Sunday, October 28, 2007

Well, Bust my Buttons!

Ok, I will toot my own horn: Just got wind that yours truly is on an online exhibition by ECVA called Feasts for the Eyes. You can see my and others' contributions on the theme of church feasts at (and click on 'next' at the bottom of that and the following pages) and be sure to read the curator Judith McManis' statement via the link on that page.

Gotta love it

COC Marathon

Had my companion and I known that Don Carlos would be a 4 hour 20 minute ride, we would have supped on straight espresso aforehand. However, the COC--thankfully--offered yet another modern production that was worth the eyelid toothpicks the next day. Conductor Paolo Olmi had very large shoes to fill with our absent Richard Bradshaw, but was warmly received. While performances of this Verdi classic are done, there is a whole season of others to look forward to. To see if there are any non-subscription seats still available (!), go to .

Concert Recommendations

Three beauts coming up next weekend:
On Friday Nov 9 and Saturday Nov 10, the Toronto Consort will present "The Queen" with music of the period (the I, not the II monarch) for voice, lutes, bandora, cittern, gambas, violin and keyboard with actor Karen Woolridge. This, at the Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, 427 Bloor St W, for $14-40. 964-6337 or for more info.
Then on Sunday Nov 11, Thomas Fitches plays a recital at 4:30pm, 'Heroic Music & Songs of Peace' by Franck, Langlais; freewill offering. This is at St. Clement's Church, Briar Hill and Duplex Aves. 483 6664 ex 26 for more info. You have just enough time to beetle over to hear the Aradia Ensemble performing Handel's Israel in Egypt, with artistic director Kevin Mallon. The concert begins at 7:30pm at Blessed Sacrament Church which is just south of Yonge and Lawrence. Email for more details.

Thanks to Paul Jenkins for bringing these events to my attention.
To order the Toronto Consort's cd, pls visit . There is also a review by Rick Phillips there.

" "

Most people never know the God they reject.

~Fr. David Belyea

Absolutely Scary

I'm really hoping I am misunderstanding this, but I think it is a new trend:
The world is truly insane.

It's Raining Prodigals!

I recently mentioned Jason Hildebrand's The Prodigal Trilogy film premiere. There is also an exhibit at the Museum of Biblical Art in New York City on until February 7th called 'The Art of Forgiveness: Images of the Prodigal Son'. This show features Rembrandt, Tissot and others' works on this theme. For more info, pls see if you are headed to the Big Apple. Or, you can enjoy the theme from home by flipping to Luke 15.

Bold Steps

There are highland dance classes, and then there are FUN highland classes. Meghan Bold is a teacher who not only excels at the traditional steps, she choreographs the old and new and makes the class time whip by. This is my daughter's umpteenth year in highland, and this is the first time she has had fun doing it. Meghan also teaches step dancing, and her infectious laugh makes adult beginners feel comfortable right away. Should you know of someone looking for a no-stress dance teacher who knows how to bring out the best in her students, ck out the Bold Steps Dance Studio website for contact info and further details,

Keyboard Versatility

I blogged about friend John Kameel Farah before (see cd release post, Sept 9th). You can see him Friday at the Music Gallery at 8pm; that's at St George-the-Martyr Church, @ Stephanie & John St. $10/15. Two pianists fusing improvisation and electronica, towit: solo piano, harpsichord, organ, computer, synth. Presented by the Music Gallery and CBC Radio 2, John is joined by Hauschka of Dusseldorf.
That's John's art on his cd cover, btw.

Oh, Who Needs Drugs?!?

Oh, lovely Opera Atelier! I saw Monteverdi's The Return of Ulysses last night. It's such luxury. The lilt of the music and the stylized gestures are so seductive. Then there's the top notch Atelier Ballet artists, the likes of Paul Jenkins and Boris Nedicky on harpsichords with the Toronto Consort, the whole shebang. They really do have the perfect venue in the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre. I'm not normally a fan of the soprano voice, but Carla Huhtanen is so lovely; mezzo Stephanie Novacek not only has a gorgeous voice, but is probably the only person who can express sorrow convincingly. [Do I sound like a crazy stalker woman? I just believe in pumping up all good performers, not just those of the opposite sex.] They have a banner year lined up, so get to one of the five remaining performances of Ulysses, and order now for the spring's Idomeneo by Mozart. Here again is their link:

Soundstreams World Premiere

A really exciting premiere is approaching which I can't wait to see and hear. An Unfinished Life is the new work by Brian Cherney 'based on text by extraordinary Dutch author Etty Hillesum. Hillesum, whose wartime diaries have become a classic of 20th century spirituality, died at Auschwitz in 1943.' With a Young Artist Overture @ 7 pm, the concert takes place on Tuesday, November 6, 2007 @ 8 pm, at Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen St. E. It features the British Hilliard Ensemble, the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir conducted by Ivars Taurins, a chamber orchestra and Marilyn Lightstone as narrator. The program will also include Jewish composers of the Renaissance. $37/$29sr/$10st through the St. Lawrence Centre box office 416 366 7723 or online at

Can't Come Up with a Heading Better than the Website:

As a Christian, this site is really the antipathy of my faith, but I confess I laugh my head off at it all the time. Check out Despair.Com and their products, but only if you have a sense of irony: I love it coz I am so not into all the pc butterflies and rainbows garbage out there, and this stuff sticks its tongue out at hypocrisy and bs. Here's an example (applicability???):It makes you not take things so darn seriously.

Jazz Vespers

Next Sunday, November 4th at 4:30pm we are back for more Jazz Vespers at Christ Church Deer Park (1570 Yonge St). The Kevin Turcotte Quartet leads worship with a tribute to Clifford Brown. Come chill with us.

Des Stuffs Très Cool

Pour les francophones ou ceux/celles qui aiment le français:

"Salut Cousin ! "
Mardi 30 octobre à 19h30
95, Sheppard Ave. W, North York.
for more info call 416 922 2014 ex 35
Entrée gratuite
Sous-titrage en anglais

Hero of the Week

Architecture Corner

Did you know about this? If you are a movie fan, it will be your mecca. (Unless you are an opera fan, and then you'll have to divide your loyalties between it and The Four Season Centre for the Performing House, called the Opera House by normal people). Check out the future Light Box, to be home for the TIFF and other fine things cinematic:

St. Clement's Concert

A reminder about a post from last week: Today, Sunday October 28th, we at St. Clement's host a concert by Elizabeth Fraser, a leading young Canadian flautist from Vancouver. She is a performer with the McGill Symphony Orchestra and the Contemporary Music Ensemble Montreal. The program will include her solos as well as works with harp and organ. Like all concerts in our Sundays At Three Series, it will include refreshments and an opportunity to meet the musician afterwards. Tickets are $20, $15 for students and seniors, but subscription to the series offers discounts. For more info call 416 483 6664 ex 26 or see our website,

Movie Reviews: New Symbols

I am instituting symbols for the hits and misses of movies I see. One each this week!

The Phantom of the Opera. I had sort of put off seeing this because I had done it to death around the time I saw the Toronto stage premiere in 1989--although that was cool; I even had chandelier earrings for the occasion (hey it was the 80s). So here we have Gerard Butler (of 2005 Beowulf and Grendel and 2006 300 fame, both good in their own weird ways) playing the tortured phantom of the opera house--they actually did manage to ugly him down. Then we have this chicky who honestly looks like a muppet half the time playing the apparently oscillating innocent waif/object of lust figure. I could go on about the cheating in set design, the continuity issues, the (in my opinion) not-up-to-scratch singing for pete's sake, the synchronization problems and the absolutely schlocky graveyard scene with anachronistic sculpture, etc etc but I won't.... Leonard Maltin gave it 2 1/2 stars, with good reason. The only fun bit is Minnie Driver playing the impossible Carlotta. Skip the 2004 Joel Schumacher and put on the cd if anything.

Okay, the next one rates popcorn but hold the butter. Conversations with God was extremely hard to watch but that's not the problem. I'll get to that later. This 2005 film by Stephen Simon, filmed in Oregon, was about an average Joe who ends up homeless through a series of circumstances beyond his control: there but by the grace of God go I. Watching the pain of his humiliation was terribly difficult, testimony to Canadian Henry Czerny's acting. One cries along with him and rejoices with his tiny victories and steps forward. Then a bad thing happens: the movie gets happy. More specifically, the main character, who is based on real life author Neale Donald Walsch, is suddenly inspired by God/the Holy Spirit? to write bestselling Answers to Life, becomes a millionaire and then when he has an apparent revelation bordering on paranormal access, I got very uncomfortable. It went from real life to puh-lease! So here's my snack bar recommendation: use the first 2/3 of the movie to spark a youth group service project or bible study conversation, then skip the dumbness at the end. Other than that, it's a great story about tenacity, faith and transformation. Bring kleenex.

Creativity Stuff

Michael Bungay Stanier has yet another interesting issue of Outside the Lines available for your perusal: ck out his discussion about Creativity at Michael is the creator of the 8 Irresistible Principles of Fun, highlighted on a hyperlink to the right.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Oooooooo, a racy photo!

Thought that would get your attention. If Tapestry is the coolest opera company in TO, then Opera Atelier is the most sumptuous opera experience on offer. If you have never been to an Opera Atelier production, you are missing out big time. This company specializes in Baroque opera theatre, and provides the instrumental accompaniment, costumes and choreography to match it. (Even non-opera-lovers--if there be such a thing--would love it). It is always an exquisite experience for the senses, even without the hot young cast! But seriously, some of the best young operatic talent around, like Stephanie Novacek and Olivier Laquerre, is directed by some of the most intelligent artistic directors around, i.e. Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Zingg, and the outcome is always fab-o. Add Artists of Atelier Ballet, David Fallis conducting Canada’s finest renaissance ensemble on period instruments, the Toronto Consort, and waddya get? Monteverdi's The Return of Ulysses, that's what. From their site: 'This deeply moving opera recounts the story of the Greek king Ulysses and his return to his homeland after a twenty year absence fighting in the Trojan War. Ulysses’ reunion with his heroic wife, Penelope and his son, Telemachus makes for some of the most poignant moments in operatic history.' If John Terauds likes OA, you know they've got to be impressive (I always trust his musical judgment).
The Return of Ulysses runs October 27, 30, November 1, 2 and 3 at 7:30pm, and October 28 at 3pm. Find out about regular and special ticket prices via (416) 872-5555, in person at the Elgin Theatre Box Office, 189 Yonge St. (Yonge & Queen), or online at
Trust me, this is one art offering you can't go wrong with. Do yourself a favour and go. Next week I will report on my experience. (Gee, do you get the sense it will be a positive review?....)

Sneaking Opera into Kids' Lives

I LOVE my COC, but the coolest opera company going is Tapestry New Opera (they're the cool ones I mentioned in Nuit Blanche). One of their many projects for this year is a collaborative effort with PREVNet and sponsored by TD Canada Trust Music, a touring production in Oct/Nov and April in Toronto schools. Here is info on their fundraiser this Tuesday the 23rd (and please note the opportunity to sponsor a child from the Regent Park School of Music to attend):

Elijah's Kite
Camyar Chai, librettist / James Rolfe, composer
October 23rd Special Performance & Fundraiser
Tapestry's opera for young people about bullying prevention will tour Ontario schools in the fall of 2007 and the spring of 2008. Tapestry's development partner, PREVNet (Promoting Relationships Eliminating Violence Network), is pleased to announce a joint fundraiser in support of the TD Canada Trust Music Elijah's Kite School Tour and of PREVNet's ongoing research. The performance will be followed by a catered reception and will be recorded by the CBC for an upcoming broadcast.
Join us for a special performance of Elijah's Kite featuring children from the Regent Park School of Music on October 23rd at 7pm at the The Glenn Gould Studio, 250 Front St. W., Toronto.
TIX: $95 at
A tax receipt will be provided.

Book Madness

A few days remain of the 32nd Annual Trinity College Book Sale, an insane event if ever there was one. It is open today til 8, Monday 10-8 and Tuesday 10-8. All forms of payment are accepted. Risk the bruises and get some serious bargoons! 6 Hoskin Ave, 978 6750 or

Sundays at 3

Next Sunday, October 28th, we at St. Clement's will host a concert by Elizabeth Fraser, a leading young Canadian flautist from Vancouver. She is a performer with the McGill Symphony Orchestra and the Contemporary Music Ensemble Montreal. The program will include her solos as well as works with harp and organ. Like all concerts in our Sundays At Three Series, it will include refreshments and an opportunity to ‘meet the musician’ afterwards. Tickets are $20, $15 for students and seniors, but subscription to the series offers discounts. For more info call 416 483 6664 ex 26 or see our website,

Get Animated!

This coming Sunday is World Animation Day, and the NFB hq is highlighting animation shorts, free to the public. You can get more info by clicking here: to see what is going on in the Toronto area this week.

" "

"Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."

~Jan Karon

Hero of the Week

As friends will know, I am not a political person in the least. However, I wanted to have a shout-out for someone who has restored my faith in politicians: Lillyann Goldstein, recent runner in the provincial election. This lady impressed my son when she visited his school (while her opponent was condescending to young people), and she went out of her way for me right in the middle of her campaign. A lady of integrity. Just so you know.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Friends Plug Each Other!

To read the small print, right click on 'open link in new window'. On now!

'Prodigal' Delivers Big Time!

We went to the premiere of Jason Hildebrand's film, The Prodigal Trilogy, this week and were blown away! This is one powerful film! So, so cool. Jason has produced a modern re-telling of the story, which has evolved over eight years of his performing it, and which is sure to become a classic. We wish him the best of luck in marketing this piece. It ended with silence, sniffles and a standing ovation in the theatre. I loved it theologically and artistically, and my filmmaking daughter loved the cinematography. I am working on having it shown at my school, and would strongly recommend it for youth, Bible study and film groups. You can get info about obtaining a dvd at In case you missed my last plug before the premiere, ck out the trailer here: Ck out his other doings at his eponymous website.

Hero of the Week

I think I have recommended this website before, but as Nic Askew is back from a move and pseudo-sabbatical/travel, I thought I would give him another shout-out. Nic has a knack (!) for finding what is important in people and putting it on film. Sometimes in unexpected ways. For instance, watch last Monday's film, Beyond the Words. Then sign up for your weekly delivery. It's always food for thought and truly a great way to start your week.

"Subverting Secular Time"!

The Salt of the Earth Christian Seasons art calendar is just that: it maps out the year based on the church year, starting with Advent. A really cool indicator of your Christian orientation. It's only $11.95, and is the work of the University Hill Congregation (United Church) in Vancouver. Call 604 696 1295 or ck it out at Be a rebel: use a different calendar than the rest of society!

Jazz Vespers!

Next Sunday, October 21 4:30pm at Christ Church Deer Park (1570 Yonge St). The Brian O'Kane Quartet leads worship with a tribute to Dizzie Gillespie. This early evening office gets increasingly beautiful as the days shorten and one emerges from the church into less and less sunlight. Come park on a pew for an hour or so.


Saw a quiet but big movie this weekend: Off the Map (2005, Campbell Scott director). This quirky film is about loss, grace and resurrection, and manages to address the holy in life without being hokey. Oh, and for once, a homeschooled child was represented realistically--creative, imaginative and poised--rather than as some social freak or oddball which is usually the way in the media (recall Dharma?). It was also about art and its power in the human psyche. Great performances, artistic integrity, Christian worldview themes--what's not to love? Rated PG for some dumb reason (you know the MTV rant). Highly recommended.

" "

This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world;
I rest me in the thought--
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas,
his hand the wonders wrought.

~Maltbie Davenport Babcock 1858-1901

Discussion on Art

Did you tune into Cross Country Check-Up on CBC radio with Rex today? They were asking people what constituted art to them. There were lots of myopic views shared. I thought it was very interesting that one of the most apt comments about modern art was via an email from a 13-year old. There's hope for the future yet.....

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Hey, Faith Really Can Move Mountains!

Francis Alÿs, Still from When Faith Moves Mountains, 2002

A Belgian based in Mexico City, Francis Alÿs often creates art on religious themes. In 2002, he filmed 500 volunteers digging in single file to literally move a 1600 ft. sand dune over 4 inches from its original location.
Francis Alÿs: Politics of Rehearsal, is a major exhibit of various media, and will be on view at the Hammer Museum in L.A., September 30, 2007 through February 10, 2008.

I want them!

Happy Thanksgiving!

All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above; then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all his love.

~Matthias Claudius (1740-1815), tr. Jane Montgonery Campbell.

UPDATE ***For the Spirit-Filled Young 'uns

All you crazy kids into breaks, DJs, spoken word, techno etc can head down to The Loft, 619a Queen St W just east of Bathurst Saturday night from 8am til 1am! Bring a cash donation if you can. And the next praise and party will be November 17th, FYI.

Every Churchgoer's Dream...

AGO closes today

If you want to get to the Art Gallery of Ontario, this is your last chance for the next year or so. It is closing to complete their transformation, although some programming will be offered in other venues in the meantime.

And my thanks to Aaron in the education department for comping my class when I took them on Friday. They were totally turned on by their experience!

architectural thrills

An exhibit of architectural posters is at the U of T's Eric Arthur Gallery at 230 College St. until December. Graphic Virtuosity explores the printed poster as a crucial tool in disseminating the image and idea of architecture to a wider audience. For more information and for gallery hours, contact the al&d at