August 17, 2018

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Icing on the cake

Browning, WSO take audience on a musical journey into the world of figure skating

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/1/2018 (211 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The first time figure skating legend Kurt Browning hosted Music of the Ice, his celebratory heel-click went awry, causing him to tumble off the conductor’s podium and nearly crush a Stradivarius on his way down.

Recalling that dramatic finale to a 2016 concert with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Browning noted, “The audience thought it was part of the show, but it really was NOT!

“I dropped the 18 inches off the platform, twisted my ankle, and couldn’t skate for about five weeks.”

Browning said he’ll likely forgo that whimsical bit of choreography this weekend — or at least be more careful — when he appears at Centennial Concert Hall with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) led by guest conductor Lucas Waldin.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/1/2018 (211 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The first time figure skating legend Kurt Browning hosted Music of the Ice, his celebratory heel-click went awry, causing him to tumble off the conductor’s podium and nearly crush a Stradivarius on his way down.

Recalling that dramatic finale to a 2016 concert with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Browning noted, "The audience thought it was part of the show, but it really was NOT!

Stars on ice</p><p>Former Canadian figure skating champion Kurt Browning will introduce WSO audiences to music that inspired iconic figure skating programs.</p></p>

Stars on ice

Former Canadian figure skating champion Kurt Browning will introduce WSO audiences to music that inspired iconic figure skating programs.

"I dropped the 18 inches off the platform, twisted my ankle, and couldn’t skate for about five weeks."

Browning said he’ll likely forgo that whimsical bit of choreography this weekend — or at least be more careful — when he appears at Centennial Concert Hall with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) led by guest conductor Lucas Waldin.

With Music of the Ice, Waldin and host Browning take audiences on a light-hearted and educational "double excursion" into the music that inspired iconic figure skating programs, and the stories behind the celebrated athletes’ memorable performances.

"It’s a bit of storytelling about the behind-the-scenes of skating, of my skating — some personal stories — as I introduce each piece," explained Browning, the four-time world champion turned ice-show professional, television commentator and, most recently, stage performer and raconteur.

Waldin is the mastermind behind the multimedia Music of the Ice concept. He curated the musical selections and video montages that accompany the music. As Browning described, Waldin and the WSO are the cake; he is the icing.

"The audience should anticipate a journey through skating through my eyes, a journey through the music of skating through the maestro’s eyes and the symphony. The story is told not through a small speaker on your TV set, but through a symphony orchestra."

Browning’s friend Geoffrey Tyler also brings vocals and dance to the mix.

The WSO will be led by guest conductor Lucas Waldin.</p>

The WSO will be led by guest conductor Lucas Waldin.

The music the trio chose for the concert could be considered figure skating’s greatest hits — pieces that will bring back memories for many in the audience. Think Battle of the Brians from the 1988 Calgary Olympics, when Canadian Brian Orser lit it up to Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing), written by Louis Prima and made famous by Benny Goodman; and British ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean’s 1984 masterpiece set to Ravel’s Boléro.

More recent recollections include Canadian figure skaters’ medal winning programs from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics — Joannie Rochette’s tango to La cumparsita by Rodriguez and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.

"The music’s all related to skating somehow, some way," Browning said. "Sometimes we just chose a fun piece like Phantom of the Night, which gets used (by skaters) over and over again."

To feature Browning’s masterful Casablanca program from 1994, Waldin reworked the score from the movie to mirror the edited compilation Browning skated to. (Almost all skaters’ program music has been cut to fit the time limit prescribed for figure skating competition and pieced together to suit their performance vision.)

As WSO musicians play Waldin’s customized version live, the audience will watch video of a 27-year-old Browning channelling his inner Bogart on the screen behind the orchestra.

Browning, now 51, has continued to delight audiences as a professional skater with memorable routines such as Singin’ in the Rain. Given the Centennial Concert Hall is sans ice, he will don in-line skates to reprise — in a fashion — his Gene Kelly-esque choreography while Tyler tap dances alongside.

As Canada’s current generation of elite figure skaters begin the final countdown to the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, Browning hopes Music of the Ice will spark renewed interest in the Games’ glamour sport and its wonderfully diverse soundtrack.

lauriene@mts.net

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