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Volume 27 Issue 6 | April 15 - May 27, 2022

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Vol 27 No. 6. Here’s some of it: “Growing up in a house full of riches” – the Kanneh-Masons; “As if the music knows what it is doing” – J.S. Bach; “Better experienced than described” – Women from Space; “Stories set in prehistoric times are notoriously difficult to pull off without invoking nervous laughter” – Orphan Song; “To this day when I look at an audience, there’s some part of me that sees a whole bunch of friendly teddy bears wearing bow-ties” – Boris Brott. …. etc

PODIUM in town after 20

PODIUM in town after 20 years Beyond the impact of two lost years on individual choirs, another fundamental pillar of collective choral strength was undermined by two lost years – the opportunity for individual choristers and whole choirs from all over to gather together, to share and compare, and to celebrate the range and diversity in this most elemental and accessible of the musical arts. Perhaps the hardest hit of these gatherings, in a Canadian context, was PODIUM – a bilingual, conference and festival of choral music that has, in one form or another, been held, uninterruptedly, since 1982 in Kingston; since then, moving across the country from town to town. Well, almost uninterruptedly. The May 2020 PODIUM, scheduled for Montréal for the first time in the event’s history, heartbreak- new page tk ingly had to be cancelled – too early in the pandemic for virtual and hybrid conferencing formats to have taken hold.) Two years on, the welcome news is that not only is PODIUM back, May 19 to 23, but back in Toronto, for the first time in 20 years, with Choirs Ontario as the co-host. Once again, the 40-year-strong gathering will, as the PODIUM website describes it, “bring together choral practitioners, researchers, administrators, students, representatives from the music industry, choristers, composers and other members of the choral community from across the country and beyond for professional development, choral the sharing and tk proliferation of ideas and research in choral music, performance, networking, and to celebrate Canada’s choral communities.” Podium 2022 co-chairs: Mark Ramsay and Elaine Choi “Reimagine, Rebuild, Reconnect” is this year’s conference theme and it’s hard to imagine a more succinct summary of the task at hand in post-pandemic times. But it’s a conference and festival, and it’s the festival aspect of the event where the proof of the pudding will be. The festival invites delegates and local audiences to meet and mingle, with choral concerts across downtown Toronto, featuring choirs and other singing groups from across the country and beyond. Among them will be a number of groups that would have sung at the ill-fated 2020 Montréal event – a small but significant way to acknowledge the broken link in the 40-year Podium chain. The virtual and digital tools the choral community has learned to use during the past two years of isolation will also come into play. Podium 2022 will be a hybrid event, carrying its message of determination far beyond the host city. David Perlman can be reached at SOUNDS OF SPRING Sunday Sunday May May 29, 29, 2022, 2022, 4pm 4pm St. St. Michael Michael & All All Angels Angels Church, Church, 611 611 St.Clair St.Clair Ave. Ave. W. W. MUSIC THEATRE Music shines transformative light on three kinds of thematic darkness JENNIFER PARR Live theatre is back and breaking down the walls of convention in every direction. George F. Walker’s Orphans of the Czar at Crow’s Theatre is an uncannily apt combination of an iconic Canadian voice and the state of Russia just before the revolution, bringing new insights from that time that apply to ours through strong performances, inspired in some cases with a physical theatre/clown style. Over at Tarragon Theatre, Sean Dixon’s new prehistoric fable of family, adoption and the communication between species, Orphan Song, draws on the twin disciplines of magical puppetry and music as language to share important universal truths – and the season is just getting started. One of the things I enjoy most about covering this Music Theatre beat is how much territory is encompassed in that title. From the most classic of classical ballet in the transcendent performances by Harrison James and Heather Ogden as Prince Florimund and Princess Aurora in Nureyev’s version of The Sleeping Beauty for The National Ballet of Canada’s recent revival in March, to traditional Broadway-style musicals such as those now in previews at the Shaw Festival (Damn Yankees) and the Stratford Festival (Chicago) – and from traditional opera to experimental amalgamations of unlikely elements that somehow cohere to make something that unmistakeably fits the category. This spring experimental music theatre is popping up everywhere and in widely varying formats: interestingly, the three very different shows that I look at here, choose to explore very dark themes, using a tool kit in which music is an essential, integral, ingredient. Room At the Princess of Wales Theatre on April 7, Emma Donoghue’s Room, based on her novel of the same name, made its Toronto debut after its Canadian premiere at London’s Grand Theatre earlier this month. As those familiar with the novel and the film based upon it will know, the story of Room is a dark one, though leavened with hope. At first advertised as a musical, it is now being marketed as a “play with songs” which is much more accurate. The story is the same – the long captivity of a young woman – Ma – and her son Jack – in a single room by an abusive captor – and their subsequent escape. The story is hard to bear, but the stagecraft is wonderful, from the whimsical drawings that appear projected on the walls of the room to the 22 22 | | April 15 15 - May - May 27, 27, 2022 2022

May 22 | 2022 | 2:30pm St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts THE MOTHER OF US ALL By Virgil Thomson Italian Mime Suicide: Rose Tuong, Rob Feetham, Adam Paolozza, Nicholas Eddie. use of songs – songs that occur only in those moments when Ma and Jack – through his alter ego Super Jack – are at the utmost limits of their endurance and find release singing directly to the audience about their inner trauma. Director and co-songwriter Cora Bissett writes in her program notes that from her very first reading of the novel she could “hear songs: aching songs of desperation and hope; songs of survival” and immediately “bashed out some sketches.” The songs, even though the lyrics were not completely audible on opening night, add a rich emotional layer to the storytelling. Room continues at the Princess of Wales Theatre until May 8. Italian Mime Suicide Music is even more essential to Italian Mime Suicide coming up at The Theatre Centre on April 21. Inspired by a 2003 newspaper headline, “Italian mime jumps off building claiming no one appreciates his art,” theatre company Bad New Days has married the art of the mime to multimedia projections and an original score that incorporates a small amount of spoken word to explore the “possibility of levity within tragedy.” To anyone familiar with the aesthetic of mime, commedia dell’arte, or circus clowns, that combination of melancholy and humour is iconographic, as is the interweaving of music and movement. What promises to take this now full-length production into new territory is the the Persian-influenced score (originally created by three-piece live-band Zuze (led by Arif Mirabdolbaghi) which will now be re-played live by turntablist SlowPitchSound (Cheldon Paterson) interactively with the cast’s performance. April 21 - May 1 Crypto Crypto, a new multimedia dance work by dancer and choreographer Guillaume Coté is, he says, “the culmination of the many threads (he) has been experimenting with in (his) work going back to Frame by Frame” with the National Ballet of Canada. While he loves “pure dance and has worked in pure dance for 25 years” as a leading principal dancer with the NBC and with companies around the world, Coté has an increasing presence and reputation in the world of multimedia creation as a choreographer and leader of multi-disciplinary teams, who is constantly pushing the boundaries of what this form of dance can be. Frame by Frame with the NBC (2018) was groundbreaking in its use of film projection and animation. Touch, which played at the TO Live space at One Yonge Street last fall, broke new ground with 360-projections cued by the dancers’ movements in the space. This new work, Crypto, goes beyond those experiments by not only including spoken word, but in being based – for the first time for Coté – on a libretto, a new, darkly bizarre fable written by Pulitzer Prize-winning Canadian librettist Royce Vavrek. SANDRICK MATHURIN YOUR SAFETY IS OUR PRIORITY… SEATING IS ONLY AT 50% CAPACITY. TICKETS ON SALE NOW! 416-366-7723 1-800-708-6754 Kate Carver Dion Mazerolle Meghan Lindsay Evan Korbut April 15 - May 27, 2022 | 23

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