To the intimate (i.e. tiny) Array Space last night for a concert by the Happenstancers who, in this iteration, consisted of Brad Cherwin – clarinet, Madlen Breckbill – viola and Micah Behr – piano. and, in the first number, viola.
Part 1 of the programme was called Dream Images and was intended to evoke the discontinuous and illogical. It began with Du Yun’s dreams-bend for taped speech, two violas and clarinet as a sort of intro to the main event. This consisted of Schumann’s Fairy Tale Narrations and Kurtág’s Hommage à R. Schumann; these being two of the very few works for clarinet, viola and piano. Added to these was a new work; Abstractions by Nahre Sol. The pieces were played with the movements in the right order but with the composers mixed up so, for example, the first four movements went Kurtág, Sol, Schumann, Kurtág and so on. I like this approach. The styles contrast. The Kurtág is spikey and dissonant, the Schumann structured and Romantic and the Sol playful, tonal (mostly) and rhythmically varied. Listening to them interspersed somehow focusses attention on their particular qualities and has a kind of focus that the conventional way of doing things doesn’t.
It’s good to see a company like Opera by Request doing contemporary Canadian work. Better still when it’s a comedy. So I was very eager to see what they would do with John Metcalfe and Larry Tremblay’s A Chair in Love, presented last night at The Array Space. The work itself is, shall we say, “unusual”. An avant-garde film director falls in love with a chair and, despite the warnings of his jealous dog that the world isn’t ready for human/furniture relationships, makes a film about it. He is duly condemned by critical and popular opinion and despairs. The doctor prescribes her experimental Lovekiller pills. He, apparently kills his dog and is sentenced to the electric chair (what else?). Fortunately this whole episode turns out to be a hallucination brought on by the untested medication. Meanwhile the chair has run off with the film critic who condemned such things and man and dog are reconciled. Got that?
OK everything about this has me intrigued. Opera by Request are putting on a semi-staged version of John Metcalf and Larry Tremblay’s A Chair in Love. It’s about an angsty film director who falls in love with a chair despite his dog’s best efforts to avoid disaster. It’s on Friday July 17th @ 7:30pm at the Array Space (155 Walnut Avenue), and features William Shookhoff (music director and pianist), Abigail Freeman (Chair), Michael Robert-Broder (Truman), Gregory Finney (Dog), and Kim Sartor (Dogtor/Doctor). Tickets are $20 and available here. Despite Metcalf’s heritage I don’t think it’s in Welsh though the chance to see Greg bark in Welsh would be worth the price of a ticket.