Sunday, 13 July 2014

Can Classical Guitar compete with the World Cup Final?

Today was the final day of the fantastic Toronto Fringe.  I was mighty relieved to find that, even though I was performing at the same time as the World Cup final kicked off, a very jolly and appreciative audience materialised to listen to me play - thank you to all of them and to each of my other audiences too. It was a pleasure to perform here. 
 The city is vibrant and friendly and I've enjoyed exploring. I like the vivid wall paintings and I like the music shops. I visited Steve's Music Shop at 415 Queen Street and got four sets of strings - much much cheaper than back in the UK I have to say. Actually music seems to be very important here. Examine the photo below right - (ignore the git with the camera) - what does it say above that shop? Yes. It says 'The Toronto Institute for the Enjoyment of Music'.  That seems like a very good thing to have in your city.

There were lots of amazing shows on at The Robert Gill Theatre but the wonderful thing about it, apart from it being a very comfortable auditorium and a cool haven after the blisteringly hot sun outside, was that it has a great team of technicians. Thank you to Vanita and Theo. Such a calming influence and so skilful and efficient.

I'm pretty exhausted now but  glad I came.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Reasons to Love Toronto

  • It has a Fringe
  • neighbourhoods with sidewalks inhabited by strolling people who greet each other and exchange pleasantries
  • people sitting out on their porches - porches themselves even - great feature
  • childrens' playgrounds full of toys that stay put (even increase, as people contribute them)
  • maple syrup
  • brilliant service in the shops and businesses. Here's an example.

AzureProduction - a little company who in no time flat copied me some CDs off my master and had them not only packaged but also shrink-wrapped in time for my first show - a two day turnaround.
Thank you, Caine and colleagues. I appreciate it.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Bemusement on the Toronto Fringe

I've had a review - and it was a nice one thank goodness. But I have a sneaking suspicion that due to a concatenation of historical circumstances, classical music on the Toronto Fringe is a bit unexpected.Consider the evidence:
  1.  Bemusement when you tell people what your show is
  2. Press and media discussion of the Fringe referring only to theatre
  3. Shows listed by venue in the Fringe Programme, rather than by art form
  4. The opening sentence of my review:- ‘Classical Guitar Concert, performed by Jonathan Prag, pretty much gives it all away in the title. The show is a 45-minute concert of classical acoustic guitar pieces...'
A parade passing as I'm on the way to my venue
No-one expects a music concert on The Toronto Fringe! Music IN shows, yes -  musicals themselves, of course - but not concerts of music. Hmm. Come on then, fellow musicians - there needs to be MORE OF US!! bring your shows and join in the fun. It is definitely fun to perform at Fringe festivals like The Toronto Fringe and The Adelaide Fringe and of course, The Edinburgh fringe, I can vouch for that. 
I'm very pleased with the review. The reviewer enjoyed my concert once he got over his surprise that such a thing existed (‘I admit that at first, I thought “classical guitar” would be a bit of an oxymoron, but the arrangements sounded fresh and soothing. Bach on guitar – who knew that could be done?’ he says, at one point). 
And all hail to the audiences who have come to hear me play -  I salute you. You have coped with the unexpected and given it a whirl and then stayed after to speak to me about what a nice time you've had. Thank you - you are all brilliant!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Why are music stands ultimately flimsy?

I thought this one would be different but it isn't. Mind you - it gets a lot of use and maybe if you unfold and refold them over and over again and load them with sheets of paper - oh wait - that is what they are supposed to be able to do. To be fair I've had it almost two years. But why do they go baggy?

The crucial bit is the side arm extensions (is there a technical name for these?) where they join the frame (?). As you can see I am reduced to trying to persuade it to stay in place with blutack.

The trouble is that blutack is a substance that goes soft when it's warm. It's really warm here in Toronto. It's blisteringly warm. My blutack is seriously compomised. I have done my best. I need something stronger. Does anyone have a suggestion? No? OK. I'll be off to a music shop then and treat myself to a new music stand..... (goes into Toronto but the shops are all shut because it is Canada Day...OK. I'll watch Belgium v USA in the World Cup.

Monday, 30 June 2014

I'm in Toronto now but all the same - Stop Press - Cheryl Grice is in concert, Winchester 18 July...

St Lawrence's Church is tucked away behind the Buttercross, on Winchester High Street (you pass by its massive doorway on your left as you head towards the Cathedral). It's easy to miss. Its modest exterior conceals a gem of a building and I know from experience that it has an artistically sophisticated congregation as well as a very good acoustic for classical guitar. Visit the Southampton Guitar Society's lively Facebook Page as well - for news of this and many other fantastic guitar concerts.
The Street off Danforth where we're staying
I'm giving you this shout-out to alert you from the sultry heat of Toronto. We're staying in a basement flat which is pleasantly cool (aircon), but outside it is steamy and tropical. I like it very much.

So have a lovely time at Cheryl's concert in Winchester, all of you, and meanwhile I'll hope that some other nice audiences over here will come to hear me (which I can't quite believe will happen!). Langford Street (where our basement is) is on Danforth and the area is called Greektown and I've just been out and bought olives and Macedonian feta specially recommended by the Greek lady in the shop - it's a lovely vibrant area with leafy shaded streets going off it either side.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Festival Fringe tickets now on sale for Toronto and Edinburgh - be an early bird and book now!

In July I'll be performing in Toronto - click the link to buy tickets...

Then it's August...and the Edinburgh Fringe where you can book tickets online here

I'm very busy getting ready for all this and trying to remain unflustered and focused (squash helps).
I've done a new recording and am currently sorting that out so it will be ready to sell at both the above...

My venue in Toronto is the Robert Gill Theatre which is part of the University of Toronto. The exact location is: 214 College St, University of Toronto - St. George Campus, Toronto, ON M5T, Canada.
A word of advice if you don't know where it is - it is the building up the steep steps, adjacent to the university bookshop. It's by the Beverley Street tram stop. Or seven minutes walk from the Queen's Park metro station.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Testing an acoustic...

Last weekend, visiting friends in Bristol I had the chance to try out how the guitar sounded in an astonishing space. Here is a short film and at one point you can even hear the birds outside, singing away... this would make a fantastic venue for concerts - see what you think