The National Arts Centre Orchestra’s Truth in Our Time U.S. premiere, New York
Ardent supporters of the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO) from across Canada and beyond gathered in New York to honour the U.S. premiere of Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 13 at Carnegie Hall.
The new work, commissioned by the NACO to celebrate the late Canadian-born newsman Peter Jennings, was the centrepiece of the orchestra’s much-awaited 2022 tour titled Truth In Our Time. Previously scheduled for 2020, the program, which also had stops in Toronto and Ottawa, featured works by composers Erich Korngold and Dmitri Shostakovich in addition to a contemporary piece by Canadian Nicole Lizée.
Opening the festivities on April 3, was a dinner given at a private club by Bill Morneau, former Canadian minister of finance and his wife, Nancy McCain. The rock star conductor, Alexander Shelley, music director of the NACO was seated near NAC foundation board member Anisha Virani of Vancouver and Dasha Shenkman, a U.K.-based supporter of the orchestra and donor to this latest tour. Also in attendance: theatre producer David Daniels and Kate Alexander Daniels, chair of this year’s Governor-General’s Performing Arts Awards gala slated for late May.
Elsewhere in the room were members of the ambassadorial set, including Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sébastien Carrière, Canada’s ambassador to Haiti, and Bruce Heyman, former U.S. ambassador to Canada, there with his wife, Vicki, both of whom were supporters of the tour. Canada’s acting consul-general in New York, Khawar Nasim, was also among them.
The evening of April 5 marked the big moment, with the NACO taking to the storied stage of Carnegie Hall for the first time in three decades. In addition to the planned program, the NACO poignantly performed a piece by Yuri Shevchenko inspired by the Ukrainian national anthem. Shelley explained from the podium that Shevchenko died from pneumonia on March 24 while taking shelter in a basement in Kyiv as the city prepared for siege.
At the post-concert reception, Glass shared lovely moments with members of the Jennings family including Peter’s widow, producer Kayce Freed Jennings, his sister, author Sarah and niece, restaurateur Tegan Schioler (the commission was made possible thanks to the Jennings family).
Also in the room was the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, Phyllis Yaffe, former consul-general of Canada in New York, as well as Susan Glass and Arni Thorsteinson of Winnipeg, NAC Board of Trustees chair Adrian Burns and Gregory Kane and the Honourable Hilary Weston, who all served as sponsors of the smashing tour.
Biblio Bash in support of the Toronto Public Library Foundation, Toronto
The city’s beloved reference library, the crown jewel in the Toronto Public Library system, was the site for Biblio Bash, the first splashy gala of the spring season. After a three-year hiatus, many considered this latest, held April 7, as a spring gala rebound for Toronto.
Four-hundred and twenty black-tied guests sat at round tables that dotted the library atrium, each one, thanks to Gerald Sheff and Shanitha Kachan’s charitable foundation, was punctuated with an author. (Linda Rui Feng, author of Swimming Back to Trout River, was seated across from yours truly.)
TPL is counted among the busiest urban public library systems anywhere in the world, with more than 10 million books on offer. During the pandemic though, it was Internet Connectivity Kits, which consist of a laptop and a WiFi plan, that were deployed to those who needed them most. Tyrone Edwards of CTV’s eTalk, served as emcee of the eve, and funds raised during the event, which topped the $800,000 mark, will be used to support the connectivity kit program.
Among them out: TPL Foundation’s newly appointed CEO, Will Scott, event supporters Tyler and Claire MacNamara, Ontario’s Poet Laureate Randell Adjei, who performed a piece written for the occasion, authors Elamin Abdelmahmoud, Heather O’Neill and Perdita Felicien, city librarian Vickery Bowles and Victoria Webster, who returned as chair of the event.