Tuesday, November 6, 2012

FALL 2012 RECAP: A very busy fall at the Koffler!

It’s been a very busy fall at the Koffler Centre of the Arts – and we thank everyone for their attendance and support!

For the first time in the Koffler’s over 35 year history, we launched fall classes in visual art, music, dance and ceramics at three locations: at our home base in the Prosserman JCC, at the brand new Schwartz/Reisman Centre on Lebovic Campus in Vaughan (above), and at The Leo Baeck Day School (South Campus) in mid-town. To coincide with the official opening of the Lebovic Campus, we offered free trial classes for the month of September in our two gorgeous new studios.

We kicked off the fall season of cultural programs with a high energy concert by Mexico City's Klezmerson (above) at this year's Ashkenaz Festival at Harbourfront Centre on September 3. Embracing electronica, rock, funk and jazz improvisations over Klezmer themes from a and featuring Latin American influences, Klezmerson delivered an explosive concert that had everyone dancing in their seats! 


Next, was a standing-room only lecture by author Roy Doliner (above) at the Columbus Centre on September 6. Doliner, the co-author of the international bestselling book The Sistine Secrets, spoke passionately on how Michelangelo – a devoutly Christian artist – concealed in his work on the Sistine Chapel a vast array of secret messages including insults to his patron the Pope and a heartfelt call for universal tolerance and brotherhood, using Jewish symbolism and forbidden mystical knowledge.

Toronto artist Erica Brisson opened Local Colour Info Centre, her Koffler Gallery Off-Site exhibition at Miracle Thieves, on the corner of Crawford and Dundas Street West on October 4. Inspired by tourism information centres as well as the process of public consultation, Brisson set up a social space where passersby can share their personal interpretations of the city’s intentional or informal landmarks. Based on her discussions with each visitor, Brisson creates postcards that reveal diverse and subjective perceptions of the city’s visual identity through minimalistic drawings that recall blueprints or maps. The project continues until November 11.

At Honest Ed’s, our summer blockbuster exhibition Summer Special continued to critical acclaim. In association with the installation, we presented Honesty from October 18 to November 4 – a remarkable performance intervention written and directed by rising theatre-star Jordan Tannahill and starring Virgilia Griffith (above). Honesty was presented as a performance in two acts: in the first act, 'Honest Work' – a kind of 'invisible theatre' – Griffith moved through the store, quietly performing the real life duties of Honest Ed's employees. Visitors were encouraged to find Griffith in the store and engage with her, but she otherwise quietly went about performing her job as a real employee would. 

In the second act, Honesty came alive. With 'Honest Stories' Griffith performed seven different monologues in seven different locations around the store, leading the audience on a performance promenade. The monologues were based on interviews with real Honest Ed's employees – and Griffith shape-shifted between voices, transcending age, gender, and race in a moving, funny and poignant performance that left many in tears. NOW Magazine’s theatre critic Jon Kaplan raved about the performance, calling it “a truly heartfelt experience” and giving it 4 out 5 stars (NNNN).

We returned to the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) with Koffler @ the IFOA on October 28 featuring British author Howard Jacobson (above). Jacobson won the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2010 for The Finkler Question, and was here to promote his latest, Zoo Time. In conversation with Dan Friedman, the Managing Editor of New York’s The Jewish Daily Forward, Jacobson spoke about comedy, being Jewish and the Jewish themes in his works, love, and literature. Watch a video clip from the event here

On November 1, the Koffler – together with Size Doesn’t Matter and Sternthal Books – presented Tamar Tal's award-winning Israeli documentary Life in Stills at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. The film tells the story of Ben Peter and his 96-year old grandmother Miriam Weissenstein as they try to save their historic photo shop in Tel Aviv from development. A huge crowd favourite at last year’s Hot Docs Festival when it debuted, Life in Stills did not disappoint. The film’s Ben Peter flew in from Tel Aviv for the screening and a Q & A after the film with Sternthal Books’ Ian Strenthal and the Koffler’s Valentine Moreno. A post-event soirée at the Victory Café followed. Proceeds raised from the screening will go towards the digitization of the store’s photos by Sternthal Books.

And finally – we close the Fall with the first concert of the Koffler Chamber Orchestra’s 2012-13 Season: Musical Crossroads, Sunday December 2, 3:30 PM at Temple Emanu-El. Exploring the intersections between Neo-Classical, Classical-Romantic and Baroque-Romantic periods, the KCO – which features acclaimed violinist and concertmaster Jacques Israelievitch – will take you on a musical journey to discover Mozart’s influence on Mendelssohn, Handel’s influence on Elgar and the inspiration that Stravinsky drew from both the Baroque and Classical periods. Advance tickets are available here – don’t miss it!