Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mayor's Celebration of the Arts - Winspear Centre

Photo: Red Power Squad
Last night I attended the Mayor's Celebration of the Arts (without my camera, for a change).

What a show! I know many of the performers, nominees and award winners from past performances. It was fantastic to see them in the Winspear - where everyone seems to shine.

Kita No Taiko drummers. Of course the sound was great. The 'huge drum' made such an noise that it sometimes seemed to sound twice from a single stroke. The Kita No Taiko drummers are very visual - bright red costumes, lots of movement. And the sound! The Winspear is a great place for a sound like that.

Edmonton Opera's Renee Brad sang a few tunes. I could not see clearly, but it appeared she was not wearing a mike - no problem hearing her at the back. Amazing voice. Beautiful music.

Red Power Squad - I have caught their show a couple of times. As Peter Brown said 'no-one can follow that, we need to have an intermission. Hot music. Hi energy hip-hop. Astonishing moves, twists spins, and a message. Angela Gladeu later received the award for Emerging Artist - I was rooting for her.

After the intermission, Brian Web Dance. Sheri Somerville sang "The Ballad Of The Sad Young Men", while Brian danced the sad man. Quite a dramatic change from Red Power Squad - with some similar movements - in very slow motion. Sherri is a local diva, actress and it was a pleasure to see her singing and echoing the dance performance in movement and song.

Samantha Schultz gave us two of her songs. I think I first heard Sam in April 2005. She is still only 17 years old, but she has clearly gained a wealth of experience. I was pleased to hear some new arrangements of familiar tunes. Her voice and performances continue improve. You can catch Samantha at the Citadel Theatre on April 11th, at the closing ceremonies of the Night of Artists festival on April 27th, and the Edmonton Folk Music festival this summer, and ... and... Sam is one busy performer -- when does she find time for school?

Next, Teatro La Quindicina gave three small skits, green peppers, golf and soup. Even Davina Steward had problems keeping straight faces in the middle of 'soup', as Jeff Haslam's ‘Hello, I am your waiter” started with ‘chicken and rice’ and drifted agonizingly slowly, indirectly, from ‘being a waiter keeps me out of trouble’ to confessing casually that he had killed someone and maybe he should have been arrested, before circling back to the recommended 'soup of the day'.
Theatro is always a delight, and I am certain the audience was tickled by their off-the wall humour.

And Le Fuzz (that's French for 'the fuzz', Peter Brown said quietly) closed the show with tunes in French, Russian, Spanish, and a bit of English. The audience was invited up to the stage to dance, and didn’t need encouraging. Stephen Mandel joined in, and was soon line dancing in a huge snake that rocked the stage.

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