The Last Curlew – Spring Migration!

The mighty Eskimo Curlew’s actual migration took it from well above the Arctic Circle to Patagonia and back again every few months. All told, about 28,000 kilometres round-trip. Admittedly, we’re only going a few hundred up and down the 401, but when you add a concert harp and five excellent performers it begins to feel significant!

The Last Curlew, is a theatrical adaptation of the pioneering environmental novel by Canadian journalist and naturalist Fred Bodsworth, The Last of the Curlews.
Published in 1955, this slim, powerful and haunting
story gives both the author’s words and the namesake bird wings still today, even as the Eskimo Curlew is listed as critically endangered, and possibly extinct.

Our version of the story features a breathtaking dance performance by Julia Aplin, virtuoso playing by both Mark Fewer and Lori Gemmell and music by Ralph Vaughan-Williams, Alexina Louie and R. Murray Schafer…  and the story, told in a distant future between an aging grandfather and his somewhat disinterested teenaged granddaughter, by me and the brilliant young actor and filmmaker Annika Broadhead.

Our shows are:

-April 27 in the lovely Old Town Hall, in Waterford, Ontario

  • April 28 in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, Stittsville, Ontario (just west of Ottawa)
  • April 29 in St. Columba-by-the-Lake in Pointe Claire, Quebec
  • April 30 in Hudson and the historic Village Theatre.

If you are flying past the area on your way north, drop in and see us. Bodsworth’s haunting story will be with you the rest of your journey, no matter how far you go.

Bohemians in Lovely, Old Vintage Halls

Two shows of Bohemians in Brooklyn this weekend, both just outside Toronto and both in beautiful, heritage buildings.

Tonight, Saturday, October 15 at 7:30 we’re playing in the storied Old Waterford Town Hall, 113 years old this coming January.

The sun is shining as we prepare for what is bound to be a picturesque drive from Toronto. If I am forced to admit it, I will say that I am quietly jealous of Bryce and Max for being able to drive a convertible to get there.

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However, try as we have, we just haven’t managed to get hold of a ragtop that will accommodate a concert harp. Still, Waterford is charming, Claire Senko is a generous hostess, 1297814470153_originalthe hall is warm-sounding and full of history and we know Britten, Auden, Carson and Gypsy will be right at home.

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And tomorrow, Sunday October 16, the very same Bohemians will invade the equally charming (and fully two years older) Gravenhurst Opera House for a performance with the venerable Muskoka Concert Association (venerable, yes, but at a mere 70 years old, still very spry).

It will be my second performance in this Vaudeville-era building, the first being 1988, I think, when a delightful evening of music and a fine reception did nothing settle the burning question of the day: whom, exactly, among the members of the Great Lakes Brass locked the keys in the trunk of the rented Ford LTD?

I know what I remember. That’s all I am prepared to say at this point.

Join us Sunday afternoon for what promises to be a wonderful time, and please, pat your pockets once or twice before you close the trunk.

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And while I’m at it – please enjoy the brand new videos we created this summer on each of our chamber musicals and check my gigs calendar to see when we’re coming to a vintage hall near you.

Summer Travels

This is my office for the week.

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Holy cow. Making music and telling stories is a delight in any place and at any time, but this! The Highlands Summer Festival has been kind enough to welcome us back to Haliburton for three shows of The Judgment of Paris this week, which means warm crowds, a lovely-sounding room and a fantastic hang at a beautiful cottage between shows.

After this we’re heading east toward Chester, NS, for Bohemians in Brooklyn at the Chester Playhouse in early August. Find us and say hello!

Riding the rails again… The CPR at Soulpepper June 23 & 25

Just two more shows before the last spike is hammered home on our Soulpepper Concert that explores the glory, the shame and the unavoidable everything that was the building of the Canadiareynolds-boy-11co2__932141an Pacific Railway, and along with it, the building of Canada.

Brad Wheeler has  a nice Globe & Mail piece describing the concept of the series and this one in particular, including a mention of the original songs Mike Ross and I have been creating, but that will have to wait for the next time we take the journey.

God Damn the CPR, indeed!

Tickets are scant, I’m told, for these last two shows, but give it a try, and if you’re there make sure to say hello.

A Big Week at Soulpepper…

Two shows to offer at Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto this week, both brand new and both full of compelling stories and music.

On Thursday, June 16, 7:30 PM (and June 23 and 25) it is a musical telling of the story of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

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I’ve written and will be telling the story, along with musical help from John Millard and a fabulous cast of players, including my beloved Lori on harp and a whole boxcar full of tuba (and gut-bucket bass) by Colin Couch. It’s, as you might expect, a story full of promise, corruption, pride, shame and all the usual Canadian suspects. Tickets here.

Plus – just two days later:

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A big thrill and a first for me!

On Saturday June 18, 8:30 PM at the Young Centre for Performing Arts in the Distillery District, Soulpepper Theatre is presenting a reading of my play The Last Curlew, an adaptation of the seminal environmental novel The Last of the Curlews by Fred Bodsworth. The production will feature the wonderful actors Jenny Young and Deb Drakeford, with music by Alexina Louie, R. Murray Schafer and R. Vaughan-Williams played by Lori Gemmell and Toronto Symphony Assistant Concertmaster Etsuko Kimura, as well as spectacular solo dances by Julia Aplin. Please come!

Tickets here.