Große Stimme – Allison Crowe

Published in the print edition of “Süddeutsche Zeitung“, Germany’s largest national subscription daily newspaper, is this review of the latest concert in the tour of Allison Crowe and Billie Woods. The article, penned by kultur journalist Peter Baier, is not yet translated into English language. Still, any discussion of Allison’s musik that references Leonard Cohen and Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” has a solid grasp of things, so, we’re happy now, and will only become more happy :)

click image above to see full newspaper copy

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Dienstag, den 16. Oktober 2012

Große Stimme

Die kanadische Sängerin Allison Crowe im Inninger „Spectacel“

Inning – Natürlich muss sie den von ihr gecoverten Hit singen, das Stück von Leonard Cohen, das sie erst so richtig prominent werden ließ: „Hallelujah“, gespielt miteiner wunderbar melancholischen Einleitung. Dabei kommt Allison Crowe ohne jeden Kitsch aus, singt mit großer Lautstärke, ein bisschen blues-orientiert und mit einer Hingabe, die schon fast zum Religiösen tendiert. Gänsehaut-Musik. Die Betreiber des „Spectacel“, Innings musikalisches Zentrum, haben es geschafft, Allison Crowe für einen Abend zu verpflichten. Und Crowe zeigt, was ihre hergibt.

Bereits mit ihren ersten Ansagen gewinnt die kanadische Songwriterin mit eigenem Label die Gunst des Publikums, lässt mit ihrem Koloratur-Lachen die Erwartung auf Weiteres ansteigen. Mit kräftigem Zugriff spielt Allison Crowe das Klavier, zu dessen Klang ihre leicht rauchige, ausducksstarke, kurz: große Stimme hervorragend passt. Manchmal erinnert ihr Spiel an die Tasten-Eskapaden eines Konstantin Wecker, dann wieder gibt es Momente, die an den Stil von Modest Mussorgsky’s „Bilder einer Ausstellung“ denken lassen.

Crowes Gesang bleibt auch in den Höhen absolut sicher, begeistert geradezu in den Tiefen. Wunderschöne Balladen wechseln sich ab mit harten Songs, die Texte sind stets gut verständlich. Allison Crowe greift auch zur Gitarre, begleitet ihren Gesang mit zarten Tönen. Und wechselt dann wieder zu hartem Rhythmus auf dem Klavier. Eine ähnlich starke Stimme hat auch Billie Woods, die mit ihren Liedern das Konzert eröffnet. Die ebenso attraktive wie hochmusikalische Sängerin und Gitarristin überrascht mit ungewohnten Akkordstrukturen, wofür sie ihr Instrument mehrfach umstimmt. Und dass die Gitarre eigentlich ein Rhythmusinstrument ist, belegt Billie Woods mit großer Überzeugungskraft.

Natürlich müssen beide Musikerinnen Zugaben spielen.

PETER BAIER

Allison Crowe’s Europa Tour 2012 images can be viewed in Allison’s facebook gallery – click here, and in the facebook album of musician and photographer Billie Woods – click here.

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RWB Steps Out – “The Doorway” to Tour Canada’s Maritimes

In this part of the Northern Hemisphere, there’s no wish for those lazy, hazy days of Summer to pass… still, in a sign of great things to come, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet posts the next dates for “The Doorway – the resonantly rewarding ballet choreographed by Jorden Morris and set to the words and music of Leonard Cohen. (These Maritime Canada tour dates are presented in several of those same venues which launched Cohen’s triumphant return to the concert arena in 2008.)

For these Autumnal dates, Allison Crowe reprises her role performing “Hallelujah“. Cris Williamson, whose live recording of “Sisters of Mercy” capped the premiere runs, joins the RWB company to perform the song live on-stage.

Full details tba

Maritime Tour:

Halifax, NS – November 7-8, 2012 – In Tandem, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, The Doorway, and Pas D’Action – Rebecca Cohn Theatre

Fredericton, NB – November 9, 2012 – In Tandem, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, The Doorway, and Pas D’Action – The Playhouse

Charlottetown, PE – November 10, 2012 – In Tandem, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, The Doorway, and Pas D’Action – Confederation Centre of the Arts

Saint John, NB – November 12, 2012 – In Tandem, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, The Doorway, and Pas D’Action – Imperial Theatre

http://www.rwb.org/tours

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Naked Honesty: Crimson Coast’s Holly Bright Revealing and Revelling

This year, 2012, has seen much excitement and beauty emerge from choreographer Jorden Morris’ creation of Leonard Cohen-inspired ballet for Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet (the first company anywhere to present Cohen’s works as dance/theatre – with 1970s Brian Macdonald choreographed “The Shining People of Leonard Cohen”). Following the success of his “Dance Me to the End of Love” – pas de deux, a sensational highlight of the 2011 Genie Awards telecast – featuring dancers Sophia Lee and Jaime Vargas – Morris’ contemporary dance, “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen“, enjoyed its world premiere this Spring. Pierre Meunier, reviewer for La Liberté, says of this newest RWB Cohen ballet: “Chacune des cinq scènes est un petit bijou.” (English translation: “Each of the five scenes is a small jewel.”)

Among those most delighted with news of these works by Morris and company is Holly Bright, Artistic and General Director of Crimson Coast Dance Society, based in Allison Crowe’s birthplace of Nanaimo, BC, Canada. “How wonderful that this collaboration has arisen! RWB are amazing and well-loved across the country as is Allison! I hope I get the opportunity to see it!,” Bright exclaimed upon Allison Crowe teaming up with the RWB to perform “Hallelujah” in “The Doorway”.

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Since settling in Nanaimo in 1992, Holly Bright, choreographer and dancer, has dynamically pursued her mission to advance modern dance and dance literacy in the Harbour City and communities throughout the region. She and Allison’s creative paths crossed when the musician, (now nesting in Corner Brook, NL), was living year-round on BC’s rock – with one particularly brilliant spark emanating from a multi-disciplinary show at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre – presented by the non-profit mental health organization “Open Minds Open Windows”.

“I heard Allison sing Hallelujah at Open Minds Open Windows event we both performed in,” Holly Bright recounts. “I knew I had to dance to her version of this song and my deepest desire was to do it live. It was the perfect ending to a mixed concert around themes of life and death in a cancer society fundraising dance concert produced by Crimson Coast Dance Society.”

In my experience most interpretations of this song give it a down-and-out quality. Don’t get me wrong, these are exquisite and captivating renditions, absolutely hitting one important point of view for this song. What compelled me about Allison’s version was how I related viscerally to the hope contained within her phrasing. It is a shout that comes from deep within her. It seems to me a cry born out of the experience of being broken, of the effect of pride, of loss, of the experience of deep love, spiritual and relational and of life’s call, promise, to heal and grow.”

She composed her interpretation like an anthem, with swelling voice, in such a way as to express the pure passion of the experience of learning about love the hard way. Every sentence in that song slays me, anyway, with an impact for which there are no words. Every line breaks my heart, then proceeds to heal it. Then the ending pauses and builds are like love-making, making everything alright somehow.”

The text is sheer poetry, we all know that, and Leonard Cohen is brilliant. “Love is not a victory march, it is a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.” My God, I cannot even say those words without my heart sinking while growing at the same time. And isn’t that what we long for out of the experience of brokenness… the possibility of hope… of learning and growing… of feeling the weight of what went wrong and the healing promise that life brings.”

The challenge of creating movement for that dance that was not predictable yet that would weave metaphor into a song that was already dripping with it was delicious. Allison’s YES to my request for the privilege of performing to her singing Hallelujah was a highlight of my career. And the experience itself, on stage, her voice rising to shake the rafters where the angels hang, had me feeling naked “before the lord of song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah“.

Holly”

Holly Bright in ‘Costing Not Less Than Everything’, photo by Willow Friday (nee Chandler)

Coda: The dancer’s elemental expression pulses outward in the public pool. That reflection of this performance, one dance piece in Bright’s “This Body of Knowledge” program, is recorded by a trio of reviews published in March and April 2004:

“Holly Bright’s piece introduced the fifth artist of the evening. Allison Crowe sang a soaring rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. She caressed and scraped the lyrics turning Cohen’s song into an anthem. Bright matched this knockout performance with a solo that was sinuous, lush and beautifully phrased. The extension of her expressive arms embraced space and the emotional content of the song majestically.” ~ Russell Kilde (choreographer, theatre director, critic)

“Nanaimo’s own Holly Bright and Allison Crowe provided a stunning finale to the evening. Crowe sang Leonard Cohen¹s “Hallelujah” with a depth and power that made the song soar. Bright¹s duet with the music was filled with strength, vulnerability and intense beauty. Alternating between moments of expansion and quiet intensity, the music and the movement were woven together expertly. The result was a clear revelation of the pathos and the brilliance of human experience.” ~ Keri Wehlander (author, lyricist+)

“In the final number, Allison Crowe at the piano joined Crimson Coast’s Holly Bright for a radiant, rousing, celebratory rendition of Leonard Cohen’s lovely “Hallelujah,” with Holly’s graceful, expansive movements providing the visual corollary for Allison’s full, vibrant voice, completing the circle, merging body and spirit, body and mind.” ~ Shirley Goldberg (Film Studies instructor, writer, cinephile/critic)

In the dance, life – to quote Leonard Cohen anew – “God is alive, magic is afoot”.

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Freedom Fighters Rock Relay for Life 2012

Allison Crowe and team-mates, Lil Alexander, Louise Brake, Linda Bursey, Debbie Callahan, Mary Cashin, Sharon Fifield, Janine Gillis, Veronica Hunt, Judy Scott, and Captain Joanne Fiander, the “Freedom Fighters“, came together for the 2012 Relay for Life in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.

It’s a celebration – walking, running, dancing, and more. This year the team raised $1,754.00 in contributions to the fight against cancer. Thanks to everyone who donated – and, in Allison’s support, cheers to Jeff, Fiona & Jack, to Cathie, and to Dad, Mom, Lea, Jane, Ross for your care and generosity :)

Here’s some images of the day’s colour, including a sign even bigger than the cookie Allison baked for the occasion…

(btw, the recipe for this cookie - which can be made gluten-free – comes from Chocolate-Covered Katie’s Liebster Award-winning healthy dessert blog:  NB this is no Kenner Easy-Bake Oven-top pictured here with the cookie more-than-covering one grill. It’s a regulation size CB mod-con, so’s you knows.)

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Hallelujah ballet

“Spine-tingling.”

That’s how Holly Harris, dance reviewer for the Winnipeg Free Press, describes this performance of “Hallelujah“.

Corps de Ballet member Sophia Lee, fresh from a lead role as “First” in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s production of Mark Godden’s “Svengali“, here dances Leonard Cohen’s modern song classic. Allison Crowe sings and plays piano on-stage with Lee in the world premiere of “The Doorway“, choreographed by Jorden Morris. RWB Soloist Jo-Ann Gudilin (nee Sundermeier), “Mother” in “Svengali“, dons the blue dress to perform “Hallelujah” with Crowe on alternate dates.

(CBC News – screen-caps)

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Get with the program

Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet published a lovely “Playbill” size program for its “Pure Ballet” production. Here’s the page therein containing the bio of Allison Crowe, and, the person who made the music that made the dance, “The Doorway” – Leonard Cohen!

click on the image to read full-size

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Chocolodka at the Dance

Today is the final performance of the debut run of “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen” and the season finale for Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Following this Mother’s Day performance of “Pure Ballet” we salute music, dance, motherhood, you and me, a dog named Boo, and all else, with this special elixir – Chocolodka. Na zdrowie! Sláinte!

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And, for the instructional inspirational:

How To Make The Original Chocolodka – The Video

NB pictured in this post is Chocolodka: Travellers Edition – the creation of which, in an hotel room, requires some variance from the traditional methodology – though the ingredients remain true to the original recipe, and, according to all involved, optimal standards for Chocolodka have been maintained. Furthermore, no one was harmed in the making of this product. In fact, quite the contrary :)

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Giving credit – where credit is due

Here’s a page from the program for “Pure Ballet” – noting the credits for “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen“. Since Allison Crowe is performing onstage – well, she’s not in position to take photos! So, we’ll look for other artifacts, such as this one, to bring us all to the dance…

Credits – click on image

I’m just back from trekking half-way ‘cross Canada and back, to be present for the public debut of “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen“. This new dance piece is exciting and inspiring, and part of a brilliant mixed program, “Pure Ballet” presented by Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

After unpacking, and sitting back down at my home computer, I came upon a sour review of the art and entertainment in a newspaper item. As it did not reflect the experience shared by thousands of people this week in Winnipeg, it, and some friendly encouragement by a fellow LeonardCohenFiles.com forum member, I’ve put my hand to at least trying to offer a glimpse into what it’s like… amazing, wonderful, magic… read on, if it be your will :)

Exciting Ballet News

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Tonight is RWB’s World Premiere of “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen”

CBC Arts Correspondent and SCENE Producer Andrea Ratuski attended dress rehearsal, and files this report on the RWB’s “Pure Ballet” and the World Premiere of “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen“.

Leonard Cohen’s music comes to life at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet

As you’d imagine with the words and music of Leonard Cohen, there’s great range and variety in the program – so, consider this as being treated to a flake…

And, heading into soundcheck at Manitoba’s 2305-seat Centennial Concert Hall – here’s the view from the sound-board.

Tonight is the opening of “Pure Ballet” – and the World Premiere of “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen“. This ballet, choreographed by Jorden Morris, invites us to explore the words and music of Leonard Cohen. Allison Crowe performs “Hallelujah” in this piece, and the song is danced by Sophia Lee in performances on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Jo-Ann Gudilin (nee Sundermeier) dances the role on Thursday and Saturday.

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A Day Off In the ‘Peg

Sunday.

All is quiet and still inside the Founder’s Studio of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Allison Crowe is off – enjoying the pleasures of this city at the heart of Canada. Tomorrow – dancers and musicians resume rehearsals leading up to this week’s World Premiere of “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen“.

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