This was outing #6 of the year (following 1 OLT, 2 NAC, 1 hockey game, and 1 Gladstone) to see the NAC Pops show called “80s Mix Tape” with conductor Stuart Chafetz and singers Julie Reiber and Bryce Ryness. The show was a collection of 21 songs from the 1980s performed by the NAC orchestra, with 8 instrumental versions and 13 with lyrics. The full playlist (with two extra songs) is at the bottom.
The show kicked off with the instrumental version of The Final Countdown (Europe), and it was good, but not amazing. A nice light opening. They then went directly into a song with the female singer, Call Me (Blondie). I felt like she was doing a pop lite version of the song, no real grit, and the version I’m used to from Blondie has more deeper tones behind it. Or so I thought. However, you’ll see in the playlist version below, my memory might be off because it isn’t much darker/deeper in tone than the version I heard last night. » Read the rest
My wife and I enjoy the NAC Orchestra shows, particularly the Pops, and if it wasn’t for simple cost and logistics, we’d sign up for them every year. Instead, we pick and choose the shows we want along with some others. With 17 shows across multiple venues, this was outing #2 this year. The theme for the night? The music of John Williams, namely from all his soundtracks of the greatest hits of films.
Up first was the Main Title from Star Wars (1977), and it’s a great blockbuster opening. From there, they slid into Superman March from Superman (1978). Just those two alone would be worth the price of admission for some people, including me.
After that, they went through The Flight to Neverland from Hook (1991), excerpts from Artificial Intelligence (2001), The Cowboys Overture from The Cowboys (1972), and Theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). They’re all good, and the Cowboys Overture has that big epic Western feel to it. » Read the rest
My wife and I had tickets for the latest NAC Pops show this week, and unlike the odd one last time (NAC Pops – Holiday Swing), this was a bit more their style when it comes to non-orchestral “modern music”. They’ll do Broadway or rock or a host of other “pop” sources for music, stick the orchestra in the back playing the music, and throw some good singers up front. I confess, at times, they bury the orchestra. But it’s still fun.
This one was along that line, with eighteen fantastic songs made popular by female artists. To handle vocals, the program had three female ex-Broadway-calibre performers — Katrina Rose Dideriksen (Hairspray, Rent, Grease, Legally Blonde, etc.), Cassidy Catanzaro (American Songbook, backups for big rock stars, songwriter), and Shayna Steele (Rent, Hairspray, Jesus Christ Superstar, huge backup opportunities with larger stars, etc.). Katrina is the young relative newbie, Cassidy is a bit older and richer voice, and Shayna is a bit older still with more experience and a more vibrant voice. » Read the rest
Andrea and I went to see one of the National Arts Centre (NAC) Pops series last night entitled “Holiday Swing”. As the name suggests, it is a “swing” / big band version of Christmas music. While the series is almost always a good time, it is much improved when Jack Everly is conducting himself as opposed to designing the overall program for the year. Unfortunately, in that regard, it was not Jack, but Byron Stripling performing as conductor, trumpet, and vocals.
I confess that I’m not a big band aficionado, nor a jazz specialist, and was not familiar with Byron Stripling directly. You can see him online in a popular YouTube video:
His trumpet playing is awesome, but that’s about almost where the kudos end for the evening. The night was so inconsistent, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Overall, there were 14 songs during the night, and the NAC Orchestra was sitting twiddling their thumbs for far too much of the show. » Read the rest
My wife and I have purchased season tickets in the past to the NAC Pops series, and it can get a tad expensive once you add in 6 shows, babysitter, sometimes dinner, sometimes parking, etc. Plus, honestly, it’s a heavy commitment at times. You don’t “pop” out for quick listen, it’s a full evening, requires planning etc. Fun, but not like going to a movie on the spur of the moment.
This year we opted for a smaller subscription, just four shows, and we aren’t in the same seats for every show. Which may turn out to be fun since we’ll get to try all different kinds of seating across the newly renovated NAC.
Saturday night was our first outing, and it was an 80s night. Basically the orchestra plus two singers working their way through the hits. It sometimes seems odd, since if you love the orchestra, you miss out on some of the performance because the singers are over-riding it. » Read the rest