Saturday, March 17, 2012

March (Music) Madness (and Theatre, Too!)


The past six weeks have been a whirlwind of performance and work. The two performances of The Sealed Angel at the beginning of February were something of a transcendent musical and performance experience for me - the passion and professionalism demanded were both exhausting and invigorating, and our audiences absolutely loved it. The visual impact of the dancers, along with the movement of the choir, created a particularly entertaining and unusual soundscape (or should I say Soundstream?) For a taste of what we were doing, here is a video, taken by John Terauds (of the Toronto Star), of one minute of a rehearsal at the Winchester Street Theatre about a week before the show. I wish the audio did it justice, but it's still nice to see.

Amadeus Choir also had a very successful fundraising day, with our two Celtic Celebration concerts. Our special guest band, Rant Maggie Rant, was an absolute treat to listen to, and I remain amazed by the versatile musical talents of our ensemble. In any case, we had to add seats to both the afternoon and evening performances, which was a very good thing.

Pavlov's Dogs Handbell Ensemble has also had a wonderful month- our busiest ever, I believe. I think it's really helped to help us bond as a group, not to mention some great exposure (not that kind of exposure, though we do play burlesque shows). We started off the month with "We Put the Spring in Springfield," a Simpsons-themed burlesque show organized by Underground Peepshow. The show was sold out, and people seemed thrilled to hear us play the Simpsons theme and a medley of Stonecutters, Talkin' Softball, Who Needs The Kwik-E-Mart, and Mr. Plow on handbells, as well as some Mancini classics (even if they sang along off-beat). Here are some clips of us playing, if you're so inclined (taken by Jeremy Wilson):


Stonecutters theme

Mar 11, 2012 | Source:

Simpsons Theme Opening:

The Simpsons theme on handbells

Mar 11, 2012 | Source:

Simpsons Theme Closing:

Dec 31, 1969 | Source:

On Thursday night, we had what was probably our most exciting gig yet: we opened for "the best band that never was," (or at least the best 1960s English pop band that is really a 2012 Canadian band that ever was), The Cocksure Lads!

The Lads are the side project of former Moxy Fruvous members Mike Ford and Murray Foster (also the current bassist from Great Big Sea); being a major fan of both groups, this performance opportunity was basically a dream come true. We got to play a full set at the Rivoli before the Lads took the stage, and had a great time. The Lads themselves manage to strike the right and very difficult balance between humour and musical enjoyment.

As you can see, we tried to fit the 60's theme.

We have two more performances this week: tonight, we are the surprise midnight guests at what is described as a "psychedelic circus club party" (on St. Patrick's Day; should be interesting) and, next Friday, we are celebrating our fearless leader's birthday; "Winter Wrap Up" is at the Black Swan on March 23rd.

In theatre news, I've had the opportunity to read/work on three fascinating scripts recently; they're all good, though they couldn't be more different. The first a psychological drama playing with the conventions of theatre and audience, from Mute playwright Wren Handman; the second is also by a dear friend and collaborator; a space-based philosophical exercise by Ephraim Ellis that has been submitted to SummerWorks. The third is a show I saw and enjoyed in last summer's Toronto Fringe Festival, Pitch Blond. The show, by the talented Laura Harris, is a one-woman show based on the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) trials of Judy Holliday. Holliday was a very good friend and collaborator to Adolph Green, and his wife, Phyllis Newman, who, of course, I worked for in an archival capacity for a year. Doing so, I discovered all sorts of interesting photos and correspondence from Holliday and her family. We just had our first meeting after my first readthrough and notes, and I'm so thrilled to immerse myself in this world again. I think it's going to be both a fun and productive collaboration.

So it's been a busy time...I'm calling it March Music Madness. Luckily, unlike what's been happening on the courts, my performance brackets are pretty well intact.


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