The ninth edition of Tapestry’s celebration of their back catalogue happened last night in the Ernest Balmer Studio. This year’s mentors are Jacqueline Woodley and Andrea Grant. The emerging artists are Elisabeth Boudreault, Lindsay Connolly, Brianna DeSantis, Ryan Downey, Gabrielle French, Rebecca Gray, Lauren Halász, Rachel Krehm, Brittany Rae, Anne-Marie Ramos and Jennifer Routier with pianists Qiao Yi Miao Mu and Ryoko Hou.
We got thirteen staged numbers introduced by Michael Mori. Some of them have been seen a few times before like James Rolfe’s “Blind Woman” from LibLab2014 others were new to me. As ever there was a range from pieces that had some depth that one could see as part of a full length work to others that have more of a “sketch” feel. I’ve just picked out a few favourites from a pretty good show overall.
Abigail Richardson’s the “Double Slit Phillips” from The Perfect Screw; performed by Halász and Hou, is a very funny take on the eternal battle over the merits of the Phillips versus the Robertson screwdriver with inevitable innuendo. Truly a metaphor for the rule world as American quantity triumphs over Canadian quality!
Also from Abigail Richardson, “Alone” from Sanctuary Song is a retired circus elephant’s very sad.lament on her new solitary status in a zoo. I’ve never really thought of Rachel Krehm as an elephant but she was very affecting.
Jacqueline Woodley gave us “Dahlia’s Aria” from M’dea Undone. It’s one of the best bits of the opera and was ffective here. Andrea Grant on piano.
Probably my favourite of the evening, Kevin Morse’s “No Ants!?” from The Colony deals with the aggrieved reaction of the Amazon Ant Queen (Jennifer Routhier) to the devastation of her realm by a manic Exterminator (Ryan Downey). Definitely one of the funniest and the most kinetic scenes of the evening. Qiao Yi Miao Mu on piano.
Probably a personal thing but I loved “Namaste” from Mother Everest (Richardson again!). It’s about a death in the Death Zone. Is it real, is it a hypoxia fuelled hallucination? We lose friends in the high mountains. We rarely learn what actually happened. This piece captures that very well. Beautifully sung by Rebecca Gray with a very busy Ryan Downey as the corpse. Andrea grant on piano.
The final number was an ensemble work conceived as an installation by composer Afarin Mansouri. “Lullaby on the Shore” is inspired by the death of child refugees in the Mediterranean. Sung (and whispered) here in a darkened room, it’s a very beautiful plea for generosity and tolerance.
Final note, last night was dedicated to the memory of Roger D. Moore who left us a week ago. I can’t imagine anyone in the Toronto music scene doesn’t have a fond memory of the little guy with the ties, the beard and the bike. Much of the music in this show likely wouldn’t have happened without his support. We’ll miss him.
You can catch Songbook IX again today at 4pm and 8pm.