The Birds, by Bygone Theatre currently playing at Hart House Theatre is loosely based on the du Maurier short story and the subsequent Hitchcock film. The idea, the script and the direction are all the work of Emily Dix. The concept, building on the uncertainties of the Trump era and COVID is to explore “how do you explain to someone outside of a crisis the things you did to survive it? How do you justify to the world, and eventually, even yourself, what “crazy” things you did, completely necessary and justified at the time, when afterwards much of the world seems determined to pretend that crisis never existed?” (Director’s Notes). I’m not sure it really does that.
Interruption; the first concert of this year’s West End Micro Music Festival, happened last night at the season venue; Redeemer Lutheran Church on Bloor West. It was a clarinet quintet concert with a twist or two that was illuminated for me by a chat with clarinettist Brad Cherwin after the show.
The Elmer Iseler Singers and their conductor Lydia Adams returned to live performance at Eglinton St. George’s United Church yesterday with a programme that included the World Premiere of Timothy Corlis’ Om Saha Nāvavatu. The first half of the programme though consisted of four shorter works. First up was Three Motets to Our Lady by Healey Willan. The piece sets three texts; two invoking the Virgin Mary and one from The Song of Songs. They are conventional but effective polyphonic settings and were very skilfully performed. I’m not a huge Willan fan (heresy I know) but I really enjoyed these.
As part of music director Riccardo Muti’s final tour with the orchestra, the Chicago Symphony is coming to Toronto in February for the first time since 1914. It’s at Koerner too, so it’s a chance to see one of the world’s great orchestras in a really good acoustic. The dates are February 1st and 2nd 2023 and the programmes are:
February 1st: Beethoven Symphony No. 7 and Prokofiev Symphony No. 5
February 2nd: Beethoven Coriolan Overture and Symphony No. 8, Liadov The Enhanted Lake and Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition.
Tapestry Opera have just announced the upcoming 2022/23 season from their new secret HQ location. It’s exciting and looks much like a Tapestry pre-plague season. There are two brand new operas plus old favourites like Tapestry Briefs, Songbook and so on.
The Shape of Home is a show about the life and works of Al Purdy currently being presented by the Festival Players in the Studio Theatre at the Streetcar Crowsnest. Actually I think it’s about a lot more than Al Purdy. It does tell his story and use his poems as song material but in the creative process something a bit magical happened. It was created during lockdown using Zoom with the creator/participants messaging back and forth with ideas, snippets of songs and (mostly dark) thoughts. The creative process must have been gruelling and at times disheartening but the final result is a show of high energy, and humour. But above all it’s life and art affirming. Performed in the tiny Studio Theatre it’s also very intimate. For the first time since the theatres reopened I felt I had got my old life back.
Echo Chamber Toronto: Poetry in Motion presented at the Isabel Bader Theatre last night as a part of Toronto Summer music was an interesting idea that worked pretty well. Five pieces of chamber music were presented along with introductory poems and, for the longer pieces, three dancers.
A Cup of Sins is a new CD release of works by Iranian-Canadian composer Parisa Sabet. If there’s a unifying theme it’s religious/cultural persecution in Iran and there’s a strong Bahai influence. The six pieces are scored for various combinations of voice, piano and small ensemble and add up to about an hour of very rewarding music.
The first piece, Shurangiz, is a riff on music for the tar (a kind of Iranian lute) and it’s scored for flute, clarinet, piano, violin and cello. It’s an interesting combination of traditional Iranian influences with a nod to Western minimalism. It’s quite meditative in mood. Continue reading →
Singulières, written by Maxime Beauregard-Martin, is a French language (more or less) coproduction of Le collectif Nous sommes ici, le Théâtre Catapulte and La Bordée. It'[s currently being presented jointly by Crow’s Theatre and Théâtre français de Toronto at the Streetcar Crowsnest. It tells the stories of various Québecoises who are stlll single at a certain age. Women who would once, especially in Quebec, have been referred to as “old maids”.
Emma Haché’s Lesson in Forgetting (translated by Taliesin McEnaney and John Van Burek) is an exploration of memory, amnesia and love. It;’s currently playing in a production by Pleiades Theatre directed by Ash Knight at the Young Centre. The basic premise is that HE (Andrew Moodie) has suffered head injuries that mean the only thing he can remember is how much he loves SHE (Ma-Ann Dionisio). She visits him every day to work on his memory issues but it’s obviously hopeless and eventually, wanting to be free to continue her own life, she tries to leave him but can’t.