It was the last concert of Confluence’s inaugural season last night. The theme was “At the River” and the venue the rather splendid (if somewhat popish) St. Thomas’ Anglican on Huron Street. It rather epitomized what I have come to expect, and love, from this series. The musical styles on display were eclectic; classical, folk song, pop/rock, jazz with East and South Indian, Middle Eastern and Indigenous elements all well to the fore. There was also some poetry including an unintentionally hilarious piece in praise of the idyllic Don River. There was also a large and accomplished ensemble and a lot of joy and sheer fun.
What caught my eye and ear in this thoroughly eclectic mix:
- Larry Beckwith’s talented young ex students Jacqueline Teh with her own arrangement of Make Me Cry and Charis Wong singing a traditional Chinese Song.
- Two versions of Waly, Waly; a strong and idiomatic version from Giles Tomkins and an arrangement for choir by John Rutter that could not have been more Rutterish.
- Cole Alvis and Marion Newman singing and drumming a Mi’kmaw water song.
- The irrepressible Patricia O’Callaghan moving and grooving.
- Suba Sankaran’s smile.
- James Meade reading T.S. Eliot.
- Dylan Bell doing pretty much everything.
- Ian Cusson showing that he can sing as well as play a mean piano.
- Bijan Sepanji adding a classical Persian touch.
- And Larry Beckwith being Larry Beckwith.
We also got the announcement of next season which looks to build nicely on this year. Here’s the line up (all shows at 8pm unless otherwise indicated):
September 28th 2019 – Celebrating Clara Schumann – St. Thomas’
A 200th anniversary celebration hosted by the CBC’s Tom Allen (as opposed to Durham University’s Tom Allen)
November 26th and 27th 2019 – An Evening with Marion Newman – Heliconian Hall
Our favourite Indigenous mezzo asks “What is classical Indigenous music?”
January 25th 2020 – Hugo and Willie: Songs of the Soul – St. Thomas’
Giles Tomkins and friends showcase the works of Hugo Wolf and Willie P. Bennett.
February 20th and 21st 2020 – Bullet Train/Witch on Thin Ice – location TBA
A double bill of Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster and Gregory Oh performing Madeleine Thien’s Bullet Train and percussionist Beverley Johnston with the world premiere of Alice Ping Ye Ho’s Witch on Thin Ice celebrating Yoko Ono.
April 6th 2020 – Baroque Music by Candlelight – St. Thomas’
An annual Holy Week tradition featuring for 2020 Buxtehude’s Membra Nostri Jesu.
April 27th 2020 – Second Annual Walter Unger Salon – The Shaftesbury Atrium
Michael and Linda Hutcheon curate a salon based on their book Four Last Songs: Aging and Creativity in Verdi, Strauss, Messiaen and Britten. This one is at 7.30pm.
May 16th 2020 – The Mandala – St. Thomas’
Suba Sankaran curates a show inspired by a universal image.
FWIW I think this series has established itself as one of the most important and consistently interesting in the city. It’s not your average Liederabend (not that there’s anything wrong with a Liederabend) and it’s well wotrth checking out.