Dr. Heck’s Holiday Prescription

The much-liebed “Heck of a Guy“, a shining star in the universe of Leonard Cohen-centric blogs, is rockin’ around the tree to the sounds of Allison Crowe’s just-released “Tidings Concert” album. Listening is invited: “if you’re into something more enthusiastically, gleefully, contagiously joyous… welcome home”.

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Tidings Concert video playlist

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New album, concert tour, and documentary film come a’pealing

It’s coming on “Tidings” – and that means the voice of Allison Crowe will soon ring out traditional favourites, Christmas carols such as “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”, “In the Bleak Midwinter”, and “The First Noel”, alongside the modern canon of Joni Mitchell, Patty Griffin, Lennon & McCartney and original song selections including the elegiac “Arthur”, and the epic, foot-stomping, “Disease”.

Allison’s just off the road, wrapping up her second engagement of this year with Canada’s amazing Royal Winnipeg Ballet – performing songs of Leonard Cohen. With the love experienced on the dance stage, as well as recent European concert dates and this Summer’s Gros Morne Theatre Festival hit, “Newfoundland Vinyl”, still touching souls – it’s time to rally a repertoire that decks us all in comfort and joy whatever life’s circumstances.

“Allison Crowe is a stunningly talented performer. Her voice celebrates the music with a bluesy rock-gospel intensity; her controlled vibrato, silken rasp, and powerful projection rivet your attention. This is no casual background music… be prepared to be amazed,” says Carol Swanson (ChristmasReviews).

Drawing themes of faith, hope, sorrow, joy, redemption, transcendence and more from an abundant well of music, this year, there’s plenty of ways to rejoice with Allison as she melds the sacred and secular in “songs of the season” and spirit.

Tidings Concert”, captured truly by Engineer and Mixer Brad Graham, and FOH Engineer Ed Johnson, and mixed at Turtle Recording in White Rock, BC, Canada is released on November 25 (debuting @ http://music.allisoncrowe.com/album/tidings-concert with some days grace for iTunes and other folks observing Thanksgiving this weekend). This album set, her eighth full-length collection, features 19 in-concert performances, and, for the first time, audio from Crowe’s “Hallelujah” video which now has a worldwide audience of greater than 10 million people (more than eight million genuine views on YouTube alone).

Right after this music release, Allison embarks on a “Tidings” concert tour allied with special guests and special causes:

NOVEMBER 29 – Campbell River, BC, Canada – St. Peter’s Anglican Church – featuring The Campbell River Childrens Choir’s “Zephyr” w. Director Barbara Prowse and accompanist Judy Melny – presented by Rockin’ Ron Nicolaye to aid Campbell River Hospice Society & CR Food Bank

DECEMBER 1 – Victoria, BC, Canada – Fairfield United Church – with guest artist, singer-songwriter, Billie Woods – to aid Artemis Place, (girls’ educational and life-skills), and HepCBC

DECEMBER 5 – Nanaimo, BC, Canada – Old City Quarter – Community Carol Sing-along in support of “Light up a Life” campaign for Haven Society

DECEMBER 8 – Nanaimo, BC, Canada – St. Andrew’s United Church – with a cavalcade of Vancouver Island’s finest young musical talent: Chelsea Peckett, Daniel Knapp, Paige Hughes, Raymond Salgado, Kaleigh Hargrove & Emily Blake – to aid The Mind’s Eye (youth newspaper) + Woodlands SS Band and Basketball programs

DECEMBER 14 – Corner Brook, NL, Canada – Arts and Culture Centre – Tidings fun barrels down the chimney in this caring and creative Atlantic community

DECEMBER 15 – Corner Brook, NL, Canada – Arts and Culture Centre – World Premiere screenings of the Peter Buckle-directed documentary ~ “A Corner Brook Tidings” – a film featuring Allison Crowe and you – created with gracious assistance of the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council (NLAC)

Fuller details @ http://www.allisoncrowe.com/tour.html – and plenty more to come!

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“Absolutely fabulous” Royal Winnipeg Ballet

Musician Allison Crowe in the dressing room at the lovely Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick, on the final night of touring with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet – performing in “The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen“.

Allison says her friend, photographer, and fellow-musician Billie Woods took a photo like this a few years back, when Alley, Billie and band were on tour. So, she’s trying it out here :)

The view from backstage – Allison’s piano and bench is bathed in blue light so you don’t see it out front…

“Absolutely fabulous” – this description by writer and educator Lori Mayne neatly sums up the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Maritime Tour. “Had chills during the selection set to Leonard Cohen’s words and music.”

Here’s a family portrait of the RWB on the road! (photo by Ingrid Kottke)

NB The people in this picture are having the time of their lives. You can, too :)

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Dancing Days Are Here Again

Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the first organization to present a theatrical or dance production of the works of Leonard Cohen, (1970s “The Shining People of Leonard Cohen“), in May, 2012, presents the World Premiere of “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen“, contemporary dance wedded to the words and music of Cohen, choreographed by Jorden Morris. Musician Allison Crowe performs “Hallelujah” live on-stage (voice, piano) in this new ballet’s first run.

In November 2012, “The Doorway” opens in Canada’s Maritime provinces – touring as part of the RWB’s virtuosic quadruple bill… and the legend grows!

Allison Crowe reprises “Hallelujah” in this newest dance incarnation – and also brings to the stage new versions of “Bird on a Wire” and “Sisters of Mercy“.

A sensation in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet nextt takes to the stage in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and Saint John, NB.

Allison Crowe is loving the opportunity to again collaborate with the amazing RWB – performing songs of Leonard Cohen :)

“Here comes Allison Crowe’s piano for tonight’s RWB ballet performance at the Confederation Centre (of the Arts, Charlottetown, PEI) tweets Darcy Campbell about this photo

Andrea Nemetz, Dance Critic for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, attended opening night of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Maritime Tour – and has this to say about the Leonard Cohen-rooted ballet in the program:

RWB technique, emotion dazzle in Halifax return

The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen‘ was the evening’s only departure from classical ballet. Choreographed by Jorden Morris, the emotionally charged piece was the story of lovers in different stages of relationships told through Cohen’s music and words.

The Letters (sung on tape by Cohen and Jennifer Warnes) showcased a man and a woman desperate for communication, eagerly anticipating missives from lovers, dismayed or elated at their receipt, leaping over chairs or tables or draping themselves miserably over the objects.

Bird on a Wire, sung by Allison Crowe, was a duet in which the couple were achingly and joyously in love, while Sisters of Mercy, also sung by Crowe, showcased the supportive friendship between a group of women.

Since you Asked, a poem from a CD, was a duet for two men, powerful and full of loneliness.

And while the glorious sounds of Crowe’s signature rendition of Hallelujah filled the room, Sophia Lee transfixed the audience with the poignancy of her performance.”

Full ballet review @ http://thechronicleherald.ca/artslife/166277-rwb-technique-emotion-dazzle-in-halifax-return

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet paid homage to a Canadian legend in The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen during its performance in Halifax. (Bruce Monk photo)

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Allison Crowe Returns to the Dance as “The Doorway” Opens Wider with RWB Maritime Tour

“Working with the RWB is going to be such an awesome experience – even to just watch these amazing people dance is gift enough,” musician Allison Crowe told CBC TV “SCENE” Producer Andrea Ratuski this May – just before the World Premiere opening of “The Doorway” (http://www.cbc.ca/manitoba/scene/theatre/2012/05/09/pure-ballet). “I am humbled to be able to be a part of such a beautiful project, in tribute to such a wonderfully talented and brilliant man, Leonard Cohen.”

Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet is the first company anywhere in the world to stage a production melding works of the Montreal-born singer-songwriter, musician, poet, and novelist. In 1970, during the tenure of Artistic Director Arnold Spohr, “The Shining People of Leonard Cohen”, choreographed by Brian Macdonald, opened in Paris and at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre.

Again, in tune with the zeitgeist, RWB Artistic Director André Lewis today oversees an evolution of his company’s dance works wedded to the words and music of Cohen. For the 2011 Genie Awards, Jorden Morris, choreographer of tremendous successes “Peter Pan” (2006 premiere) and “Moulin Rouge – The Ballet” (2009 – and touring currently to record audiences), created a sensuous pas de deux embracing Cohen’s song “Dance Me to the End of Love”.

In “The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen”, Morris choreographs five songs/poems – “Bird on a Wire”, “Hallelujah”, “The Letters”, “Since You Asked” (written by Judy Collins, recited by Leonard Cohen), “Sisters of Mercy” – and lattices these with spoken word/interview segments.

“Leonard Cohen’s music comes to life at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet” declared the CBC, Canada’s national public broadcaster, earlier this year. Pierre Meunier, writing in La Liberté, set it this way: “Chacune des cinq scènes est un petit bijou.” En Anglais: “Each of the five scenes is a small jewel.”

CHVN Radio’s Adrienne Daniels reported on opening night: “the triumph of this performance was Mr. Cohen himself. He wasn’t there, but the RWB used audio from interviews he did regarding the songs being danced to and it gave such an incredible insight into the performance that it took it to that magical level. Where spirit and art connect and you FEEL the music. You feel it in your soul, it’s tangible with your hands and you can literally taste it.” And the audience loved it. Longtime RWB subscriber Dan Aysan posted: “‘The Doorway’ was a wild mix of dance, live music and spoken word that surprised me with its depth and simplicity (how often do you get dancers’ movements , Leonard Cohen’s words & music with a smattering of Peter Gzowski’s voice mashed up on stage ?!?)”.

During the first run of “The Doorway”, Canada’s bi-coastal singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Allison Crowe, joined the RWB on-stage to perform “Hallelujah” – with the dance role alternating between Sophia Lee and Jo-Ann Gudilin (nee Sundermeier). “Spine-tingling” says Holly Harris, dance reviewer for the Winnipeg Free Press.

Allison Crowe, pictured here in Verona, Italy – returns to Canada and the ballet – Billie Woods foto

Crowe’s “Hallelujah”, first released in 2003, has secured a place as one of the most-loved interpretations of this Cohen masterwork – in her live performances, nationally and internationally, and on YouTube, where her single, first, take performance, captured for less than $100, has more than eight million views. In a rave review of a concert on her most recent European tour, Peter Baier, culture writer for “Süddeutsche Zeitung“, Germany’s largest national subscription daily newspaper, observes: “Allison Crowe performs the song without any trace of kitsch” and says it is “gooseflesh (bump) music”.

“Crowe’s version is a living thing, a meditation and a celebration and a benediction,” explains Canada’s anacronym blog. “Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah‘… as performed by Allison Crowe, may be one of the most amazing things ever recorded onto magnetic tape,” adds America’s Semper Ubi Sub Ubi blog. Blogger Stephen Thomas, a founder of the UK’s Folkroom Records, and a judge of Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent says, “Simply, a song so beautiful has never been sung so beautifully.”

Emotional honesty is the hallmark of Allison Crowe’s repertoire. Now, with “The Doorway” heading on tour to Canada’s Maritime provinces, she’s delighted to accept an invitation from the RWB to reprise this vocal/piano collaboration with the company’s marvellous dancers, and, also, to duet on a new arrangement of “Bird on a Wire” alongside legendary U.S.-based singer-songwriter Cris Williamson – whose acapella, live, recording of “Sisters of Mercy” featured incandescently in the debut, and returns – this time live-on-stage – for the next, steps of “The Doorway”.

Williamson is, in her own right, a cultural and social icon – an artist who’s played Carnegie Hall, created an album, “The Changer and the Changed“, that is to the independent music world what Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is to mainstream pop ie. a “game-changer” (released in 1975, the album’s sold over 500,000 copies), and one who’s thrived outside the establishment record industry for decades – and long before the internet opened new avenues for musicians. She’s hero to countless women and men who’ve fought for sexual and social freedoms across America. Additionally, like Leonard Cohen, Cris Williamson is in the finest voice of her musical career and can bridge the wild spirit of youth and the wisdom of experience.

All this, and plenty more, is coming to the Maritimes – as the RWB includes “The Doorway” in its upcoming mixed repertoire program: “a virtuosic quadruple-bill which features Peter Quanz’s In Tandem, Brian Macdonald’s Pas D’action… and William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude,” notes the Fredericton Playhouse, one of the venues on this tour, in its neat summation of the action. “Experience the thrill of live dance performance with a stunning contrast in classical and contemporary styles courtesy of the foremost ballet company in Canada.”

For full details on the tour and the four exceptional dance works on the bill, visit the Royal Winnipeg Ballet @ http://www.rwb.org , the Fredericton Playhouse blog post “RWB MAKES TRIUMPHANT RETURN TO ATLANTIC CANADA” @ http://fredplayhouse.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/rwb-makes-triumphant-return-to-atlantic-canada , Halifax’s Live Art Dance Productions @ http://www.liveartproductions.ca/shows/mixed-program – and sites of each venue listed below:

Royal Winnipeg Ballet – MARITIME TOUR:

Halifax, NS – November 7-8, 2012 – In Tandem, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, The Doorway, and Pas D’Action – Rebecca Cohn Theatre – 8:00pm

Fredericton, NB – November 9, 2012 – In Tandem, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, The Doorway, and Pas D’Action – The Playhouse 7:30pm

Charlottetown, PEI – November 10, 2012 – In Tandem, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, The Doorway, and Pas D’Action – Confederation Centre of the Arts - 7:30pm

Saint John, NB – November 12, 2012 – In Tandem, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, The Doorway, and Pas D’Action – Imperial Theatre – 7:30pm

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