No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks comes to Chan Centre

In recognition of Black History Month, The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts is bringing No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks to the Chan Shun Concert Hall on February 24th. 

As part of the Beyond Words series, this multimedia work from innovative art-collective Manual Cinema in collaboration with Chicago-based poets Eve L. Ewing and Nate Marshall, featuring a live six-piece band and original score by Jamila Woods and Ayanna Woods, creates an inspiring biographical narrative, of Gwendolyn Brooks. The late poet was a radical and disruptive presence within the national literary scene, becoming the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1950.

Photo of Manual Cinema by Julia Miller

“Manual Cinema creates magic, pure and simple. Through the unlikely pairing of high-tech digital equipment and old-school overhead projectors they are known for completely captivating audiences,” says Wendy Atkinson, Programming Manager at the Chan Centre and curator of Beyond Words. “Two years ago they performed here to rave reviews and when I heard about their most recent project — a biography of poet Gwendolyn Brooks that also includes a live band — I couldn’t resist inviting them back!”

Born in 1917 in Kansas and raised in Chicago, Gwendolyn Brooks worked for decades as an acclaimed artist, mentor to aspiring poets, and advocate for schoolchildren. Gaining much acclaim, she became one of the most widely read authors in America, using her poetic eloquence to convey the black experience.

No Blue Memories traces the political arc of her career and the development of her craft. Manual Cinema’s production uses a combination of shadow puppetry, vintage overhead projectors, multiple screens, actors, live feed cameras, multi-channel sound design, and live music. Written by Ewing and Marshall — also known collectively as Crescendo Literary, a name taken from a Brooks composition — the evocative performance poetically explores her legacy. Fellow Chicago-based soul singer Jamila Woods collaborated with multi-instrumentalist Ayanna Woods for the original score, which will be performed live. 

No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks takes the stage at The Chan Centre for Performing Arts at The University of British Columbia at 7pm, Sunday February 24, 2019. For information and tickets visit chancentre.com

Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin is coming to Chan Centre

The 10-time Grammy Award winning artist, Bobby McFerrin is coming to the The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia on February 17, 2019.  The genre-defying artist is joined by Gimme5; McFerrin’s newest band comprised of veterans from his a cappella Voicestra group Joey Blake, Dave Worm, Rhiannon, and Judi Vinar, as well local choral ensemble musica intima is on the bill. 

Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin photo: Carol Friedman

The concert supports Bobby McFerrin’s current Circlesongs tour centred on an Circlesinging, and improvised concert format based on McFerrin’s sweeping, soulful vocal language —a style encompassing elements from all genres including jazz, pop, R&B, classical, and world music. Requiring an innate sensitivity to surrounding participants the style results in a unique and spontaneous sound. Joined by the Vancouver-based eight-member choral group musica intima, McFerrin and Gimme5 will present an evening of sound that draws in the audience as co-performers.

“The music of Bobby McFerrin is rooted in his sheer joy of singing, and the delight he finds in the worlds of sound that exist within the human voice,” says Joyce Hinton, Co-Managing Director of the Chan Centre. “His passion for the art form really shines through in these one-of-a-kind performances that take listeners on an incredible musical journey.”

Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin photo: Petra Hajska

McFerrin was born to classically trained singers and into a world of music that took him from New York to Hollywood. His father, Robert McFerrin Sr., was the first African-American male to sing at the Metropolitan Opera and provided the on-screen singing voice of Sidney Poitier in the 1959 film Porgy and Bess. The younger McFerrin grew up playing piano and clarinet, surrounded by a hodgepodge of genres that ranged from Duke Ellington to George Gershwin, James Brown to Led Zeppelin. It wasn’t until he turned 27 that he discovered a passion for singing — as well as an impressive range and the uncanny ability to transform his voice. As NPR noted: “Listen to Bobby McFerrin and it’s like you’re listening to an entire orchestra bubbling up through one man’s body. He becomes a flute, a violin, a muted trumpet, a percussion instrument, a bird, you name it.”  The popularity and accolades of 1988’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” brought McFerrin worldwide attention and he has been collaborating, recording and touring ever since.  Performing with orchestra’s across the world, and artists like; Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Yo-Yo Ma, Dizzy Gillespie, and more.  

Join Bobby McFerrin, Gimme5 and musica intima for the spontaneous Circlesongs performance in the Chan Shun Concert Hall at Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC on February 17, 2019 at 7pm. 

Joshua Redman brings Jazz to Chan Centre Tomorrow

Still Dreaming
photo: Jon Brown

Tomorrow night, The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia presents jazz superstar Joshua Redman with the critically acclaimed band Still Dreaming. Joshua Redman is one of the world’s most renowned saxophonists, in this show he pays tribute to the highly revered quartet Old and New Dreams, of which his father Dewey Redman was a member. Joined by three other star of contemporary jazz — Ron Miles on trumpet, Scott Colley on bass, and Brian Blade on drums — the bandleader embarks on an uninhibited, unpredictable exploration of the free jazz of the 1970s and ’80s. 

“Back in 2015 I had the pleasure of seeing Still Dreaming at the legendary Jazz Standard in New York City,” says Joyce Hinton, Co-Managing Director of the Chan Centre. “I was struck not only by the talent and artistry of these performers, but also by how they were able to connect and communicate with the audience through this beautiful and time-honoured music — music that is wonderfully approachable in spite of its nuance and complexity. Truly, it is the kind of show that engages both the heart and the mind.”

Josh Redman
photo: Jay Blakesberg

Redman was born in Berkeley, California, to an artistic family: a father who was a jazz legend and a mother who had a rich passion for South Asian dance. Despite a musical upbringing, Redman initially eschewed the professional musician path and graduated from Harvard College with a bachelor’s degree in social studies. He was on his way to Yale Law School when he decided to defer for a year to join friends in Brooklyn. A few jam sessions with some of his generation’s best musicians soon led to full immersion in the local jazz scene. Five months after moving to New York, Redman won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition. Within another 18 months, he was signed by Warner Bros. and released his debut studio album, Joshua Redman, which earned a Grammy Award nomination in 1993. 

In tribute to his father’s legacy, Still Dreaming will perform predominantly original compositions from their self-titled debut album released in May 2018, such as Redman’s mesmerizing “Unanimity” and Colley’s invigorating “New Year.” The concert will also showcase contemporary takes on well-loved Old and New Dreams standards: Haden’s “Playing” and Coleman’s “Comme II Faut.”

Joshua Redman’s Still Dreaming performs tomorrow night, November 13, at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC, almost sold out but some tickets are still available from the Chan Centre Box Office or chancentre.com

Get a taste of what you’ll hear below

 

Picks of the Week – September 26, 2018

The last week of September is starting off Autumn with a bright and warm start, just right as the Fall entertainment picks heat up

Tasting Plates Vegetarian Edition

Veg: Tonight, join Vancouver Foodster’s Tasting Place Vegetarian Edition and explore some of the plant-based bites from around downtown.

Dog: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time opens the Arts Club Theatre Company’s season at Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage until October 7th.

Twisted: At The Arts Club Granville Island Stage, find out what happens when an imaginary friend overstays his welcome, in Mustard, playing until October 20th

Pop: Scottish synth-pop group Chvrches play a double header with back to back shows at the Commodore Ballroom on Thursday and Friday nights.

Never Still:
Shion Skye Carter
photo: Ben Didier

Dance: The Firehall Arts Centre’s 2018-2019 season opens with a unique new work, Never Still, running September 26 – 29.

Bard: Summer is over but the 2018 season of Bard on the Beach  amazing Beatles themed version of As You Like It, is so good it continues into Fall, closing on Friday

Missionary: Broadway Across Canada invites you to catch the multi-award winning Book of Mormon playing at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre until Sunday.

Les Belles Soeurs:
Melissa Oei, France Perras and Agnes Tong.
photo: David Cooper

Women: Gateway Theatre opens its 2018-2019 season with the 50th anniversary of a Canadian classic, Les Belles-soeurs, a story of 15 women in a raucous, funny and heartfelt romp

BBall: Rogers Arena welcomes the Toronto Raptors and Portland Trail Blazers in a NBA preseason game on Saturday night

Powwow: Kamloopa , playing at The Cultch Historic Theatre until October 6th is a high energy Indigenous matriarchal story following two urban Indigenous sisters and a lawless trickster, on a roadtrip to the West Coast’s largest Powwow.

Fever: The Vancouver Arts Gallery wraps up its summer exhibitions Cabin Fever; a cultural, historic and artistic look at the cabin of North America, it’s your last chance to come inside the rustic world before it closes on Sunday

I’m With Her photo: Shervin Lainez

Chan: The folk supergroup, I’m With Her, brings their first Canadian performance to the Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC on Sunday night.

Chan Centre opens the season Aida Cuevas

photo: Aida Cuevas

The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC opens its season by welcoming Grammy Award-winning Mexican superstar Aida Cuevas along with the band Mariachi Juvenil Tecalitlán on September 22, 2018, at 8pm in the Chan Shun Concert Hall.

Hailed as ‘The Queen of Mariachi’ and renowned for her elegance, charisma, and stunning vocal range, Cuevas will sing traditional Mexican songs by the late singer-songwriter and musical icon Juan Gabriel in this hotly anticipated season opener.

“Aida is a star in every sense of the word — a singer with a gorgeously emotive voice and dynamic stage presence,” says Joyce Hinton, Co-Managing Director of the Chan Centre. “When I first found out about her project honouring the music of Juan Gabriel, I knew it would be a significant event for fans of Mexican music and culture. It is fitting as well that the concert falls just six days after Mexican Independence Day. Ranchera music sung by women is incredibly special, and I’m so honoured to have this trailblazing female artist kick off our series performing in a genre that historically has been dominated by male musicians.”

photo: Aida Cuevas

A ranchera music legend, Cuevas has been celebrated both in her home country and on the world stage for more than four decades. Her unique voice and style have left a significant imprint in the history of Mexican music, with 39 albums selling more than eight million copies worldwide. This year, Cuevas broke new ground as the first female singer in the mariachi category, a normally male-dominated genre, to win a Grammy Award.

The concert at Chan Centre will pay homage to Gabriel, who passed away in 2016. The influential musician was not only Cuevas’ personal mentor, he was also Mexico’s best-selling recording artist of all time, a Billboard Latin Music Hall of Fame inductee, and six-time Grammy award nominee. Cuevas is the only artist authorized by Gabriel’s estate to tour his music, and she will perform a selection of his beloved classics, including “Te Lo Pido Por Favor,” “La Diferencia,” and “Te Sigo Amando.” She will be backed by Mexico City-based Mariachi Juvenil Tecalitlán, alongside special guest musicians on requinto guitar, accordion, percussion, and keyboard.

Related to the concert, fans of Aida Cuevas may also enjoy the following events; 

Film Screening: Dos Tipos de Cuidado (Two Careful Fellows) — Thursday, September 13, 7pm, at The Cinematheque (1131 Howe St.).
Indulge in nostalgia for the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema with this beloved black and white film that follows the trials and tribulations of two best friends turned enemies. 

Pre-Show Talk with Ricardo García — Saturday, September 22, 7:15pm in the Royal Bank Cinema at the Chan Centre.
Ricardo García, a UBC graduate student 
from the Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies, will be discussing the way in which female identity and empowerment is negotiated within Mexican music, with a special focus on mariachi and the legacy of Aida Cuevas.

Tickets for events are available online at chancentre.com

Early Music Vancouver 3rd Bach Festival opens July 30

Pacific Baroque Orchestra photo: Jan Gates

Early Music Vancouver is tuning up for the 3rd annual Vancouver Bach Festival, July 30 – August 10, 2018 at Christ Church Cathedral and the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. Since its inaugural year in 2016, the festival has grown to include a selections of concerts ranging from intimate chamber music to those with full orchestra, soloists, and a choir.

This year’s Bach Festival includes performances by many of the top west coast artists specializing in period performance, as well as artists from all over Europe. Early Music Vancouver (EMV) welcomes back Switzerland’s celebrated Gli Angeli Genève to participate in EMV’s first-ever ensemble-in-residence program, which will involve members of this internationally-acclaimed ensemble performing in six concerts throughout the festival.

 

Gli Angeli Genéve

“Earlier this summer, I had a chance to visit for the first time some of the most important places in Bach’s life. Sitting in the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, it struck me as extraordinary the extent to which the work of this deeply religious man from eighteenth-century Thuringia continues to have a life-changing effect on so many people from so many different backgrounds,” says Matthew White, Executive and Artistic Director of EMV  “In a world where classical and other non-corporate music is increasingly being relegated to the edges of public awareness, his name is still one of the most powerful advocates for communicating the values inherent in deeply inspiring music of any type. The name Bach means great music – period. This is our most ambitious festival yet and we look forward to sharing Bach’s incredible music with more audiences than ever before this summer.”

This year’s expanded festival opens with another entry from EMV’s ‘Goldberg Experience’, as French harpsichordist Benjamin Alard puts his stamp on Bach’s beloved Goldberg Variations. The following evening, iconic Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt continues her four-year project to perform Bach’s entire keyboard repertoire by returning to play his Well Tempered Clavier – Book 1 at the Chan Centre.

Last year’s popular weekday afternoon concert series will also return, offering a diverse and delightful selection of programmes including Schubert lieder accompanied on an original early 19th century guitar, Mozart Sonatas for fortepiano and violin, Britten’s Abraham and Isaac, and more.

To complement the live musical lineup, EMV will offer an array film screenings and expert talks, which audiences can enjoy with wine and refreshments

To learn see the complete line up and tickets for Early Music Vancouver’s Bach Festival visit: earlymusic.bc.ca/tickets/summer-festival

Australia’s Circa Left Chan Centre Audiences Breathless

Last weekend, Circa, contemporary circus troupe thrilled the house in the Chan Shun Concert Hall at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC with their touring show, OPUS.  The bold, Brisbane-based performers were accompanied onstage by the Debussy String Quartet, blending the live music and thrilling acrobatics into a one of a kind show.

The Circa: Opus musical repertoire included 4 pieces by the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, which were the background for the stunning movements of the Circa performers. With the addition of the live musical performances, Circa elevated, both figuratively and literally, the standard circus human tricks, creating a work that was a sensual, dance-like partnership between the strings and stunts.  Some moments featured just a single acrobat soaring above the stage while others included the full 14 performer troupe.  First appearing dressed in their Sunday best, black trousers and white shirts on the men and simple dresses for the ladies made the troupe’s acrobatics seem even more surprising as they leapt out of the image given by their outfits.  Later they pared the costumes down to simple black trunks and one pieces to create a more sexy, athletic image. 

The Circa performance displays influences of almost every form of athletic movement into their 80 minute performance; artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, tumbling, aerial work on trapeze, silk and straps, and even a bit of breakdancing.  The daring leaps, spins and tumbles brought out audible gasps as the audience was left mesmerized by the Circa performers.  The beautiful Chan Shun Concert Hall’s acoustics carried the strings across the audience only broken by the sounds of the foot falls, performer’s bodies hitting the mat and occasionally the music was so subtle that the athletes’ breathing became an accompanying rhythm to the violins.  Unlike other circus acrobatic shows, the Circa performers kept mostly quiet, only in one act which require some more blind leaps of faith did we hear anything audible from the stage.

From the feeling in the auditorium, Circa: Opus left most of the audience gasping for more and thoroughly exhilarated by what was put before them. It definitely left us hoping for a return engagement of this or another of Circa’s touring shows.