[ATTENDED: November 22, 2015] Art of Time Ensemble
When I saw that the Art of Time Ensemble was coming to RVCC I was crazy excited. Especially when I saw that Steven Page and Craig Northey would be singing with them. I didn’t even care what it was they were doing, but when I saw that they’d be playing Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, I immediately got seats (3rd row!) and then tried to explain to Sarah what we’d be seeing.
The Art of Time Ensemble does many things although my exposure to them is through their string performances of rock songs
Led by Artistic Director Andrew Burashko, Art of Time Ensemble transforms the way you experience music. Fusing high art and popular culture in concerts that juxtapose the best of each genre, Art of Time entertains as it enlightens, revealing the universal qualities that lie at the heart of all great music.
This show was a string and brass (and piano, guitar, drum and possibly sitar) version of the classic Beatles album. But it was more than just a symphonic version of the record. The Art of Time Ensemble created new arrangements of the songs. There were enough changes that it wasn’t always evident what song was being played–even though they played the album start to finish.
The orchestra was on stage when we arrived. And then they began playing. Craig Northey (who is the singer for Odds and New Odds, and wrote the theme for Corner Gas) walked out. I wasn’t clear what song it was until he started singing “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Then Steven Page came out and sang with him. At the end of the song, Andy Maize (who I didn’t know, but who sang with the band Skydiggers and who founded MapleMusic) and Glen Phillips (of Toad the Wet Sprocket) came out. Phillips was the only non-Canadian up there and he does not sing on the album version of this show, but he was a great addition.
Page explained that they knew that “Strawberry Fields Forever” was not on Sgt. Pepper, but didn’t realize until they got to the States that people down here would realize that too. There was lots of amusing moments like this. Like Page describing putting the stylus on the vinyl, lying on the rug and chilling out to the album, which began properly with the opening track. The performed the album in order and
Glen Phillips sang With a Little Help from My Friends, Fixing a Hole, and When I’m Sixty-Four
Craig Northey sang Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, Good Morning, and A Day in the Life
Andy Maize sang Getting Better
After the first “side” was over, they did an intermission (and had a 12 foot sub apparently). Northey talked about flipping the album (and look at the size of the album–pointing to the orchestra). When the second set began, Andy Maize sang an achingly beautiful version of “Within You Without You.” Maize’s voice sounded like it might be tiring out, but I believe that is just how he sings. It was mesmerizing.
When the record was over, they asked if they could play a few more songs. And we were treated to “Penny Lane” sung by Steven Page, “Here Comes the Sun” by Andy Maize and a crowd sing along of “All You Need is Love” sung by Craig Northey.
We enjoyed the show very much. Steven Page sounds as amazing as ever. And while Craig Northey didn’t quite sound like does with Odds (different style of singing), he sounded fantastic as a Beatle.
The best part of the show was the harmony vocals. These four guys sang so beautifully together. All the great harmony parts on record were matched. It was hard not to sing along.
I also really enjoyed watching the orchestra. The first violinist (I assume Stephen Sitarksi) was having so much fun…kicking his feet during “Sixty-Four” and making funny faces to the rest of the orchestra. The trumpet solos were perfect, the few drums and guitar sounded great. And the music that they made for the rest of the show was just so unusual. Familiar and yet not, bringing a new sound and style to something that we all know. And sure, there are many orchestral parts on the album, but they didn’t always splay them exactly the same way. Like the famous last notes of “A Day in the LIfe” were actually done earlier in the show. Which was disconcerting but fun at the same time.
This was an unusual and super fun show and I’m so glad we went.
After the show, everyone was at a table signing stuff. It was fun to meet Northey and tell him how much I loved Odds and Corner Gas. And of course meeting Steven Page was very cool. They were both so personable. And the other guys (who I didn’t know well) were also super friendly. I could have hung out there for a long time, but out of deference to the rest of the lineup, I was swift.