Toronto’s arts scene has experienced a number of changes over the past few years, namely the closure of numerous small live music venues. But even through these inauspicious times, Toronto’s vibrant culture in performing arts is thriving.
The evolution of Toronto’s music scene continues to produce dynamic and contemporary artists. For performing arts aficionados who are curious and seeking a show with inventive collaborations there are a few hidden gems in the city.
Toronto’s longest and best kept secret in the performing arts scene is the Art of Time Ensemble, led by internationally renowned pianist, Artistic Director Andrew Burashko. The collective of classical, jazz and pop musicians is known for experimenting with music styles and other art forms to createunique music concert experiences.
This fall, the Art of Time Ensemble is celebrating 20th anniversary season, which begins October 25 and runs through May 11, 2019. The series is essentially a highlight reel of their best performances from the past two decades. Guided by Burashko’s curatorial vision, the shows may just change the way you think about classical music.
The official 18/19 Art of Time Ensemble’s Concert Season features five programs – three of which revisit their very best in dance, in music and in poetry or theatre. As always, the performances are by the best artists on the Canadian scene.
Art of Time Ensemble through the years
Formed by Burashko in 1998, the Ensemble explores the juxtaposition of high art and popular culture, crossing genres and boundaries to combine music and dance, music and literature and music and theatre. Unlike other local companies, Art of Time Ensemble invites the audience to stick around for a drink and chat with the artists after the performance.
Two decades of memorable performances
Despite being a classically trained concert pianist, Burashko’s imagination isn’t limited to the canon. His tastes in pop, jazz, dance, theatre, literature, and film drive his creative programming. The rich and interesting arrangements ensure music is always at the core of every presentation.
Many world-class artists have performed with the Art of Time Ensemble. Looking back at the roster, some noteworthy performances include:
Lovely Rita (2012). Performed by Steven Page (Barenaked Ladies), John Mann (Spirit of the West), Andy Maize (Skydiggers) and Craig Northey (The Odds). The commissioned arrangements of the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band included pop, jazz and classical composers.
Miserere (2013). A collaboration between Art of Time Ensemble, Dancetheatre David Earle and Choir21. This piece will be returning for the 20th Anniversary Best of Dance and Music show.
Thriller Suite (2014). A poetry reading by Margaret Atwood, in which the Art of Time Ensemble had original music commissioned to accompany Atwood’s writing.
It’s Going Down Slow (2016). A Bruce Cockburn song performed by Hawksley Workman and the Ensemble.
A look at the 2018/19 concert series
Here’s a run-down of the Art of Time Ensemble 18/19 Concert Series programs:
Best of Dance & Music (October 25-27). Experience creations by Canadian choreographers, including Peggy Baker, James Kudelka, and David Earle, set to music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Gregorio Allegri, Sergei Prokofiev and John Cage.
To All a Good Night 4 (December 13-15). Enjoy comedic readings, favourite holiday carols, new songs and more. Artists Jackie Richardson, Tom Wilson, Jessica Mitchell, Chris Murphy, and David Wall return for an evening brimming with festive music.
Best of Music (February 21-23). Two full programs of music by Paul Simon, Queen, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Ludwig van Beethoven, Bohuslav Martinu and Dmitri Shostakovich.
Best of Magic & Loss: A Tribute to Lou Reed (April 13, 2019). Art of Time Ensemble takes a step out of the concert hall and into Toronto’s Opera House for a return engagement of their wildly popular tribute to Lou Reed. Singers Shakura S’Aida, Jackie Richardson, Tom Wilson and John Southworth perform Reed’s songs.
Best of Words & Music (May 9-11, 2019). Theatre, poetry, and music intersect in a concert that presents the highlights of Art of Time Ensemble’s theatrical, literary, and musical collaborations from the past two decades. Including, a performance by Fiona Reid of Margaret Atwood’s “Thriller Suite”.