Saturday night’s show in the West End Micro Music Festival continued the theme of combining chamber music with other influences. This time it was rock; specifically NYC 80’s rock. It was really varied, stimulating and, at times, bordering on sensory overload. Brad Cherwin riffed with pre-recorded clarinet and electronics on a version of Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint to open the show. Then came what might have been my favourite bit. It was a version of Julia Wolfe’s East Broadway for electronics and toy piano. Watching the usually soft spoken, even demure, Nahre Sol go completely manic and beat the crap out of a toy piano was a blast.
There was more Julia Wolfe (Blue Dress for drums and cello?) and a David Lang arrangement of Lou Reed’s Heroin with Cormac Culkeen on vocals and a fairly large ensemble and more vocals with a version of Laurie Anderson’s Let X=X and It Tango. The final number was a killer version of David Lang’s Killer with Hee-Soo Yoon playing mad distorted violin while kicking a bass drum.
So, again, WEMMF hit the spot with an intriguing and (over) stimulating blend of rock, classical technique, minimalism and, frankly, sheer lunacy of a kind surely not heard before at Redeemer Lutheran! Great fun much enhanced by Billy Wong’s evocative lighting and Dave Grenon’s sound work.
The final concert is next Friday, also at Redeemer Lutheran, QUARTET PLUS PAPER V2 will feature, inter alia, a new multimedia work for pianist, clarinetist/visual artist, video projection and electronics composed and performed by Nahre Sol and Brad Cherwin.
Toronto contemporary music outfit Soundstreams have announced their 2015/16 season. Highlights from an operaramblings perdpective include a chance to hear Adrianne Pieczonka sing music ranging from George Crumb to The Beatles. That one’s at Koerner Hall on September 29th and will also feature Kristina Szabó. In November there’s the previously announced run of Boesman’s Julie at the Bluma Appel. I’m eagerly awaiting casting information on that. There’s also a concert dedicated to James MacMillan, including his Seven Last Words from the Cross. That one is at Trinity St. Paul’s on March 8th next year. There’s a 80th birthday bash for Steve Reich at Massey Hall on April 14th next year and for real masochists there’s a concert featuring multiple types of squeezebox music at Trinity St.Paul’s on February 10th. Full details and ticket information can be found here.
That headline is pretty typical of the English translation of the libretto of Schoenberg’s Aron und Moses. “Holy is genital power” is another gem. The whole thing is basically an extended debate about the nature of God with Moses arguing for an extreme degree of abstraction and Aron championing a more populist version that “the people” can relate to. There are ideas in there that could probably be staged quite spectacularly, such as the Golden Calf scenes and a spot of human sacrifice. There’s even a fairly decent opportunity for an orgy. In their 1975 film Daniele Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub reject any opportunity for visual excess or even representation almost as rigidly as Moses himself.
Last night we headed out to that part of the formerly industrial west end much beloved by tiny arts organizations to see a thoroughly eclectic series of performances by Against the Grain Theatre. This is the company that previously brought us a genuinely Bohemian La Bohème at the Tranzac club. Last night’s show cunningly built on that success by using the undoubted crowd pleaser, Lindsay Boa-Sutherland, to headline a performance of Weill’s Die sieben Todsüngen. Since the orchestra was replaced by two superbly virtuosic pianists in Daniel Pesca and AtG music director Christopher Mokrzewski it made sense to include two fiendish pieces for two pianos; Steve Reich’s Piano Phase and John Adams’ Hallelujah Junction. The program was balanced up for “virtue” with Britten’s Abraham and Isaac. So, a thoroughly eclectic but oddly coherent line up.