Q & A

Q&A with Jessica Deutsch of Ozere

I was not planning on becoming a musician, but music called me back very strongly and I couldn’t say no.

Following Ron Davis’s genre-bending trail, I have discovered Jessica Deutsch’s band, Ozere, which has a fascinating sound that draws from classical chamber, folk and fiddle music. They play old favourites as well as new compositions written just for the band. Tomorrow night (Nov 7, 2013 at 7:30pm) they’ll be playing in a beautiful yoga studio (80 Gladstone Ave., $15/$10 cover) in collaboration with The O’Pears vocal trio. The studio will transform into a performance space, with cushions for seats and home-baked goods for treats.

As an accomplished classical violinist, Jessica’s love of music is not limited to one genre, and that is certianly the spirit that Ozere transmits to the audience through their music. She has brought together like-minded artists who are well on their way to develop their own sound, and bring their music to a broader audience.

Don’t miss this chance to see great local music and home-grown talents. Here’s a Q&A with Jessica Deutsch, whom you can see also perform this Sunday with Ron Davis in his Symphronica concerts at Lula Lounge this Sunday at 8pm.

Don’t miss the videos of Ozere in this Q&A.

Q&A with Eric Stein of Ashkenaz Foundation and Ger Mandonlin Orchestra

We will bring hundreds of Holocaust Survivors to the show for free. They’ll hear a sound that they may not have heard in decades.

The performing arts can bring us back to a time of place, and with the right audience, the experience can be electric. A piece of history is being revived by the Ger Mandolin Orchestra, harkening back to a time when the instrument had wide popular appeal across Jewish communities in Eastern Europe and North America around the turn of the 20th century.

Avner Yonai was inspired to revive this musical ensemble when he found a picture of his Grandfather’s mandolin orchestra from the Polish town of Gora Kalwaria. For many Holocaust survivors, it is a sound from their childhood, filled with living breathing memories of a bygone time.

It can be heard again at 7:30pm on Thursday Nov 7, at the George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts.

Under the musical direction of the award-winning string instrumentalist Mike Marshall, the eleven members of the Ger Mandolin Orchestra are all accomplished musicians of a variety of musical styles, and the program revives sound both familiar and new to our ears.

One Toronto-based member, Eric Stein, is also the Artistic Director of our city’s Ashkenaz Foundation, which puts on an annual festival celebrating Jewish culture. He joins us for a Q&A to share with us his personal experience of being part of this musical project.

Click here to read on!

Q & A with Bygone Theatre’s Matt McGrath

The biggest challenge … is simply trying to get your name out there and to get butts in seats. There are so many different theatre companies and festivals out there, it’s really easy to get lost in the whirlwind.

In anticipation of Bygone Theatre’s production of Dial M for Murder this month (August 15-17), we are pleased to present our Q & A with the play’s producer Matt McGrath. Matt founded the theatre company alongside Emily Dix, whom we interviewed back in January, 2013. Read about how their shared love of classic Hollywood films formed the basis of Bygone. And be sure to check back for a ticket giveaway contest for this exciting new production!

Read on…

Q&A with Sasha Kovacs of Ars Mechanica Theatre

The experience was such a great one—filled with passion, excitement, risk and adventure—maybe that’s why we all decided to formally create a company.

With over 80 shows in the festival across 16 venues in the city, the SummerWorks Festival which is opening today presents theatre that “encourages risk, questions, and creative exploration while insisting on accessibility, integrity and professionalism.” It offers an experience of theatre that promises to be anything but the “same old”. The last time we talked to Vojin, the artistic director of Ars Mechanica, they were in the middle of developing a new work. Now you’ll have a chance to see their first work as a company, Show and Tell Alexander Bell, remounted at Summer Works to celebrate the recovery of Bell’s voice in a recording released by the Smithsonian Institute.

In this Q&A with Sasha Kovacs who plays the operator, Mary Moore, in the show. We get an insider perspective from one of the company’s founding members, and insight into the creative drive that binds performing artists together in their common pursuits.

Their show opens today and runs until August 18th. You can get your tickets here.

Click here to read the Q&A with Sasha of Ars Mechanica Theatre!

Q & A with violinist Mary-Elizabeth Brown

When people really believe in what they’re playing and in the art they’re making, it really comes across to an audience. As an audience member myself, when I hear performances from people who are really engaged in their art with every fibre of their being, it really has an impact on me as a human being.

Classical Music Outside the Box PosterBack in late February (2013), we featured a Q & A with Carol Gimbel, founder and artistic director of classical music ensemble Music in the Barns. For this Q & A, Margaret had the privilege to speak with violinist and music teacher Mary-Elizabeth Brown, who described the amazing synergy that led her to become part of the ensemble. Read about her thoughts on why they’ve been able to attract all kinds of audiences to their concerts.

And be sure to check back here for a chance to win tickets to see Mary perform in “Classical Music Outside the Box,” a Music in the Barns’ concert that takes place a week from today on August 1!

Read on…

Q&A with Unspoken Theatre’s Nina Kaye and Natalie Kaye

Create a mutually supportive community to sustain one another’s work. Reach beyond the theatrical to the greater artistic community. If you like what someone’s doing, support it!

There are as many ways of telling a story as there are types of people that exist in an audience. Founded in 2012, Unspoken Theatre is exploring the historical and European roots of theatrical arts.  Artistic Director Nina Kaye harkens back to the time of Shakespeare, where poetry and rhymes took centre stage, and the actors drew out the meaning in the text.

The upcoming project is a collaboration with her sister Natalie Kaye, through her new work entitled Walking Around in a Dream. How do you mesh shakespearean prose, the language of the roaring 20s, and a screw-ball comedy format? A staged-reading tomorrow will give you a chance to check out this work. Let’s Misbehave is a PWYC event, and a fundraiser for mounting a full production happening 8pm this Friday evening at the Riverside Bookstore (808 Queen Street East).

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Head out for an opportunity to support emerging theatre companies, who are creating their own opportunities to engage their art. There’s a show out there for all of us and this may be one for you!

Read on…

Q & A with Rebecca Ho of PushPULL Dance

Even though I’d chosen a non-dance career path, I still wanted to keep doing what I love—what I’ve always been doing—and do it at a high level.

Today’s Q & A features the other half of PushPULL Dance Inc.‘s founding members, performer and producer Rebecca Ho, as mentioned in our previous Q & A. Rebecca’s passion and enthusiasm for dance and for the work that PushPULL does infuse her responses as she shares with us her thoughts on the uniqueness of the company and of a PushPULL performance, as well as her insights on the physical challenges dancers face.

Photo credit: Raph Nogal (

And heads up! We’ll be giving away tickets to PushPULL Dance’s 9th annual show, entitled this year as Wish You Were Here, which runs June 13 to June 22, 2003 at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre. So stay tuned for a future post about that. Until then, check out our Q & A with Rebecca.

Read on…

Q & A with Kelly Slate of PushPULL Dance

I think what’s important with the performing arts is recognizing that creativity and artistic expression are not things limited only to those who pursue them professionally.

In our previous Q & A, Joel Ivany from Against the Grain Theatre spoke about the importance of making art accessible to anyone as the arts are for everyone. Today’s Q & A features Kelly Slate, one half of the founding members of PushPULL Dance Inc., a company that embodies this very notion.

Photo credit: Raph Nogal (

Read about what drove Kelly and co-founder Rebecca Ho (who will be featured in a future post in the coming weeks) to create PushPULL Dance, which, beyond the company, is a close community of non-professional dancers from all walks of life, who meet to choreograph dances, create shows, and perform simply for the love of the art. Check out their upcoming show Wish You Were Here, and you might find yourself affected by, and infected with, the joy and passion in the dancers’ performances.

Read on…

Q & A with Against the Grain Theatre’s Joel Ivany

There is something about telling stories that is timeless.  Whether it’s a play, a musical or an opera, we are sharing in the telling of a great story.  We (hopefully) slip away from all the things pressing on our minds and enter into something new and different, which then (again, hopefully) stirs something in us afterwards and makes us think.

In the second part of our two-part Q & A with Against the Grain Theatre, founder and artistic director Joel Ivany shares with us his passion for storytelling through theatre and for making opera accessible, as well as some particular challenges of the art form.

If you haven’t checked out their work yet, may we suggest catching an hour-long sneak preview of the theatre’s upcoming production, Figaro’s Wedding, taking place today (May 16) at 12 p.m. at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts? It’s part of the Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert Series, featuring our friends Edwin Huizinga and Carol Gimbel of Music in the Barns. And yes, it’s free!

In the meantime, this promotional video captures the spirit of their production in off-the-cuff, reality TV style as the camera follows Figaro on his way to propose to his beloved.

Read part 2 of the Q & A.

Q & A with Against the Grain Theatre’s Nancy Hitzig

Emerging companies are an essential part of the arts ecosystem and we need to produce innovative work to inspire and support the work of our bigger compatriots.

Ad-hoc performing arts collectives, such as Against the Grain Theatre (AtG), often don’t qualify for operating funds. For these collectives, the scramble for resources is an ever-present challenge. Yet it’s amazing how often the most unique and creative works, even when they’re reinventions of oft-produced classics, come out of such collectives when every production can make or break them.

One such production is AtG’s upcoming adaptation of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, titled Figaro’s Wedding (May 29-June 2, 2013, Burroughes Building, 6th Floor), which takes place in contemporary Toronto and is intended to make audiences feel as if they were attendees of a wedding rather than an opera performance. The unconventional setting and new English libretto offers a new way of connecting with an old classic, and we’re pleased to be doing a two-part feature on the team behind the scene!

In the first of the two-part Q & A with Against the Grain Theatre, general manager Nancy Hitzig gives us a glimpse of the kinds of challenges faced by ad-hoc theatre collectives.

Read part 1 of this Q & A.

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