The Antigonish Performing Arts Series (APA) will take centre stage this weekend at St. F.X.’s Immaculata Auditorium.
Ariana Nasr, who performs the music of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel, will raise the curtain on the 2017-18 season on Saturday.
Noting the singer hails from Wolfville in the Annapolis Valley, APA’s Michael Steinitz said she does a “really cool evening of songs that were, originally, in French.”
Toronto Consort, with Shakespeare’s Songbook, will visit Antigonish Saturday, Sept. 23.
“We are doing that – together with the [St. F.X.] English department,” Steinitz said, noting the show will feature songs from William Shakespeare’s plays.
“We are doing a lot of big things – that is a large choir that will perform at St. Ninian’s Cathedral.
“They are very famous,” he added.
In the second half of the season (March 3), Peter Allen – familiar face to APA audiences – will offer Bach-Goldberg variations.
“He is great pianist, who has been here a lot, so that is going to be a lot of fun,” Steinitz said.
Piece of history
Describing it as “interesting,” he talked about Call Mr. Robeson (Feb. 25), a tribute to Paul Robeson, by Tayo Aluko.
“It is a very famous case,” Steinitz said, in giving a brief thumbnail of Robeson’s life.
He noted he was an All-American football player at Rutgers University, before studying law at Columbia.
“He was also a singer – probably, the best bass baritone of the 20th century,” Steinitz said, describing his voice as “amazing.”
“He played on Broadway, as an actor; there was very little that this guy couldn’t do.”
Nevertheless, in the United States, he could not find work as a lawyer because he was African American.
“He sang at [President Franklin Delano] Roosevelt’s inauguration – the guy was a big deal as a performer, but couldn’t work as a lawyer,” Steinitz said.
He noted Robeson, in his anger, joined the Communist Party.
“He went on a trip overseas and the Americans revoked his passport, while he was overseas, and said you can’t come back,” Steinitz continued.
He noted it took “many years” for him to get back into his native country.
“When he died, he was found drunk and dead in the gutter in Philadelphia – a very, very sad story,” Steinitz said.
The APA director noted he has the bulk of Robeson’s recordings.
“When I was a kid, I discovered them in my parents’ attic, where they had hidden them away, because he [Robeson] was a communist. My father would have lost his job, if people knew he had these records,” Steinitz said.
He reiterated that Robeson possessed “an amazing voice.”
“This [APA] show is, sort of, a tribute to him. He [Aluko] is being Paul Robeson – acting the role and singing,” Steinitz said.
He described the return of Tafelmusik [November 24] as the “star attraction” this season, while noting the performance is not included in the APA subscription package.
Steinitz reflected on their performance here, a couple seasons ago, which focussed on Galileo.
“It was a monstrous hit and we had a big audience,” he said.
Steinitz noted Fred Alexander and One Stop Entertainment, as they did for the previous one, will provide their expertise for this Tafelmusik show.
“It’s a big deal,” Steinitz said.
Bach – The Circle of Creation focuses on the life of the composer.
“His times and stuff like that,” he said.
Noting “they may sell out quickly,” Steinitz encouraged people to purchase their Tafelmusik tickets early.
For more information, visit http://www.tafelmusik.org/media-room/js-bach-circle-creation
This concert is dedicated to the late Ruth Lynette (Hill) Stanley, mother of Antigonish’s Laurie Stanley-Blackwell.
Steinitz agreed this APA season features a great mix of new and familiar performers.
“We have some big shows,” he said.
Once again, the line-up features four Debut Atlantic (DA) performances; Bouey-Doucet Duo, violin and piano, Oct. 28; Wayne Weng, piano, Nov. 18; 16 VC², cello duo, Feb. 16; and Ladom Ensemble, world music.
APA performances will take place at Immaculata, beginning at 8 p.m.
One show in another venue – Elora Festival Singers (Oct. 15) – will take place at St. Ninian’s Cathedral.
“We hope we get some good audiences [this season],” Steinitz said.
Season and individual concert tickets can be purchased at the door or by mail to Antigonish Performing Arts, Department of Physics, St. F.X., Box 5000, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, B2G 2W5.
For more about APA, visit http://people.stfx.ca/msteinit/schedule.htm