From Vegas to Zombies to Simon Brault to Arts and Culture in Guelph

 

What did you choose to listen to, see or read as a preteen and a teenager?

That’s a question posed by Simon Brault, CEO of Canada’s national theatre school, in his 2009 book No Culture, No Future.

Introduce arts and culture early to kids, and you might help youngsters not only to widen their palate as kids but also to keep on broadening their tastes for the rest of their lives.

I read Brault’s book recently. I also found my own reading horizons expanding through a chance encounter with New York writer Colson Whitehead — first through a magazine article about Las Vegas, then through his zombie novel Zone One.

Never been to Vegas myself. Never been much for zombies — in film, TV or books. But interesting what happens when you’re treated to unaccustomed topics through a new and engaging authorial voice.

I riffed on early and not-so-early cultural influences, along with an interview with Marie Zimmerman, ED of this past weekend’s Hillside Inside festival in Guelph, Ontario, in my column last week in the Guelph Mercury here: http://www.guelphmercury.com/opinion-story/4352033-hillside-inside-will-give-you-a-chance-to-broaden-your-palate/

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Hand-Drawn Map-Making Business Stems From Childhood Explorations

Remember exploring your neighbourhood as a kid? Finding all of the hidden and even forbidden places?

As kids, we create mental maps of our immediate Terra Incognita. My own childhood map included the wild ravine behind the apartment building, the stream we weren’t supposed to play in and the shack belonging to the old man whom we kids feared and pestered.

Jeremy Shute grew up in Guelph, Ontario, mapping his own world. But he went a step further. He and his childhood buddies drew actual maps of their neighbourhood, even popping into culverts to trace buried streams.

Now grown up, he still follows that pursuit through a side business creating hand-drawn maps of downtown districts and Guelph’s buried and forgotten streams. Read his story in my Guelph Mercury column today here: http://www.guelphmercury.com/opinion-story/4340315-map-maker-helps-chart-guelph-s-hidden-streams/

Have you ever drawn a map of your childhood neighbourhood? During a creative writing class last year, we did just that, looking for the landmarks of growing up and the stories in and around them. What does your map of childhood look like — and what are its stories?

Sound, Music and a City Listening Tour Topics of CFRU Radio Show

Sue Smith, David Knight and Gary Diggins with Sue's homemade "bell tree" at CFRU radio station in Guelph, Ontario.

Sue Smith, David Knight and Gary Diggins with Sue’s homemade “bell tree” at CFRU radio station in Guelph, Ontario.

Did you know that the song of a blue whale swimming off Canada’s eastern coast can be heard all the way down in the Caribbean? The catch: You’d have to be another blue whale or at least the correctly tuned listening device to pick up the long-wave message.

“Sonic” is the theme of my radio show this week on CFRU 93.3 FM in Guelph, Ontario.

Singer-songwriter Sue Smith, music therapist Gary Diggins and David Knight, an archeoacoustician, joined me live in the studio to talk about sound, listening and music.

Whale music, too — including that bit of blue whale trivia from Sue, a fan of all things cetacean. We played Into the Dark, her track on a new recording called Towards a Little Light from Guelph’s Ondine Chorus due out this spring.

David Knight sang a sixth-century Ravennate chant recorded using the acoustic parameters of the Basilica of San Vitale — effectively the first public airing of this piece in centuries.

Gary Diggins talked about the benefits of sonic therapy for clients and about his new book to be self-published this year called All Ears: Listening as a Mindful Practice.

They also talked about the idea of a city listening tour. Close your eyes, walk around your town or city, and listen for the signature sounds of where you live. What does your city sound like?

Have a listen here:  http://www.cfru.ca/recordings/185

53 Musical Bits. 52 Weeks in a Year. A Minimalist Concert Fit for New Year’s Day

In C, a musical work written by California composer Terry Riley, is considered among the forerunners of the musical minimalist movement of the 1960s and ’70s.

On New Year’s Day afternoon, an eclectic ensemble — when did you last hear an orchestra including cello, ukulele, synthesizer, glockenspiel and hurdy-gurdy — gathered at an alternative music venue in Guelph, Ontario, to play this intriguing piece.

Read the result in this week’s Guelph Mercury column here: http://www.guelphmercury.com/opinion-story/4304459-was-unusual-new-year-s-concert-sounding-off-about-2014-/

First Came the Baby Girl, Then the Teapot

 The new baby wasn’t due until after Christmas.

Mid-February 1964. That’s when Lois Etherington Betteridge expected to give birth to her second child.

That’s also when the Canadian silversmith was due to complete a commissioned teapot for a client couple in England.

The teapot was delivered on time. The baby had other ideas.

Read about an early Christmas gift delivered 50 years ago this month — and how the commissioned teapot travelled full circle more or less back to its maker — here: http://www.orangeville.com/opinion-story/4277202-first-came-the-baby-girl-then-the-teapot/

For an earlier article about Lois Betteridge, including a photo of her travelling teapot that followed her from England to Guelph almost 50 years later, click here: Fox- Betteridge

Claude Lorrain Prints on Display at Macdonald Stewart Art Centre in Guelph, Ontario

Claude Lorrain, Le Départ pour les champs [Departure for the Fields], circa 1638-41 (etching on laid paper, state 3C, 12.6 cm x 17.8 cm)
Claude Lorrain, Le Départ pour les champs [Departure for the Fields], circa 1638-41 (etching on laid paper, state 3C, 12.6 cm x 17.8 cm) Purchased with funds donated by Andrew and Helen Brink in memory of R. Alexander Brink and Edith Margaret Whitelaw Brink, and with support from the Florence G. Partridge Fund, 2007 Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection

A collection of 50 Claude Lorrain prints will be on display at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre in Guelph, Ontario, early in 2014. The works by the 17th-century French artist are part of a collection of 1,000 European prints collected by Andrew and Helen Brink and donated to the art centre.

Claude Lorrain, Mercure et Argus [Mercury and Argus], 1662 (etching on laid paper, state 3, 14.9 cm x 21.6 cm) (Published by G. Schulze, London, 1816)  Gift of Andrew and Helen Brink in memory of R. Alexander Brink and Edith Margaret Whitelaw Brink, 2012  University of Guelph Collection at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre

Claude Lorrain, Mercure et Argus [Mercury and Argus], 1662 (etching on laid paper, state 3, 14.9 cm x 21.6 cm) (Published by G. Schulze, London, 1816) Gift of Andrew and Helen Brink in memory of R. Alexander Brink and Edith Margaret Whitelaw Brink, 2012 University of Guelph Collection at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre

To read more about the Brink collection and the current Lorrain exhibit, click here: http://atguelph.uoguelph.ca/2013/12/art-donation-reflects-familys-ties-to-u-of-g/

Dark Knight of a Modern-Day Gotham City Re-issues John Galt’s Novel The Omen

Gotham City in Guelph, Ontario? David J. Knight, editor of a re-issue of John Galt's The Omen, sees Batman's hood -- and part of Guelph's Gothic-Dantesque soul -- in the Petrie Building facade downtown.

Gotham City in Guelph, Ontario? David J. Knight, editor of a re-issue of John Galt’s The Omen, sees Batman’s hood — and part of Guelph’s Gothic-Dantesque soul — in the Petrie Building facade downtown.

How do you describe the soul of your town? “Gothic” is how David J. Knight views the soul of his hometown Guelph, Ontario.

Last night David spoke during an event held to re-release The Omen, an 1825 novel by Scottish writer and Guelph founder John Galt.

A decent-sized and varied crowd came to Silence for the launch. The downtown arts venue is home to Publication Studio Guelph, a books-on-demand venture that has published The Omen as well as Sound Guelph, Knight’s earlier history of alternative music in this city.

Knight talked about Guelph’s roots not just in Gothicism but maybe in Dante as well. For more on a city’s Dantesque-Gothic soul, read my Guelph  Mercury column from this week, here: http://www.guelphmercury.com/opinion-story/4238204-examining-the-origins-of-guelph-and-its-soul/

The event also featured a dramatic reading from The Omen by local schlock-meister The Great Orbax and hurdy-gurdy music by Ben Grossman, owner of Silence.

Not quite Notre Dame but Church of Our Lady in downtown Guelph evokes something old-worldly on a grey early December morning.

Not quite Notre Dame but Church of Our Lady in downtown Guelph evokes something old-worldly on a grey early December morning.