We’re dinosaurs… and we are dead

dove coverThat headline is taken from the eighth movement of Jonathan Dove’s 2016 work for orchestra and children’s chorus; A Brief History of Creation, which takes us in thirteen movements from the stars to man via, inter alia, rain, sharks, whales and monkeys.  The text, by Alasdair Middleton, is clever, engaging and singable.  The music is eclectic.  There are elements of atonality but also intense lyricism.  It’s by turns shimmery, frantic, doom laden and meditative.  It engages beautifully with the text and Dove has a very sure sense of what is and is not reasonable to ask of a children’s choir.  Some short text sections are left as spoken (with a very authentic Mancunian accent).  All in all, it’s a witty and enjoyable piece that doesn’t outstay it’s 45 minutes or so.

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More than the kitchen sink

I’m a bit surprised that Berlioz’ 1838 opera Benvenuto Cellini hasn’t come my way before. It’s got all the operatic elements; romance, politics, murder (and the Pope) etc and some really rather good music.  There’s a lovely duet between Cellini and his girl, Teresa, in the first act and Cellini’s aria Sur les monts les plus sauvages is long and demanding in the way that Rossini writes long and demanding tenor arias.  The plot maybe has a few holes.  One might expect that after the pope has decreed that Cellini will be hanged if he doesn’t finish a statue by nightfall that he might just get on with it rather than running around fighting duels and stuff but there you have it.  It’s French opera after all.

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Mysterious Barricades

Today saw a dawn to dusk livestream of concerts from St. John’s to Victoria; presented as Mysterious Barricades, aimed at raising awareness about suicide, suicide prevention and mental health generally.  I doubt there’s anybody whose life has not been touched by this issue, certainly not mine.  Anyway I made it out to Walter Hall for Toronto’s sixty minute contribution organized by Monica Whicher.  It was heartening to see so many artists of the highest calibre making their talents available for the cause.  So, not a review but heartfelt thanks to John Gregg, Russell Braun, Carolyn Maule, Nathalie Paulin, Norine Burgess, Judy Loman, Marie Bédard, Steven Philcox, Turkwaz, Andrea Levinson and the Mysterious Barricades Toronto Chorale and, of course, Monica for organizing.  One day perhaps…

Tapestry Briefs: Tasting Shorts

The current Tapestry Briefs is one of the most satisfying I have attended.  Briefs is the performance edition of the LibLab; an intense where composers collaborate with librettists to create new opera scenes.  Some of these disappear and some go on to be the starting point for new operas.  The current crop is strong.  There were eleven scenes in the show; sung by various combinations of Teiya Kasahara, Stephanie Tritchew, Keith Klassen and Peter McGillivray with Jennifer Tung at the piano and other keyboards.  As a bonus, at intervals Keith appeared to sing a parody of a famous aria describing the tasty little tapas which were offered around.

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Larry redux

salon 3 - larry beckwith - james lynch photoThe demise of Toronto Masque Theatre was never likely to lead to the retirement of Larry Beckwith from the Toronto scene and it hasn’t.  He’s back with a new concert series called Confluence that describes itself as a “a new interdisciplinary, cross-cultural multi-media (many-hyphened) project”.  There’s a Pay What You Can kick off next Sunday, 16th September, at St. Thomas’ Church at 383 Huron Street at 2.30pm where there will be performances and readings featuring many of the season’s artists plus food and drink.

 

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