Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Cap Saint-Jacques in May

It was a wonderful May day,so I decided it was time to give my dog, Zak his moment in the sun at the Cap. What a lovely day! Not only was the scenery so restful, but the trees were alive with birdsong.

Water and  lush growth paired up to create splendid views at different spots on the trail we were on.


     I spotted a small yellow one among many other different ones of all sizes and areas of water that attracted a chipmunk that was burrowing under a little log. He was camera shy for sure.

Yes, the black flies were out, and it is tic season, so if you do go, cover yourself well, and ensure you dog stays on leash on the paths they are permitted to enjoy. Zak had a great time as we walked for about an hour, ending at a picnic spot.

The skies eventually grew overcast, but I wanted to continue on more trails, and Zak seemed to want to stay too.

 The variety of growth is startling. All kinds of trees 
 mix together side by side. I think this contrast in size and species is a visual delight. 

Within a 20-minute ride from Montreal, you will enter the splendour of it all. Enjoy the vast body of water: Rivière de la Prairie with and Ile-Bizard on one side and Oka at its perimeters. This place is gorgeous!

Read about my previous visits in winter and summer to Cap Saint-Jacques.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

GAUGUIN (Directed by Edouard Delduc) **

When the impoverished painter lands in Tahiti, his misery continues. He can’t sell his paintings; he lives in a rain-drenched hut of sorts; has a heart attack and finds betrayal and disappointment at every turn. Only his wife brings him pleasure; she is his escape from woes, and his muse. Sounds like good movie material, right? Unfortunately, the film is boring; most parts show him obsessively painting her in all kind of poses or suffering from cold - with respites of fun playing with the children (a scene that went on far too long). Still, it would seem that the stifled feeling plaguing him in Paris was relieved somewhat in his new life. But in the end, nothing really could cheer up this man. Vincent Cassel played the painter’s depression and elation with equal élan and plausible passion. Gauguin was meant to live in nature. Simplicity and a beautiful young woman were his bedfellows.  The film was silly at times and presented itself like a collage piecing together parts of Gauguin’s genius and temperament while in Tahiti. The biopic pales in hue compared to the vivid colours in his paintings. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Comical and the Serious with Mozart and Haydn

Bourgie Hall, Sunday, May 6th, 2 pm

A Thrilling Group of Guest Artists
Arion closed its 37th concert season with remarkable vivacity and outstanding playing – all enhanced by really funny entertaining moments. Mozart and Haydn are a scintillating match for this magnificent orchestra; they handle music’s humour with wit; and gravity with equal emotional understanding.

Guest soprano, Andréanne Brisson Paquin has a voice that beautifully reaches the high notes. Her tone is exquisite; her animated manner worked well as she took over the part of Clorinda, singing Mozart’s Air Vorrei spiegarvi, Oh Dio. I loved the oboe seduction that played out as Daniel Lanthier doubled as oboist and lothario as well. Using his instrument and his gestures to try to win over Clorinda, was highly entertaining and illustrative of the scene. Both singer and oboist interpreted this segment perfectly. Ms. Paquin’s acting was great as witnessed when she sung Suzanna in Mozart’s Air Al desio di chi t’adora.

Another colourful treat in this concert was the performance by horn player, Pierre-Antoine Tremblay. He demonstrated so many different textures with varied contrasts of expression. His breath control and musicality was most impressive during his performance of Mozart’s Horn Concerto in E-flat major, K.447.

Arion Baroque Orchestra certainly chose the right guest artist to act out various parts of the program. Lorenzo Coppola vividly demonstrated musical moments in various works performed by the orchestra. He enacted anger, sullenness, pain, love, and more. At one point Mr. Lorenzo galloped across the stage with an extract form the orchestra to show the instruments rallied together in a hunting scene with the horn leading the musical fray. At another point he jumped across and chair, even flung his belly across it miming swimming to show yet another emotional moment in the music of a particular piece. His historical clarinet of two registers was also the brunt of jokes he made, but his playing was anything but funny. He is a true performer whose varied agile talents, both amuse educate us about various passages. They proved far more enlightening because of his contextual explanations of the scenes and characters. Next time, a bit of English interspersed with his many explanations would be most welcome. He is a character that surely Mozart would have loved.

The final work by Haydn – Symphony Number 76 in B-flat major showed dashingly the orchestra’s incredible versatility and musicality. This work is exciting and technically demanding. The bassoon and flute were inspiring in the first movement, and it just got more and more godly as the work played on. This work is not heard as often as is Haydn’s Surprise Symphony.

Finally, the closing concert had its own personal Arion moment of sadness. Concertmaster and first violinist Chantal Rémillard is embarking on a new chapter in her life. The concert was her last with Arion. One of the four founding members of the orchestra,  Ms. Rémillard will be missed by everyone. This concert must have been a deeply bitter sweet moment for her; she is leaving the orchestra to retire. Her student, Tanya LaPierrière who plays second violin in the orchestra, gave a moving face-to face farewell to Ms. Rémillard. I just wish this concert had been recorded for it was absolutely timeless.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

LEANING INTO THE WIND (Directed by Thomas Riedelsheimer) ****

Nature is everything for this amazing artist who is wholly integrated into the vagaries of the ground. It is a vibrant journey through the diverse layers of Andy Goldsworthy's world. From Brazil’s poverty to urban Edinburgh and London to the South of France and New England, each environment he encounters becomes a fresh kaleidoscopic canvas for his art. A lushly-visualized travelogue where yellow leaves decorate the dead tree trunk of an elm, where poppies cover his hand like a glove. Everywhere he goes. He leaves his own personal memory imprint by lying on the ground or at the top fo stairs or on a sidewalk just before rain or snow comes to cover up his body outline. A remarkable man of integrity. He climbs across trees, crawls into a branch infested tangle in water in Gabon, and walks through an urban hedge. He is a true artist who refuses to reinvent nature’s natural gifts to express his own artistry.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


Over 70 artists will be performing, giving workshops and more in the sensational events that number twenty. Theatre, dance, music, even a day of feasting on Afghan food is on the plate.  Interdisciplinary concerts that combine different arts is sure to inspire.

Khosro Berahmandi and me

 Khosro Berahmandi, artistic director of this 23-year-old festival that coincides with Asian Heritage Month in Montreal and North America. It brings together all communities of various backgrounds while shining the light on Asian culture and its various artistic expressions.
The opening festival cocktail night featured a jaw-dropping performance of duo of Golestan with oud-master Nazih Borish and percussionist, Ziya Tabassian. The actual group comprises four musicians, but for the festival Marina Salonga will guest with the group. She is a multi-disciplinary dance, and on Moay18th at 8 pm she will be performing with Golestan, improvising to several songs performing gypsy fusion style.

  Borish and Zyia Tabassian

There is something for everyone in this festival so check out the website: www.accesasie.com. Order your tickets now.  Concerts and events run from May 1st to May 27th, and are at various venues throughout Montreal. Call (514) 298-0757.


Bourgie Hall, May 12th, 2 p.m.

 presented by Montreal's Centre Kabir

This exhilarating concert in two parts showed off the incredible technique and passion of  three brilliant musicians:  sitarist, Shujajaat Khan and tabla players Indranil Mallick and Osbert Lyall. The sitar playing was so impeccable as Mr. Khan created varying rhythms and speeds, often reaching implausible lightning-speed force where his hand became a blur of movement.  His stamina is off the charts!

Image result for osbert Lyall

 Likewise for the wizard-like ta
bla performers - their synchronicity with the sitar was extraordinary - jaw-dropping, yet deceptively effortless in execution. Their thunderous “hammering” on the taut skin of the paired tabla for each  Mr. Lyall told me that all three had never played together before this concert.

The post-intermission segment  (which by the way was preceded with chai tea and rusk down in Bourgie’s lobby) featured Mr Khan singing both a love song praising his lover’s eyes, followed by a religious ode in two parts to one of the Hindu gods. I had to ask someone sitting beside me what the lyric was about in both songs – a shame we were not briefly told a bit about each song.

Part of Accès Asie Festival, this outstanding concert is eternally imprinted in my soul.