Monthly Archives: October 2016


WholeNote Magazine: “Genres fused in Ayre”

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Christopher Hoile writes in the latest issue of WholeNote Magazine:

“A third production in November also breaks contemporary notions of genre. This is the song cycle Ayre (2004) by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov (born 1960) presented by Against the Grain Theatre from November 10 to 12 at the Ismaili Centre. The title in medieval Spanish means “air” in both the sense of “song” and the air we breathe. The song cycle is a juxtaposition of Arabic, Hebrew, Sardinian and Sephardic folk melodies and texts. The soloist will be Miriam Khalil accompanied by an 11-member ensemble with stage direction by AtG founder and artistic director Joel Ivany and lighting by Jason Hand. Golijov, Ivany and Khalil all met at Banff this past summer and Golijov sat in on rehearsals of the piece. Though not an opera, critics have repeatedly called the work “dramatic.” Ivany says this is the first time anyone has “taken the work a step further” by staging it. He says, “Miriam will have memorized the entire piece and will thus be free to use movement and gesture to illuminate the texts and to tie them together visually.” Ivany is excited that Golijov plans to attend the first two of the performances in Toronto.”

Against the Grain Theatre Opera Pub

Opera Pub returns November 3

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We weren’t sure what to expect at our inaugural Opera Pub event. But last Thursday, more than 100 music fans, and friends (and a handful of folks who had no idea what they were in for) turned up at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club to hear some Friends of AtG Sing the Operatic Hits.

A huge thanks to performers Krisztina Szabó, Aaron Durand, Stephanie Tritchew, Clarence Frazer, Cait Wood and John Brancy, and maestro Topher Mokrzewski, who banged out the tunes on our newly-bought Craigslist piano.

“A packed house of opera enthusiasts were reminded of the joys of spontaneous music-making at Against the Grain Theatre’s first edition of Opera Pub, their new series of casual concerts where you can experience music in a different space with a beer in hand and not many rules…. It had the feeling of an after party when musicians kicked back, loosened up and playfully made music with their friends.”—Musical Toronto

“It was loud, it was fun and the audience, not all of whom I suspect knew what they were in for, stayed.”—Opera Ramblings

Opera Pubs run the first Thursday of every Month

The next event:
November 3, 2016 at 9pm
Amsterdam Bicycle Club
To sign up to sing, email
RSVP to our Facebook event

John Brancy with Topher Mokrzewski Opera Pub

John Brancy with Topher Mokrzewski

Impromptu waltz time with Caitlin Wood and Clarence Frazer Opera Pub

Impromptu waltz time with Caitlin Wood and Clarence Frazer

atg volunteers

Work with AtG!

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We’re looking for friendly and outgoing volunteers for Ayre (November 10, 11, 12), taking place at the Ismaili Centre, Toronto. This is your chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at our production process, learn from our crew, hear fantastic music and, of course, hang out with some awesome people. To get involved for one, two, or as many performances as you like, email us here! (And don’t forget to tag/share with any friends who might be interested.)

Photo: Brent Calis