Catch the ‘Queen of Fado’, Mariza at the Chan Centre

This Wednesday, the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia presents Portugal’s brightest star, Mariza.  The internationally lauded fadista — a performer of Portugal’s traditional soul music, fado — will showcase brand new material from her latest self-titled release, her seventh album. 

“From the moment she first steps on stage until the end of the show, Mariza has a knack for creating an extraordinary connection with audiences through her stunning artistry and stage presence,” says Joyce Hinton, Co-Managing Director of the Chan Centre. “Audiences ask us again and again to bring her back, and we can’t wait to hear the songs from her new album live in our hall.”

Born in Mozambique and raised in the historic quarters of the Mouraria neighbourhood in Lisbon, Portugal, Mariza was exposed to music from an early age, and began singing in a wide variety of musical styles, including gospel, soul, and jazz. Encouraged by her father to pursue fado for its cultural significance in the Portuguese community, the singer refined her craft at the local bars and tavernas which gave birth to the musical genre, quickly gaining a following amongst locals.

Mariza’s career took off when she gained national recognition when she performed at the televised memorial for legendary fado singer Amália Rodrigues.  Following the memorial, her first studio album, Fado em Mim, became an instant sensation, released internationally the album earned Mariza acclaim on the world stage and solidifying her role as a global phenomenon.

Fado is so integral to Portuguese culture that it is recognized as part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.  Since the early 1800s, the genre has encapsulated the mystery, romance, and yearnings of the Portuguese people, balancing both resignation and hopefulness in light of the hard realities of life, love, and loss. 

Mariza returns to Vancouver in support of her seventh platinum-level studio recording, Mariza, on Wednesday, April 17th at 8pm at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC in the Chan Shun Concert Hall. For information and tickets visit chancentre.com

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. 

Femme Series hits The Cultch this winter

This Winter, The Cultch is celebrating the power of female identifying voices, from Jan 15 – Feb 16, 2019, with its third annual Femme Series

Amplifying female identifying voices has always been important to Cultch Executive Director, Heather Redfern.
 “This is our way to say, ‘Come on, guys: you’ve got to pay attention to this,” Redfern told The Georgia Straight about the Femme Series in early 2018 “you have to do it deliberately. You have to commit to doing 50 percent of work [in your season] where the main thrust is from a female creation.”

This year’s Femme Series is bigger and better, than ever before, packed with special events—music, karaoke, new play-readings, and opportunities to mix and mingle. It continues the work from last year, with particular emphasis on deconstructing patriarchal language, expanding the limitations of the way gender is represented, and celebrating the intersectionality of the feminist perspective.

Femme Series Events, including Main Stage Productions:

Jan 11WROL (Without Rule of Law) by Michaela Jeffery—A new play reading presented by Touchstone Theatre, 8PM, Historic Theatre—FREE

Jan 12:  Soft Cedar Presents: Only a Visitor album release, with special guest Wallgrin—Only A Visitor is a quintet that blurs genre boundaries by straddling the line between art music and pop. Their new album, Technicolour Education, focuses on the Chinese diasporic experience in Vancouver through generations of immigrant stories. 8PM, Historic Theatre—$20

Jan 14: Women in the Arts Mixer5-7PM, Historic Theatre—FREE

Jan 14: Pitch, Bitch, and Ditch with Pippa Mackie and Kim HarveyJoin theatre creators and producers Kim Senklip Harvey and Pippa Mackie for an unforgettable night that puts the power in the hands of the patrons. 8-9PM, Historic Theatre—$10

Dakh Daughters
photo: Tetiana Vasylenko

Jan 15 – 19Dakh Daughters (Ukraine), York Theatre—Main Stage Season Production: Six actresses take musical instruments into their hands in order to create a life-affirming performance about love, freedom, and beauty which—at the end of the day—will save the world


Jan 22 – 26
Power Ballad, Julia Croft/Nisha Madhan (New Zealand), 8PM, Historic Theatre—Main Stage Season Production:  an angry, feminist, live art investigation of language and its sometimes hidden ideologies. Part performance lecture, part karaoke party, Power Ballad deconstructs gendered linguistic histories and rips apart contemporary language to find a new articulation of pleasure, anger, and femaleness.

Jan 25: Feminist Karaoke with Julia Croft, after Power Ballad, 9PM, Historic Theatre—FREE

Jan 27: Soft Cedar Presents: Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole, presented as part of CapU Global Roots Series—Kaumakaiwa brings to the stage an immense talent as a singer, chanter, and dancer as well as a deep understanding of her Hawaiian culture and her place as a modern, transgender (mahu wahine) Hawaiian in this contemporary world. She engages Indigenous thought to address today’s issues through music, chant, and sharing of spirit. 8PM, York Theatre—$40

Much Ado About Nothing
photo: Emily Cooper

Feb 5 – 16Much Ado About Nothing, Classic Chic Productions (Vancouver), Historic Theatre—Main Stage Season Production: Featuring an all-female cast, and set in a mesmerizing theatrical world, this deadly serious and sublimely ridiculous story—of soldiers in love and women confined by tradition—is a bold and playful romp through the extremes of desire and ambition, loyalty and redemption.

5 Picks for PuSh Festival 2019

Every winter the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival brings together the world of Arts and Performance. This year’s 15th Annual PuSh Festival runs January 17th – February 3rd, 2019 and tickets are selling fast.  Don’t wait, check out the line-up and book your shows now.

The 15th Anniversary festival kicks off January 17th at The Beaumont Studios with a performance by D’BI, the free Opening Night Party, features djs, dancing and pop-up performances by Vancouver’s Kimmortal & Immigrant Lessons.

“We launched in 2003 as a three-show series that drew 2,500 people to 21 performances at three Vancouver venues,” says Roxanne Duncan, PuSh Festival’s Interim Executive Director. “The inaugural festival opened a short two years later in 2005. Now as we prepare to celebrate our 15th anniversary, PuSh has welcomed more than 300,000 people to 366 productions from 30 countries.”

The opening performance Attractor by DanceNorth Australia,  January 18th & 19th at Vancouver Playhouse
The show begins with two musicians and eight dancers onstage. Indonesian duo Senyawa plays music spiced with ritual and folk idioms from their native country while choreographers Lucy Guerin and Gideon Obarzanek work with Dancenorth Australia and the band to create a wild experience: as the music builds in power, the dancers increase their abandon and pre-selected members of the audience join in.

Some other highlighted picks for PuSh Festival 2019 include:

Marginal Consort by Marginal Consort (Japan) : January 20 at Performance Works
Four musicians, play a multitude of instruments, create ambient, heavily manipulated music, far apart and fully independent of each other.

PALMYRA by Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas (France/UK) : January 22–24 at Performance Works
Named after a Syrian city that has changed hands several times during the current fighting, this show slowly builds to the level of violence, creating and sustaining moral ambiguity along the way.

salt. by Selina Thompson photo: Bryony Jackson

salt. by Selina Thompson (UK) : January 24–26 at Roundhouse Community Centre
In this performance Selina Thompson recounts her journey along one stretch of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle route by cargo ship.

Bicycle Thieves by Joelysa Pankanea (Canada) : January 26 & 27 at Performance Works
A special commission for Push Festival, composer and musical director Joelysa Pankanea guides a group of six musicians and four actors as they provide live musical and voice accompaniment to director Vittorio De Sica’s landmark 1948 neorealist film Bicycle Thieves.

These are but a few of the international performances scheduled for the 2019 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. Visit pushfestival.ca to find the full festival schedule and book your tickets and Push Passes now.

 

5 Big Bashes for NYE 2018

The year is coming to a close. If you’re still looking for a fun way to send 2018 on its way, here’s a few of the city’s NYE bashes for the big night

Concord’s NYE Vancouver : Vancouver’s Official New Year’s Eve celebration has become one of Canada’s largest New Year’s Eve event. Live music and entertainment, outside on Canada Place Way to Jack Poole Plaza and inside Vancouver Convention Centre West  highlighted by 9pm and midnight Fireworks.

NYE 2019 at Telus World of Science :  Twisted Productions, Hollywood Promotions, and John Donnelly & Associates present a stellar 19+ event at Science World with 3 rooms of music, 6 top DJs, 5 licensed bars, and spectacular lights and sound.

Patrick Maliha’s 6th Annual Naughty Little New Year’s Eve at the Rio Theatre:  a variety like no other, comedian Patrick Maliha hosts a cavalcade of performers to ring in the New Year at the Rio Theatre with drinks and dancing into the night

NYE 2019 Waterfront Gala Ball:   Glenfiddich and Nude Vodka present a deluxe New Year’s 2019 gala at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. Celebrate in style in two ballrooms with top DJ, dancing, drinks and a magnificent view of the Midnight countdown Fireworks at Canada Place from the Glenfiddich Lounge.

Frozen in Time NYE: Harbour Event Centre (former Edgewater Casino) will be  transformed to a winter wonderland for a night of stunning visuals and sound from 4 DJs

It’s A Wonderful Life brings music to Gateway Theatre

Gateway Theatre brings the holiday tradition, It’s A Wonderful Life, to the stage, until December 31, 2018.

Based on Frank Capra’s 1946 film, Peter Jorgensen has adapted a new musical production with music from the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s by some of the greatest songwriters of the period, from George and Ira Gershwin to Kurt Weill.  The Gateway Theatre also brings a wonderful 10-piece orchestra, conducted by Angus Kellett, onstage to fill the theatre with the live sounds of the holiday favourites and Broadway classics. 

Jorgensen has created a playlist for It’s A Wonderful Life that is bookended by the familiar Christmas carol “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear” and “Auld Lang Syne”, and in between a selection of tunes that will be familiar to some, and brand new to others.  Nico Rhodes’ arrangements and orchestrations are lush and help to create the mood of the scenes, the songs’ lyrics fit with the spirit of the scene but don’t necessarily do much to move the already slow story along.  As with the film, the story is a slow burn, at once nostalgic but also melancholy, until the last scenes reveal with the heartfelt message about family and friends.

The story starts with George Bailey’s (Nick Fontaine) life at a crossroads and recaps what leads him to this point. Fontaine has a commanding stage presence and voice, but rather than making George Bailey his own, it felt like he was trying to emulate the great Jimmy Stewart. While he found a similar voice to Stewart, he didn’t quite nail the emotional range, instead seemed to be perpetually perturbed.  As George’s wife, Mary, Studio 58 student Erin Palm is a stand-out in her Gateway debut, charismatic and possessing a voice beautifully suited for the standards. Just like we could all use an angel on our shoulders, It’s A Wonderful Life was at its best when Clarence, the Angel, played by Greg Armstrong-Morris, was involved.  Armstrong-Morris brought a fun, kind-hearted portrayal of the wingless angel.  Gateway Theatre’s Artistic Director Jovanni Sy does triple-duty as George Bailey’s father, the sheriff of Bedford Falls and the villainous Mr Potter.  The evil Potter allowed Sy to have some fun with the egomaniacal character, he just needed a moustache to twirl.

Fans of It’s A Wonderful Life, the film, will find something new to add to their holiday repertoire with this new musical adaptation.  It’s A Wonderful Life, the musical plays at Gateway Theatre, 6500 Gilbert Road, Richmond, until December 31, 2018.