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Review: Go For Opera! – An Encore Gala Concert

Culture, Music, Performance, Performance, Reviews

August 29, 2017

Opera Mariposa and the Heroic Opera Company are combining their talents to produce Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera this November. With such a stellar local and international cast, a fundraiser concert was a great idea. Go For Opera! was set up as a nicely packaged showcase of their talent.

On Sunday, August 20th, I had the opportunity to hear a variety of Opera’s best solos, duets, trios and ensembles sung by a variety of voice types. William Liu’s (baritone) performance was full of emotion, yet you could hear the drama just by listening to his warm colorful voice. Mark Pepe’s (tenor) always-present rich tone supports his ability to sing through his high notes in the most Italian romantic way, with a brilliant and full sound. Melissa Ratcliffe (mezzo-soprano) performed with a voice so pure and clear, I can only describe it as crystalline. In the ensembles, Melissa got me excited about Un Ballo in Maschera, because her tone and presence fits so well, yet shines in a unique way among the other singers.

One of the solo highlights was “Les Oiseaux dans la Charmille” from Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Nancy Hasiuk, a Canadian soprano currently studying and working in Germany, brought brilliance and warmth into even the most difficult coloratura high notes. Nancy also has a natural comedic side, which was carried over to the encore piece, “A Word On My Ear” by Flanders & Swann.

This show had a bittersweet side as well. Not only did we see a wonderful connection to Germany, but this was also a goodbye to an integral member of Opera Mariposa: Managing Director and soprano, Robin Hahn. This was her last show before moving to launch her career in Germany.

Robin brings everything to the stage from her sweet and elegant voice, to her versatile acting. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Robin’s repertoire can be technically demanding, because she makes it look so easy—especially when her character is so engaging. It was heart-warming to watch Robin sing with Heidi Muendel, her first voice teacher.

Heidi Muendel (soprano), Canadian born and working in Germany, will undoubtedly be worth the price of your ticket to Un Ballo in Maschera, just to hear her sing! She is the goddess of resonance, with a deeply rich voice that is both wonderfully dark, with bright overtones at the same time. There’s an Italian word to describe this from the bel canto tradition: chiaroscuro. Heidi has a beautifully balanced sound.

Overall, the concert was a crescendo of beautiful music, including excerpts from Un Ballo in Maschera. To top it all off, everyone joined in to sing the drinking song, “Libiamo ne’ Lieti Calici” from La Traviata. It was a reminder of how much this small community is like family. Their wine glasses may have been empty, which was a good thing, since Heidi’s adorable little girl joined her on stage! Yet, their glasses were full of something else: love, joy, and artistry.

More details about the upcoming performance of Un Ballo in Maschera:

In Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, or A Masked Ball, a secret love triangle and a political conspiracy both come to a head on a single night at a masquerade. This tale of passion, deception, and intrigue features some of the best dramatic music ever written, so you won’t want to miss your chance to see Verdi’s lush score brought to life by a stellar cast from across North America, Europe, and Asia!

Performance Dates:

Friday, November 17, 2017 @ 7:30 pm

Canadian Memorial United Church, 1806 W. 15th and Burrard, Vancouver

Sunday, November 19, 2017 @ 2:00 pm

Canadian Memorial United Church, 1806 W. 15th and Burrard, Vancouver

Third performance date coming soon!

Staged in Italian with English subtitles

Tickets $18-$28 at http://operamariposa.com/tickets, at 1-800-838-3006 or at the door

Learn more at http://operamariposa.com/


Kathryn grew up in Vancouver as a proud geek & nerd. Her love of sci-fi led to her first big dramatic dream of becoming the blue alien from the Fifth Element. Instead, she graduated with a Bachelors of Music degree as an opera singer. She is also a regular photographer for various performing arts groups and recently has been most interested in fun boudoir & body positive photo shoots. You can contact her here.

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Vancouver Chipmusic Society – Making “Toys” Sound Good

Concert, Culture, Events, Interviews, Music, Performance, Showcase

August 24, 2017

We recently made contact with the Vancouver Chipmusic Society to talk about their organization and the culture around chip music. 


LM: Can you give us a history of the Vancouver Chipmusic Society?

VCMS: For the last few years, I (Bryan) had been going to and occasionally performing at chiptune shows and festivals around the world in key cities that had developed a critical mass of chiptune enthusiasts – but I would usually return home to Vancouver lamenting that no such scene existed here.

I had since then been quietly keeping tabs on the few local chiptune artists and enthusiasts I did stumble across, in the hopes of starting a local scene when the time was right.  It wasn’t until Spring of 2016 that I decided there were enough interested people to warrant putting together a team and organizing a Vancouver-based chip show.

We ended up having the first installment of our chiptune concert series (dubbed “OVERFLOW”) on September 2016.  We had another edition of the show in March of this year, and of course, our third show is happening next Wednesday. The response has been pretty great, and just by virtue of the show existing we were surprised to see some talented local chiptune musicians being drawn out of the woodwork – artists that we otherwise wouldn’t even have known about!  So we’re very humbled to see the beginnings of this kind of community take shape, simply because we decided to take matters into our own hands.

LMM: Is there a community mandate?

VCMS: Our goal is basically to be true to the chip music art form and culture as it exists today – many of our organizers have been to chip shows elsewhere around the world and we want to preserve the feel of those shows while putting our own unique spin on it.  We feel that central to these events is the celebration of the independent/DIY aesthetic, as well as a certain streak of counter-culturalism – the use of these obsolete machines to make fresh and original music is in some ways a statement about freeing oneself from the latest economic/technological trends.

We also feel like this is music that anybody can enjoy, regardless of whether they know anything about video games or not.  So we try not to present our events as gaming-themed, although such associations are unavoidable – it’s really more about appreciating the purity of sounds that don’t sound like any classic human-made instrument and could be enjoyed in their own context, free from the computer/video game connections.

At a more abstract level, these events about celebrating how skillful leverage of heavy restrictions can lead to some really compelling forms of art.  You’ll see this in the masterfully-done pixel art for some of the games we’re showcasing, as well as much of the live music, much of which is made using sound chips capable of only 3 or 4 sounds/tones at a time.

LMM: How many members do you have currently?

VCMS:  We’re not actually structured like a club with memberships or anything like that – our organizational structure consists of about 5 or so members, mostly fellow artists, that have offered to help with all the logistical stuff needed to put on events like shows and workshops.  We also have a few enthusiastic friends who have been great with volunteering at our events, but beyond that, that’s about it.

In terms of show turn out, we’ve averaged about 60 attendees, which is actually quite decent for a chip show!

LMM: How did you get into Chip music?

VCMS:  When I was younger, I would spend lots of time collecting and listening to executable computer music (.MOD files) that I would find online.  These types of music files contained all the song data and instrument sounds – it blew my mind to be able to SEE the music on the screen instead of just listening to it.  Much of this music was actually some of the first chip music that existed.

In about 2007 or so I discovered that there were communities around the world that still enjoyed listening to and writing this sort of music, even to the point of organizing shows and festivals.  Many of those artists were using Game Boys and other hardware to write and perform their music, and when I looked more closely at how it worked, I realized that it was actually pretty easy to learn.  I’ve since been writing chip music under the pseudonym “bryface“.

LMM: If someone wanted to get into Chip music as an artist what would you need?

VCMS: Most of the relevant software is either free or insanely affordable.  Famitracker (which you can use to write hardware-accurate NES music) is freeware.  Little Sound DJ, which can run on a real Nintendo Game Boy via special flash cartridges, costs only ~$2 for a license – but you can run it on a software-emulated version of a Game Boy.  If you’re not interested in achieving dogged hardware accuracy, there are many audio plugins that emulate the basic sound chip waveforms which you can load up on typical Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software, for use either by themselves or to be incorporated with other software instruments.

LMM: Who are your current “Chip” favorite artists?

VCMS:  It’s a pretty varied and extensive list so I couldn’t possibly name them all.  But I would wholeheartedly recommend xyce, cTrix, HarleyLikesMusic, RoccoW, Fearofdark, Saitone, and chibi-tech among a zillion others – I would say that represents a pretty meaty cross-section of many chip-related sub genres including demoscene, acid, funk, pop, IDM and electro.

One interesting detail about the above artists that I’ve met or shared the stage with the vast majority of them in person in the last couple of years, at the various chip shows and festivals that have happened around the world.  That hopefully helps to illustrate how surprisingly close-knit this global scene is, even though many of us live on completely different continents.

LMM: And finally who is your favorite non “Chip” artist?

VCMS: Oof, that’s a really hard question to answer, again because my musical tastes are as eclectic and transient as they come!  But just recently I went with a friend of mine to a Jacob Collier one-man live performance – if you’ve ever seen his viral videos where he layers dozens of takes of his vocals over top of instrumental layers that he also himself performs right from his room, then you’ll have an idea of his staggering musical talent.  If anybody deserves more attention diverted their way for their talent and hard work, it’s that kid.



You can check out some great Chip artists at the Vancouver Chipmusic Society‘s event Overflow #002: Mega Ran + Sammus, Together We Are Robots & MORE which will be at The Fox Cabaret on August 30th, 2017 from 7:30 PM – 11:30 PM tickets are $15 online/early bird and $20 at the door. The event is 19+. You can get tickets here!

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Review: Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret

Books & Writing, Burlesque, Comedy, Culture, Events, Music, Performance, Reviews, Showcase

July 20, 2017

Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret was the tonic the bi/pan/polysexual community of Vancouver needed. In a city where the LGBTQIA+ community is fractured and siloed this magical night showed us that there are in fact a lot of very artistic and interesting bi/pan/polysexual performers in the community.

I was there as a guest of Producer and Host Katie Sly, who was a gem. Such a funny, real, charming vision on stage. I went with a local bisexual burlesque performer and activist Miss Dee Twenty (full disclosure, she is one of my besties) and we spent most of the night in mouth open awe of what we were witnessing.

Joining us from LA, international multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and LGBT activist Honeybird gave the night such a wonderful call and response experience where the crowd was encouraged to be part of the music. Her songs are rhythmic and reminded me so much of being 13 and listening to Ani DiFranco that I had to look at my ID to remind myself that I can legally drink alcohol. It was bliss. Honeybird will be the featured musical guest for the August Living Myth Magazine Podcast.

Bad ass deaf Asian warrior Jessica Leung showed what it is like to be deaf with a cochlear implant.

Doctor Ray showing us his super brain swipe skills Photo Credit By Raven John

The incomparable poet whose work now looks at the intersection of art and technology, Doctor Ray gave us a look inside of his mind while he wore a brain wave reading machine as he swiped on Tindr.

Manda Stroyer of Virago Nation – a collective of burlesque performers on a mission to reclaim Indigenous sexuality from the toxic effects of colonization. Photo Credit by Raven John

 

RainbowGlitz, Manda Stroyer, and Shane Sable of Virago Nation, a collective of burlesque performers on a mission to reclaim Indigenous sexuality from the toxic effects of colonization gave us a series of burlesque performances that were out of this world! Each of them a raw and strong example of what it means to be empowered in a world that wants to disenfranchise.

Shane Sable of Virago Nation, a collective of burlesque performers on a mission to reclaim Indigenous sexuality from the toxic effects of colonization Photo Credit By Raven John

Keyboard virtuoso and avant-garde muse, pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa played a series of etudes that were based on emotions.

Dominique Wakeland, Alexa Fraser, and Matt Winter of Devil’s Threesome, a devised theatre performance ensemble emerging out of Simon Fraser University gave us possibly the most strangely erotic and entertaining piece of the night in which they blew up inflatable pool toys/furniture and then undulated while they deflated them later on in the piece.

Alexa Fraser, Dominique Wakeland, and Matt Winter of Devil’s Threesome, a devised theatre performance ensemble emerging out of Simon Fraser University Photo Credit By Raven John

Queer and trans solo multi-instrumentalist Rory Jade Grey wowed us with beautifully powerful blues guitar and spoken word pieces about their life struggles and how society treats what they are scared of.

There was a beautiful art piece during intermission where mixed-media artist Caitlynn Fairbarns had taken bisexual characters from movies and television and removed the background to show just that character in a moment of themselves being them.

The night was magical. I bonded with one of my nearest and dearest over this moment of solidarity and being witnessed. I made great friends. I felt love.

If you want to read more about Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret you can click here for the interview we did with show creator Katie Sly. Katie will also be featured in the August episode of the Living Myth Magazine Podcast.

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In The Tent Of The Tea Party

Culture, Events, Music, Reviews

April 6, 2017

A spattering of Vancouver rain clatters against the concrete of Granville Street. A drumbeat without rhythm. Heavy. Is the dampness that pulls at you the rain? Or is there something else clawing at your soul? Something in the air tonight?

Trading on a legacy of sex, drugs, and black magic, The Tea Party crave a darker part of your soul. Especially Transmission (1997). Transmission is a gate, the music the path, and tonight? Tonight, The Tea Party will be our guide.

In 1997 three kids from Windsor resolved to produce “the darkest rock and roll album Canada had ever heard.” At the time, the Canadian charts were dominated by imports like the Spice Girls, No Doubt, The Backstreet Boys, and Pop Compilation Albums. For every the Tragically Hip or Our Lady Peace, there was a Sarah McLachlan or Celine Dion.

Often called “Moroccan Roll”, The Tea Party draw on sounds and instruments from across the globe, with a fixation on Middle-Eastern Mysticism and Music. Hearing live the music of my childhood, of my heroes, fulfills. Great musicians performing their greatest works out weighs the gimmicked nature of anniversary tours. Jeff Martin plays the guitar like an Olympic athlete. While a painting ages in his attic, he pulls out a bow and makes his strings sing. Jeff Burrows gives the drums an animalistic enthusiasm. Stuart Chatwood applies bass and keyboard, adding texture on texture, painting in sound.

This album offers a snapshot into the 90s that I never really knew personally. My older brother came of age during the heyday of Nirvana and the Wu-tang Clan while I was still playing Charlotte Diamond on repeat. That great musical revolution, heard through hollow walls as my brother learned long solos and discovered new sounds. I missed it. Too young. Too shy. It wasn’t until one hot summer in 1999, the world on pause, awaiting the new millennium, bored in the basement, I watched MTV countdown the top 20 videos of the week. Between undulating pop stars and incoherent rappers lay something beautiful: “Heaven Coming Down” from the album Triptych (1999) pulled me into The Tea Party’s world.

With the singular obsession of a pre-teen girl, I devoured their back catalogue as best I could. A copy of Splendor Solis (1993) from the back of an HMV. The Edges of Twilight (1995) borrowed from my brother. And, finally, Transmission, from a dusty corner of an A&B Sound. Looking for a way to understand the world, I stumbled into a different kind of understanding. That magic still lingered on the edges of the world. If only your eyes were open you could see it all.

If listening to Transmission is like finding a stack of Picasso sketches tucked in the back of the garage, hearing it live is a gallery exhibition. A sea of people, falling back on who they grew from. Aging rockers, former goth kids, angry angsty teens, and lost souls. “Army Ants”, pulsing, sends a wave across the crowd. “Psychopomp”, dragging the enraptured souls to the underworld and back again. “Babylon”, walking a tightrope between sex and violence until finally- “Release”…

“Release” resonates with me. Reminds me of why I’m here, of the journey the last few years have been. Of all I’ve lost and gained. Of missed chances and pain… I cry. There is a sincerity to it. A beauty. Even Martin takes a pause. To thank us, all of us, for creating such a moment. The moment passes – back into “Temptation” we go.

An intermission only to pull us back into Martin’s impossible world. Speaking openly of their heroes, the band slipped covers into the middle of their own work. U2’s classic “With or Without You” (1987) appeared in “Heaven Coming Down” (1999). Parts of “Under Pressure” (1982 Queen, David Bowie) kept appearing. The 20-minute version of “Sister Awake” included “Paint it Black” (1966, The Rolling Stones) as well as their encore.

So, here we are, 20 years later, do we still need an album like Transmission? What does an album mean in an age where Artists live and die download by download?

I think we’ve forgotten the importance of telling a good story.  The journey sacrificed on the altar of destination. Music is a product. Artists are commodities. Instead of autotuned perfection, give me skill. Give me the raw emotion and passion of a psychopomp.

The next city to host the Tea Party tent will be The Roxy in Los Angeles, CA on Saturday, April 8th.  After that they’re going to the Star Events Centre in Sydney, NSW, on Friday, April 21st. If you can’t make either of those dates, you can click here to see the rest of the tour, or click here to see their incredible selection of music

 

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Lindsey Stirling rocks the Vogue in Vancouver

Music, Reviews

May 21, 2014

lindsey stirlingThere’s something magical about seeing someone caught in the perfect euphoria of doing what they’re supposed to do.

It’s electric; there’s a buzz that fills the crowd and the air, hovering around all of us as we gather to see an icon of the modern age: Lindsey Stirling, violinist, dancer, musician. We arrived an hour before the doors even opened and the line up was already three blocks long, circling around the Vogue Theater in downtown Vancouver.

As the door opened the buzzing grew louder, the line staggered in an effort to control the crowd. The security people were polite, professional, letting everyone know the lay of the land before we ever got to the door. We all knew what was going to happen, and that made getting in simple. No rushing, pushing, or jockeying for position – just quick and excited filing in, we all of us expectant and waiting. (more…)

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MC Frontalot – Nerdcore Hip-Hop’s Final Boss

Interviews, Music, Showcase

April 10, 2014

MC Frontalot is oft-touted as the Godfather of Nerdcore Hip-Hop, a term he coined back in 1999 to describe his own musical stylings. Many cite him as a major catalyst in the explosion of geek-flavored music in the past decade. Regardless of how much credit the real life Damian Hess wants to take, there is no argument that MC Frontalot has been a huge inspiration to many artists worldwide and helped shine some mainstream attention on geek culture.

Now, Frontalot is preparing to release his sixth studio album, but kindly took some time out to chat with us here at Living Myth Magazine: (more…)

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Kawehi’s Robot Heart

Interviews, Music, Showcase

April 2, 2014

lawrencephoto copy

They say a great cover song can make you. Well that may be true as a recent cover of Nirvana’s classic Heart Shaped Box has cast a lot of eyes on one-woman band Kawehi. The video, showing Kawehi mixing and performing the song live from her dining room, exploded overnight. It was quickly featured by news and entertainment site SourceFed and also named a Staff Pick on Vimeo. The performance went viral and made the artist scores of new fans.

But there is more to the Hawaiian-born singer/songwriter than a few borrowed songs. Kawehi has five releases of her diverse original work under her belt with a sixth, Robot Heart, on its way. With all of the recent buzz, the Kickstarter for Robot Heart ended up just shy of ten times its original $3,000 goal.

Kawehi took some time out to talk to us here at Living Myth Magazine about her career, her new successes and the forthcoming EP. (more…)

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Amy Jo Johnson

Interviews, Music, Showcase

December 3, 2013

While many still recognize the Massachusetts native from her earliest role in the long-running Power Rangers series, Amy Jo Johnson has gone to several roles in film and television over her twenty-year career, including hit series like Felicity and most-recently the Canadian police drama Flashpoint. She had also gone on to establish herself as a singer-songwriter with 2001’s The Trans-American Treatment and the live-offering Imperfect.

The multi-talented performer hasn’t stopped there, however. Johnson has now added writer and director to her list of credits with the production of two short films, as well as releasing her latest album Never Broken.

I had the chance to ask a few questions of the now-adopted Canadian about her very busy last couple of years: (more…)

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