Sunday, September 19, 2021

Critic’s Picks: 5 Shows to See this March

Spring is an exciting time for artists and arts organizations, as new seasons are announced and plans for the future are made public. In March, a number of local artists and organizations are offering up some of their best performances of the year, with many being outside of traditional performance spaces. Here are five of our favourites for the month.

NEXUS (March 6)

Internationally revered for virtuosity, innovation and extraordinary music, the New York Times has called NEXUS “the high priests of the percussion world.” The Toronto-based group consists of four master percussionists, who have made multiple appearances at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall and the BBC Proms. NEXUS’ original compositions and arrangements range from ragtime and African rhythms to film-music. Strong advocates for music education and training the next generation of musicians, the group is providing a workshop at McMaster’s LIVELab alongside their March 6 performance that will explore issues of relevance to musicians and scientists. NEXUS’ performance at McMaster’s LR Wilson Hall is part of the Concerts at McMaster series, in partnership with The Socrates Project.

Chamber Music Hamilton (March 8)

Despite being in existence for over fifty years, Chamber Music Hamilton remains one of the city’s best kept musical secrets. With only five concerts in their season, each performance is smartly programmed to feature some of the world’s leading artists and chamber (small) groups. Case in point- their March 8 concert at the Art Gallery of Hamilton will feature the New Orford String Quartet. Consisting of the concertmasters and principal cellist and violist of the Montreal, Detroit and Toronto Symphonies, the quartet’s success has resulted in two Opus Awards, a 2017 JUNO award, and engagements across North America, including at the Lincoln Center as part of their Great Performers series. Adored by artists, audiences and critics, expect this performance to be electrifying.

Every Brilliant Thing (starting March 14)

Stephanie Hope Lawlor (Venus In Fur, Mary’s Wedding) is the main character in this one woman show who explores her family’s history of mental illness (and later her own battles with depression) in Every Brilliant Thing. As the audience plays a key role in the telling of the story, expect Lawlor to combine improvised interactions with her script to create a unique theatrical experience. Ensuring the production is far from the traditional theatrical narrative and experience, Every Brilliant Thing will be performed at Media Centre Infinity Forge (468 Cumberland Avenue), rather than a typical theatre space. Performance dates are scattered through the middle and end of the month- check their website for specific dates.

The Hamilton Seven (March 15)

A collective of storytellers will take the stage at the Staircase Theatre on March 15. United under a common theme for the evening, each individual storyteller will share a personal, highly entertaining and usually humourous anecdote that audience members will often find relatable- or at least be able to empathize with. The evening creates an incredible sense of connection with those in the room- much like attending a neighbourhood party. Be warned that as the performance takes place in the café space of the Staircase Theatre with tickets at an affordable $12 each, that availability is extremely limited- email them in advance if you’re determined to go to secure your seat.

Intimate & Immersive: Earthshine (March 26)

The Hamilton Philharmonic exit the concert hall and enter The Cotton Factory to create a new type of orchestral program in this one-night only performance on March 26. Concert-goers are invited to sit close to the musicians, grab a drink and experience the music alongside visual and multimedia arts. More traditional classical music on the program include favourites Mendelssohn and Shostakovich. However, a number of newer composers will be featured as well, including Jeffrey Ryan, whose Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation is arguably one of the most powerful Canadian orchestral pieces of the last decade. His contribution to the program, Earthshine, is the namesake of the evening. This casual event also includes an opportunity to meet and connect with musicians and HPO Music Director Gemma New.  

Feature photo courtesy of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.

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