"I am 3/4ths Canadian, and one 4th New Englander - I had ancestors on both sides in the Revolutionary war." - Elizabeth Bishop

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

An Uplifting Evening with Suzie LeBlanc and friends

In these troubling times, positive creativity is vital. We need more music, more poetry, more painting, dance, drama. Suzie LeBlanc’s “APocket of Time” concert, a tribute to Elizabeth Bishop, on Sunday evening, 13 November, at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts in Halifax, N.S., embodied the kind of collaborative creativity that brings out the best in and inspires all of us. Presented by Cecilia Concert Series, it gave all those who attended a great lift.

With Blue Engine String Quartet and pianist RobertKortgaard, Suzie sang several settings of Bishop poems, which had been composed for her for the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary in 2011: a setting of “Sunday 4 A.M.,” by John Plant (whose birthday it was that day – imagine, having Suzie LeBlanc sing you “Happy Birthday” accompanied by a string quartet!); and “A Short Slow Life,” by Emily Doolittle (who had arranged an orchestral score for this superb string quartet).

Two new settings of Bishop poems were also performed. The most recent, “Paris 7 A.M.,” by British composer Ivan Moody, was a world premiere performance. Halifax pianist and composer Peter Togni recently set “Lullaby for a Cat,” for Suzie and she closed the show with this tender song. The concert opened with Blue Engine performing Alasdair MacLean’s “The Silken Water is Weaving and Weaving,” inspired by this line from Bishop’s poem “Cape Breton.”

Music and songs by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa Lobos and Robert Schumann rounded out this program which explored time and dream and the moon.

I had the privilege of presenting a little pre-concert talk, which I think entertained those kind souls who arrived early. Here I am in full flight – not singing! – but declaring Bishop’s life-long love of music.
(Photo by Binnie Brennan)
I want to thank Cecilia Concert series for their warm welcome and for deep commitment to music, and all those who attended. It was a kind of “old home night” for me, seeing friends I had not seen in a long time, as I do not live in Halifax any longer. Including my friend, the poet and Open Heart Farming editor Mary Ellen Sullivan. To be part of this kind of music-making is a tremendously uplifting honour. Thanks to Binnie Brennan for taking these photos.
 (Photo by Binnie Brennan)
As Bishop wrote, “I am in need of music,” aren’t we all!

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