Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Harbourfront Centre Delivers A Fresh Take on What is Classical

What is Classical?
Harbourfront Centre is posing this question in the title of its new summer festival, but I think they have already answered their own question. What is Classical? In this FREE festival it's everything from South Asian dance to Beijing Opera to films such as The Nomi Song (about an 80's icon, Kraus Nomi, who incorporated pop music into opera).
I was joined by Kerri Macdonald, Artistic Associate, to discuss the festival in detail and was pleasantly surprised at the scope of the festival and the fact that, as much as I love them, the usual suspects (Beethoven, Bach, Mozart) were not at the forefront of what Harbourfront will be offering the public from July 25th -27th. Often discussions of "classical" do not include music or culture from outside Europe; with this festival Harbourfront Centre shows that it is aware of this bias and is addressing it with a festival that will inform as well as delight. From a marketing perspective, this festival will appeal to the general publice but will also have niche appeal to the South Asian, Chinese and African communities. What's not to love?
Children are not forgotten in this festival as Sistah Lois (a frequent guest and supporter of The More the Merrier) will also be on hand to lead a drum and kazoo making workshop where the children actually get a chance to play the instruments they make. Cotton Robes Theatre is also presenting a children-friendly opera, Orphea and the Golden Harp. For more information check out www.harbourfrontcentre.com or call 416.973.4000

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Mea Culpa: Late Show Posts

You may have noticed that I have fallen behind on my blogging. Sorry about that, but life has been hectic of late. Drop me a quick email if you need to know more about something you heard on my show. I also love snail mail:
donna g, host The More the Merrier
CIUT 89.5 FM, U of T Radio
91 St. George Street, 2nd Floor Office
Toronto, ON M5S 2E8

July 12th Show

The Resilient Spirit
Anne-Marie Woods is one busy woman! For those of you who are regular listeners to this show you will know Anne-Marie as AMANI, the woman behind such pieces as “I Am an Artist” and “I’m a Caribbean Living in Canada”. She is also the face behind Imani Creative Consulting, and Imani Enterprises). We limited ourselves to talking about her performance in the Youth Zone at Afrofest as well as the upcoming fundraiser, “The Resilient Spirit”. The event will present spoken word artists, musicians and actors and raise awareness of Lupus, the disease that took the life of Woods’ sister Louella. Lupus Ontario will have a presence in the form of its president, Julia Kane. Time: 8pm (doors open 7:30pm) Tickets: $25 @ the door. Location: Innis Town Hall 2 Sussex Ave. U of T Campus (NW Corner of St. George and Sussex – South of Bloor and St. George) 416-706-7694

June 28th Show

James King Crew
Does being a size 4 make you any better a singer that a size 6, 8 or even 18? No, but according to Gyles, lead vocalist for the Toronto group, James King, a wardrobe session for the group's debut CD was a lesson in how thin-conscious people in the entertainment industry can be. Gyles, who is a size 6 (sometimes 8), was surprised to find out the she was considered Plus-sized by the video stylist. No wonder Jill Scott did not send photos of herself to recording companies when she was first starting out. What a talent the world would have missed if we chose singers by size! As the lead female vocalist for James King (there is no such person in the band, the group just liked the name), Gyles does an amazing job of moving from song to song on the group’s collection of R&B, Funk and Rock tracks. Since listening to the CD, I have found myself singing “Move on" Got to Move O” and “One Day”. At their July 4th CD release party, a love-fest of friends, family and strangers, the group showed that their sound was not just the product of studio tweaking. Although the sound level on their first set was way too high for the intimate setting of The Trane Studio, the sound for the second set allowed the group (Gyles, Duff, Ian, Vlad, Ran and Lisa Michelle on backing vocals) to really shine. Check them out at myspace.com/jameskingcrew.

Andrew Alexander Hind has had his works shown in several Canadian cities including Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver and now Toronto at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition at Nathan Philip Square. For a photographer still in his twenties, Hind has been extremely lucky to be selling his work and to have galleries seeking him out. Here are a couple of my favourite shots from his Urban Landscape series taken in Guelph 2007:

These photos by Andrew Alexander Hind make me think of playing hockey on the moon. His site is misophotography.blogspot.com

Gender has become illegal in the futuristic society created by Gillian Street with input from the cast of Binary, one of many great independent plays at this year's Toronto Fringe Festival. Freya Ravensbergen is Binary's producer and also one of the actors in the play. We had an interesting discussion about gender as we think of it now, and what that might look like in a post-gender war society:what pronoun do you use when staging a play about a genderless society? How do you the actors move in such a way as to minimize their male/female-ness? What gestures are particularly male and female? Taking with Freya had me thinking about what it means to inhabit the bodies we were born into, the bodies we have been reassigned, or the bodies we choose to exhibit to the world.

June 21st Show

Trio Magnus & the Modern-day Patroness

Three Canadian guys walk into a French bar…I want to start this post with a joke, but I can’t sum up artists and illustrators, Trio Magnus (Steve Wilson, Clayton Hammer and Aaron Leighton), in a one-liner. Perhaps I should have asked Steve Wilson (aka Wilson) to use his bio-writing skills to describe the trio of artists, of which he is one, but since Wilson is not actually a bio-writer (his bio just claims he is) then maybe I wouldn’t get any further that way, either. Wild and crazy? Yes. It’s as if they share one huge refrigerator-sized brain. If you watch classic Star Trek think back to the episode with The Controller (“brain and brain, what is brain?!”). During my show they passed around a small sketch book and while answering questions, they doodled a picture with multi-limbed characters in a phantasmagorical setting. Where does one artist begin and the other end? I can’t tell. Their modern-day patroness, Anne Koyama may be able to tell. She is the publisher (and one-time graphic artist) who saw something in these guys and decided that they should put a book together to showcase their work. She understands their sense of humour and their talent. Koyama wanted to print the book in Canada, but had to print the book in China because doing it here would have been too expensive. Hmmm...maybe there is a show topic there...Click the links to see their respective websites and see if you do, too. If you like it pick up a copy of their book. Oh, and you might find them doodling at Future Bakery at Bloor and Brunswick some afternoon or evening. If you do ask them to autograph it and then join in on the doodling session.

Bomba! The latin jazz group has an amazing CD Entre Sol y Luz that is a true delight to the ears. I had a quick conversationwith leader Mario Allende about his upcoming performance at Harbourfront Centre's "A Rocky Mountain High: The Banff Centre" festival. Allende actually credits The Banff Centre for the collaborations he was able to have with other latin musicians at the centre. As for how living in Edmonton has influenced his work, Allende says that being so far from the latin or jazz scenes of Toronto or Cuba has forced him to really focus on the music the group perfroms--nothing is taken for granted and the isolation allows creativity to flow.

A Sweet Liar: Theatre Francais de Toronto's Le Menteur/The Liar

The tag line is  "Don't believe a word he says" , but you can believe me, Le Menteur/The Liar is a fun way to spend a night at...