‘Hammer Baroque’, offers a tasty smorgasbord Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell

A recital entitled “If music be the food of Love” featuring soprano Helene Brunet and lutenist Sylvain Bergeron was presented in the Sunday Hammer Baroque series of concerts.  Most of the music presented was by Henry Purcell (1659-’95), who has been called the greatest English composer until Elgar.  He certainly was a towering musical figure of his time and wrote music both for the Catholic King James II and for the Protestant monarchs William & Mary – no mean feat in that divisive day and age.  Like many great composers he unfortunately died young, at 36, so we must savour what he created.

Hammer Baroque’s guest soloists – Bergeron & Brunet



Handel’s “SAMSON”; not just a concert – an experience Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
Handel composed twenty-nine oratorios but one composition stands so far out from the pack as to almost render the others insignificant. Everyone knows ‘Messiah’, but ‘Esther’ is also a creative work and so is SAMSON! Composed in 1741, it is a respectful and empathetic retelling of the Old Testament’s last ruling judge before the establishment of King David (Judges 13-16). The work is ambitious to stage; difficult to perform; and more than just diversion for the audience – it’s an experience. Statistics: – MASTERWORKS of OAKVILLE has assembled thirty-two musicians; seventy-seven choir members; four soloists and eleven members of St. Andrew’s Children’s Choir chamber team. 

The MASTERWORKS orchestra & choir awaiting maestro Demuynck


“PAINTING CHURCHES”, the play – not the job! Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
About fifteen years ago, I had the opportunity to see Virginia McEwen & Vince Carlin counterpoint each other in D.L. Coburn’s ‘Gin Game’. Their chemistry, professionalism, and acting skills were obvious. These qualities are even more apparent in Tina Howe’s PAINTING CHURCHES. This 1983 Off-Broadway sit-dram, (sic) presented by ‘Act of Faith’ Productions is an intense yet delicately directed effort that made this scribe recall a succinct observation by an insightful relative who observed that ‘Growing old is not for the faint-of-heart‘. Her husband was experiencing what acclaimed poet ‘Gardner Church‘ was experiencing… the onslaught of early dementia.

Saulez making an on-stage point with Carlin & McEwen


“Bedtime Stories”, giggles interspersed with drama Reply

Review by Terry Gaisin
Prolific (52 & counting) Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s “BEDTIME STORIES” is a challenge not only for a director, but for audiences as well, given that format and plot lines are so contrived and web-like in coherency that concentration is highly mandated.
The six vignettes are totally diverse yet intermingled via a radio broadcast and by familial relationships. Personas that we meet prove to be someone mentioned, referred to or a character seen in a previous sketch. Foster does not telegraph these contrivances; thus the needed engrossment in order for the viewer to stay cognizant.



“H.P.O. :-the ‘New World’ from an Eastern European musical view” Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
Ligeti was Romanian; Bartók -Hungarian and Dvořák was born in Bohemia. So, an evening of classical music with a Central and Eastern European flavor. For someone who grew up with the atmosphere of klezmer permeating my Ashkenazi household, last evening’s Hamilton Philharmonic concert brought on a strong sense of déja vu, or should that be ‘déja entendu’.
örgy Ligeti grew up in Transylvania and his interpretations of folk idiom music was politically disdained. The Concert Românesc sat unperformed for two decades until 1971. The HPO, under visiting conductor James Sommerville presented the piece with an almost Oriental flavoured scaling throughout the work’s myriad riffs.

Tao performing Bartok with the HPO


“Little shop of (Hilarious) Horrors”; by Burloak. Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

The ridiculous concept behind the 1960 B-movie and subsequent off-Broadway presentations led to a big-budget film 25 years later directed by Frank Oz of Muppet & Sesame Street fame. A voracious Venus Flytrap; an amateur botanist; a failing flower retailer located in the slums; and a terrific trio of back-up singers provide all the ingredients for an evening of mirthfulness and entertainment…but only if done as professionally as possible. BurlOak Theatre group and director Mike Ranieri have staged something faultless. Attending a final dress rehearsal meant that this scribe was accorded the opportunity to observe the stage manager’s (Greg Stanton) last chance for his ‘technical tweaking’.

The cast of BurlOak’s “Little Shop of Horrors”