Arts News

{mosimage}BRAMPTON, Ont. - Nearly 200 people gathered inside St. Marguerite D’Youville parish Dec. 11 to witness and enjoy otherworldly performances by many of Canada’s best musicians and musical directors, including Juno-nominated Loretto Reid.

An ensemble of nine vocalists and six instrumentalists, mostly between the ages of 24-35, mixed traditional Celtic songs with contemporary Christmas carols on this evening, and again at the Newman Centre at the University of Toronto Dec. 12.

The Priests used music during the Irish Troubles as a unifying force

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{mosimage}TORONTO - When Fr. Eugene O’Hagen was a student at St. MacNissi’s College in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, one of his school friends used to dress up in an IRA uniform for parties and sing The Men Behind the Wire.

“It was his party piece,” O’Hagen explained on a recent visit to Toronto to promote The Priests’ latest CD, Harmony. The song begins:

Oberammergau carries a passion for the greatest story ever told

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{mosimage}It’s a testament to human tenacity and faith that the people of a tiny Bavarian village, keeping a promise made four centuries ago, will again hold performances of the Oberammergau Passion Play next year.

Following the deaths of 80 townspeople in 1633 from a plague that swept Europe during the Thirty Years War, the people of Oberammergau promised to perform a play depicting the suffering, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ every 10 years if they could be spared further deaths. Miraculously, the epidemic ended and the following year the first presentation took place. Since then, with only a few exceptions when world events intervened, the people of Oberammergau have kept their pledge.

The Choir Boy connects new, old Toronto

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{mosimage}TORONTO - If you’re strolling by the Eaton Centre this Christmas season, you should know there’s a Christmas present waiting for you in one of the store windows.

It’s not a Nintendo Wii, a box of chocolates or anything else you might feel compelled to buy before Dec. 25. It’s just a story about a St. Michael’s Choir School boy, his family and the build-up to Christmas. It’s called The Choir Boy and will be presented in 25 installments in a downtown Sears store window between Nov. 30 and Christmas Eve. It will also be posted online at www.thechoirboy.ca .

Christine Granger spreads the Virgin's wonder through iconography

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Painting is to Christine Granger as singing is to the choir. Granger, an accomplished iconographer, has spent the past 30 years capturing the divine on canvas, mostly producing icons of the Virgin Mary and child.

“I can’t sing so I have to paint and I do it in colour and I do the same thing as the Gospel songs, I hope,” Granger said. “I praise and I thank and I say through my art Christianity is a wonder and a joy and I feel in spite of everything we have something so special in being Christian. We have this joy that can never leave us.”

The Priests to play St. Paul's Basilica

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{mosimage}TORONTO - The Priests, the singing clergymen from Northern Ireland, will return to Toronto for a concert at St. Paul’s Basilica Dec. 4.

They’ll be here in support of their second CD, Harmony, which will be released Nov. 23. The event will assist the St. Paul’s Christmas Family program, feeding local families in need over the Christmas season.

Relating church architecture to faith

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Since Vatican II, many churches have dropped their bells, changed their seating arrangements, moved the tabernacle off to the side and more.

But modern building codes and technology aren’t the only culprits in the deviation from traditional romanesque and gothic structures — the change also reflects an individualized approach to theology, said Michael Nicholas-Schmidt, whose recent Masters of architecture thesis focused on sacred space.

An untold tale on the path to Polish freedom

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{mosimage}TORONTO - The latest Polish film sensation has made its appearance in Canada, telling the gripping tale of a hero priest and martyr who risked his life to oppose Poland’s oppressive government.

Popieluszko: Freedom Is Within Us made its North American premiere with a pair of screenings Oct. 31 at the Imax Theatre at Ontario Place, with the story of Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko, a young and charismatic priest who spoke out against social injustice in communist Poland in the early 1980s and was later murdered by the Polish secret service.

The film is in Polish with English subtitles. It is playing at Empire Theatres in Mississauga’s Square One Shopping Centre from Nov. 6-12.

Capturing Mother Teresa's beauty on canvas

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Dissipating fear, a beacon of hope, the wanderer, the desert breeze, showing the Messiah to the world — these are just some of the descriptions Albanian artist Ilir Fico gives to Mother Teresa, the subject of 50 of his paintings, 23 of which will be on display at St. Paul’s Basilica Oct. 30-Nov. 1.

It has been a decade since Fico has shared so many of his works on Mother Teresa in Canada. The last big exhibit was a collection of about 40 paintings at a library in Belleville, Ont. But after being invited to display them at the Vatican embassy in Washington in November last year for the anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death, and again at Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa, he felt a renewed call to share Mother Teresa through his abstract creations with a wider audience. And so he began approaching churches in Toronto.

Ten Commandments on display at ROM

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{mosimage}TORONTO - As the Royal Ontario Museum unveiled the second half of its six-month exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Words That Changed The World, the exhibit had already welcomed more than 160,000 people — about 50,000 more than museum officials had anticipated for the July to October period.

Kicking off the second three-month installment was a rare fragment of the largest and best preserved parchment of the Ten Commandments, on display for just 80 hours between Oct. 10 and 18.

Jesuit archives 'very precious' to Canada

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{mosimage}Three linear kilometres of books, documents and artifacts await scholars in the new home of the Canadian Jesuit archives in Montreal.

With material dating back from five centuries, the recently opened joint archive of Canada’s two Jesuit provinces, English and French, includes more than 300 items from New France in the 1600s, 18,000 books, 1,500 rare books and the memoirs and official records of generations of Jesuits who have been more than priests. Doctors, scientists, theologians, academics, social workers, community leaders and activists have been Canadian Jesuits over the centuries.