Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/1/2010 (2758 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Seventeen local acts showed Saturday night why Winnipeg continues to uphold its reputation as an arts hotbed.
Though it came across at times as a political rally as much as an arts event -- even Premier Greg Selinger braved the cold to attend -- this kick-off for 2010 as the federally designated year as Canada's cultural capital gave the technically sold-out house at the Centennial Concert Hall pretty much what people came to see and hear.
The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, helmed by resident conductor Richard Lee, made like gracious hosts as they backed up a procession of rock, folk, jazz and dance acts.
It was a rare instance in the concert hall of the orchestra being electronically amplified. This was necessary because the venue's overhead acoustic shell was removed to accommodate the other performers, who alternated between use of the main stage and the pit area.
Métis fiddler (and now singer-songwriter) Sierra Noble, who closed the first act, and aboriginal rock band Eagle & Hawk, who provided the finale, each got two numbers.
Everyone else did just one, and thus the show had a somewhat martial feel, as the shrewdly selected hosts, francophone Monique LaCoste and aboriginal Wab Kinew, clearly had marching orders to stay on script and bring the proceedings to a close within the union-mandated 21/2-hour running time.
Still a teenager but a rising star in town since her opening slot in 2009 for Paul McCartney in Halifax, Noble injected a note of humanity when she paid sincere tribute to the yeomen of the WSO, whom she seemed somewhat embarrassed to be playing in front of.
On the other end of the experience spectrum, veteran family entertainer Fred Penner loosened things up when he improvised a couple of swats on an instrument belonging to Japanese drumming quartet Fubuki Daiko.
The fact a performer of Penner's eminent stature was confined to a four-minute singalong on What a Day symbolized the problematic nature of the show.
Fubuki Daiko's heart-stopping rhythms, however, were particularly stirring, as was opener Monica Huisman operatic solo on Dvorak's Song to the Moon.
The three dance acts, a quartet of students from the Contemporary Dancers, an octet of Rusalka Ukrainian Dancers and a duet by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Vanessa Lawson and Alexander Gamayunov, were also crowd favourites.
A rare moment of levity occurred when Lee accidentally tossed his baton in the middle of Shostakovich's Festive Overture. Too festive, no doubt!
Later Kinew, a charismatic CBC broadcaster with a background as a hip-hop musician, stumbled over the pronunciation of the Russian Gamayunov's surname.
Kinew returned after the duet to untangle his syllables. He quipped: "You'd think a guy named Wabanakwut Kinew could have got that right."
In a show that took itself a bit too seriously, it was a welcome joke.
2010: The Concert!
"ö Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, plus guests
"ö Centennial Concert Hall, Jan. 2
"ö Attendance: 2,200 (sold out)
3 out of five stars