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!
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.
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.
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.
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.