Unique concert a ‘cinematic musical circus’ close to home
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Described as a “magical mix of music and theatre,” The DreamPlay Collage Concert series — featuring soloists Duncan Mercredi, Scott Nolan and Victoria Sparks — is set to thrill audiences with its mix of songs and stories this coming weekend.
Conceived by composer and musician Glenn Buhr, the concert will also feature the 15-piece Fallen Angels Orchestra and the Broken Songs Band performing on the floor of the West End Cultural Centre.
Buhr first started producing these concerts when he was co-director of the WSO’s New Music Festival in the ’90s. The event uniquely presents performers hidden in plain sight, dotted between members of the audience.
“These concerts were always our most popular shows at the WSO New Music Festival. It’s a stimulating and entertaining way to appreciate an eclectic collection of musical art,” Buhr says.
“This concert is our pilot project, supported by the Manitoba Arts Council.”
There will be 18 Manitoba musicians performing at the show, and 13 new works by Manitoba artists. There will be no break for applause between pieces, each one flowing seamlessly to the next, he explains.
“A lighting design isolates each performing musician when they play and leaves them in the dark when they’re not playing. It’s a delightful experience for the audience, a cinematic musical circus,” he says.
Percussionist Sparks — who can play more than 100 instruments — will appear and reappear throughout the show, performing on items such as crystal glasses and porcelain bowls, as well as more conventional musical instruments.
One of the works Sparks is set perform is called To the Earth, which is also the title of this first collage concert.
Winnipeg musician Nolan published his first book of poems in 2019 after he set himself the challenge of taking daily walks in an effort to give up smoking. He describes his poetry as “snapshots of moments” captured during his long walks.
Cree and Métis poet Mercredi, Winnipeg’s 2022 poet laureate, is a longtime resident of the city who paints a realistic representation of everyday life here.
Their work holds “deep meaning” for Buhr.
“They both write about home, which is a rich and complex subject for each of them,” he says. “The Winnipeg in Duncan’s epic poem This City Is Red — which he’ll perform with the Broken Songs Band at the show — is not a pretty place. The poem is a powerful and vivid display of the dark underbelly of our beloved city set to music which channels the New York beatniks and big city punk,” Buhr continues.
Nolan’s Winnipeg is very different.
“Scott finds real magic in everyday things: the Arlington Street Bridge; a man talking on his cellphone; a woman dancing in the park; cars doing ‘doughnuts’ on the ice in the back lanes in winter; and the Manitoba skyline, which is the title of one of his songs. He makes Winnipeg feel like it’s a land of wonder.”
AV Kitching is an arts and life writer at the Free Press.
Updated on Friday, November 18, 2022 9:56 AM CST: Removes reference to WSO in first paragraph