Posts Tagged ‘performance’

Echo/Mariposa Fundraiser March 26, 2011

Monday, February 14th, 2011

David & Goliath Earth Hour Arts Celebration Fundraiser
an Evening of Music, Song and Story
to support the Echo Women’s Choir and Mariposa In The Schools

Saturday,March 26, 2011 7 to 10 p.m.

Church of Holy Trinity, Toronto

Such an exciting line-up:Ken Whiteley, David Anderson, Michael St George, Njacko Backo, Marylyn Peringer, Chris Rawlings, and the Cuban Percussion Ensemble. And of course, Echo Women’s Choir (the wonderful choir that I serve as a guest conductor this season).

Come join us! Silent Auction plus  Nibbles and Cash bar.

Tickets $25 Sponsors $100

Proceeds support 2 great organizations: Echo and Mariposa in the Schools

For more info: www.echowomenschoir.ca

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Performance Echo Women’s Choir: Dec 12

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Come to Holy Trinity Church in downtown Toronto on Sunday December 12 at  7:30 pm to see Echo Women’s Choir perform our concert “Gardens of Song.”  It features songs from Margaret Atwood’s latest novel In the Wake of the Flood and new choral arrangements for songs written by the Juno-award-nominated Jennifer Foster.

And it featurs my conducting debut with Echo. This is a totally fabulous group of women from all walks of life and all corners of Toronto.  I’m so honoured to sing with them, and thrilled to conduct.

And Margaret Atwood may ACTUALLY ATTEND THE CONCERT.  At least, she tweeted that she was planning to come after she heard us sing at the premiere of the film In the Year of the Flood in October, Ron Mann’s documentary of her carbon-neutral, around-the-world book tour for The Year of the Flood. One of the first essays I wrote in my undergrad was on her novel Surfacing for my first class in Canadian literature.  Her books are a part of my life. And now I may actually get to meet her.

This is one of those moments in which I feel so lucky to live in Toronto.

Full details about the concert are here: http://www.echowomenschoir.ca/

Hope to see you there!

poster for Echo concert

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conducting myself accordingly

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

I just got back from my first rehearsal of the season with Echo Women’s Choir. I’ve sung with Echo for many years. I love the world music and community-minded, loving atmosphere.  Plus, it’s really amazing to sing with 80 other women in the incredibly resonant Holy Trinity Church in downtown Toronto (yes, this is the same Church of the Trinity Session by the Cowboy Junkies!).   I haven’t been able to sing with Echo for the last year because of school, so it feels even more lovely to be back. Like reuniting with an old, dear friend.

But this year is a little different.  Becca Whitla and Alan Gasser, the choir’s co-directors, are taking a hiatus come January to study conducting in Cuba.  They’ve asked me to lead the choir for the Spring session.

Yep.  I’m conducting an 80-voice choir for 2011.

Are you surprised at this turn of events?  I am, a little.  Oh, I have some conducting experience, and I’ve worked with many groups as a song leader, but this, I’ll admit, is pushing my experience and ability to a whole new level. I’ve considered myself more of a singer and voice teacher than a conductor.  But the  series of events that led to this opportunity unfolded  like the stars aligning. And so this opportunity is here for me now.

I am totally scared and excited. That seems like the right place to be.

At the rehearsal tonight, I was warmly greeted by many choir members, who all seemed excited at the news of my role in the new year.  It’s reassuring to have their faith.  And I’ll be conducting a few of the pieces for the Winter concert in addition to singing with the sopranos. Sort of an apprenticeship. So hopefully that’ll ease me in. Get the choir and me a little bit used to each other.

Looks like it’s going to be a big year.

oh, yes, and the spring concert is on the theme of work. The concert’s on May Day.  So if you have any suggestions for songs about working, particularly for women and work, let me know.

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the joy and agony of performance

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
Jen and Deanna dancing

Deanna teaches Jen to two-step

We just finished our two-night run of the east-end edition of the Undone Cabaret. It was, literally, a full house both nights.  Without suggesting that our performance was awesome, I would like to state that, in general,  house concerts are a wonderful thing.  The set-up is cozy, personal, and full of sparkle. It makes everyday living extraordinary, turning intimate personal space into a public performance space.

And houses are weird performance spaces. When Jen and I first performed the cabaret at a house concert in the West End, we were confronted with a space that simply couldn’t be set up as a traditional musical concert space, with audience over here watching the performers over there.  Audience members had to sit all over the room, almost facing each other.  We needed help to figure out how to perform in this space. Under the gifted direction of Fides Krucker, Jen and I stopped thinking of the house as a challenge to overcome and more as an opportunity to be inventive with how we performed this show. And so we sang in the kitchen. We sang on the stairs. We stood on sofas, and held on to basement door handles. By really using the house as a performance space, our little musical cabaret became a full performance that straddles theatrical performance and music concert.

me singing In the Still of the Night

"In the Still of the Night"

And this weekend’s performance built on that work.  I feel proud of what I accomplished. My performance wasn’t flawless. Man, dealing with performance nerves and production anxieties meant that my challenges were cut out for me.  There were moments, though, in both nights, where I got to that sweet spot of just fully inhabiting the music in the space. Just a few moments. But they were there.  The other moments were filled with the constant running internal narration, wondering if people were enjoying themselves, wondering if I should have reviewed the words to my next song, wondering if I could chicken out and not lie across strangers’ laps while singing. Does this happen to you when you perform?  How do you move yourself out of that space to be more fully present in the performance? I found that a few check-ins with my body and voice structure sometimes helped.  Like trying to keep my palate lifted and my tongue soft. Chin down.  Soft knees.  Another useful approach was simply to listen to what was happening. Pull my attention outside of myself, and really listen to Jen as she was singing, to Tania on piano, and Chris on bass.  Truly listen and let the sound drop into my body, discover how it affected me. To be fully present in the here and now.

These weren’t fail-safe techniques, but they sure helped. I did have a fantastic time overall!

Thanks to everyone who came out to see us perform. Thanks to Chris and Tania: it’s such a blessing to perform with such accomplished musicians. Thanks to my family, including my mom who flew in from Edmonton and was affixing labels to CDs all day Friday, and my partner who took care of the food and the space and our boys AND me. And above all, thanks to Jen, my singing partner and friend.  I never would have done this show without her and I never would have discovered as much about singing and performing without sharing this journey.

Stay tuned for the next iterations of the Undone Cabaret!

Deanna and Chris

Chris and Deanna

By the way, the pics here were taken by Matthew Piers at our dress rehearsal. (Thanks, Matthew!)

If you’d like to see a few more, check out “undone cabaret” on facebook and look for our August photo album.


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undone recordings

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Woot!  We’re going to go into the studio on Monday to record our favourite songs from the Undone Cabaret.  By “we,” I mean Jen Cook, Tania Gill (on piano), and Chris Banks (on bass). By “the studio,” I mean a big empty room that used to be a dining hall, in which my amazing colleague Augusto Monk will use his equipment to capture our magic. And maybe add some percussion?  What’d’ya say, Augusto?

I like the idea of undone recordings.  Really, I just meant recording songs from the Undone Cabaret show.  But isn’t it a bit of a mind-twister to think of a recording as unfinished?  Can we go into that old dining hall and remain open and raw and unfinished and record what emerges?  My hope is that we’ll be able to more closely capture the feel of a live performance, rather than the pinnacle of recorded perfection.

With a lot of sweat labour and some luck, we’ll have some CDs at the show on Aug 27 and 28! Have you reserved tickets yet?  Saturday is close to selling out, and Friday isn’t too far behind.  I’ve started cleaning the house–well, the front porch. But it’s a start. We’ve got a line on some chairs.  The sangria recipe is selected and the mini-cheesecakes have been identified for purchase.  Yep, the show is shaping up!

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undone cabaret: new performance dates!

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Jen and I are thrilled to announce that we’ve got two more end-of-summer performances planned for the undone cabaret.  Mark your calendars for Aug 27 and 28 in Leslieville–east end Toronto.  Come and see the show that has been described as “a hedonistically divine evening capable of stoking a lustful fire, and healing a broken heart.”

I’m so excited to work with Jen again–such an incredibly bright, warm, intoxicating voice. Yes, I could easily drink a case of her.  And accompanied  by Tania Gill on piano and Chris Banks on bass?  As if that isn’t total awesomeness right there.

We’ll announce more details as we’ve got them, and check upcoming performances for details.

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