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Showing posts from January, 2010

Lula Lounge Last Night - rinsethealgorithm & Tasa

Chemistry & Math 101 - rinsethealgorithm & Tasa Lula Lounge January 28 If the musicians of one band stay to avidly listen to the next band's set, then you know that the bar will be set pretty high for the sound you can expect to come from on stage. Last night (January 28) at Toronto's Lula Lounge was just such an evening. The crowd was full of jazz lovers and those high standards weren't disappointed. Formed by electric bassist extraordinaire Rich Brown, rinsethealgorithm turn out a fluid, very modern kind of sound, one with its roots in artists like Weather Report and Miles Davis. It took the jazz standard of verses, bridge, solos, and then again, with a take innovative enough to keep all of it fresh to the ears. It's another good sign when the band looks like they're having fun playing the music. It sounded loose, flowing, like it could turn in any direction at any given second, and the four of them would follow the thread seamlessly. Not surprising

An Interview with Jenny Young, in the cast of George F. Walker's And So It Goes

I recently caught up with Jenny Young, a busy actress between rehearsals for And So It Goes , the world premiere of multi-award winner George F. Walker’s first new play in about a decade – and this role comes hot on the heels of her turn in Factory Theatre’s December production of Michel Marc Bouchard’s The Madonna Painter , leading to some interesting comparisons of working on both projects. “I would say the biggest different between the plays is the voice of the writer,” Young observes. “The Madonna Painter was poetic realism – and a translation from the French. The language wasn’t as immediately accessible. There were lots of discussions, lots of studying the text. (Walker’s) voice is a voice we’ve heard before, and a language we understand. He’s got a really good ear for that.” In The Madonna Painter, a Quebec priest commissions an Italian painter to create a fresco dedicated to the Virgin Mary in an attempt to protect his parish from the ravages of the Spanish Influenza outb

Interview with Hettie Vyrine Barnhill - Part of the Cast of Fela! on Broadway

Hettie Vyrine Barnhill ,one of the ensemble players in Fela! took time out from rehearsing both for the show and an upcoming appearance on the Jimmy Fallon Show Live (January 21,) to speak to me about this remarkable production. It's not often that a Broadway show gets national attention without the star power of a Hugh Jackman, let's say, or without a long run and a touring company or two. But Fela! - which tells the story of Fela Anikulapo- Kuti, a Nigerian singer/multi-instrumentalist/political revolutionary - is a unique show in so many ways, it's really no wonder it's been featured on national TV shows like the Colbert Report after getting rave reviews in the NY Times and other major media outlets, and garnering more than its share of buzz. A uniqueness in approach was apparent to Hettie from the moment she joined rehearsals back in June. (She's pictured to the right in the image above, with Lauren De Veux and Sarh Ngaujah as Fela.) "The show was alr

Aldeburgh Connection's Schubertiad

Aldeburgh Connection The Lady of the Lake, and other tales Walter Hall, University of Toronto January 24 The Schubertiad is a rather delightful and civilized way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and this past weekend I was treated to a superb performance of Schubert's Lady of the Lake and other miscelleneous Lieder and piano works by the Aldeburgh Connection. The first half consisted of the Lady of the Lake , based on Sir Walter Scott's poem . Scott was hugely successful in Schubert's time, and many composers used his pieces as inspiration, in no small part to gain some access to the lucrative English music market. (Such is the level of knowledge I got from the copious programme notes - this is the University of Toronto after all!) The story is a convoluted one, concerning Scottish clan rivalries, a disguised King James V, and three men all after the hand of the lovely Ellen Douglas. It was the Romantic era, and love and justic prevailed, I'm glad to say. The sol

Notes from Dance Ontario DanceWeekend

Notes from Dance Ontario DanceWeekend January 22 - 24 Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre (Toronto) I had another arts drenched weekend, much of it spent at the Fleck Dance Theatre taking in a smorgasbord of dance all weekend. I was able to take in a few hours at best a day, but a small bites menu of 20-25 minute sets meant I could still experience a wide range of styles and flavours even on budgeted time. It was great to see the place nearly at capacity, with just as many people coming in as leaving at any given moment, and a long line up to get in at the start of every day. Please check out the invidual companies at the links - many of them have upcoming shows. January 22 Opening night! Ballet Creole white, floaty garments, rhythmic movements that follow the polyrhythms churned out by the 3 musicians at the back. The dancers were athletic and the effect becomes infectious, and impossible not to feel like moving along with it. Taken from a variety of African traditions,

Classical Music Picks on Youtube - An Addition

Another great classical link I forgot to add to my earlier list of ultimate favourites: Weber's Invitation to the Dance , Maestro Edvard Tchivzhel conducting the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in 2003.

Listening to the World at Lula Lounge (Toronto)

Playing soon at Lula Lounge : Jaffa Road - Jan 27 Alchemy and Algorithm - Chemistry & Math 101 with Tasa & Rinsethealgorithm - Jan 28 "My music is inspired by some travels to the Middle East, particularly Israel and Egypt," says Aaron Lightstone of Jaffa Road . "When I was there, I was very struck by the work of musicians in terms of mixing cultures - in pop music, as well as classical." It's a concept people who listen to live music in Toronto will be very familiar with, that mixing of cultures, although there is one significant difference between the musical climate here and in Israel. "In Israel, you'll hear ethnic instruments in mainstream pop music," he says. In North America, what we lump into the term "world music" is largely ghettoized. Drawn to the mix of traditions he found all over the region and drawing on his own roots, Jaffa Road's music includes lyrics in Hebrew and Jewish themes . For Aaron, it'

Schubert, Sir Walter Scott & the Aldeburgh Connection

The Aldeburgh Connection The Lady of the Lake, and other tales Walter Hall, Sunday, January 24, 2:30pm Featuring: Anita Krause, mezzo; Christopher Enns, tenor; James Levesque, baritone; Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata, piano; Raymond O'Neill, narrator The " Schubertiad " was a delightful tradition begun by none other than Schubert himself, who was fond of playing for his friends, who would sing or play along with Franz at the piano. Those evenings of song, chamber music and solo piano works evolved into the type of concert we now know of by this name. The Romantic is a likable era in general, and Schubert has always been a favourite composer of mine, so I'm looking forward to this Sunday's continuation of the Aldeburgh Connection's annual Schubertiad tradition . They'll be performing Schubert's adaptation of Sir Walter Scott's The Lady of the Lake , published in 1810. Schubert began to compose seven settings from Scott's poem in 1825,

Classical Music Concerts in NYC - If I Had My Way..

NYC Classical Music Picks Due to that awful thing known as "work committments" (which should be outlawed, if I had my way - we need to get a petition going,) it looks like I won't make it back to New York City for another month at least. But, if I had unlimited money, unlimited time, and a place just waiting for me in Manhattan whenever I felt like jetting over, I've looked through at least part of the treasure trove of what's on offer in the next little while, and this is what I'd take in: The Big Shows: Daniel Baremboim (piano), Pierre Boulez (conducting) & the Vienna Philharmonic playing Schoenberg, Webern and Mahler (as they should!) at Carnegie Hall - January 16 (image of Daniel Barenboim, above, by Fernando Delgado Bépar, 2005) The Zukerman ChamberPlayers with Angela Cheng at the piano, playing Brahms & Kodaly at Kaufman Concert Hall - January 24 Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax playing Schuman and Chopin at Carnegie Hall - January 29 (image

Full Bloom - Male Dance Show at the Young Centre

Full Bloom Choreographed by Luches Huddleston Jr., Kevin O'Day, Robert Glumbek Performed by Luches Huddleston Jr., Kevin O'Day & Roberto Campanella Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Steve Reich, Otis Redding, Henryk Gorecki, Max Richter, Blue Swede, Bucovina Club/Edwin Starr, Frederic Chopin, Neil Young & Jordi Savall. Young Centre, Toronto - Continues to January 16 Show runs 70 minutes, no intermission Full Bloom isn't just an all male dance piece about the male experience. In the ultimate tribute to the three talented performers who took the stage, I actually forgot that the show was about men over forty until Huddleston Jr.'s spoken word bit about halfway through. Up to that point, I was simply bemused and entertained by the clever and expressive choreography, the notion of dealing with maleness via dance. It's not that the show has a narrative thread exactly, but those themes are never far from mind, from the opening bit portraying that unive

My Next Stage Theatre Festival Blitz

My Next Stage Theatre Festival Blitz Factory Theatre, Toronto continues to January 17 I tried to cram in as much of Next Stage as I could this weekend, ending up seeing 4 of the Festival's 8 offerings. I want to emphasize my choices were based on my own time constraints, and not meant to diss the other 4. From what I could see, the overall quality is pretty even and the bar set pretty high for some cool viewing at affordable prices - with packages starting at a mere $48 for 4 plays. Just East of Broadway Starring Sean Beak, Lana Crillo, Ma-Ann Dionisio, Darrell Allen Gamotin, Stephen Lilly, Cory O'Brien Written by Nicholas Hune-Brown and Ben King , who brought us The Lord of the Rings: The Musical: The Musical! a hit a 2007's Fringe Fest with its tale of Toronto mayor David Miller fighting off evil developers, this musical tackles the tale of Rex Maverick (O'Brien,) a Hollywood has-been trying to resurrect his career in the People's Republic of China, o

Koki Tanaka - Random Hours, YYZ Gallery Toronto

Koki Tanaka Random Hours at YYZ Gallery Artist talk January 9 - show continues to February 20, 2010 An artist's talk is a chance to get to know a show, or even a body of work, from the inside out, and despite apologizing for any language gaps in his first ever talk in English, Japanese multimedia artist Koki Tanaka managed to get across his artistic approach with a wry, almost self deprecating humour ("I can't create anything.. so I arrange things") that was representative of the mood of his work in general. He began by mentioning that, as a young man returning home for family visits, he'd be constantly annoyed by his parents' lazy practice of simply starting up a new bar of soap in the bathroom when the old one was not quite done. It resulted in a pile of nearly used up bars of soap beside the sink that he'd get rid of each time he came - until one day it struck him: his parents were creating sculpture, albeit unwittingly. It gave him the notion of

The Thundering Roar - Mi Young Kim Korean Dance Company

The Thundering Roar Mi Young Dance Company Tonight (January 9) - Toronto Centre for the Arts, 7:30pm In the programme for Thundering Roar, Mi Young Kim says her intent is "to show my audience the great range of style and dynamics in Korean dance" , and I think the show lives up to that principle. From the slower, more contemplative mood of the opening half to a rousing, colourful finish, I left feeling I'd been shown just that. Korean dance is often about storytelling , and the first half of the show tended to stay in that mode. The dancers were largely in white - flowing white robes, white caps, with an occasional bright red sash, or black sleeves. Only the hands, and dramatic outlines of the faces are visible. The robes themselves become part of their deliberate movements, either singly or in groups. Heung Sup So took the male role in Mong Yeong (A Love in Dream) , a narrative piece. In Crossing , Kim teams up with Sashar Zarif , a proponent of Azerbaijani dan

Beating Seasonal Affective Disorder with Performing Arts

Performing Arts to Beat S.A.D. Here in the colder climes, I can think of no better way to stave off seasonal affective disorder than by experiencing performing arts. I find them inspiring, and on stage, January is anything but blah in Toronto this year. So here's a bit of a mash up of some of the interesting shows coming up in the very near future. I intend on checking out as many as I can, (weather permitting, and so on,) so reviews may and should trickle in later. Next Stage Theatre Festival January 6 - 17 at the Factory Theatre I'm somewhat remiss in my timing, in that the Next Stage Theatre Festival, is opening as we speak here on January 6. Next Stage is billed as Toronto's "fastest rising industry showcase". Produced by the Toronto Fringe Festival people, showcases productions that have premiered at Canadian Association of Fringe Fesitivals' member Festivals (did you catch that?) . Executive Director Gideon Arthurs explains, "We launched Next

Jeon Soo-il's With a Girl of Black Soil (2007)

With a Girl of Black Soil (2007) Geomen tangyi sonyeo oi Produced by Jo In-Suk for Dong Nyuk Film Written & Directed by Jeon Soo-il Starring Yoo Yeon-mi, Park Hyun-woo and Jo Yong-jin Director of Photography Kim Sung-Tai 89 minutes, 2007 Like the title of acclaimed director Jeon Soo-il's family dram a , much of the subtitling in this Korean indie film is not-quite-English. It gives the dialogue an off centre quality to the point, at times, that you're not entirely sure of what's being said. But you won't be watching this film for the dialogue. It tells the story of 9 year old Choi Young-Lim (Yoo Yeon-mi) , who lives with her father Hye-Gon (Jo Yung-Jun) and mentally-handicapped brother Tong-Gu (Park Hyun-Woo) in a bleak mining town in the mountains of Kangwon province . Hye-Gon works in the mine until black lung disease ends his career. An attempt at a business goes nowhere, he's got the one ailment they won't pay compensation for, the company owne

Thinking about Kafka on New Year's Day

It's New Year's Day and for some reason my thoughts turn to Kafka. You'd think Sartre or Camus instead, right? all existentialist about the new decade and so on, but no, it's Kafka's books that are staring at me from my bookcase. I read The Trial while I was still in university some three decades or so ago, and no book since has stayed with me to the same degree. Over the years since, I've read many interpretations of the work, and most interpretations and discussions dwell on asking “who is punishing him for what?” The big question for most people, (and university lecturers, apparently,) is what is he on trial for? - as if that were somehow a key to understanding the book. I think they miss the point. I think I have an insight they don't. He had to pay the bills like anyone else, and though he hated it, he worked in insurance for some years. He understood very well the way human suffering (at one point, he assessed personal injury claims) is dealt w