6 years ago

Volume 23 Issue 4 - December 2017 / January 2018

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • December
  • January
  • Arts
  • Theatre
  • Symphony
  • Performing
  • Jazz
  • Musical
  • Orchestra
In this issue: composer Nicole Lizée talks about her love for analogue equipment, and the music that “glitching” evokes; Richard Rose, artistic director at the Tarragon Theatre, gives us insights into their a rock-and-roll Hamlet, now entering production; Toronto prepares for a mini-revival of Schoenberg’s music, with three upcoming shows at New Music Concerts; and the local music theatre community remembers and celebrates the life and work of Mi’kmaq playwright and performer Cathy Elliott . These and other stories, in our double-issue December/January edition of the magazine.


REMEMBERING Celebrating Cathy Elliott Composer, Writer, Director, Performer, Teacher June 5, 1957 to October 15, 2017 I first met Cathy Elliott back in the early summer of 2004 when I stage managed her in an experimental musical production at the Toronto Fringe Festival. The days were long and intense, yet Cathy’s spirit shone through all of the stress with her laughter-infused genuine warmth and caring for everyone in the company. More recently, when I started to adapt and direct Shakespeare plays for the DAREArts Foundation’s summer camps our paths crossed again, as Cathy wore many hats for DA in marketing and publicity as well as her now almost legendary work with the foundation in First Nations communities in Northern Ontario. One memorable summer she came to our rescue when the artist in charge of teaching our campers about set design was called away at the last minute. Cathy was there, ideas and plans ready to implement, energy to burn and to spare, to make everything work out well. In mid-October of this year I heard with delight that she had just completed a very successful first workshop of the new musical Starlight Tours at Sheridan College, and Facebook was full of glowing posts from the participants about the inspiration of working with her. Created by Cathy with Leslie Arden, this musical, like a lot of her most recent work, combined two central themes in her life – her brilliant talent as a musical theatre creator and her desire to honour and share her heritage as an Indigenous artist and proud member of the Mi’kmaq nation. The next day, October 16, I was shocked to hear that she was gone, killed the night before by a car while walking near her home in Alliston, Ontario. This was even more of a shock since her career was just beginning to soar, with her acclaimed performance this year in Corey Payette’s new musical about the residential schools, Children of God, at Urban Ink in Vancouver and at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. There was also the successful workshopping of Starlight Tours, her recent one-woman musical Moving Day, and another new musical very close to her heart, Lonecloud, about to begin its public journey at Native Earth Performing Arts’ Weesageechak Festival this week. This past Sunday, November 19, there was a beautiful celebration of Cathy organized by her partner, Leslie Arden, and Native Earth, at their performance space at Daniel’s Spectrum in Regent Park. It was an amazing evening, not only moving but joyous, full of love and laughter, many stories from her friends and family, and performances from her musicals. It was also a showcase of her work over the years: several songs from The Talking Stick commissioned by the Charlottetown Festival in 2011, the first all-Indigenous musical performed there; a sweet and moving solo from Silas Marner sung by the ageless Glynis Ranney; scenes from Lonecloud featuring Herbie Barnes in the title role of the Mi’kmaq medicine man who performed in Wild West shows; and excerpts from Fireweeds: Women of the Yukon from 1993, the musical she researched while performing as Diamond Tooth Gertie in the Yukon. The songs from this musical were feminist and galvanizing – why isn’t this a more widely known classic of Canadian musical theatre? The evening wrapped up with a magical rendition of “Stories Have Souls” from the in-progress Lonecloud sung by Arden, and then Cathy herself in a recorded version of From the Heart from The Talking Stick, to a final video photo montage (created by Michael Morey). These last two songs can be seen as theme songs for Cathy, combining as they do the use of music to tell stories, the content of those stories being rooted in her Indigenous heritage and her desire to explore and share that heritage with the world – and, even if those stories begin in darkness like Starlight Tours, always looking for messages of love and hope. These goals seem to have really begun when Cathy was the first Indigenous artist invited to join the charitable foundation DAREarts, as they headed up north to Webequie for their first time working with Indigenous youth, using arts, story and song to give confidence and inspire leadership. This was a partnership with Cathy that continued for ten years, only stopped by her passing, and would include her directing a documentary film about the experience, Fill My Hollow Bones, narrated by Graham Greene. Marilyn Field, founder and director of DAREArts, has spoken about how that first trip for Cathy “was the beginning of her embracing and finding her Indigenous self,” that she seemed to find “her voice coming from deep inside herself.” Laura Mackinnon, lead teacher for DAREArts, who worked with Cathy for five years travelling all over the remote areas of the North (even to Tuktoyaktuk in the Arctic), put into words what many are feeling: “She taught me so much about Indigenous culture, about artistic generosity, storytelling and the power of a limitless imagination.” Cathy leaves an immense legacy that we are lucky to have. Sheridan College has established a Cathy Elliott Memorial Scholarship for Indigenous students:; and DAREArts has created the Cathy Elliott Fund to Empower Indigenous Youth – –Jennifer Parr 70 | December 2017 / January 2018

December's Child Jane Archibald MJ BUELL WE ARE ALL MUSIC’S CHILDREN Born in Truro, Nova Scotia, soprano Jane Archibald’s 2017/18 season includes three productions with the Canadian Opera Company, as well as Carmina Burana with the Joven Orquesta Nacional d’Espana in Madrid and Rinaldo with the English Concert. Recent engagements have taken her to major opera houses in Zurich, Paris, Milan, Berlin, London and the Metropolitan Opera. What’s your earliest memory of music? I imagine it must have been hearing singing, as all parents sing to their babies, but I don’t recall a specific moment. My father played the piano daily, and I imagine I heard that even in utero! What did your parents do? My father was a physician (GP). My mother worked for the government before and after we were born, and was a homemaker for 15 years during our childhood. Musicians in your family? My father probably should have been a musician – he was a talented amateur jazz pianist and it gave him great joy to play. My younger brother and sister both played in the school band. My mother doesn’t consider herself musical, but she is very artistic and creative. Your first recollection of yourself making music? Singing to myself! I took piano lessons and group cello lessons for a few years and played trumpet in the school band. I never progressed beyond a beginner level of playing in any of those instruments. My favourite of the three was trumpet! Jane Archibald lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her husband (tenor Kurt Streit), her children and multiple dust-bunnies. Beyond music, some of her other hobbies include reading, bargain hunting, baking, sleeping-in and DIY projects. A first music teacher? My first music teacher was my school music teacher, Mary Shephard. She was intense and I adored her classes. Every spring, when the local music festival took place, all other classes took a decidedly second seat to preparing to compete in the local festival – it was a point of pride to win first place. Early experiences of making music with other people? I started taking solo voice lessons at age 11 and I loved that (obviously!!). But most of my time was actually spent making music in groups, which was very fulfilling. I played in the school band in elementary school and junior high (trumpet) and I sang in every choir around; I was in a nationally recognized girls’ choir called the First Baptist Girls’ Choir which exposed me to lots of choral works, Bach being a particular favourite. I also performed in school musicals in junior high and high school. All that kept me very busy and mostly very happy and engaged. It taught me so many life lessons and prepared me extremely well for my future career. What would you say to parents hoping their young children will grow up to love and make music? Encourage it, however it comes! First off, turn on the radio and sing around the house. Buy tickets to live events instead of – or in addition to – another toy. Then help them find an outlet to make music, especially in a group (choir/orchestra/ band.) It’s such a thrilling experience and truly teaches so many important life skills, in addition to the sheer joy they will feel when they play/sing. If they continue to want to pursue it on a serious level as a soloist, they will let you know. You can use those community contacts you’ve made to help you navigate finding teachers and opportunities. Don’t miss our full-length interview with Jane Archibald at Jane Archibald at Diane’s Clams in Five Islands, Nova Scotia. the gift of music We grow up with an appetite for music when it’s a natural part of childhood. And while a music career is not for everyone, we all need music to enrich our lives. This season please give the gift of music to a young person: maybe tickets for a live performance; music classes; a good recording or a music store gift certificate. But you don’t have to spend money: play music and share the listening, make music and invite participation. Maybe most importantly, get them singing, or singing along – even if you think you cannot. Smile, take a deep breath, and sing together like there’s no tomorrow. And then, probably, there will be one. “My mother would sing to me after each bath (I still love baths); my eldest brother had a blues band and my father attempted to sing in church. It wasn’t amazing. But music was always playing in the house!” — Ambur Braid “There was never a time when I did not hear music. Hearing my parents sing every week in church, it was just a part of our life …” — Peter Mahon “ … playing in a rhythm band in our living room, organized as a neighbourhood project by my mother; singing and dancing with my young sister to the accompaniment of a wind-up Edison phonograph …” — John Beckwith “ … my dad playing some tunes on his violin – he would take out his violin and play from a book with old folk songs like Amazing Grace and Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair.” — Julia Wedman A new contest will appear in our February edition. CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS! Jane Archibald will sing the role of Konstanze in The Abduction from the Seraglio (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) in the Canadian Opera Company’s brand new production (February 7 to 24, 2018). Violence on the high seas, and human trafficking? Death threats? Xenophobia? No, not the news of the day: it’s Mozart. Konstanze and her maid Blonde are kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in Turkey, and the rest of this singspiel’s twists and turns might just be about how much we stand to learn when our cultural assumptions, and the things we think we know about ourselves and others, get shaken or stirred. Directed by Wajdi Mouawad and conducted by Johannes Debus, the cast includes Mauro Peter, Claire de Sévigné, Owen McCausland, Goran Jurić and Peter Lohmeyer. A pair of tickets each has been won by: RAHILA FAZILUDDIN, DORIS GRANT, DEBRA CHANDLER, JOAN MCGORMAN December 2017 / January 2018 | 71

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