The Latvian Radio Choir tend to show up once a year as part of Soundstreams’ concert series. Last night was the first time I have managed to go. It was at Metropolitan United Church and I was up in the balcony. It’s an awesome view and the sound is great but it’s hot! I guess that’s where they put the sinners.
Soundstreams’ Electric Messiah, now billed as “annual”, opened last night at a packed Drake Underground. It’s substantially reworked from last year’s show though structurally it’s similar in that the same arias are sung by the same singers in the same order with similar linking sections. The differences though are notable. The space is configured differently with more conventional seating which makes it feel more like a concert than a happening, though there’s still lots of movement and action happening in different parts of the space. The electro-acoustic orchestra is gone; replaced by keyboards. John Gzowski and his electric guitar are up on stage rather than tucked away in an alcove. The linking choral sections have been remixed and the influence of Adam Scime on that is clear. It’s still a very interesting show and well worth seeing but I enjoyed it rather less than last year.
This year’s Soundstreams concert season was supposed to feature a performance by the Nelson Mandela University Choir. The current student and other social unrest in South Africa led to that tour being cancelled and left Soundstreams with the problem of organising a replacement line up in just four and a half weeks. I think they should be congratulated for sticking with the South African theme and producing the line up we saw last night subtitled A Tribute to Nelson Mandela’s Dream.
Soundstreams’ high concept show Electric Messiah opened at the Drake Underground last night. So what is Electric Messiah? It’s a potent mix of Handel/Jennens, four exceptional singers from varied backgrounds, electronics, turntable artists and electric guitars. It’s “staged” in the round in a dive bar with the audience and artists mixed up all over the place. Curator Kyle Brenders, dramaturg Ashlie Corcoran and lighting designer Patrick Lavender have created something that’s weird and dynamic and exciting and, just occasionally, a bit self indulgent and I really enjoyed it. Probably my biggest complaint would be that it’s too short at around an hour.