Second-year music director Danielle Lisboa leads the volunteer-based Orchestra Toronto, which has been wooing ears with tightly spun symphonic works for nearly 60 years. The 80-piece ensemble reassembles in February, providing concertgoers respite from cold-weather blues and panhandling snowmen with "Winter Tales," a collection of fiery, accessible compositions from several legendary composers. Lars-Erik Larsson's The Winter's Tale sets the show in motion before giving way to a quartet of classics, including Chris Meyer's In Memoriam Henryk Gorecki and Sergei Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet Suite no. 2. To start the afternoon, attendees can pop into a pre-concert chat, where Clasical 96.3 FM personality Alexa Petrenko will discuss the day's set and explain how violins maintain such curvy physiques. Recognized among Canada's elite venues, George Weston Recital Hall creates an acoustical cocoon with painstakingly insulated walls and retractable curtains and panels that can be rearranged for optimal sound.
Reflecting on this childhood, Chris Keating sometimes feels as if he didn't exist. His parents' divorce left him with very little tangible evidence of his formative years, so he's spent his adult life as a photographer making sure children can look back fondly at warm family memories. Chris Keating and his Calgary staff have made this a reality for more than 3,000 families since opening the doors to Towne Photography in 2006. There, the professional photographic crew shoots posed and candid shots of families, children, couples, and babies at picturesque parks or against their studio backdrops, and they also snap triumphant graduate portraits, intimate prenatal shots, and provocative passport pics that make border crossing a breeze. Their ironclad guarantee allows unsatisfied clients to request reshoots, reprints, or resizing on all photographs, and they vow to remake or recapture any artwork that sustains damage over the years. Chris also takes his photographic knowledge on the road to conduct Betterphoto Workshops across the United States and Canada, teaching novice photographers how to artistically preserve their most precious memories.
Since opening as the Bonita Theatre in 1911, the city's oldest movie house has undergone numerous transformations, most recently screening Chinese and Hindi films throughout the '80s and '90s and Tamil-language films in the current millennium. Big Picture Cinema is its latest incarnation, specializing in independent and world cinema. Grinder Coffee, the theatre's next door neighbour, concocts gourmet concessions, meals, and coffee for moviegoers before they saunter down the theatre's wood-to-concrete floor and sink into one of 295 seats, lined with marine blue corduroy.
As 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound orbits the audience, 35mm and digital projectors showcase premieres of films that eschew traditional Hollywood fare, including a monthly horror film series in partnership with Fangoria Magazine and weekly Bollywood film reels discovered in the theatre basement during renovations. Local artists also showcase their work each Wednesday followed by coffee and discussion sessions with the audience, where they can ask guest moviemakers about the creative process or how to talk actors out of staying in pirate character during visits to the dentist.
At Medieval Times, armor-clad knights clash for the title of King's Champion in front of a wide-eyed audience that fills the battlefield with cheers and jeers between bites of a four-course dinner. Each two-hour tournament channels the pageantry and spectacle of 11th-century Spain, pitting six competitors against each other inside a spacious arena for the honor of earning the title of champion and the favor of the royal court. Heart-pounding music infuses onslaughts with an extra dose of tension as adversaries joust atop stallions and deflect ferocious blows. To further immerse guests in the 11th century, Medieval Times encourages each guest to declare their allegiance by cheering loudly for the knight in their corner.
Since 1993, Cirque Dreams' family-friendly variety extravaganzas have called upon a cast of acrobats, strongmen, and daredevils to wring the oohs and aahs out of audiences with tremendous feats of derring-do. During each themed production, more than 100 performers garbed in dazzling outfits twirl high in the air, contort their bodies into impossible shapes, and solve long division problems to earn uproarious applause from the crowd. At Dream Studios in Pompano Beach, Florida, hundreds of contracted artists from around the world develop their skills and prep for Cirque Dreams performances under the direction of Neil Goldberg and his team of choreographers, contortionists, and designers.
When Theatre Passe Muraille opened in 1968, it transformed the historic landmark Nasmith Bakery and Staples into a sanctuary for new Canadian art. But true to its name, the theatre is not constrained by any walls?literally or figuratively. Besides encouraging independent and experimental works, Theatre Passe Muraille expands beyond its brick-and-mortar location to stage innovative site-specific performances throughout Toronto. They practice a collaborative philosophy in order to achieve their far-ranging goals, valuing value risk higher than success or number of bouquets tossed onstage.