Rave: The Big Band Show

As we’re on the cusp of the holiday month, prepare yourself to be bombarded with Christmas carols, candy cane-flavoured everything and Santa Clauses at every turn. If you’re like us, it’s likely one of your favourite holiday traditions is The Nutcracker ballet. The National Ballet has you covered on that front, with their annual production running from December 19 to January 5. However, if you’re looking to get into the festive spirit a bit sooner, then we’ve got the show for you!

Mr. Andrew Burashko

Art of Time Ensemble is one of Canada’s most innovative and artistically accomplished music ensembles, led by the inimitable Andrew Burashko. Their latest show is The Big Band Show, which features a 25-piece (you guessed it) big band on-stage. Classically-trained musicians are joined on-stage by some of Canada’s most renown jazz giants, to share the power and beauty of big band sound with audiences. 

There aren’t any tights on the Art of Time stage.



Now, you’re probably asking yourself “what the heck does that have to do with The Nutcracker, goddammit?!”. Well, we’re glad you asked. As you may know, The Nutcracker ballet is set to music by Tchaikovsky. What you probably do not know is that jazz great Duke Ellington re-imagined the classic score through the prism of jazz. Pretty cool, eh? Transforming the romantic orchestral composition into jumping jazz melodies is quite the feat, but not for Ellington! The cool cat takes the gorgeous classic and turns it on its head, resulting in the hip Nutcracker Suite

Duke tickling the ivories.



The Nutcracker Suite is the jewel of the program, which also includes Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto and Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite No. 1. All three pieces are very rarely performed and, to our knowledge, have never been performed together. The Big Band Show plays tribute to both classical and jazz music, and the relationship between the two genres.

Dmitri Shostakovich, one of the greatest classical composers of 20th century.



The show opens on November 30 and runs until December 1. It’s a short run (only two performances), which makes it even more special. Some people buy limited edition purses, but how many people have seen limited edition big band shows? Not many, that’s for sure. Grab some hot chocolate, spike it if you like (we won’t tell) and kick off the holidays with some culture. You fancy, huh? 


Tickets from $25 to $59 are available online at harbourfrontcentre.com,
by phone at 416.973.4000 or in-person at the box office.



*All images courtesy of Art of Time Ensemble, unless otherwise noted. 

City Living: Planet IndigenUS at Harbourfront

What’s the best thing about Toronto? There is always
something new to explore! This weekend is no exception. It marks the beginning
of the Planet IndigenUS festival at the Harbourfront Centre in association with
Woodlands Cultural Centre in Brantford. IndigenUS is the largest contemporary
international Indigenous cultural festival in the world and it only occurs once
every three years – so we don’t want to miss out (maybe we should see someone
about our fomo).
The festival celebrates current Indigenous culture.
With almost 300 performers from seven different countries taking part, the
presentation of Indigenous culture varies wildly. The acts range from Pow Wow Step to a Mongolian-folk-punk-rock
blend, to a high-energy technicolour dance performance by an Australian
company and a woman who weaves herself into a basket.
IndigenUS starts today and runs until Sunday, August 19, which means ten days
packed with great music, theatre, food, art and, if you’re willing to make the
trek to Gretzky’s hometown, even comedy. The selection of free fun to
participate in this weekend is overwhelming so we’ve listed our must see events
below.

Image courtesy of Harbourfront Centre.

A Tribe
Called Red (ATCR) and Electric Pow-Wow
DJ Bear Witness, DJ NDN and DJ Shrub of ATCR created
their own blend of traditional drums, Jamaican dub and club beats, which they
call Pow Wow Step (and you thought Moombahton was the new thing). We can’t wait
to bust a move to some new beats. You can catch ATCR at 11 p.m. on Saturday,
August 11 at the Harbourfront Centre,
235 Queens Quay West.
Image courtesy of Harbourfront Centre. 

Polytoxic
with Trade Winds
Australian dance-theatre company Polytoxic is known
for big bright performances. Trade Winds,
a story about the cultural exchanges that took place during the exploration of
the Pacific, is certainly a powerful visual experience. Polytoxic’s show starts at 9 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, August 16 to 18 at The Natrel Pond, 235 Queens
Quay West.
Image courtesy of Harbourfront

Ursula A.
Johnson: Basket Weaving Performance Art
Johnson has a theatre background and is able to turn
herself into a living piece of through her basket weaving. She will spend eight
hours creating her cocoon and emerge a butterfly. Just kidding, but we
definitely want to stop by for before and after shots. Ursula will be
performing from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday, August 18 at Harbourfront Centre Site,
235
Queens Quay West.



Cris
Derksen: Electronica Cellist
Derksen is an award-winning Aboriginal cellist from
Alberta. She combines classic, folk and electronic styles to create her own
cross between traditional and contemporary music. We love classic strings with
an electric charge – and the girl’s got chops – she’s performed with Kanye West!
Derksen will be on the Redpath Stage,
235 Queens Quay West at 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 18.

Image courtesy of Harbourfront Centre.

Heck Init
Comedy Night with Don Burnstick and Charlie Hill
Okay, Brantford is a little far (one to two hours from
downtown, depending on traffic) but it does claim rights to Gretzky and Bell,
plus, it boasts a casino. Burnstick and Hill will be there poking fun at
stereotypes and political issues. These guys are talented; Hill has appeared
with Letterman, Leno and other famous funny folk. Burnstick and Hill will be
performing at Woodlands Cultural Centre,
184 Mohawk Street, Brantford.

Image courtesy of Harbourfront Centre.

Hanggai:
Mongolian folk/punk ensemble
This group from China preserves tradition in the form
of the horse-head fiddle, tobshuur and throat singing and adds electric guitars
and drums. The resulting sound is an exciting blend. Hanggai can be seen on Redpath Stage Friday, August 10 at 7
p.m.,
235 Queens Quay West,
on WestJet Stage Saturday, August 11
at 3 p.m.,
235 Queens Quay West
and at
Woodlands Cultural
Centre, 184 Mohawk Street, Brantford at
8 p.m.