This will probably be my last chance to post before The Move, so, without any more introduction, on into the neglected-blog-topics roundup:
Jack Mitchell encore performance
As he mentions in his Rhapsodic Tour travelblog, Jack will be giving an encore Toronto performance of his epic poem The Plains of Abraham at the Cameron House on June 29th as part of the Dominon Institute's Dominion Day party. Very retro, name-wise, and yet two days early. Crazy.
If you missed his last performance at Fort York, you should cancel whatever prosaic activity you've got planned and go hear him instead.
Livesquidinabox.com buyout scare
Well, it wasn't really a buyout scare, but hyperbole is a way of life here at Livesquidinabox.com. A few weeks ago, I received an email from Seth Godin, prolific author of best-selling marketing books and insightful blogger. He was very taken, it seems, with the Livesquidinabox logo artwork, and wanted to buy the rights to it for a new project of his own. The LSIAB management couldn't bear to part with our logo, tied as it is to our vision of powering the e-squid generation and leveraging italics. He did, however, take us up on our offer to create some new artwork for him, similar in style, so we look forward to seeing something squiddy over there in the near future. If he ends up putting it online somewhere, I'll point it out.
Finnish shouting choir recollections
Some of you asked for a review of the concert by Mieskuoro Huutajat the other week. They're so unusual that comparisons are very difficult. It was highly entertaining. The performance managed to be just the right length — short enough that it never became tedious but long enough that it was clear they didn't doubt their appeal. Confidence is clearly necessary for this kind of enterprise.
I think they were on for about 45 minutes. The novelty carried them through the first 15 minutes; the deadpan humour of their conductor propped us up through the middle 10, just as we were beginning to glaze over (he'd turn gravely to the audience, after a bout of rythmic shouting, to announce the next piece: "that was the national anthem of Denmark. Next, the national anthem of Belgium," or "now, a set of Finnish lullabyes"); for the rest of the concert, I found myself dipping into a chanting induced trance. I was finally roused when, around 10 seconds into what turned out to be their last piece, patches of the audience (eventually everyone) started to stand when they realized that the current shouting was a version of the Canadian national anthem. A clever way to get a standing ovation.
The other group, Rajaton was excellent; I bought 2 of their CDs, doubling the size of my collection of Finnish-language music. I didn't pick up Huutajat's album, but, much to my delight, they were selling copies of the documentary about the choir (pictured at right). A screening may well be in order (after The Move, of course).
What better way to celebrate a friend's birthday than with a photo that really celebrates his personality. I give you Beltzner with hat and bear, mid-care:
Also recorded that afternoon, Mike and Tyla demonstrate "repositioning of unwilling participant from back to shoulders in five moves":
You'll really want to review the full-sized version [pop-up window].
And the final glorious result:
There are posts on their way about the shouting choir, apartments, some baby pictures (Catherine Fay), and a livesquidinabox.com buyout scare. But, in the meantime, this is worth mentioning.
As you may know, Loblaws is turning Maple Leaf Gardens into one of their Real Canadian Superstores. I've written about this before, and there's some backstory and other ideas for what could have been done with it over at Friends of Maple Leaf Gardens. To be honest, I think a new grocery store for the re-populating downtown area around it isn't the worst thing I've ever heard. Anyway, I've been reading bits and pieces about what they're restoring and what they're changing as they've become available, so I was very curious, on seeing a new sign up on the Gardens
to try out the URL it listed: http://www.superstoremlg.ca.
Have a look. Somebody wasn't doing his job. Just in case it disappears, I've got a copy here.
Anyway, during the intermission, a friend informed me that MIESKUORO HUUTAJAT, Finland's Men's Choir Shouters, were going to be in town as part of Soundstream's Nothern Voices Choral Festival. Now, if May 10, 2004 wasn't one of my lying days, I've been excited about seeing them (or, at least, the documentary) for more than a year. It turns out they're performing tonight, sharing a billing with the apparently very talented (also Finnish) a capella vocal ensemble Rajaton. Off we go!
On the ticketing website, I just pressed the button labelled "Best available seats." This resulted in seats in Row A, Section 1. I wonder if this is calibrated for a performance by twenty shouting men. Wish me luck.
My friend Pete McGillivray, once upon a time a fellow baritone in the Hart House Chorus, is an up and coming opera star. Just last month, he won the 2ème Grand Prix as well as the Jean Chalmers award for Best Canadian Performance at the 2005 Montreal International Musical Competition. In 2003, he won first prize in the vocal category as well as the People's Choice award at the 32nd CBC/Radio-Canada Young Performers Competition. I heard them both on CBC 2 and, simply put, he's become amazing. To quote a bit from Joseph So, writing in La Scena Musicale about the Montreal competition:
"McGillivray has been singularly successful in competitions lately, and his performance tonight clearly demonstrated why. He is without a doubt a major talent, well on his way to a significant career. ... There is a sincerity and directness of communication to his singing that is striking — this is a singer with something to say to his audience. ... I have to say he won hands down this evening and his performance is now the one to beat."
I accidentally missed seeing him as Schaunard in the COC's recent production of La Boheme (I went to a working rehearsal, but they were only working over the Schaunard-light acts 2 and 3), so I'm all the more determined to go to this recital:
Also, just because I promised in my last entry — and promises made in weblogs, as we all know, are sacrosanct — here are some photos of zoo animals. The first in the set is actually from the distillery district and involves no animals, but that's just how it's going to have to be.
See the whole set of zoo photos.