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Somehow, somebody swivelling a leather desk chair in a lavishly decorated corner office — in a suit that costs as much as a Detroit house and with a Christmas bonus that surpasses most annual salaries — never looks as happy as a musician in a two-bit clip-joint where the drunks are shouting and the money is terrible, but where, for whatever reason, the band is really cooking.
The Big Band Show explored “the relationship between jazz and classical music through the minds of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century.” I haven’t enjoyed a concert so much in a long time — a reaction that, judging from the standing ovation, was shared by my fellow audience members.
But as I stood and clapped and whooped along with everyone else, it did cross my mind that we hadn’t had half as much fun as the people onstage.
Writers are a glum lot by comparison. They seldom appear thrilled with the idea of actually doing any writing. Often, they give the impression that a colonoscopy would be a welcome diversion.
Actors, of course, love acting — so long as it’s their own we’re talking about. Filmmakers have to spend too much time raising money to enjoy the eight-and-a-half frames per second of movies. They see eight and a half thousand dollars going by every second.
But watch the smiles of appreciation cross the faces of their fellow players when James Campbell on clarinet, or Mike Murley on tenor saxophone or Kevin Turcotte on trumpet do something really beautiful.
Musicians can’t contain their delight at what musicians do. And that delight — a kind of energy that runs through any good band or orchestra or ensemble like an electric current — is what makes listening to live music often so magical.
The Art of Time, now in its 12th season, was founded by the classical pianist Andrew Burashko. He is the conductor, the artistic director, the impresario and the artistic director of an ensemble that can only be described as one of Toronto’s true musical gems.
He must also be — so I guessed from his introductions to Suite for Jazz Orchestra, No. 1 by Dmitri Shostakovich, the Ebony Concerto by Igor Stravinsky, and Duke Ellington’s adaptation of The Nutcracker Suite — the most impassioned and informed lover of music in any room in which he finds himself.
Burashko’s adventurous spirit and musical curiosity informs the cross-genre programming that is the trademark of the Art of Time Ensemble.
Their next concert, in February, features London DJ Gabriel Prokofiev celebrating the legacy of his grandfather, Sergei Prokofiev, “in a program that features string quartets and laptops.” How often do you read a concert description like that?
The Art of Time has staked claim to a mash-up of highbrow and low, classical and popular, esoteric and familiar, new and old that results in the kind of crackling good music in which Burashko, even more obviously than the players he conducts, takes such delight.
My seat allowed me to watch him as he stood, just offstage during the Ellington Nutcracker Suite and I’d be willing to bet that there was not a face in the entire audience that more clearly registered pleasure in the music being performed.