Music

we will rock you

Posted on July 23, 2007. Filed under: Music, Theatre |

I was fortunate enough to receive free tickets to see We Will Rock You last week and I wish I could go back and see it again and again and again.

The plot itself and the music, humour, wit, and political messages within were perfect. The concert-like atmosphere was fun and different. A must-see show all round. It actually reminded me of my fond memories of Queen’s Players while at university — without the drinking on stage and without the cabaret feel, but still. To top it all off, a girl I knew from Queen’s was in it.

The voices were spectacular and it was so fun to see a show where you already know all of the songs (and it’s a great way for musical theatre to reach out to the masses and to get a potentially different audience than those who would typically attend in the seats) and really I can’t say enough good things about it. So go and see it and let me know what you think.

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not the messiah — a must see!

Posted on June 2, 2007. Filed under: Music, The boy(s), Theatre |

Brian and I went to see the world premiere (red carpet and everything) of Not the Messiah tonight at Roy Thompson Hall. Ironically is based on Monty Python’s Life of Brian (which also sheds some light on why a psychic once told my Brian that he was Jesus Christ).

Created by Eric Idle (who was also a soloist/narrator in the show) and John Du Prez with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and its conductor, Peter Oundjian (who happens to be Eric’s cousin — how great is that!?) AND members of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (talk about just about everyone you’d love to see on stage all at once). The performance was fantastic. The script was hilarious, well delivered, and the orchestra and choir were phenomenal.

We had seats that were in the balcony at the side and while we couldn’t see a bit of the front corner of the stage and could only see the soloists’ backs — they were really great seats because we could see the front of the conductor and all of the players and the choristers very close up.

I don’t want to tell you too much as I wouldn’t want to give the show away at all — but I will tell you that this was the first show I’ve seen in years or ever that I actually wanted to leap up for a standing ovation — as did the rest of the crowd. It lasted long enough for the soloists and creators to come back out on the stage for 3 or 4 extra bows. Well-deserved!

Please try to go and check it out — there are 2 more shows on the 2nd and the 4th of June in Toronto. It’s definitely worth the money and is a wonderful way to spend an evening.

Not the Messiah is part of Luminato so check it out too for more events going on in the city — I hadn’t heard about it until this year and am glad that I got to be a part of it.

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sonny rollins at massey hall

Posted on May 6, 2007. Filed under: Family, Music |

When, in my adventures listening to Jazz FM, I discovered that Sonny Rollins was coming to town, I immediately emailed my mom to see if the little bro might want to go. He also plays the tenor sax and is pretty good, but I thought that seeing a true professional play might be inspirational. I was surprised when she replied that she, my dad, and the little guy would all like to come.

So last night, we ventured down to Massey Hall and everyone was so cheery and happy, it was nice. We went to Fran’s and they had some dessert first and then we squished into the far-too-close-together seats and got ready for the show. Man can he play. I mean, of course he can, but it was amazing watching this 76 year old man, who was born in Harlem in 1930, to get up there and just become such a presence on the stage. Kevin was even amazed at his fingers moving along the instrument when he stated “wow, he plays as fast as Billy plays guitar hero”. I’m not sure if that was the inspiration I was going for, but perhaps it will become latent knowledge of some sort. Half way through the first set I realized that a friend from work was only 2 rows ahead of us. So random — out of all those seats and there he is. We moved into slightly better seats at the intermission and could see the entire band from there. The African percussionist was very cool to watch — I’ve told Kevin that I’ll have to see about getting him a bongo. He wants the entire African drum set.

My parents, who don’t like jazz, surprised me by absolutely loving the show. My mom said she could have listened to him play forever.

We haven’t had a family outing in a long, long time, and it was really nice.

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jazz fm night with louis armstrong and ella fitzgerald

Posted on February 14, 2007. Filed under: Music, The boy(s), Theatre |

My favourite radio station, Jazz FM, had a fantastic concert last night at the Old Mill with top musicians coming together to put on a beyond fantastic performance. June Garber was beyond fantastic. I adored her voice, her personality, and her performance and must say that she is now one of my favourite people. Brian and I both bought her CD (yes the same one) for each other for Valentine’s Day.

I couldn’t see much of the stage from where I was sitting, so I missed out on seeing all of the instrumentalists play, but could see Grammy nominee (and wonderful trumpet player) Kevin Clark  as well as the leading lady perfectly.

I knew almost every song that they played, which I always enjoy — plus there were at least three favourites in there including Black Coffee. The evening truly was magical and I was in fully mushy lovey dovey mode by the end of it all.

There are 2 more concerts in this Sound of Jazz concert series for this season. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to make it to the one that is still available for purchase, but I can’t wait to see what is in the line-up for next year. I’m not sure that I would go for dinner again, though it’s nice to have it as an option (and it wasn’t overly expensive, which was surprising, plus they catered to my candida diet of no sugar, dairy or gluten, which was awesome).

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lessons in singing, volume 1

Posted on January 9, 2007. Filed under: Music, The boy(s) |

I never sing in front of Brian.

Or at least I hadn’t until our Grand Canyon road trip.

I have always thought I’ve had pretty good pitch in so far as I can tell when something or someone is off key, off pitch or just plain wrong, and had a sneaking suspicion that I might be able to carry a tune, but didn’t want to try in front of him.

He’s a musician for goodness sake! Trained in voice and choral conducting, so he’s surrounded by ACTUAL singers — a bit intimidating. Not that I’m an overly shy person, but when there’s something he’s an expert at that I’m not I tend to shrink back because I don’t think I’ll be good enough.

Then I started to grow curious.

I wanted to know what my range could possibly be.

Alto?

Soprano?

Hmmm…

I finally asked, and this weekend I had my first somewhat impromptu, somewhat-voice-lesson. And I think that by the time it was over, I was finally starting to gain a bit of confidence.

And, apparently it IS as I had suspected, and I AM on key!

So, maybe I’ll be more confident if we get to do it again — and maybe, one day, I won’t shy away when others are singing around a camp fire or Christmas carols — I’m not diva enough to grab a mic and jump on stage, but it’s kinda cool to learn about about my voice and to potentially sing a bit more openly in the future.

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candide by toronto operetta theatre

Posted on January 7, 2007. Filed under: Music, Theatre |

Brian and I had our anniversary weekend this weekend and it was fantastic. Friday night we went out for dinner and had a really nice time together and last night we ventured out to see a sold-out rendition of Candide that was put on by the Toronto Operetta Theatre.

It was fantastic! I had read Voltaire’s Candide a few years ago (a used copy that I purchased at a Value Village in Vancouver) and I enjoyed it immensely, but not as much as the show — it is just so random, funny and yet philosophical.

The talent was tremendous – the leads were a delight to watch and to listen to. The costumes were also to die for. If it wasn’t leaving after the next sold-out performance, I would tell you to go and see the TOT production, but since you really can’t see it I would recommend seeing any production of Candide.

I simply adored it!

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orpheus choir tonight

Posted on December 19, 2006. Filed under: Music, The boy(s) |

Brian’s choir is performing tonight if you want a last minute Christmassy thing to do. It should be a fantastic concert!

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holiday jam

Posted on December 14, 2006. Filed under: Music, randomness, School, The boy(s) |

Brian got tickets for the Holiday Jam that he went to last year as a spur of the moment plan. We went last night and it was a really good show. Sarah Harmer, who I’ve seen a few times this year (and oh so many times in Kingston when she was based from the area and would just show up for things like appearing in a quartet for The Vagina Monologues). It’s always a great show, though she played drums, which was the first time I had seen that occurance — and it was pretty cool.

Spencer Evans, who used to play at The Grad Club at Queen’s every Thursday (a gig which he said last night ended a few years ago; likely the last year that I could go was his last as well which is kind of nostalgic) was also there. The first time I ever saw him was when I went up to Queen’s with my family to check out the scene. He was singing in a band on the 1000 Islands Cruise. I, of course, didn’t know who he was at this time, but he was very entertaining. Then fourth year came, and with it, The Grad Club. I went every Thursday night to see Spencer play. He did an all request night and it was awesome! My favourite bit was when he played Minnie the Moocher (singing and clarinet) and walked across all of the tables. Those nights were some of my favourites at Queen’s because I could just go there on my own and would either run into people, or just enjoy being there for that time of my life in that moment. It was fantastic.

Some nights my friend Joan would sing with him — and she has a kick-ass voice, so it was always a treat. I have a picture of the two of them somewhere. I chatted with Spencer for a moment, and found out that he still plays at The Toucan on Monday nights. Not that I’ll be in Kingston on a Monday very often, but you should definitely drop by and check him out if you have a chance. He was also on The Escarpment Tour with Sarah.

Sam Roberts played — and it was my first time seeing him. The last song he did was with 7 other male vocalists and it was really cool. I wish I knew what song it was because I’d like to have it for Christmas.

Then out came The Hip. Yet another Kingston connection. My housemate taught one of their kids skating lessons (he lived around the corner from us). I went to highschool (not in Kingston) with Gord Downie’s cousin, so all we heard about was The Hip. Then, once you committ to Queen’s you have no choice but to start listening to the band. And you love it! I’ve now seen them 4 times and each are quite unique circumstances. The first was in second year at the ACC — it was one of my first dates with Cameron.

The second time was in Kingston (where they never play) at a fundraiser on RMC grounds. I remember thinking “only in Canda would you have a big concert in the open on something that is supposed to be secure and military”. The best moment was, after watching the bands play from about 30 feet away, walking back over the Causway into downtown Kingston with tens of thousands of people. It was a neat scene.

The third was with another ex for New Year’s (in Hamilton). I remember being way more excited when I found out that The Weakerthans were opening (who I had only seen one other time, in Vancouver) than to see the main attraction, but The Hip put on a really good show.

Then there was last night. With Brian and his friends. And it was a good set, especially when the band started playing a song in the wrong key then stopped and had to restart.

This post doesn’t make much sense, but I think the main jist of it was that I feel very connected to these artists in particular because of their connection to Kingston and to many big events in my life. They are constant and their CDs have been the soundtrack of many a summer day sitting on my front porch in K-town to break-ups to first dates to just about everything. To see them all play together in one event had a lot of meaning.

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trans siberian orchestra, not so much

Posted on December 1, 2006. Filed under: Music, Theatre |

Brian and I went to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra on Wednesday. We met up first with a friend of his and his girlfriend and then they came too (but sat in a different level). I was all excited because I like the radio rendition they had of Carol of the Bells. The orchestra was good and the Christmas carols they did for the first 10 minutes or so were fun, and then something happened.

The entire rest of the show was terrible.

Maybe I wasn’t prepared for what happened, but there was suddenly a narrator who told a terrible “Christmas” story which I couldn’t follow (and I’m pretty damn good at following plot lines) which centered around an angel, a bar, and a neon sign. The remainder of the show was comprised mostly of solos, which were too loud and had the worst lyrics I have ever heard. The most painful being the song that had a country twang to it, centering around Christmas and that damn neon sign at the bar. It was PAINFUL.

But, they must be doing something right because there were hardcore fans there and the ACC was packed. I just don’t get it.

And the scariest thing of all was that this is likely the most culture a lot of the people there get — and they think it’s good! Yikes!

I will admit that the cool part was, with the orchestra only, the exact timing of the lights, but that eventually wore thin.

We left at what we thought was the end, after the “Christmas” story was done, abandoning Brian’s friends (by accident, we thought they had left) and bolted for the door, apparently missing the rock songs at the end.

I’m all for the bizarre if it’s good.

This was not.

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giller light party

Posted on November 9, 2006. Filed under: Books, Music |

I went to the Giller Light party the other night (this is the non-real Giller event that usually ends up being all industry people, which is quite fun). I had a blast! I love those nights where I go somewhere all by myself and then run into, quite literally, 50 or more people who I know and who I haven’t seen in a long time. It reminds me so much of my days at Queen’s. I couldn’t go 2 steps without running into another group of people and I was completely in my element! Chantal Kreviazuk played three songs after the prize was awarded (one was from her new albumb and I’m going to have to remember what the track was called because I actually really liked it a lot). I was about 5 feet away from her, but she didn’t seem to impressed to be there. Oh well, it was still neat (as always) to see a live performer.

The winner of the prize was Vincent Lam for his book Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures. I haven’t read it — and honestly, I usually don’t read prize books (though many people do). But I admit that I have a little crush on the author after hearing his gracious acceptance speech.

Do you follow book prizes and/or try to read everything on the list before the awards are given out? If so, is there a favourite award list? The Gillers are definitely popular in Canada, but I’m not sure if people elsewhere have heard of them…so I’m just wondering if you have? Or do you wait until the jury decides who the winner is and then just read that book?

I will have to add Bloodletting to my ever-growing list.

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