The Book of My Shames

headshot-isaiah-bell-2017-websizedThis is what would happen if the opera singing love child of Noel Coward and Sylvia Plath was encouraged by his therapist to perform on “Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids”. – Isaiah Bell

Isaiah Bell’s The Book of My Shames has something in common with Teiya Kasahara’s Queer of the Night.  Both are one queer shows dealing very directly and honestly with aspects of being queer and both are very impressive singers.  There perhaps the comparison pretty much ends for while Teiya’s show was about the tribulations of being gay in the opera world Isaiah’s piece is about growing up gay in a seriously dysfunctional environment.

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Songbook IX

Jacquenline-Woodley-600x218The ninth edition of Tapestry’s celebration of their back catalogue happened last night in the Ernest Balmer Studio.  This year’s mentors are Jacqueline Woodley and Andrea Grant.  The emerging artists are Elisabeth Boudreault, Lindsay Connolly, Brianna DeSantis, Ryan Downey, Gabrielle French, Rebecca Gray, Lauren Halász, Rachel Krehm, Brittany Rae, Anne-Marie Ramos and Jennifer Routier with pianists Qiao Yi Miao Mu and Ryoko Hou.

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The Next Wave workshop

Last night, at the Ernest Balmer Studio, we got to see somewhat more developed versions of the works presented earlier in the week in the RBA but this time in staged format.  I’m not sure my opinions changed much as a result though I think I’m even more convinced that here we have five pieces of substance that deserve to be seen in fully realised form.  So, some brief thoughts on each.  Note that, except for Book of Faces we only saw extracts from pieces that are still WIP. Continue reading

Sovereignty Voiced

Medicine-Bear-With-Spiritual-Helpers-1-745x1024Last night’s Confluence concert in the intimate space of the Ernest Balmer Studio; Sovereignty Voiced, was a fascinating mix of material celebrating various aspects of Indigenous culture and its interplay with Western arts.  Marion Newman and Ian Cusson performed excerpts from two of his song cycles; Five Orchestral Songs on Poems of Marilyn Dumont and A Breakfast for Barbarians.  Marion also gave us a few of her own songs  including the wicked Appropriation Aria and the Kinanu, which she wrote for her sister; given here with Marion on hand drum, Larry Beckwith on violin and Ian at the piano.

 

But this was much more than a concert of Indigenous themed art song, enjoyable though that part was.  There was also singer and drummer Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone with some of her own songs and actor Cole Alvis with stories about discovering his Métis roots.  Poet Armand Garnet Ruffo read from his poems inspired by the paintings of Norval Morrisseau.

If the rest of the Confluence series is this thought provoking it will be a notable addition to the Toronto music and arts scene.

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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Tap:Ex Forbidden

Tapestry’s new experimental show opened last night at the Ernest Balmer Studio.  It’s a “mash up” of Persian classical music and hip hop around the theme of The Child and The Stranger, who turns out to be Lucifer.  Lucifer seeks to show the child that authority and rules serve only to allow the powerful to abuse and punish others.  This is explicated in six short scenes using the various musical resources and styles available.

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