A veteran photojournalist on the arts and entertainment scene, Julian Bynoe is a Toronto-based cartoonist, artist and arts blogger. From 1996 to 2014, he was the arts/entertainment editor for the street publication The Outreach Connection, and has had articles featured in Realms Magazine, among others.
Luminato favourite Akram Khan brings his Until the Lions for the 2017 incarnation of the arts festival, now entering its second decade under a new artistic management.
The multimedia arts fest returns back to its city-wide format this June with two world premieres and more
Luminato 2017 Preview
After centralizing Luminato at the far-off Hearn Power Plant down in the Port Lands last year as a noble undertaking, if somewhat indulgent farewell for its departing artistic director Jörn Weisbrodt, the multidisciplinary arts festival gets back to where it once belong June 14 to 25 in spreading around the downtown core and the festival hub at David Pecaut Square (215 King Street West), rebuilding its future with the intention to explore, celebrate and respond to Toronto’s diverse and multicultural make-up with free and ticketed events.
Newly at the helm with festival CEO Anthony Sargent and Josephine Ridge in her first year as artistic director, Luminato launches its eleventh year with a spotlight around Canada’s 150th anniversary year in partnership with local First Nations arts groups and artisans and an ambitious three-year plan to improve accessibility that includes presenting more differently-abled artists in the festival.
Left-right: New Artistic Director Josephine Ridge, a veteran of the Australian arts festival scene; transports her energy and vision to Toronto’s Luminato with the enthusiatic backing of Luminato CEO Anthony Sargent.
“For a festival to stay relevant and feel connected to the city in which it’s created, it has to be part of the zeitgeist of the city,” said Ridge. “Luminato should be a festival of and a festival for Toronto. I’m proud to be artistic director of a festival that cares about why it was created, that seeks to explore and reflect the unique qualities of the city and its people, and to show it all off to the world.
“Throughout the program this year and into the future, we will be looking for ways to contribute, to add meaning and to reflect, respond to and to celebrate Toronto. We hope you’ll discover a festival that is curious about the world, interested in the vibrant diversity of the communities that comprise Toronto today, eager to engage in discourse and ready at all times to have fun and celebrate this great city.”
Sargent has nothing but praise for Ridge’s tackling the festival in her first year in stocking up with local, national and international artists in their fields of expertise. “Since Josephine’s arrival in July 2016, the Luminato team and Toronto’s wider artistic community have all been inspired by her compelling artistic vision, long-term programming plans and the painstaking dialogues with partners across the city and around the world which are the core of the way she works,” he said. “I am confident Luminato’s existing friends will find many treats here to enjoy, and we are also greatly looking forward to sharing our eleventh festival with an expanded circle of artists and audiences, as together we all explore these exciting new strands and flavours that will become signatures of Luminato’s second decade.”
On June 14, the festival opens with a free, large-scale celebration of contemporary Indigenous music and dance in David Pecaut Square, Tributaries , as curated and produced by Creative Producer Denise Bolduc and Erika Iserhoff of Native Women in the Arts. The event pays tribute to the immeasurable power, passion, beauty and resilience of Indigenous women as well as honouring the importance of land and water. Other First Nations-themed works includes the world premiere Canadian dance-opera Bearing from Signal Theatre with nine performers, soprano Marion Newman, a choir and live chamber orchestra, that explores the impact of Canada’s residential school system, choreographed by acclaimed Plains Cree choreographer Michael Greyeyes and created by playwright/director Yvette Nolan of the Algonquin Nation with librettist Spy Denommé-Welch who wrote the commissioned score with Catherine Magowan, while incorporating the music by Claude Vivier and J.S. Bach; with the participation of the National Youth Orchestra; running June 22 to 24 at the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre (227 Front Street East); and a free photography exhibit, Imposition of Order , at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts (27 Front Street East) as created by Mohawk photographer/writer Jeff Thomas.
Touring The Famous Spiegeltent makes a stop at Luminato with various local to international acts performing at the downtown David Pecaut Square.
Back in the heart of the festival is David Pecaut Square with the pop-up venue The Famous Spiegeltent from Belgium, a ornate travelling pavilion from the 1920s that still surviving and among just a handful left in the world providing cabaret, music, theatre and spoken word which will host a plethora of artists with free afternoon and ticketed evening/weekend performances featuring currently confirmed appearances by Montréal pianist Jean-Michel Blais (June 15), Toronto’s conscience dance-electronica duo LAL (June 17), the Irish electronic hip-hop trio Rusangano Family (June 23-25), Wolastoq First Nation tenor Jeremy Dutcher (June 16) and the clownish team from Italy, Compagnia Baccalà with their critically- and audience-acclaimed show, Pss Pss (June 17-18), among others.
Other performances includes the return of Indo-British kathak dancer/choreographer Akram Khan’s latest Until the Lions (June 15-18) on his retelling of the Sanskrit epic the Mahabharata centring on female empowerment with fellow dancers Ching-Ying Chien and Christine Joy Ritter at Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre in the round seating; an encore performance of last year’s Life Reflected (June 18) inspired by four Canadian women Alice Munro, Amanda Todd, Roberta Bondar and Rita Joe at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts (1 Front Street East) and the genre-defying tragicomedy En vivant, mache! (June 21-24) making its North American premiere at Bluma Appel Theatre at the St. Lawrence Centre from the acclaimed Belgian choreographer Alain Platel of music and drama rolled into one.
Left-right: Other acts coming to Luminato 2017 are the South African hip-hop dance troupe Soweto Skeleton Movers as part of the Breakin’ Convention showcase and the eclectic tragicomedy musical from Belgium, En vivant, mache!.
The world premiere-commissioned musical King Arthur’s Night (June 15-18) at Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street) as performed by a cast of actors living with and without Down’s Syndrome; Moscow’s Vakhtangov Theatre with their stunning all-Russian language production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya (June 24-25) that was a smash hit in London’s West End coming to the John Bassett Theatre (255 Front Street West), plus the experimental coming-of-age chamber musical CHARLOTTE: a Tri-Coloured Play with Music (June 16-18) based on Charlotte Saloman’s graphic novel accounting her formative years during the rise of Nazism in her native France at the Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West).
Last but not least brings Australian artist Shaun Gladwell video installation Skateboarders vs. Minimalism (April 18-July 11) at the Drake Hotel (1150 Queen Street West) with a free live performance June 24 by rollerblader Le Patin Libre at the Drake Commissary (128A Sterling Road) as scored by Philip Glass; Torontonian Dancemakers troupe investigating life’s curious loops through automation movement as choreographed by Australia’s Anthony Hamilton, Natural Orders (June 22-24) at Dancemakers Studio (15 Case Goods Lane) in the Distillery District and direct from London is the Sadler’s Wells hip-hop dance festival Breakin’ Convention (June 23-24) with performers from South Africa, South Korea, Britain and Canada at Sony Centre, culminating with a free Park Jam of local b-boy and b-girl crews, graffiti art and DJs spinning at David Pecalt Square June 25.
Tickets now on sale. For more information, call 416-368-3100 or luminatofestival.com.
Harbourfront Centre’s literary festival director Geoffrey E. Taylor to receive France’s highest artistic honour this fall
For years he’s been the “king” of the local literary festival scene. Now Harbourfront Centre’s International Festival of Authors (IFOA) artistic director will get a French knighthood for his contribution to the literary arts as the Government of France has recently conferred on him the distinguished honour of Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) in a ceremony to be held this coming October 24.
In a congratulatory letter from the French Minister of Culture and Communications Audrey Azoulay on March 27, Taylor was informed that he has received this honour, along with past fellow Canadian honourees Margaret Atwood, Douglas Coupland, John Ralston Saul and Jane Urquhart; for his significant contribution to the enrichment of the French cultural inheritance. In a subsequent letter adding his congratulations received from France’s Ambassador to Canada, M. Nicholas Chapus, it was further stated that this honour was also bestowed on Taylor for his expansive and innovative role as the Artistic Director of IFOA, which is held every late October down at Harbourfront Centre.
“It is truly incredible to be recognized by the Republic of France for my contributions to the world of literature,” said Taylor, upon hearing and accepting the award. “I am honoured that my name will be listed amongst so many of those I admire who have already received this distinction. To be fêted in this manner is a great testament to the work that my colleagues and I do to bring the voices of the world to a Toronto stage.”
The IFOA Bookstore, a temporary bookstore during the 2014 run of the International Festival of Authors during a relatively light traffic period.
His fellow contemporaries down at IFOA and Harbourfront Centre also couldn’t contain their excitement over the honour and recognition to their working with Taylor and contribution to the spread of Canadian and world literature in its ever-changing format. “This is a great honour for Geoffrey E. Taylor and the IFOA,” said IFOA President A. Charles Baillie. “An international acknowledgment of this stature helps draw awareness to the extraordinary work Geoffrey, as Director of the International Festival of Authors, has undertaken in Canada and abroad to promote culture and the arts. On behalf of the IFOA Board of Directors, I warmly congratulate Geoffrey on the announcement of his appointment as a Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters.”
Since his appointment to the position of Artistic Director of IFOA, Geoffrey E. Taylor has expanded the literary festival line-up to include visual art exhibits and family-oriented events, as well as promoted literary works from illustrator Ralph Steadman (inset; upper center-left) to the late, great Canadian author Farley Mowat (inset; upper right).
Marah Braye, the Chief Executive Officer of Harbourfront Centre also added: “I am delighted that Geoffrey Taylor’s tireless dedication and contributions to the literary world have been recognized with this prestigious award. Toronto’s International Festival of Authors is an important piece of the creative fabric at Harbourfront Centre. Toronto hosts what is recognized as one of the world’s leading literary festivals, and with Geoffrey at the helm I am confident the festival will continue to flourish and enrich the cultural landscape here in Canada and internationally.”
IFOA 2017 will run this October 19-29. For more information on IFOA and its continuing literary programs, call 416-973-4000 or ifoa.org.
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