Photo by Andrew Louis/Torontoist.
“There’s always a twist on the ‘classical thing'” jokes Art of Time Ensemble‘s artistic director Andrew Burashko. Not in an interview after the curtain has come down, mind you, but right in the middle of the show—that’s just how Art of Time rolls. For more than ten years the innovative company has been creating imaginative, deeply engaging performances which re-envision just what a classical music concert can look like, and we are immensely grateful for it.
Take this performance, for instance. The opening night of the company’s twelfth season this past Friday featured the work of German composer Robert Schumann, with nary a starched collar or cummerbund in sight. Selections of Schumann’s music were interspersed with lovely narrative interludes, which took the audience through his life and shared a bit of background about each piece before it was performed. The effect was roughly like hanging out in the living room of some very smart, very talented musicians as they discuss and play: not because the performance felt unfinished (which it didn’t), but in the sense that the performers were sharing their experience of the music—recreating it for, and in, the audience, at their best moments—rather than just putting on a show.
Art of Time’s brilliance lies in presenting expertly performed classical music, but stripped of many of the conventions which can make more traditional performances feel like you’re being kept at arm’s length. Typically, orchestras show their respect for the composers and works they perform with a certain amount of pomp and ceremony; Art of Time does it with warmth and conversation. By blowing out the fourth wall and talking to the audience directly, explaining why this particular movement was chosen or why that song has come in for critical controversy, the music becomes a more vividly personal thing—it gets deeper under your skin, and the performance stays with you longer.
To see the Art of Time Ensemble’s 2010/11 concert schedule, click right here.