LibLab reading

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Tapestry LibLab; a structured creative collaboration between composers and librettists.  Yesterday we got a preview of the results.  Twelve works created in this year’s programme were given a run through by the previously announced performers plus singer/dance Eva Tavares.  The works will form the basis of this year’s Tapestry Briefs show in November when they will be fully staged.

As all the pieces are works in progress, a proper review would be inappropriate but I would like to make some general observations.  First off, it’s amazing what can be done with a few days creative work and an hour or two’s rehearsal.  The standard of performance was very high and surprisingly polished.  Second, the range of work was interesting ranging from pieces that one could see as scenes in an opera; at least a one acter, to pieces that were enjoyable and, in at least one case, very funny indeed, but which one would struggle to imagine as part of a longer work.  Third, while I wouldn’t say the pieces conformed to any particular style it was noticeable that almost all the pieces were harmonically accessible and had recognisable time signatures.  Nobody is writing like Berio or Boulez (or even Reimann or Birtwistle) anymore.

The second point above had me thinking a bit.  The traditional art song recital appears to be dying a slow death in Toronto.  The number of people willing to shell out $50 or $60 to watch a dude in tails stand by a piano and sing is clearly declining and the people who do go are getting older.  What we have seen though is sell outs for works that combine song and movement.  I’m thinking of things like the Kurtág and Janáček show that Against the Grain did last year.  There have been similar things in the free concert series at the Four Seasons centre.  Maybe there’s a future in stripped down shows that are little bit more than a recital combining several short works; contemporary and older?

Come and see Tapestry Briefs in November.  It’s going to be good.

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