Review by Brian Hay
This concert, on stage at Centennial Hall, was already hopping before the guest soloist Denzal Sinclaire took the stage. Conductor David Martin’s arrangement of ‘Three Preludes’ sparkled with life and brought out the best in the musicians of Orchestra London. There was more to come during this afternoon of highlights. Sinclaire’s voice soared on performances of ‘For You, For Me, Forevermore’ and ‘You Must Believe in Spring’. He gave the rhythm section their first real showcase of the day with his performance of ‘I’ve Got the World on a String’. Drummer Rob Inch displayed an acrobatic side that’s not often seen in a concert with a symphony orchestra. Sinclaire lulled the crowd beautifully with ‘I’ve Got a Feeling I’m Falling’. He lifted them quietly with lovely renditions of ‘I Want to Be Happy’ and ‘Too Young’. His performance of ‘Amazing Grace’ was accompanied only by some beautifully restrained playing by Orchestra London’s Principle cellist, Christine Newland. His delightful reading of ‘Love is Here to Stay’ paved the way for the instrumental piece, ‘A Touch of Bacharach’, which the conductor accompanied on the Tuba. The vocalist’s performance of ‘Nature Boy’ reminded the audience that musicians are fans as well. Most of them could be seen smiling while Newland accompanied Sinclaire’s extraordinary singing. There was a moment when Denzal was singing ‘The Look of Love’ when Martin just stopped conducting and stood straight to absorb the music. Why not? The orchestra had the passage that led to the break, well in hand. When they stopped; the rhythm section took over the while pianist Dean Harrison played lines filled with gentle melodic beauty. Karen Pincombe injected some delectable percussion work while bassist Joseph Phillips with percussion accompaniment created a platform that gave the relaxed sounding performance an unmistakable surge of energy. When he came back in, Sinclaire’s sublime vocal work just soared above it all. It was an extraordinary moment and certainly a highlight. More…
Review by Danny Gaisin
This writer isn’t sure what the designation ‘plus’ refers to in the programme’s title; but methinks it may be recognition for the orchestral interludes that are the agenda’s intrinsic offerings. During last evening’s performance at Theatre Aquarius, some of those musical interpretations were as professional as the arias that highlighted the vocal selections. The Opera Hamilton Orchestral interpretation of the Die Fledermaus overture was as faultless a reading as I’ve heard, with dramatically arranged pauses that emphasized the composer’s mood and intent.
The four soloists displayed diverse presentational styles as well as stance and interpretation. This dissimilarity added so much to the enjoyment of hearing arias in a concert format, that the absence of costumes and settings was hardly noticeable. More…
Review by Glenda MacDonald
Sunday’s matinee performance of Steve Solomon’s “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m in Therapy!” starring Tony Award® winner Paul Kreppel was a source of belly-laughs as well as some cringes and angst. Kreppel did an admirable job portraying comedian and dialectician Steve Solomon’s character & material. His comedic timing was impeccable, his talent for mimicking accents was compounded by doing sound effects plus- the stereotypical physical humour was spot-on. This production is Kreppel’s Toronto acting debut following his successful long run playing the same role in New York City. He clearly engaged the audience with his ad-libbing; including doing a poll of who was Italian; Jewish; and who (to laughs but no hands-up) was in therapy. The audience relished his heckling of some late-comers. More…
Review by Danny Gaisin
As a usually fair-minded critic, I leave any biases at the theatre door. A play about making aliyah & kibbutz settlement in Israel certainly has to have a sympathetic ear from someone who experienced all of that as a nineteen-to 21-year old. Yup, this O.F. was once a Kibbutznik in Galilee, and a grunt with the Israeli Haganah on a West Bank military post!
ATPOL is a dramatic metaphor of the political impasse between both sides of the Middle East conflict paralleled as opinions between two American brothers; one who settled in Judaism’s Promised Land, the other who stayed home & became a successful dentist in Washington State. Their reunion recaps certain attitudinal stalemates and writers Joni Browne-Walders and Mel Weiser bring out the mindsets that are somehow endemic between siblings, and mirrored in related religious philosophies. More…
For the 11th time; the seventh as our own publishers, we acknowledge those events of 2011 that – to our minds were paramount. Readers recalling previous year-end analyticals know that our selection process is based on impact- whether amusing, educational or thought-provoking to the audience. The selection process is demanding & occasionally stressful; but it’s always challenging. While Fringe offerings are by definition, under one hour, our coverage of the Toronto shows gave us some efforts that we decided deserved special (albeit special) inclusion Herewith our editorial team’s selections in calendar order… More…
Review by Judith Caldwell
Last night at St. John’s United Church in Oakville we were treated to Messiah sung by a choir of 16 voices and an orchestra of 9 players comprising the Oakville Ensemble. Being used to hearing Messiah sung by large choirs with full orchestras I expected this to be Messiah lite, instead it was Messiah clear. The singers were all professionals who enunciated beautifully and the small size of the choir meant that the story line came through very clearly, yet were capable of producing volume when required.
Director Stephane Potvin wrote of the conflicting emotions he hears in Messiah—despair, hope, sadness, rage, fear, love, and passion. His interpretation explores all these emotions and gives a performance of both darkness and light. The first part, which deals with the birth and ministry of Christ, is fairly light and hopeful. This is followed by the much darker second part – the derision, flogging and crucifixion. We hear anger and fury contrasted with a light reading of ‘All We Like Sheep’ then back to darkness with a stunning rendition of ‘He Trusted in God’. The second section ended with a rousing ‘Hallelujah’ chorus which the audience loved.
The final section is the resurrection of Christ and begins with the hauntingly beautiful ‘I Know My Redeemer Liveth’; includes ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound’; and ends with the joyous ‘Worthy is The Lamb’ and the wonderfully grandiose ‘Amen’.
The soloists – soprano Catherine D’Addario; Erika Bailey- alto; the tenor voice of Michael P.Taylor,; and Bob Knight- bass; all have lovely, well-trained voices that are certainly suited to baroque music. Instead of using a piano as so often happens, the orchestra utilized Lynne Honsberger on Continuo which gave a genuine baroque sound to the score. This was a very enjoyable evening of very clear Messiah.
Oakville Ensemble’s next concert is geared to St. Valentine’s Day and can be heard at St. John’s United Church, 262 Randall Street, on Saturday February 11tth, 2012 at 7.30pm and on Sunday February 12th, 2012 at 3pm at Mary Mother of God, 2745 North Ridge Trail. Both venues are located in Oakville.