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Knitting for Mission

The Anglican Parish of Summerside will be holding their Knitting for Mission 'knit-ins' throughout t [ ... ]

Environmental Protection Act

Amendments to the Environmental Protection Act have been introduced in the PEI legislature to provid [ ... ]


Pan and Jupiter: Music of the Gods
PEI Symphony Orchestra

Review by David Malahoff

Here’s how a symphony Sunday begins at our house:
Watch Coronation Street; Let the cat out; Go downtown for breakfast; Watch U.S. political talk shows; Let the cat in; Do household chores; Let the cat out; Get changed; Let the cat in; Go to Confed’ Centre.

But recently there’s been a change. Now, I arrive more than an hour before the performance to catch the pre-concert chat led by conductor James Mark and musicologist Annette Campbell. They make a good team; perched on bar stools in the Studio Theatre, they offer choice musical facts, amusing stories and revealing anecdotes about the featured composers and their music. It’s useful context, painlessly delivered. I first went to one in October and enjoyed it so much, I’ve been back ever since.

The November 26th concert opens with Overture to L’Italiana in Algieri by Rossini. Beginning with the soft, coy sounds of plucked strings and building to the full orchestral stop-starts that created a stirring finish, this was good humoured music played with irresistible energy by the PEI Symphony Orchestra.

Morgan Saulnier, flutist, takes the stage midway through the first half to perform Concerto for Flute and Orchestra by Danish composer Carl Nielsen. Ms. Saulnier’s notes dart, weave and hover amidst the orchestra’s powerful pockets of sweet and dissonant sounds. One wonders if the size of the orchestra will overwhelm and intimidate a lone flutist. But Ms. Saulnier plays confidently and with passion.

The orchestra never holds back through over-caution. When required, it delivers aggressive counterpoint to the flute and, at other times, the orchestra creates a unified sound that acts like a giant, gentle cradle for the sounds of Ms. Saulnier’s flute. This was one of those performances that made me lean forward in my seat in concentration. Completely absorbing.

The biggest revelation of the afternoon was the Suite Hebraïque written by Srul Irving Glick, a Canadian composer. Six compact movements blended Jewish folk melodies and middle eastern sounds. The melodies seemed like smoke—vapourous things—not clearly defined but swirling through the movements. It was difficult to tell which instrument and section was propelling them and this gave the music its mystery and its beauty.

The concert closed with Symphony No. 41, K 551 Jupiter by Mozart. This was a careful, distant performance; enjoyable but not especially moving. Only in the last movement did the orchestra find the vigor and intensity to make an emotional connection with the audience. A slight flat spot in an otherwise thoroughly satisfying afternoon.

It's a gas, gas, gas

Stories and sightings from Rolling Stones concerts that I have seen

by David Malahoff

Courtroom drawing by Laurie McGaw of Keith Richards during his trial in Toronto in 1978 for drug possession, originally published in the Toronto Star. Ryerson journalism student David Malahoff looks on.

My first Stones event was no rock show. It was a court trial. As a journalism student, in 1978, I wangled a seat at the press table a few feet from Keith Richards. Pale, tired, wearing a drab brown suit, he looked every inch the pathetic junkie facing serious jail time for drug possession. But even here the circus intruded. The courtroom was overflowing with lawyers, reporters, fans; Dan Aykroyd, of Saturday Night Live, was sitting on the floor beneath the judge's desk where, every few minutes, he'd give a thumbs up to a glum Richards. Lorne Michaels, the producer of SNL even testified as a character witness.

One of the side pleasures of seeing the Rolling Stones in concert is people watching. Some of those sightings are more vivid than others. In 1989, I bought a cheap bus package to see the Stones in Syracuse, New York. About to board the bus that morning in Toronto, I watched amazed as an army of Wayne's World rejects tottered, staggered and stumbled into the bus. Fourteen hours before showtime and they were already partied out. After the concert, travelling down the freeway at midnight, heading for home, the booze and the drugs began to catch up. The headbangers began to climb into the overhead luggage racks to pass out, serenaded by empty beer cans rolling up and down the aisle.

I recently saw the Rolling Stones in Toronto. Twice. They looked hungry, played hungry and delivered two entertaining evenings of musical highs, one jaw dropping musical screw-up (an out of tempo Sympathy For The Devil that gave free jazz a bad name), and when Keith Richards slipped and fell flat on his back during the first seconds of the opening song it was the oddest start to a Stones show I've ever seen. And I've seen thirteen of them in the past twenty years.

Next to me, at the Air Canada Centre, was a well dressed guy, mid-thirties, clean cut. For the entire two hours of the concert he did a delicate dance of body, hands and feet-half Tai Chi, half line dance is the only way I can describe it. He wasn't drunk. He wasn't obnoxious. Sometimes he'd scamper one way then scamper back again. Hands making elaborate fluttering movements, head tilted to the ceiling, sometimes bending his body at the waist and then pausing, he was completely self-absorbed. A butterfly in GAP clothing.

Two nights later, walking up the steps to the Skydome for the second show, I pass a street guy. He's got white whiskers and looks like Gabby Hayes the old sidekick from movie Westerns. He holds his cap in hand. As I walk by he says, "Pleased to meet you. Hope you guessed my name."

Did I enjoy myself? Sure. I love the Stones and the music they make. I like their showmanship. I like that they have no self pity no matter what happens to them, deserved or undeserved. And I like their loyalty to the idea of the band even when they haven't always been loyal to each other.

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