Electric Messiah 3

24796256_10209363243951834_297845718812417344_nSoundstreams Electric Messiah 3 opened last night at the Drake Underground.  Some things have changed from last year.  There’s no chorus, the soloists are new, the instrumentation has changed.  There’s now a harpsichord (Christopher Bagan) and an electric organ (Jeff McLeod)  for instance.  Some things are the same.  There’s still extensive use of electric guitar (John Gzowski).  Dancer Lybido and DJ SlowPitchSound are still there, as is Adam Scime as music director and electro-acoustical wizard.  There’s still a mobile phone schtick.  It feels both familiar and quite different.

The four new soloists each bring something of themselves to the piece.  A kilted Jonathan MacArthur (getting ready for Yaksmas perhaps?) sings partly, and very beautifully, in Scots Gaelic.  Adanya Dunn brings a fresh sound and Bulgarian.  Elizabeth Shepherd  brings jazz, French and a really effective “lounge jazz” He was despised accompanying herself on organ.  Justin Welsh adds some Afro-Canadian touches.  Most of the numbers are shared between the singers; moving and singing from different parts of the small space.  This is exemplified by the opening Comfort ye, begun by Jonathan in Gaelic with singer and language and location constantly shifting.  With no chorus, there’s much more space (and it’s easier to see).  The visual and aural textures seem cleaner.  The unconventional combination of instruments and electronics works really well.  There’s enough Handel there but also much else to think about and enjoy.

Continue reading

Advertisements

hymns of heaven and earth

hymnsofheavenandearthhymns of heaven and earth is a Centrediscs CD featuring three works by Halifax based Peter-Anthony Togni.  I have limited experience with Togni.  I thought his Responsio (reviewed for Opera Canada) was inspired but was less impressed with his Isis and Osiris – Gods of Egypt.  Perhaps unsurprisingly I found the new CD most interesting when it leaned towards Togni’s liturgical/spiritual side and less so when he seemed to be teetering on the edge of pastiche.  The title piece; a string quartet in four movements, is lyrical and rooted in the idea of “light”.  It’s essentially tonal with minimalist elements; repeated figures etc, and a distinctly liturgical feel.  I enjoyed it a lot and it gets a really good performance from Ilana Waniuk and Suhashini Arulanandam on violins, Rory McLeod on viola and Dobrochna Zubek on cello.

Continue reading