africa Meets First Nations
Concert December 6, 2009 at Lula Lounge

After interviewing a few people about the concert for my post earlier this week, I was intrigued enough to check out the music myself, and I'm so glad I did. Choclo y la Orgía Cósmica under band leader Dave West mix Ecuador and various parts of Africa (I believe three members of the six member band hail from the continent) to come up with a compelling style I'd have to call experimental. (Sorry about my lousy pics - they look so much better in the little view finder! - West is on the left in the first one.)

But to back up a bit, the evening started with the poem Four In One, about the four elements, written and performed by poet/playwright Kwame Stephens. He's a thoughtful writer and the piece, commissioned for the event, was well received. I'll have to look out for more of his work and performances.

Then out came West, first by himself, to start a dance with his guitar(s) - at times he played two at once. …

Edward Burtynsky , Canadian photographer

Edward Burtynsky
Photographer

Loving many arts means I sometimes get so busy I do inexplicable things like completely missing the new Edward Burtynsky show, not just in Toronto at the Nicholas Metivier Gallery, (where it showed in October,) but also at Hasted Hunt Kraeutler in New York, (where it was also on view till November 21). If you've never seen or heard of his work, Ed Burtynsky is an internationally known and respected Canadian photographic artist, who's made it his life's project to document in photographs the ways in which human processes change the landscape. (Image by Jon Lebkowsky 2005.)

That's just the nutshell version. Oil, his brand new show, is the result of a decade spent traveling the world photographing the ways in which we extract and process oil from the earth. If you've never checked him out before, you'll be drawn by the haunting imagery that he captures. His prints are large scale, and rendered in meticulous detail, and a gallery full of …

Africa Meets First Nations - in Toronto..

Africa Meets First Nations
Concert December 6, 2009 at Lula Lounge
Presented by Batuki Music Society

It didn't surprise me to find out that Nadine McNulty, Artistic Director of Batuki Music Society, was a musicologist. "The concept was created by our organization to establish the link between African and Aboriginal music," she enthuses. "There are similarities of chants, drumming, and other forms that are found in both cultures." Africa Meets First Nations is actually a series of events. The first one was in May, and featured Canadian First Nations musician like Marc Nadjiwan and Jani Lauzon, playing with Malagasy musician Donné Roberts and his group.

The next concert, coming up December 6 at Lula Lounge, features Ecuadorian and African musicians under the name Choclo y la Orgía Cósmica. While the concert series is Nadine's brainchild, the idea of mixing cultures was nothing new to band leader Dave West. "I've been doing this fusing of music for years,…

Sunny Choi - Brush With Beauty

Sunny Choi
Sunny Choi Gallery, Toronto
to December 24

About two years ago, well known fashion designer Sunny Choi decided to give up the world of commercial fashion and devote herself to fine art, opening her own venue on Toronto's artsy-chic Queen Street West right in the gallery district. "Brush With Beauty", her current show, doesn't stray far from those fashion-steeped roots, however. Each of the large canvasses depicts slim fashion-y models in elegant poses, most gazing directly at the camera, (and they were painted from photographs). They wear make-up and stylish dresses.

Choi began her multi-faceted career as a fashion illustrator, actually, and having worked myself with a great many illustrators and illustration students (as a model,) I recognize her deft technique. Most striking is the delicate and nuanced treatment of the model's flesh tones, from translucent washes to opaque shadows. They have fine features and moulded limbs, not completely smoothed over,…

Valu David CD Release Party

Valu David CD Release Party
November 27 at Lula Lounge Toronto
Presented by Batuki Music Society

They were dancing from the very first song played by Valu David in the early show at Lula Lounge Friday night, and by the end of the set both the house and dance floor were full. Backed up by a really solid five piece band consisting of bass, drums, keyboards, congas and trumpet (with Valu himself on guitar,) and lit by David's warm vocals and stage presence, it was nearly impossible not to move to the music.

Born in Angola, David came to Canada in 2000. A self taught musician, his unique style combines jazzy R&B, soul and reggae influences with the music of his homeland, music that has a distinctly Latin flavour from its Portuguese component, anchored by solid, swaying rhythms or faster beats that also echo in the music of Brazil. He sings in Portuguese, English, Spanish, French and Kimbundu, and his lyrics have an overwhelmingly positive message - words that had the ring of sincerit…

Zac Efron stars in Me and Orson Welles

Me and Orson Welles
Directed by Richard Linklater
Screenplay by Holly Gent Palmo after the novel by Robert Kaplow
Starring Zac Efron, Christian McKay, Claire Danes, Ben Chaplin, Eddie Marsan

Zac Efron stars as aspiring young actor Richard in this entertaining film set in 1937, inserted into the real life story of Orson Welles' landmark staging of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. In the space of a mere week before opening night, Richard talks himself into a role in the play, has a budding affair with an older woman (Claire Danes as the production manager,) has his heart bruised and his pride likewise against the sharp edges of unabashed ambition and over sized ego.

Efron's solid as the centre of the film and our way into this story about the fragile magic of theatre and some of the realities behind what transpires on stage. He turns in an entirely convincing performance with just the right range from the kind of bravado that gets him the opportunity - as in this scene in front of th…

Six Messiahs - different flavours of the holiday favourite in Toronto

Six Messiahs

There may be even more flavours of Handel's ubiquitous (and deservedly so) holiday favourite playing in Toronto this year, but here's a good list to start with. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, if you're a fan of chorale music, why stop at just one - or even just two?

The Elmer Isler Singers, the Amadeus Choir and more team up for an extravagant Messiah early in the season, complete with a big old church organ to add to the mix.
Features: Lydia Adams, conductor, Meredith Hall, soprano, Allyson McHardy, mezzo soprano, Michael Colvin, tenor, Peter McGillivray, bass, Robert Venables & Robert DiVito, trumpets, Patricia Wright, organ, Orchestra
December 4 - Metropolitan United Church (56 Queen St. East at Bond)

If you're north of the city, the George Weston Recital Hall is featuring a one time performance of the oratorio.
Featuring: Kerry Stratton, Conductor, Vocal Horizons, Canada's Gold Medal Choir, Festival Orchestra, Caroline Davidson, Soprano, Deb…

New York, I Love You - a film review

New York, I Love You
Directed by Fatih Akin, Yvan Attal, Allen Hughes, Shunji Iwai, Wen Jiang, Shekhar Kapur, Joshua Marston, Mira Nair, Natalie Portman, Brett Ratner, Randall Balsmeyer
Starring Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha, Andy Garcia, Hayden Christensen, Rachel Bilson, Natalie Portman, Irrfan Khan, Emilie Ohana, Eva Ammuri, Orlando Bloom, Christina Ricci, Maggie Q, Ethan Hawke, Anton Yelchin, James Caan, Olivia Thirlby, Blake Lively, Drea de Matteo, Julie Christie, John Hurt, Shia LaBeouf, Ugur Yucel, Taylor Geare, Carlos Acosta, Jacinda Barrett, Shu Qi, Burt Young, Chris Cooper, Robin Wright Penn, Eli Wallach, and Cloris Leachman

New York, I Love You is the second in a series of "collective films" conceived by producer Emmanuel Benbihy, coming on the heels of Paris je t'aime (2006). “My idea was always to make a collection of movies that would illustrate the universal idea of love around the world,” says Benbihy. “I started with Paris because that is where I am from, b…