Confluence Concerts last show of the season; All the Diamonds, was dedicated to the night sky. It’s not easy to find new things to say about Confluence, unless there’s a new work or sometging on the programme. Every show is different but there are elements in common. The styles of the music vary from pop, to singer-songwriter, to jazz to classical to spoken word and the performance styles are equally varied and not always what one expects for the piece in question. So for instance, Don McLean’s “Starry Night” got the Suba Sankaran/Dylan Bell two part a cappella treatment and the traditional Ladino number “Yo menamori d’un aire” got full on jazz vocals from Patricia ‘Callaghan with instrumentals from Larry Beckwith n violin and Andrew Downing on bass. It was fun, varied and joyous and no two bits of the 23 item line up was quite like anything else.
Confluence Concerts’ show last night at Heliconian Hall was titled A Woman’s Voice. It was, after a fashion, a CD release concert in two halves. The first half featured music by Alice Ping Yee Ho from the album A Woman’s Voice and featuring the same performers; Vania Chan, Katy Clark, Alex Hetherington, Maeve Palmer and Jialiang Zhu. I’ve already reviewed the album and I don’t think last night changed my opinion much so I’ll not do a detailed rundown. What I can say is that last night it was mostly opera excerpts; Lesson of Da Ji, Chinatown, The Imp of the Perverse, and a live concert gave an opportunity for a bit of staging which was definitely an enhancement, especially in The Imp of the Perverse scene. “Café Chit Chat” and “Black” also benefitted from visual interaction between the singers. I like the CD a lot. Getting a chance to see some of the music live was great. Continue reading →
I went to the Toronto release concert for Payadora Tango Ensemble’s Silent Tears: The Last Yiddish Tango last night at Heliconian Hall. Nearly all the music played was on the CD which I described in some detail here. There were a few “extras”. There was a song from Lenka Lichtenberg’s new Album Thieves of Dreams. There was also an upbeat Argentinian tango to finish which I was rather in need of.
To another excellent Confluence Concerts production last night at Heliconian Hall. This one was curated by Confluence’s Young Artistic Associate Ryan Davis; composer, violist and electronic Wunderkind. He was joined by a very talented group of young musicians; Kevin Ahfat (piano), Bora Kim (violin), Daniel Hamin Go (cello) and Jonelle Sills (soprano) plus the vocal talents of Confluence stalwart Suba Sankaran. The programme was built around English and French romantic music plus Ryan’s own compositions influenced by that tradition.
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.
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.
To Heliconian Hall last night for a short concert of songs by Danika Lorèn. It was thoroughly enjoyable. The songs were split up into sets of one or two and sung/accompanied by UoT grad students. The standard of performance was pretty decent but it was very noticeable that when Danika and Stéphane Mayer inserted themselves into the proceedings everything got turned up a couple of notches. As Danika said to me “not a student anymore” while hinting at a significant numerological event.
February always seems to be a busy month and the first half is shaping up that way. Things kick off on the 1st with the Sellars staging of di Lassus’ Lagrime di San Pietro at Koerner. On the 3rd Danika Lorèn is curating a concert at Heliconian for UoT Music. It’s called A Few Figs from Thistles, it’s at 7.30pm and it’s free. We are promised new songs by Danika based on poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Tekahionwake (E. Pauline Johnson) and Lorna Crozier.
Loose Tea Music Theatre’s Carmen #YesAllWomen has been in the works for three years. It went “live” this week with a production at Heliconian Hall. It’s an intriguing show. Dramatically and musically it’s recognisably based on Bizet’s Carmen but only just. In Alaina Viau and Monica Pearce’s version the principal male character is one John Anderson, an Afghanistan vet with PTSD, his rival for Carmen is a rapper, Maximillian aka Hot God, and Michaela is Anderson’s estranged wife.
The latest concert in the Confluence series featured Marion Newman and friends addressing the question “What is Indigenous classical music?” through a carefully curated programme of works; all of which featured words by Indigenous women. We began with Marion singing Barbara Kroall’s Zasakwaa (There is a Heavy Frost) with words in Odawa describing the earth going to sleep for the winter with flute accompaniment by Stephen Tam. It was followed by Rebecca Cuddy singing three of the Five Songs on Poems by Marilyn Dumont by Ian Cusson. These are really fine settings of interesting, pithy, angry texts that have a wicked humour to them. I particularly like Letter to Sir John A. Macdonald which I’ve written about before.