A Simple Twist of Fate

Confluence Concerts returned to live performance last night at Heliconian Hall.  The concert, curated by Patricia O’Callaghan, was titled A Simple Twist of Fate and featured an eclectic mix of music either on the topic of Fate or that was entwined with the fates of the performers.

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Lots of Beckwith

John Beckwith turned 95 a little while ago and there’s some good celebratory material up on Youtube.  Confluence Concerts are rereleasing their three concerts from last year.  The first one is here.  Plus, Canadian Art Song project have a really lovely film of Krisztinaa Szabó and Steven Philcox performing The Four Short Songs to texts by Kandinsky.  The location filming is the work of Jenn Nicholls and Patrick Hagerty and it’s gorgeous.  The performance is rather good too.

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Bach III

The third and final concert in Confluence Concerts and the Toronto Bach Festival’s presentation of the Bach cello suites is now on line.  It features Andrew Downing playing the Suite No.2 in D minor BWV1008 on double bass and Ryan Davis playing the Suite No.5 in C minor BWV1011 on viola.  Both pieces were recorded in front of a live audience at Heliconian Hall.

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Beckwith at 94

Canadian composer John Beckwith will be 94 tomorrow.  His son, Larry, under the auspices of Confluence Concerts webcast a trio of concert’s of Beckwith’s extensive song output yesterday on their Youtube channel.  There’s four and a half hours of music and interviews!  It’s extremely varied.  Composition dates range from 1947 to 2014 and the diversity of the music is equally broad though with a distinct personality.  The pieces range from a set of etudes for cello and voice written for his grand-daughter when she was nine years old to the the crazy Avowals which requires a gifted and slightly mad tenor and a keyboardist who can play piano, celeste and harpsichord; sometimes simultaneously!

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Interviews and such

There are three new Youtube videos that aren’t performances but may be of interest.  On the Confluence Concerts channel there’s the John Beckwith Songbook Lecture.  I was expecting the usual sort of pre-show thing ahead of this weekend’s concert but it wasn’t that at all.  What we get is Bradley Christensen explaining his doctoral thesis research on developing an interpretive and pedagogical guide to Beckwith’s songs.  One might expect this to be rather dry and in a way it is but dry like a certain kind of British (or I guess Kiwi) humour.  It’s a sort of “Note the sheep do not so much fly as plummet” performance.  No sheep though.  One would have thought a Kiwi could have fixed that.  I shouldn’t joke really.  It’s a perfectly serious and valuable project but the deadpan delivery is curiously compelling.

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Mandala

Mandala – the Beauty of Impermanence is the latest on-line offering from Confluence Concerts.  It’s curated by Suba Sankaran and should have seen the light as a live show last May.  The programme is as eclectic as one has come to expect from Confluence and lots of fun.  In the spirit of impermanence it will be available on the Confluence channel on Youtube only until February 10th.

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Creativity and Aging – Confluence Salon

Does creativity follow an arc with age?  Is a period of peak creativity followed by inevitable decline or is there, perhaps, a qualitatively different, kind of creativity in the later years of life?  Linda and Michael Hutcheon; literary scholar and physician, explored this in their book Four Last Songs, which looked at the later works of Verdi, Strauss, Messiaen, and Britten.  Last night they appeared in the Confluence Concerts Salon series to provide further thoughts with reference to the works of Messiaen and Leonard Cohen.  Their thoughts were interwoven with performances of works by Messiaen and Cohen performed by Robert Kortgaard, Patricia O’Callaghan and Larry Beckwith.  There’s no need to read my description of the show.  It’s freely available on Youtube.

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Confluence’s Purcell

Last night Confluence Concerts streamed their latest offering; a tribute to Henry Purcell, preceded by a pre-show interview between Larry Beckwith and Andrew Parrott.  There was beautifully played instrumental music from Victoria Baroque, songs from Lawrence Williford and Lucas Harris recorded at the Elora Festival and a couple of interesting takes on If Music Be the Food of Love plus Two Daughters of this Aged Stream featuring Daniel Taylor, Rebecca Genge and Sinéad White plus instrumentalists from the UoT Faculty of Music Historical Performance Department.  I was less taken with Duo Serenissima (Elizabeth Hetherington, soprano and David Mackor, theorbo).  I can’t tell whether it was the recording acoustic or a diction issue but the words were pretty much unintelligible which is a big problem with Purcell!.

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Confluence announces virtual 2020/21 season

Confluence Concerts have announced a five concert and two special event virtual 2020/21 season with their usual eclectic and enticing mix of repertoire.

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September 23rd 2020 – Something to Live for; A Billy Strayhorn Celebration

A detailed look at the story of the great 20th century classical and jazz pianist and composer. Best known for his long-time collaboration with Duke Ellington, Strayhorn composed Take the A Train, Lush Life, Something to Live For, Chelsea Bridge, and A Flower is a Lovesome Thing.

Curated and arranged by Andrew Downing

Featuring Larry Beckwith, Alexa Belgrave, Leighton Harrell, Aline Honzy, Drew Jurecka, Marion Newman, Patricia O’Callaghan, Alex Samaras, Suba Sankaran and more.

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Let’s Stay Together

Last night’s virtual salon by Confluence; Let’s Stay Together, featured an extremely, if unsurprisingly, eclectic selection of music and poetry and some serious techno-wizardry.  Two numbers featuring Suba Shankaran and her technical whizz husband Dylan Bell exemplified the techy side.  Come Together was an overdubbed. live looped, east meets west version of the Lennon and McCartney number in which the pair built up layers of sound incrementally.  Meditation Round, which rounded out the evening, was a moving new work by Suba dealing with how we need to move forward, not back, as life, perhaps, returns to some sort of normality.  There was an almost 16th century quality to the music and the performance in which pretty much everyone took part remotely.  Brilliant mixing and post production here backing up an extremely affecting work.

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