2 years ago

Volume 26 Issue 5 - February 2021

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • Recordings
  • Musicians
  • Pianist
  • Composer
  • Quartet
  • Musical
  • Jazz
  • Recording
  • February
So, How Much Ground WOULD a ground hog hog? community arts and the Dominion Foundries end run; the vagaries of the concert hall livestreaming ban; hymns to freedom; postsecondary auditions do the COVID shuffle; and reflections on some of the ways the music somehow keeps on being made - PLUS 81 (count them!) recordings we've been listening to. Also a page 2 ask of you. Available in flipthrough format here and in print February 10.

Music Theatre The Lively

Music Theatre The Lively Art of Stocking the Stream JENNIFER PARR Skylar Campbell with Alexander Skinner and Siphesihle November in Chroma, part of The National Ballet of Canada's "Modern Masterpieces" series. KAROLINA KURAS How does a theatre company stay connected to its audience when no one is allowed to be in the theatre to rehearse or perform, or to take part with the audience? As we have seen, the answer is usually to go online with shows that are live, pre-filmed, or a combination of the two, with the exact recipe varying from company to company and project to project. Nearly a year after the first lockdown began last March, the experiments in creating streaming content continue with a number of exciting new multi-part initiatives from three of our major companies debuting in early 2021. National Ballet of Canada Dance fans who have been missing the National Ballet of Canada’s patented rich mix of full-length story ballets and mixed programs of shorter works that allow the company to experiment with cuttingedge choreography will be happy to tune in to the new Spotlight series on the company’s website. Short films of ballet excerpts have been curated by artistic director Karen Kain to showcase the full range of ballet performed by the company’s talented dancers and the wide variety of choreographers who have contributed to the repertoire. Each film debuts on a set date and remains available for 30 days for viewing online, at no cost, although donations are welcomed. The series begins with Modern Masterpieces, a showcase of three exciting short works from the recent repertoire of leading contemporary choreographers Alexei Ratmansky, Jiří Kylián and Wayne McGregor, introduced by Kain. Immediately following is Power and Passion, which, in contrast, puts a spotlight on three fulllength story ballets: John Cranko’s gloriously romantic Onegin, Christopher Wheeldon’s brilliant adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, and John Neumeier’s non-linear version of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. February 7 will see the digital debut of a full recent ballet: Robert Binet’s The Dreamers Ever Leave You, inspired by the works of Group of Seven painter Lawren Harris. Dreamers was scheduled to be performed at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre this past fall before the pandemic made that impossible. Further films will follow every few weeks highlighting the works of choreographers John Neumeier and George Balanchine, Marius Petipa’s classic The Sleeping Beauty, and a program of new works by Jera Wolfe, Alysa Pires, and Kevin Ormsby commissioned specifically for this project. For more information please visit While the ballet excerpts look wonderful on film there is no additional context supplied within the films themselves other than a short introduction to the series at the beginning of the first episode. And while there is detailed written information on the website about each ballet and choreographer, as an audience member I miss a more direct connection with what I am viewing. I hope that as the series continues the company will consider connecting more directly with audiences, certainly in the added web-based elements, and perhaps even within new filmed episodes as they are created. Toronto Musical Stage Company Toronto’s Musical Stage Company, well-known for its excellent productions of socially relevant musicals, and incubation of new works, is already well on the path of experimenting with creating new ways to connect more directly with its audiences online: sharing with the public the masterclass talks from its Noteworthy composer/librettist program; and offering many different watch party options for its Uncovered concert this past fall. This month, a new program is making its debut: The Musical Theatre Passport, responding to this desire for audience interconnectedness, while feeding our hunger for travel and new musical productions. Three unique virtual theatre outings are offered: to Vancouver, London (England) and New York, each including a curated preshow chat with a member of the musical’s creative team and facilitated post-show discussion and analysis with Musical Stage’s artistic and managing director, Mitchell Marcus. The shows are an exciting mix, as well. Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata 14 | February 2021

First up is Veda Hille and Amiel Gladstone’s acclaimed popular hit, Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata, livestreamed from all around The Cultch venue, with a fresh new perspective on social isolation. Second, is a bold new actor-musician production of Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years ‒ an award-winning, emotionally powerful show about two New Yorkers who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. And third, a performancecapture film of the 2015 Broadway musical Allegiance inspired by actor George Takei’s own experience during the Japanese-American Internment during World War II. The opportunity to share the experience of viewing these shows with others online and to hear from the shows’ creative teams live is exciting. (For more information please see Richard Ouzounian Gershwin’s Magic Key, the first new release in 20 years from the award-winning Classical Kids Series, pays tribute to George Gershwin AVAILABLE NOW on CD, Digital Download and Audiobook. RICHARD LAUTENS • Right now in the pandemic, I think people would like to be uplifted, but they don’t want just fun and games. - Richard Ouzounian I feel a song coming on! Establishing this type of connection between audience and a show’s creative team and company is also my favourite part of the Stratford Festival’s online programming so far. From early last summer, Stratford has been giving us free livestreamed watch parties geared to their filmed Shakespeare productions on YouTube. The parties include new introductory pre-show (and sometimes also post-show) conversations among directors and cast members talking about the play, the approach and the rehearsal process – spontaneous interactions often including in-jokes and never-before-shared stories. As the popularity of these Stratford watch parties has grown, so too has the desire of the watch party attendees to have the Festival do the same thing with their musical productions. Unfortunately this hasn’t been possible, as filming most musicals (other than, say, Gilbert and Sullivan productions) is prohibitively expensive because of the rights involved. Understandable, yes, but on the other hand, fully 60% of the people who go to Stratford in normal times every season go for the musicals! Knowing this, Richard Ouzounian, former Stratford associate director, longtime theatre critic and broadcaster, approached Stratford’s artistic director Antoni Cimolino and executive director Anita Gaffney with an idea – to create a new musical series inspired by the cabaret scene he remembered from New York in the 1970s and 80s. “In those days,” he says, “you could go to a tiny club and see a February 2021 | 15

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