Shaken not Stirred – The Music of “Bond” 3

Review by Judith Caldwell
The penultimate concert in the 2017 Brott Music Festival was an evening of music inspired by the James Bond movie franchise. It featured the National Academy Orchestra conducted by the NAO’s artistic director Boris Brott, and Roï Azoulay, this years’ apprentice conductor, plus the Jeans ‘n Classics quartet of John Regan keyboard, Jeff Christmas (drums), bassist Mitch Tyler and Peter Brennan on guitar, whose arrangements of the Bond tunes were spectacularly good. Also on the bill were Rique Franks whose rich contralto perfectly suited the music, and Neil Donnell who has a chameleon voice which he used to mimic Marvin Gaye, Louis Armstrong and Duran Duran among others.

Cartoon by Otto Binder (BIZARRO)

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Brott’s Prom – Positively Fun-tastic! Reply

Review by Judith Robinson
“The Last Night of the Proms” was a delightful, rollicking, fun loving evening of theatre and music. Tenor, David Curry, acted his way through his numbers with such intimacy and charisma, that it was easy to forget the National Academy Orchestra was behind him, at Hamilton’s FirstOntario Concert Hall Saturday night. The charming, blond-haired, Oakville native has received as many accolades for his acting in roles such as Tony in ‘West Side Story’ in Paris, and Marco in ‘The Gondoliers’ for the English National Opera, as he has for his fine tenor voice.

The ‘Grand-Daddy’ of all “PROMS” @ London’s Royal Albert Hall. 2005

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“PopOpera”; a panacea for us aficionados Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

An evening of operatic aria selections, especially differently chosen from the ‘same old, same old’ fare of the most familiar, is a palliative for those of us unable to zip down to the Glimmerglass festival (this year – Porgy & Bess plus Oklahoma) and that other Cooperstown icon. Boris Brott’s N.A.O. enlisted the talents of ten professional vocalists to interpret sixteen compositions ranging from eighteenth century to 1966. Some choices were well-known and proverbial but most were new to us scribblers … a nice personal anniversary (54th) gift.

All the soloists (& audience) singing “Libiamo”

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N.A.O. venerates (terrific) Tchaikovsky Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell
The second concert in the Brott Music Festival was called Terrific Tchaikovsky and terrific it was. Two very different Tchaikovsky compositions were on the program plus a Youth Overture by Airat Ichmouratov, a Russian/Canadian contemporary composer.
The evening began with Tchaikovsky’s mighty Symphony No. 6 in B-minor, the Pathetique. a work in four movements of extreme inner struggle. It begins with a mournful Adagio that instead of becoming livelier as the pace quickens, seems nervous and anxious. Struggle is conveyed by extremes of ranges between soft and loud; the second movement waltz is in 3/5 time and so is hauntingly off kilter all the time.

Law; Lewis; Hiemstra & Green…members of the N.A.O.; post-concert

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“N.A.O. – 30 years young” 1

Review by Danny Gaisin

The opening concert of season 30 was devoted to Mozart and two of his most celebrated compositions; the brief (20 minute) Haffner Symphony and his last opus – Requiem in D minor. After an introductory piece by S.I. Glick entitled ‘Psalm’; the NAO under apprentice conductor Roï Azoulay presented a cohesive opening two movements of the ‘Haffner. The National Academy Orchestra’s three decades of recruiting; selecting; training and presenting the top Canadian musical graduates as a performing ensemble is an extraordinary accomplishment and has been a positive opportunity for over a thousand young men and women.

Laengert; Bogdanowicz; Brott; Ramirez & Lichti performing ‘Requiem’

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“Stravinsky; St. John & the H.P.O.” Reply

Review by Danny & Terry Gaisin
Objectivity is a basic precept of criticism or assessment. So, to be impartial when writing about a performer who is also a longtime friend; our evaluation of Lara St. John is a collaboration. Conclusion- she still entrances and mesmerizes her audience. Executing the demanding Korngold violin concerto in D; St. John demonstrated that in addition to a faultless technical talent, she has lost none of the mischievous mannerisms that so endeared her to us pre- NYC and the myriad orchestral solo opportunities she has enjoyed. Like Shauna Roulston, she permits moments of elated animation insert itself into her posture and interpretation.

St. John performing the Korngold violin concerto with the H.P.O.

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