Listen... the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is playing

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ducking out

Laureen Harper, Stephen Harper's wife, is no longer attending the National Arts Centre annual gala.

As one commenter noted, it's funny that the day after her husband's comment she suddenly has campaign commitments scheduled for that night.

And, Canadian book lovers take to the streets Sunday.  According to this article, 200,000 people in Toronto alone are expected to attend the annual "Word of the Street". Anyone out there from one of the four cities who can take pictures for our flickr group?


I believe the term is "boo-yah"

Margaret Atwood eloquently chimes in on Stephen Harper's comment.  The article, by the way, is adapted from the lecture that she will deliver at the Winspear on October 1st.

This gives me an idea... there are probably dozens of arts or cultural events that you can attend in the next couple of weeks, to show your support for Canadian artists.  I've created a public group on photo-sharing site called Ordinary People, and I encourage you to post photos of you and your friends participating in the arts.  Of course, be mindful that you can't necessarily photograph a performance specifically - stay within the guidelines of the event you're attending. Anyways, maybe it's a crazy idea, but sometimes you just have to do something.  I'm going to attend the ESO performance tomorrow - look for a photo from the lobby.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ordinary People

Well, the arts ARE getting some attention in this campaign after all.

If the parties' positions weren't clear enough before, Stephen Harper has declared that "ordinary people don't care about arts funding."


Apparently the hundreds of thousands of Edmontonians who every year pass through the Winspear, Citadel, Art Gallery, who go to the Opera and Ballet (I could go on and on), aren't "ordinary" people.

Apparently "ordinary" people don't listen to music, watch tv, go to movies or read books.

Apparently "ordinary" people get up, go to work, and fall back into bed at night without the arts ever lifting their spirits, inspiring their imaginations, or brightening what must be a dreary existence by a single iota.

This is a pretty scary statement from this country's Prime Minister. I hope that all you extra-ordinary people out there make your voices heard on this one. Please contact the candidates in your riding. One method of doing it is online here, but there are many ways of making your voice heard.

*Edit: The link I provided for contacting your candidates doesn't seem to work very well in Safari (boo), so use firefox, or find your candidates on sites like CBC.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Voting for the Arts

Election Day in Canada is just over three weeks away, and I think it's important to devote a post to where the parties stand on funding for the arts. First, I'll direct you to a website with some resources and suggestions about making the arts an issue in this election: Canadian Arts Coalition.

Conservative Party
I had a difficult time finding much about the arts at all on the Conservative Party website. There is one announcement about increasing funding for TV5 Quebec Canada and TV5MONDE. Earlier this year they increased the Canada Council for the Arts' budget by $30 million, although then cut other various arts agency's budgets by $45 million in August.

Liberal Party
The Liberal Party has promised to restore $45 million in funding cuts recently announced by the Conservatives, as well as double annual funding to the Canada Council for the Arts over the next four years. Museums and international promotion of Canadian artists would also receive funding boosts, while the tax credit for film and video productions would increase. Interestingly, they would also commit to focusing on new media by developing a "Canadian Digital Media Strategy". Their platform also makes mention of income-averaging for artists that will "better reflect the peaks and valleys of the artistic work cycle." All the info can be found on pages 11 - 13 on this pdf document.

NDP Party
The NDP Party does not seem to have a specific party platform for the arts, although they responded to the recent Conservative arts cuts with this condemnation. Overall their general stance seems to be to support artists through increased public funding and "better rules around Canadian content."

Green Party
Of all the parties, the Green Party has the most prominent arts and culture policy. I would encourage you to visit the link above, as it is the most comprehensive position I've seen from any party, and an excellent example of what Canada's arts and culture policy should be. Among their many recommendations they suggest increasing funding to all of Canada’s arts and culture organizations, supporting community arts groups and facilities, and extending tax relief and incentives to artists. This sentence from their platform pretty much sums up their position: "Arts and Culture are at the heart of well-being for the citizens of this nation. The Green Party of Canada is thus committed, by any economic measure, to strong support for the individuals and organizations in Canada who create, produce, consume, perform, distribute, and market Arts and Culture at all levels of society."

Bloc Québécois
The Bloc's website is French-only, and if they have an English version, it's not very apparent. While this isn't altogether surprising, it doesn't really help me in discovering what their position on arts and culture funding is. They too condemned the recent Conservative funding cuts to the arts, so we can assume they support increased, or at least stable, funding for the arts in Canada.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mixed Media

This is too cute not to share: Light Paint Piano Player.

Light painting is a photography technique that makes use of a long exposure and a hand-held light.  The video linked to is a kind of stop-frame animation, where a sequence of photos using this technique have been strung together to create the video.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Don't Stop Me Now

More Rajaton sound and video clips to whet your appetite, this time courtesy of their record label.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Now holding auditions for Principal Cucumberphone

Instruments Not Found in Your High School (or professional) Orchestra.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Congratulations Tyler!

Last week, a good friend of the ESO- Tyler Hamilton- won the opportunity to sing at the David Foster gala performance at the Winspear Centre Saturday Night. Just 3 weeks ago- Tyler performed with the ESO at Sobeys Symphony Under the Sky to standing ovations!
Congratulations Tyler! We are all proud of you and wish you the best!

View his September 13 performance by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

SSUTS live blog recap

It was another successful Sobeys Symphony Under the Sky, despite the cold and threatening weather. The crowds were good, and after 14 years of tweaking, things ran pretty smoothly. For the first time, we invited bloggers to write posts live from the park, using their laptops and free wi-fi. If you've been following this blog, you'll have seen links to our bloggers' sites already, but I wanted to recap in a single entry by linking to specific posts made during the festival.

The festival started Friday night with a traditional Masters-type concert, focusing on the masters of the Romantic era. Kerri made note of the fashion critics in the audience, while Elizabeth Withey painted the weird and lovely picture that is SSUTS.

Erin was moved to tears by Saturday afternoon's ballet concert, while Raffaella reviewed Saturday's Night at the Movies.

Classical Mystery Tour took the stage for Sunday night's show as Isaac pondered the riddles in the lyrics of the Beatles.

The festival closed with Monday's afternoon performance featuring PJ Perry on saxophone and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. The audience also was the first to hear a live, orchestral version of John Estacio's Hockey Night in Canada theme entry. All the details were covered on the blogs Stable or TARDIS?, River City Writer, and Her View Photography.

Of course, that's just a sampling of the posts made during the festival - see you all next year?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Warning: Generalizations ahead

It seems that fans of Mozart and Metallica share some common personality traits. Although the article reduces the research to some fairly basic generalizations, like "indie music listeners lack self-esteem and lovers of pop music are uncreative, while country and western fans are hard-working and rap fans have an outgoing personality", it's a pretty interesting read.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Kind of Magic

Rajaton is coming back to Edmonton on October 14 to perform the music of Queen with the ESO. They recently performed this concert with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, and you can watch the concert online here. You have to sign up for an account with, but there is a one week free trial - more than enough time.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The new 2

A comment from the last post:

"Is anyone aware of the changes at CBC radio 2? What do Edmonton Symphony supporters think?"

The new CBC Radio 2 schedule is here. From what I can see, there are two major format changes, the first being Tom Allen's morning show, changing from a classical music format to "a deep blend of new and established artists across musical genres in a mix you won’t hear anywhere else" (except maybe CKUA). This is the show I listen to in the mornings during the week when I wake up and get ready. Yesterday I heard music from The Magnetic Fields, Rufus Wainwright, Calexico - all artists that I like. So while I liked Tom's old show, I'll probably continue to listen to his new one. I find it different, not necessarily better or worse.

The second change is, of course, the replacement of Jurgen Gothe's DiscDrive with a new show focusing on Canadian singer-songwriters. Now, DiscDrive is one of those shows that carries a lot of nostalgia for people - I grew up listening to DiscDrive. Although I haven't tuned in much recently, in many ways it seemed like the show was moving towards the singer-songwriter direction anyways - whether by Jurgen's choice or from higher up, I'm not sure. Perhaps they decided to rip the band-aid off, rather than slowly peel it away.

In between those two shows is another new show, but it is still focused on classical music - not really sure how different it will be from what was there before.

I think the thing that concerns me, and many other people, is that it feels as if CBC is homogenizing their programming to "appeal to the masses". Unfortunately, this means they sound that much like everyone else. While I understand CBC's mandate to represent all Canadians, I think it can fulfill that mandate by first and foremost presenting educational and thought-provoking programming - something that public broadcasters do best, since they're not only concerned with ratings and the bottom line. It doesn't have to be all classical, all the time, but right now, pop music and singer-songwriters can be heard pretty much everywhere and anywhere. While entertaining, I'm not sure the new programs will distinguish themselves as particularly challenging.

Another concern is the decline of the amount of specifically Canadian classical music that will be heard on CBC. While Canadian pop music is well represented on commercial stations, if for no other reason than to meet CANCON (Canadian content) requirements, there are very few options for hearing contemporary Canadian composers' works, and fewer and fewer options for hearing Canadian orchestras and classical artists. Now, among all the changes at Radio 2, they have launched 4 online music channels, one of which is dedicated to Canadian Composers. I think that's awesome! But at this point, it's kind of like the consolation prize. Online listening is much more intentional than listening to the radio, so instead of being "out there" for anyone to hear, the music will be heard by people who already have a strong interest in that specific genre.

All that being said... although I don't have hard numbers, I imagine that traditional radio listenership is dropping, with competition from satellite radio, web streaming, iPods, and all the other distractions that didn't exist 20 years ago. In the end, if CBC is indistinguishable from commercial stations, I predict it will grow even less popular, as I have little faith it can compete in the same way. And then it will be retooled yet again...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

One more...

A SSUTS recap is coming, but there's one more not-quite-a-blog to check out... unplanned but definitely not unwelcome, Monday's concert was "tweeted", as in twitter... if you don't know what I'm talking about, just check it out.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ready, aim...

The cannons are in place.  We were joking a few minutes ago that a couple of seconds after a shot someone should throw a large stone in the lake - might make all the paddle boaters nervous.

Live blogs to watch today are Her View Photography, Stable or TARDIS? and River City Writer. Also check out nine-letter word for another post about yesterday's concert, and word is that there will be a final post about this afternoon's show later today.