Review by Judith Robinson
Countless obstacles contrive to stop Ma Rainey, the real life mother of soul, played by Alana Bridgewater, from recording her music in Soulpepper’s powerful production of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. In a 1927 studio in Chicago, Ma is beset with car accidents, racist cabbies, bullying police officers, equipment failures, unfaithful lovers, ambitious underlings, impatient bosses and unfair pay. (While Ma got $200 for her session, Al Jolson would have gotten $10,000.) Though Ma’s spirit is strong, she is on the edge, due to the endless barriers keeping her from getting what she deserves. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann
Stewart, Griffith & Bridgewater in’ MA RAINEY’
Review by Danny Gaisin
This paper rarely writes about radio; except maybe to complain ( commercials on Non-commercial stations; or those calling themselves NEW after a dozen years etc.) But in order to escape the Harry/Meghan Show, we listened to a CBC program entitled ‘My Music’ that featured Montreal’s Denis Brott. A stalwart of the Orford String Quartet and with a deserved O.C. after his name, this renowned cellist proved to have a genuine sense of humour and an ability to tell stories that showed his own warts and failings. Obviously, in spite of his accolades, the man still has a sense of humility without egotism or excessive vanity.
Denis Brott & his cello (looks like the entrance to McGill’s music centre)
Review by Danny Kert-Gaisin
According to the Gershwin’s ‘Crazy For You‘, the ‘Great American Folk Song is Rag’. I beg to differ- It’s the Western Theme song. Think of ‘The Big Valley’; “Gunsmoke”; ‘Davey Crockett’; High Noon” or ‘Bonanza’ and I’ll bet that the melodies pop immediately to mind. So, opening a Hamilton Philharmonic concert dedicated to USA’s musical icon Leonard Bernstein with Aaron Copland’s Rodeo is a super choice. The friendship between these two admirers lasted from 1932-until their deaths sixty-seven years later. This writer’s admiration for both was, and is, diverse but palpable. Copland taught at Rochester’s Eastman when cousin Barbara studied there;
Porthouse; New; & Iadeluca stage front with the H.P.O.
Editorial Commentary by Terry & Danny Gaisin
A definite perk of being on the edges of theatre (i.e. a critic) is the opportunity to actually meet some celebs and occasionally become more than just acquaintances. About 10 years ago we met Denise Ferguson performing in playwright Vince Grittani’s ‘Quiet, I’m talking‘. A few years later, we spent some quality time with Loretta Swit (aka Major Hotlips Hoolihan). When Vince wanted to re-stage ‘Quiet’ & Denise was involved elsewhere; we did some typical Yiddish matchmaking and introduced Grittani & Swit! – ‘It’s not always what you know; it’s WHO you know!
Fast forward to 2018.
Terry ‘G’ & Loretta (Major Hot Lips Houlihan)
Review by Danny Gaisin & Bryan Dubroy
The dictionary defines ‘gem’ as something prized. Saturday’s 5 @ 1st‘s season finale nearly met that criterion. Something old; something new and a guest soloist still in her teens. A slight delay before the doors opened enabled a last minute rehearsal tweaking, but the hold was minimal. Telemann’s four short-movement viola concerto is considered the 1st known composition for the instrument. The allegro 2nd was performed by a somewhat nervous and hesitant Sarah Derikx. A few minimal tech slips and some note slurring, but otherwise, handled with aplomb.
Mozart’s 1788 E-flat divertimento was performed as a trio comprised by violinist Yehonatan Berick, accompanied by Jethro Marks and Rachel Mercer.
Berick; Mercer & Marks performing Mozart’s Divertimento
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