Anderson, April 5

On April 5th, Koerner Hall and the 21C Music Festival welcomed back Laurie Anderson, a return visit that skillfully wove together pieces spanning the many decades of her career, while offering a glimpse into future possibilities that AI technology offers. The evening began with From the Air, a track from her 1982 album Big Science, with Anderson's evocative voice delivering instructions as an airplane pilot guiding passengers through a crash landing. This piece set a tone: we were in for a ride with wild bumps along the way. Early on, Anderson shared an anecdote about Yoko Ono's response to Donald Trump's election in 2016, a tweet of a long, extended scream. She invited everyone to join her in a ten-second collective scream for whatever issues weighed on our minds: wars, genocides, climate collapse. Another reminder of life’s fragilities and contradictions came with her performance of one of my favourites: O Superman, also from the Big Science album. The piece contrasts being held in a mother’s arms with other types of arms—military and petrochemical arms, performed while multi-shaped hand silhouettes flashed on the screen. 

Read more: David Rokeby links Laurie Anderson at Koerner April 5 with Eve Egoyan at George Weston May 9

Church of the Holy Trinity, site of this year’s Kaffeehaus. Photo by Elana Emer.The Toronto Bach Festival was founded in 2016 by internationally-recognized Bach authority John Abberger (best known to Toronto period music devotees as principal oboist of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra). In the spring of 2019, columnist Matthew Whitfield interviewed Abberger for The WholeNote and wrote this: “For the past three years, the Toronto Bach Festival has presented a three-day intensive series of concerts, recitals, and lecture presentations focusing on Johann Sebastian Bach, his world, and his works. Increasing in size and scale each year, the festival attracts magnificent performers and interpreters.” Substitute “past five non-pandemic years” for “three” and the comment is as accurate today as it was then.

Read more: Toronto Bach Festival: Connecting the Dots

Andrew Burashko. Photo by David Leyes.During a particularly compelling moment in the Art of Time Ensemble’s recent performance, Dance to the Abyss: Music From The Weimar Republic, the ensemble, now in its final season, performed Cab Calloway’s Minnie the Moocher five times in a row. Utilizing a set of detailed instructions from a document titled Nazi Germany’s Dance Band Rules and Regulations, the ensemble uses each rendition to iteratively strip away the lifeblood and very essence of what makes that great 1931 song so paradigmatically part of the jazz of swing-era Harlem.

Read more: Andrew Burashko - The Art of Timing Out
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