Friday, May 26, 2017

TACTICS FOR LIVING IN A CULTURE OF VIOLENCE


When the president of the United States demonstrates that it's okay to shove aside another person, no matter how important that person is or how unimportant he is, the message is clear. Even at a NATO meeting, violence is okay. After all, violence is a marker for saying: I only count, and I get what I want and I’ll do anything to get it. After all, what’s pushing? I’ll tell you: it’s a degree of violence. The noble Prime Minister of Montenegro opted not to push back. He’s a non-violent man. (Watch it on YouTube)
The event shows, it’s okay to push a person aside; if it’s even okay to do that at a prestigious NATO meeting, it surely is okay to do it on the street or sidewalk, especially if you want to get ahead – as Trump showed the world.

This infant ignoramus looks like an adult, but he doesn’t act like one. Nor does he string a sentence together without repeating his phrases.

So now that we’ve established that violence comes in many shapes and degrees, let’s chart out a tactic to protect ourselves.

Walk fast and walk with your elbows sticking out. That way, you can elbow someone first before they do you.

Take long strides and wear a look of grave determination on your face.

Carry your pepper spray where it is visible for all to see.

Test it out if you want to on anyone or try your recently purchased taser gun. If the police can do this, why not us? They serve and protect us, so we should do the same for ourselves, right? They're  supposed to set an example, right?

Terrorism is here, and it also exists on the streets of daily life. Watch the behaviour of people. They are blind to others. They have little sense of space, let alone any verbal curtsy or quietness of speech.

 Violence is the new norm. But do yourself a favour. Never allow yourself to get used to it. If you do, you’ve lost your only true weapon: humanity.


Monday, May 22, 2017

ARION BAROQUE ORCHESTRA PERFORMS EXHUBERANTLY IN ALL-VIVALDI CONCERT







Audience in Ecstasy as Enrico Onofri Jump-starts the Musical Joy
  Bourgie Hall, May 21st, 2017

Arion’s closing concert of Vivaldi’s “L’Estro Armonico” was so astounding, the audience could not contain itself.  Vivaldi’s celebrated work brought on applause after applause after applause. 



We were enthralled to hear various segments of this exhilarating masterpiece – specifically no.1, RV 549, No 12, RV 265, No. 8, 108, RV 522, No. 2 RV 578, and No. 9, RV 230. and No. 11, RV 565. Leading the fast and furious passionate pack of musicians was Italian conductor, Enrico Onofri. No stranger to Arion, this violinist has performed before with the ensemble, and has conducted and played all over the world. It’s a sensational experience when Maestro Onofri hits the stage. 


More amazing is the fact that Maestro Onofri rarely turned his back on the audience throughout the program which featured staggeringly difficult but delicious works. Each one offered a minimum of three movements moving gloriously ahead in rhythmic contrasts with dynamic passages of ornamentation, twists, turns and thrilling melodies of harmonic rightness.

Every allegro demanded bionic energy, titanium-like talent spinning speedily in unenviable tempi braced in impeccable clarity and unbridled emotion. The effect was dazzling. The composer’s speedy expressions of fury took off like a galloping stallion. The agility in finger dexterity was remarkable to witness. To accomplish this music, a great variety of moods both subtle and dramatic must fill the soul of each player and be shared in unison as an orchestra.  Arion achieved this. Spritely flirtations, profound sorrows and sublime passages were masterfully communicated due to Arion’s sterling finesse.

The largos and adagios were profoundly moving, even mournful in despair. Such heartfelt sincerity brought us to tears.

This was an evening of great humility where various members of Arion had their moments with Mr. Onofri. So in sync were Arion’s performers with their virtuoso conductor, we took for granted the timing togetherness of the players.


Especially admired was the wondrous flute playing of Claire Guimond, Arion’s artistic director. The two concertos that she performed brought tears to my eyes. Both the A minor with its complexities and the G minor with its sparser yet pretty melodies were accompanied only by a few strings,  being exposed in such a manner requires a true master to pull it off with aplomb. Ms. Guimond gorgeously evoked the delicacy of her instrument with poignancy and power. Her technical brilliance enables her to give remarkable expression to the instrument where breath and fingers agility must work in unison.

Chloe Meyers paired with Mr. Onofri in two works. Each stood at opposite ends facing one another as they played with the harpsichord in between them, with harpsichordist, Hank Knox binding them closer together.  Like two lovers tenderly bidding one another good-bye, the two violinists’ musical connection was inspiring and rare. The audience loved them.

Not much more can be said about the Vivaldi, Arion and Onofri mix. Other than the encore and the endless applause, a standing ovation and the will to not leave without instantly buying a subscription to Arion’s 2017-2018 season.

Vivaldi makes his appearance again with the season’s opening concert on October 5th, 6th and 8th. Titled, “La Double Vie d’ Antonio Vivaldi”, the composer and Arion await you. For all information, call (514) 355-1825. The website is arionbaroque.com.

Note that Arion has just released its 32nd CD! Titled, “Rebelles Baroques”, this remarkable recording features Telemann and Quantz. Pick it up and be transported into a world of godly baroque beauty.





Saturday, May 20, 2017

RIDING THROUGH THE HOOPS OF RYANAIR



Simple question on live chat with Ryanair Will I get a seat if I do not do a pre-selection – which led to will I get on the plane at all even if I did buy one. Which then led to more chats which led to the fact that Ryan Air does not tell you this: when you purchase on line you will have to pay 50 Euros at the airport if you do not come with your boarding pass in hand. After you pay on line you have to go through the check-in process on line to get that boarding pass. Shouldn’t they tell you this after you pay?  Shouldn’t they say: Okay, you’re set but you MUST check in and here is the link to do so.” (But they don’t and many unsuspecting buyers get caught at the airport having to pay .

I think anyone who is using Ryanair for the first time should go on their live chat, and ask away.

The check in must be tricky because there’s even a YouTube link as to how to do it).

No, folks it was only by asking more and more questions that happenstance r0 hours later after asking a simple question that I found this out. And guess what, it is nto as easy as one would think. In fact, it is like a game show: if you make a typo error you have to start from the beginning, and if you do it less than 4 days before boarding you won’t get on – perhaps. Worse still, the gate at the airport announcing your flight with Ryan Air comes up only about an hour beforehand, so do not be late. In fact, the first 100 passengers lining up get their bags on free, but the others many not. They say, you get what you pay for. In the case of Ryan Air you pay but you don’t get. Admittedly, their tickets are darn cheap, but the stress level of knowing if everything is really going to work out for you in the end is not worth it. I’m still debating if I want to purchase my ticket to Chania form Athens with them. It depends if I feel like gambling that day. Be very very careful. Google Complaints with Ryan Air. Good luck! 

 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

BISTRO ON THE AVENUE





Taste Perfection in a Exquisite Setting

It’s rare to find a restaurant whose dishes are so seductively sublime, it’s able to reach the highest calibre of flavour purity. But Bistro on the Avenue has succeeded in doing this. By refusing to compromise on cuisine authenticity, its modern creations attain palette-pleasing paradise without excess. Simply put, you won’t want to eat anywhere else after you enter this den of delicious dishes. Cuisine class cooked with gourmet goodness. That’s what you’ll discover at Bistro on the Avenue.
Opening December 3rd last year – thanks to owner Encan Obana – this remarkable restaurant quickly overtook 30 others – earning the rank of second best in the upscale area of Westmount, Quebec, where it is located.

                                                   Enjoy the glitter
As soon as you enter, you instantly feel special sitting amidst the royal-like Parisian decor. A stunning crystal chandelier glitters overhead, and on the walls - delicate crystal sconces are reflected in the floor to ceiling mirrors. This is neo-classical beauty basking within soft grey walls. Yet there isn’t a trace of pretension here.



A unique team of chefs produce pleasure on your plate
It all starts with the smiling waiters, who carry the spirit of Bistro’s truly caring staff. Most important, the team of four chefs have something so many restaurant chefs don’t: they are all team palette-players; they work together to bring their bi-monthly rotational menu to the peak of taste perfection.
 
Head chef, Bulgarian-born Nelly Nikola, a recent graduate of Montreal’s École de Métier, who has just returned from exploring Costa Rica’s cuisine in a 3-week stint working with the illustrious chef Randy Siles, is constantly on the look-out for freshness in produce, originality and new ideas. “We consult together, so we learn from one another. For example, Columbian talent, Johnny Miranda is a third generation family chef with over 20 years experience cooking all over the world. Our sommelier is from Afghanistan, and of course our Montreal chef inputs tremendously.”

Nelly stressed how much she values local produce. “Each dish we serve is an example of the team’s philosophy.  But locally, choose the main dish and marry the herbs without overwhelming the basic beauty of taste. Everyone has a different palette, so flexibility while maintaining freshness and taste balance is so important. We never mix lots of ingredients in one dish.”

Simplicity Creates Stunning Surprises
My friend and I recently discovered the place while casually strolling along Greene Avenue. I loved the bistro’s elegant interior. Would the food match such beauty?  I had the bacon, caramelized onion with spinach omelette for breakfast, and to date, I have never tasted such a divine omelette. It was thick, not watery or greasy. The melted Gouda cheese was generously applied, yet this omelette was not bulky or overcooked. It was exceptional. My companion ordered the strawberry, banana crepe swarming in warm chocolate, He is a crepe connoisseur, so when he raved it was indeed the finest to ever enter his mouth, I was impressed. We decided to return the following week to try some of the lunch offerings.

Unsurpassable Taste and Texture
We delved into several dishes from the menu. The result?  Never in my life have I ever had such fine tasting food. Bear in mind, I have been sent to France as a food critic, and I can honestly say, what I tasted there can’t compare to the taste pleasure at Bistro. Maybe, it’s because, here, they do not drown the dishes in sauces, and overcook the main staple, hoping perhaps that somehow presentation will supplant essential true-to-taste that Bistro on the Avenue has awesomely mastered.
I ordered the pasta with braised beef; it was mixed with home-made wide Pappardelle pastaVery nice indeed. I also ordered the brisket whose sweetness enhanced the tenderly grilled generous portion of meat. I totally loved the veal picatta. It was flavoured in lemon juice, with white wine, capers, garlic and butter. This was a favourite for me, but it tied with the amazingly brilliant grilled chicken. So tender, so delectable, so perfectly flavoured and delicately balanced in lemon juice. On to another goodie: the shrimp burger. It was a pretty-looking paddy sporting a touch of coriander. Again, another taste bud winner!


I’m a frank food critic, so when I tried to find something wrong with a dish, I couldn’t. Something more to gush over was the service: on both occasions, it was superbly appealing, extremely patient and attentive.


Oh, Sweet Excellence… to sip and savour
Wines galore and so much more… at your table or at the bar. Bistro on the Avenue has a cute, unobtrusive bar at the entrance. It boasts an amazing collection of alcohol (over 36 kinds of vodka to mention just some of the varieties to imbibe) and a wine selection of over 50 international kinds. I had the 2015 Bourgogne Aligoté – a smooth white that harmonized with my shrimp burger; my companion ordered the interesting 2014 red Italian cuvée Ripasso. We ended the meal, sharing a banana crème brûlé, undercoated in delectable melted chocolate. It was deliciously sinful, but I was in heaven!





Every Monday, Bistro on the Avenue features Ladies’ Night with an awesome assortment of martinis. Tuesday nights are all-you-can-eat tartare, and Wednesday is all-you-can eat mussels.



Bistro on the Avenue’s address is:

1362 Greene Ave, Westmount, QC H3Z 2A5


Email them at: info@bistroontheavenue.com



The website is: bistroontheavenue.com


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The 27th Edition of the St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival!


Montreal's MainLine Theatre is pleased to announce this year’s St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival, The shows run from May 29 to June 18. Take your pick of over 800 performances by more than 500 artists in over 20 intimate venues this June. Celebrate quebecois, national and international artists converging in the Plateau Mont-Royal for a multidisciplinary, French and English festival of theatre, music, dance, visual arts and more!

 UNIQUE FRINGE PRINCIPLES
  • No artistic direction. Artists are chosen by lottery or first-apply, first-accepted.
  • No censorship. Artists are uncensored and have complete freedom to present anything.
  • Accessibility to artists. Anyone can apply to the lottery.
  • Accessibility to audience. Ticket prices are capped at $10 and 100% of that ticket price is returned to the artists you see on stage.
“Straight off the heels of hosting the World FRINGE Congress and becoming a finalist for le Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montreal, we’re feeling a surge of new attention,” says Executive & Artistic Director Amy Blackmore. “For many years, the FRINGE movement was one of Montreal’s most exciting secrets. Now Montrealers are embracing the spirit of the FRINGE, inspiring them to jump on board with our values of diversity, community and artistic freedom.”


Amy Blackmore

Montreal’s biggest bilingual indie arts party is jam-packed with three programs:
  • FRINGE After Dark (May 29-June 18)
  • FRINGE A-Z (May 31-June 18)
  • FRINGE Park (June 8-18)
FRINGE audiences are encouraged to be adventurous, see a show and write their own reviews. Word-of-mouth is king at the festival, as most artists are premiering new works. Follow the conversation using the hashtag #fringebuzz to uncover this year’s mega hits.

New this year: To deepen the connection with community, Montreal Fringe launched the FRINGE MENU with favourite neighbourhood businesses. Lots of restaurants are in on this Fringe binge.

HISTORY
The first FRINGE Festival was the Edinburgh Festival FRINGE, established in 1947 by a group of eight theatre companies prevented from participating in that year’s Edinburgh Festival. This inspired the creation of Canada’s first FRINGE Festival, the Edmonton FRINGE Festival in 1982. A decade later in 1991, the St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival was founded on McGill Campus by Kris Kieren and Nick Morra. Over the years, the festival has grown to become an essential cultural variety pack kicking off Montreal’s famed summer festival season.

July 11th is International Fringe Day throughout the world, and so along with  Quebec's 35% French language shows and 35% of Quebec English shows, the rest of the pie is divided up: 15 Canadian shows and 15% international ones. I can hardly wait to feast on the amazing variety of Fringe shows! Thanks to Queen Bee herself, Amy Blackmore for leading us into the greatest Fringe hive ever. 


Monday, May 8, 2017

BON COP, GOOD COP (Alain Desrochers) **


After the fast moving-events of the first film, Martin Ward (Colin Feore) and David Bouchard (Patrick Huard) have gradually grown apart as their lives and careers have taken them in different directions. Ward is now a senior officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and he is sent in to investigate what is going on with a car theft ring. Both buddies are reunited. 
It would seem Feore is the cop that is more violent than his Québécois counterpart.  Both become embroiled in wacky car chases, outing the bad guys and fending off comments made a by a corrupt FBI head who turns out to have a thing against Muslims. Lots of jibes against French Canadians and stuffy anglos. Lousy plot with confusing situations and far too much violence to balance the laughs it attempted to get. Fore was too sentimental in manner, but Huard was as amusing and with-it as Mel Gibson was in “Lethal Weapon”. Loved the first one, but this one was unconvincing and both appeared to know it. They put French subtitles only when Marti spoke in English and other characters. but God forbid, they should be courteous enough to also put English subtitles for french which was mostly spoken in the film. If they want movie to go international, they had better take the enlightened path and incorporate English subtitles.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

LE FILM DE BAZIN (Directed by Pierre Hébert) **





Lovely in feel, this documentary creates a meditative looks as it presents letters and photographs taken by the filmmaker André Bazin of several old Roman churches in Italy and France. 

 Most were weathered by time or partially destroyed by bombs. Animator Hébert recreates their façades – even placing people walking outside on their grounds. Narrated by Michael Lonsdale, the film project by Basin began in 1958 but it ended that year. Bazin died of leukemia. These points of historical referencing should have had a map on the screen to show the viewer their different locations as each one was examined. As well, the ending of the film was most unclear and jumped topic speaking about Martin Luther King, Hitchcock and the White House. 
 This journey into ecclesiastic monuments, although repetitive in some parts, is most peaceful to the eye.
(Screened at FIFA).

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A QUIET PASSION (Directed by Terence Davies) ****




                                I’m a poet I doth admit; this film for me is a perfect fit.


                                I related to her solitude, critical mind and harsh morals.
                                                                                                                                   Emily Dickinson (Cynthia Nixon) is so close to her family, she rarely treads beyond. She enjoys writing during the wee hours of the morning in the Amherst home. Her rejection of church and society’s repressive ideas about women fuel he verses which are mainly dark and morbid.  The irony is her verses often coincides with the films scenes. Emily was quick to judge others, cast vicious comments like swift-moving darts at those who lacked moral fiber and wit – such as her brother Austen.  Her poetry was inspired by truth and brutal honesty. No soft touch here; no nature worshiping here; no elation here. Just letting verses keep their rhyme much as she would play with words to pass time. And she paid the price for this. She was lonely. But her greatest rejection in life stared at her every day in the mirror: herself. She felt she was unsightly and suffered so much. She felt she was tainted with a mean soul. Even a suitor she would not allow to look upon her face, remaining at the entrance of her door that was ajar at the top of the stairs to address him. In the film death enters her life as she loses her father and mother, and is left alone with her devoted sister Vinnie. 





She becomes incapable of walking beyond the gorgeous gardens of this maintains close ties with her family while becoming a prolific poet whose work becomes recognized after her death in 1886. The sparring dialogue, delightful wit between her friend and herself, her sister’s elegant devotion and her father’s austere manner whose wife suffered form loneliness and melancholy was all addressed in this film. It was a beautiful portrayal of a cloistered woman who locked in her feelings along with her body inside the house. 




Elegiac in feel, the movie is a remarkable reflection of this poet who dies at the age of 53 from  Bright’s disease. but whose poems outlived her. Her genius finally received recognition posthumously.                                                                             



Monday, May 1, 2017

Two incomparable countertenors in stellar concerts



During Montreal’s Highlights Festival, The Theatre of  Early Music presented two special concerts. In the first one titled "The Lark and the Nightingale", Michael Chance and Daniel Taylor sang soprano-like pitches of such immeasurable beauty as they articulated the profoundly moving music and lyrics written by Henry Purcell (1659-1695). Profound in their religious and lovelorn themes, Purcell’s songs sublimely suited these world-class singers whose exquisite voices sonorously evoke a century international audiences are nostalgic for. The program’s setting was apt as well. Within Montreal’s graceful yet understated Chapelle Notre-Dame-De Bonsecours, Taylor with humour and modesty also gave the stage over to renowned musicians whose instruments artfully brought back the Early Baroque period. The lute (Sylvain Bergeron), viola (Pemi Paul), violins (Adrian Butterfield, Christina Zacharias), recorders (Mathias Maute, Sophie Larivière), cello (Amanda Keesmat) and organ (Christopher Jackson) were in perfect unison as they lushly filled this lovely chapel with instrumental concerto titled, "On the Death of Henry Purcell", composed by recorder/flute virtuoso Mathias Maute.

Encores were endless; perfection can produce such adulation for artists who touch our hearts in the purest way. These artists did. 


Daniel Taylor
                                                                      

Michael Chnace
The following evening’s concert titled,” Come Ye Sons of Art” featured the choir and orchestra of The Theatre of Early Music with Daniel Taylor conducting. He also sang as did Michael Chance. They repeated some songs from the previous evening, including, “Strike the Viol”, “Fairest Isle” and a lovely duet whose song’s remarkably beautiful refrain of “Oh no, Oh no” highlighted their notably lush harmonies. Another repeat from the previous concert was Matthias Maute’s “Concerto on the Death of Henry Purcell”. He masterfully performed again with Sophie Larivière. There was absolute clarity and ease despite the alacrity of tempo and notes most prevalent in the two allegro movements.  The concert’s title song featured full orchestra, choir, and soloists that sent rapture up to the imperious vaulted ceiling of Saint Léon de Westmount’s Church – concert’s venerable venue. Tenor, Jacques-Olivier Chartier, and sopranos Hélène Brunet and Jana Miller, along with the rich bass voice of Daniel Lichiti beautifully interpreted the lyric segments whose themes were of love, nature, religion and royal jubilation. In its entirety, the finale’s long vocal and orchestra piece was in fact an ode composed for the birthday of Queen Mary II in 1694, by Henry Purcell, one year before his passing. One must mention the virtuoso playing of British-born Adrian Butterfield, first violinist who received his training at Cambridge University and whose recordings are world renown. Amanda Keesmat on cello was remarkably strong. In fact, all the soloists, including trumpeter Alexis Basque and lute player, Sylvain Bergeron have performed centre stage in prestigious halls in North America and Europe.





The above concerts took place February 25 & 26.

A Wondrous Performance of Magnificat with Matthias Maute and Friends



On Saturday, January 21, a large-sized audience was inspired by a rare concert that sublimely resurrected the utmost beauty inherent in Baroque music. The supremely noble interior of Montreal’s new Bourgie Hall (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts) with it stunning array of stained glass windows was sacredly fitting to the Magnificat program offered by conductor and recorder player extraordinaire Matthias Maute and his Ensemble Caprice.  The choral music sung by the18 artists offered typically reverent praise of God in lyric. The effect was magical mysticism. Bach’s Magnificat and Arvo Pärt shared most of the compositional honours – the former having been born in 1685, the latter still living. Yet the message of each was clearly similar as each verse resounded brilliantly in the Baroque vein; the technical virt
uosity of the vocalists and mid-sized orchestra was noticeably unified. The message was mainly of praise, glory and humility, though solemnity and reference to those who shun God’s omnipotence was evident in Part’s Magnificat. In each of his two choral songs, the choir was godly in tone and phrasing. The voices were immeasurably unified; the harmonies were glorious in colour and mood. The final notes, always lingering into the distance until silence spoke the final beat. Soloists Shannon Mercer (soprano), Philippe Martel (bass) were particularly captivating in Bach’s Magnificat.  Matthias Maute’s lively energy swooped over the musicians, leading them on to perform with gusto the Bourée and Gig in Bach’s Suite III BWV 1068. Although it got off to an uneven start, an exquisite balance of expression and tempo effortlessly overtook the first flaws of looseness in the overture.
The program opened with Antonio Lotti’s Crucifixus à 8, and tears came to my eyes. This choir was outstanding. Superb colouring and a multi-layering of voices in deep minor harmonics was both haunting and eternal.  Finally, in contrast, the robust energy of the entire ensemble showed off its spritely sparkle in Bach’s Magnificat. Everyone left feeling uplifted - that all was right with the world.







Trio Fibonacci “Made in Canada”




 Friday, May 22, 2016, 19 h 30 at the / Vendredi, 22 Mai à 19 h 30 à la Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur 

Members / Membres 
Julie-Anne Derome : violin / violon
Gabriel Prynn: cello / violoncelliste 
Wonny Song: piano / piano



Trio Fibonacci Premiers Great Canadian Compo


It was an evening of unabashed contemporary-style compositions by four daring creators, two of which were commissioned by Trio Fibonacci. This evening’s works fell into two lines of thought regarding contemporary music; it can either be conceptual in image input or completely cerebral in form. The first piece – Elemental was written in 2014 by Jeffrey Ryan. Its four sections – Earth, Water, Air and Fire offered astounding burst of crescendos and dramatic contrasts in use of the instrumental application and expression. To my mind, this fell into the image category. Piano strings were played inside the piano itself; I was hearing and seeing the naissance of the Big Bang, and as it exploded, and then the aftermath -what ensued: the creation of the four vital elements. I loved the rain-drop type lightness of water and its subsequent flow. The music evoked eruptive moments in our planet which from the beginning introduced the sostenuto of the violin and cello on a single note. This piece for me was conceptual in composition, and image visualizations were born via the music we heard.
 The second work by Uriel Vanchestein was commissioned by the Trio and premiered in this concert. Cerebral in approach, the composer told me he had no feeling no sentiment behind the piece. It was really an intricate play of notes in the sonata – rondo form of four basic notes: F, E, D# and C# used in a motif in three parts. The piece was called Création, and compared to the first piece, it was not nearly as interesting for me, despite the grand variety of instrumental application. It would be a marvellous piece put to a ballet of some sort as Stravinsky did in The Rite of Spring.
The third work performed was titled On the wake of the wind for violin, and the composer David Eagle definitely succeeded in conjuring up images of the wind on water and the transformative mutations of turbulence. Inspired by the poem written by Daniel David Moses. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the computer was subtly used to create an echoing sound at the beginning or the tail end of phrases. It was as if the wind was dying out and new gusts came into the air. The electronic aspect of this work was masterfully planned, and the effect was wonderful.
Finally, my favourite work of three continuous parts was composed by the genius, François-Hugues Leclair. Titled, Hymnen an de Nacht (Hymn at Night), this astounding work – commissioned by Trio Fibonacci – was positively inspirational. I could feel night coming on, and then I was led into its mysterious qualities of its magical darkness. The piece opened with the strings inside the piano being brushed. Here the bows of the artists were set down to create the dying down of light as night begins to ascend. The piano was muted several times so the inside strings when ‘brushed” would create their own tonal lines. It was so ethereal. Ever-so quiet slides up and down the string instruments then came into play as the artists returned to their instruments; good thing violinist, Julie-Anne Derome  had taken off her high-heel shoes to avoid any sound as she returned to her violin.
Nighttime held me in its grip. The ending part of the piece which offered moving harmony in ascension was god-like.
Trio Fibonacci pulled off a remarkable feat playing this highly interesting and challenging program. Their timing and virtuoso attack perfectly conveyed the excitement and ever-changing contrasts that marked each work. This composition fittingly marked the finality to the Trio’s programming season
Bravo!

Trio Fibonacci’s 2015-2016 season will take place on October 13th inside Bourgie Hall, Montreal. The program will feature the music of Robert and Clara Schuman, and that of Johannes Brahms. I can hardly wait!
For more information, visit: www.triofibonacci.com

Il Divo Dazzles!




A sensational performance of personality and vocal power
                                                             Presented by Evenko
                                                                     May 28th,2014

 Salle Wilfred-Pelletier in Place des Arts was packed with adoring Il Divo fans and first-timers about to fall under the magic of this charismatic group. People of all ages were there. Such is the timeless appeal these four fabulous singers have – ever since they joined forces to form Il Divo when music producer Simon Cowell first discovered the ‘power of four’.  Fast forward ten years into 33 countries and four world tours during which the dynamic Il Divo established their god-like stature, sweeping audiences off their feet while making classical cross-over-music history. The foursome has sold over 26 million albums and received 160 gold and platinum awards.
Indeed, their confidence, showmanship and connection to the audience was obvious during this May 28th Montreal tour-de-force performance. 
The show’s fitting title, A Musical Affair: The Greatest Songs of Broadway featured popular songs from their sixth and latest album, A Musical Affair.The live 18-member orchestra opened up the show with an instrumental medley of our song favourites from musicals, including Evita, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, West Side Story, Les Misérables and more. And then the spell began: Il Divo’s four dashing figures made their entrance. Smoke slowly swirled from the stage floor, and as their faces came into view, applause thundered and voices roared from the hall’s 2,982 seats.
Their powerful voices blended into rich harmonies no matter the register and tonal challenges within the great variety of song melodies. Whether performing such big numbers as Climb Every Mountain or delivering such heart-wrenching numbers as Some Enchanted Evening, If ever I should love You, and Tonight. These romantic songs showed off the tenderness and the restraint each of these classically trained singers possess. Interestingly, each has his own distinct sound and background. The most opera-sounding voices came from Spanish baritone, Carlos Marín and American tenor, David Miller. Their lush tones melded richly with the pop genre tones of France’s Sébastien Izambard and with former rocker heartthrob, Urs Bühler from Switzerland. Together, the four created a varied vocal fest of sensual expressive brilliance. The volume and range each one displayed was rather mesmerizing, and the arrangements perfect – some parts of song strategically parceled off to the most appropriate voice for that passage in the song. In fact, I would have liked to have heard full length solos from each of them, but each song inevitably brought all four together in most moments of the song and always on the last line. I can’t forget how they ended Somewhere from West Side Story, it fluidly slid out as a piece of vocal silk on a single soft waning note. In contrast was the booming crescendo of such endings in I Did It My Way and I Will Always Love You (Whitney Houston would have been proud).
Glitzy guest diva Lea Salanga, added yet another exotic element. An acclaimed Filipina singer and actress whose multiple awards are as impressive as her lead roles: Kim (Miss Saigon), Jasmine (Disney’s Alladin), and Éponine and Fantine (Les Misérables) – excerpts from the latter two performed during this performance along with  the song Defying Gravity from (Wicked).

She really belongs on that stage; she immediately captivated us with her intensity and beauty. When she sang I dreamed a Dream, you could hear a pin drop; we felt her emotional anguish. That mood completely lightened when the fellows joined her vying for her attention in the song If Ever I Would Leave You (Camelot)                                                 

Indeed, the evening was not without jokes – often made at each others’ expense, such as when Carlos talked about his love and prowess with women; in fact, this boasting would have gone on and on had not one of the guys handed him a small container of those notorious “little blue pills”. That got a big laugh.
Self-deprecating humour about how poorly they spoke French came from Mr. Miller and Mr. Marín, but when the group polished off Céline Dion’s upbeat song, Que Tu M’Aimes Encore, their accents and diction were impeccable. The crowd went crazy cheering, standing on their feet, singing along and clapping the beat.
Projected images on the back wall and effective spotlighting enhanced the show’s presentation. But it was the guys who really stole the stage. Three encores and non-stop clapping continued for about ten minutes after it all ended with the parting song delivered in Italian and English Time to Say Goodbye.



                                        






Into the World of Madness SMCQ CONCERT




            An extraordinary Tribute to Claude Gauvreau in Soirée à L’asile

The tragic poet, Claude Gauvreau, born in 1925, riled against, Catholicism, repression of all kinds and the fact that words never really correctly express the deep feelings of people. In fact, Gauvreau created his own language, “exploréen”. A genius out of synch with his time, a misfit, and a being not born for human banality, he became a great poet who was largely ignored, unfortunately. We saw a clip of him in the third act of this weird but wonderful evening where he is reading his poetry to a small crowd of people at Théâtre Gésu in Montreal.
He committed suicide – some say and others say he fell off his roof. Undoubtedly, he was a man in extreme turmoil. Acerbated beyond repair when his muse/actor, Muriel Guilbault committed suicide –an artist with whom he collaborated in creating the play, “Bien-être”. He was so obsessed with her that when she died, he saw his sanity slip; Mr. Gauvreau ended up in an insane asylum at one point in his life.
The concert I saw featured the heart-wrenching music composed by, another genius, Walter Boudreau – recent winner of Governor General Prize in the Spectacle Arts in the classical music category.
 The piece we heard first performed on piano by Alain Lefèvre was macabre and magnificently dark. When Matthieu Fortin, joined him to recreate the piece with four hands, the breadth and terror in the piece became so evident. No one would ever play the work without being a virtuoso pianist – and then some.  The composition stunningly brought to the ear and eye how insanity can be translated into a musical score.
The opening of the concert had slow-moving zombies wearing white masks onto the stage. An incredibly large improvised instrument with a myriad of strings tightly taught to a middle spoke ushered in sounds of horror and melancholy as actor, François Papineau took the stage ranting as a mad man. While he acted out his madness, André Pappathomas (the gifted leader of these “zombies” – the singers are actually the choir of Mruta Mertsi) played the huge stringed instrument that stood like a huge door. His fingers nimbly traveled al over the strings that looked like a spider web in terms of their placing on the spoke. His fingers became spindly-type spiders traveled all over the “web’. It was amazing to watch and listen to.

In my mind, the evening belonged to Alan Lefèvre and his partner on the other piano, Matthieu Fortin and of course to Mr. Boudreau who sat slightly in front of the two pianos as he conducted the two awesome artists.
It was an evening where geniuses unite. Is it possible that genius is synonymous with madness? In the case of Soirée à L’asile, it certainly was.
What an astounding concert!



Thursday, April 27, 2017

I, DANIEL BLAKE (Directed by Ken Loach) ***** plus


Widower Daniel Blake, (Dave Johns) a 59-year-
old joiner living in Newcastle, has had a heart attack at work. Though his cardiologist has advised him not to return to work, Daniel is deemed fit to do so after a work assessment interview. He is frustrated to learn that his doctor was not contacted about the decision, and applies for an appeal, a process he finds difficult because he is not a computer man. So many attempts are foiled for him.



Daniel befriends a single mother, Katie, (Haley Squires) after she is sanctioned for arriving late for a job centre appointment.


Katie and her children have moved to Newcastle from a homeless hostel in London.  Daniel helps the family by repairing objects, teaching them how to heat rooms without electricity, and crafting wooden toys for the children. Katie is overcome by hunger and breaks down. After she is caught shoplifting, a security guard offers her work as an escort. Daniel surprises her at the brothel, where he begs her to give up the job, but she tearfully insists she has no choice to feed her children.


As a condition for receiving job seekers allowance for work, he must attend a resume workshop, pound the pavements and provide proof of it all. estate. He is offered a job in a scrap yard, but has to turn it down for health reasons. When Daniel's work coach tells him he must work harder to find a job, Daniel spraypaints "I, Daniel Blake, demand my appeal date before I starve" on the building. He earns the support of passersby, including other benefits’ claimants, but is arrested and given a police warning. Daniel sells most of his belongings and becomes withdrawn.
On the day of Daniel's appeal, Katie accompanies him to court. A welfare adviser tells Daniel that his case looks sound.  He will win. The ending is tragic. This amazing well acted film is a cry against the British financial support system for those in need. It kills its applicants slowly but surely.
No sentimentality, just decency and heart from the characters. The acting is exquisite. This is this century's most important film.