Arts News

{mosimage}TORONTO - St. John’s Church isn’t what it used to be, but to Lynn East it feels like home.

“This is lovely. It’s like coming home again,” said East as she gazed from the back pew up toward the altar.

East was married at St. John’s on Kingston Road in Toronto’s east end in 1969. Shortly after her wedding the church went through major, post-Concilliar surgery. Not only was the communion rail taken down and the altar turned around, but the icons painted on the wall behind the altar were painted over and the grotto-like shrine for Mary filled in, covering up one of the church’s stained glass windows.

Gregorian chant is old school for Luke Togni

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{mosimage}HALIFAX - Luke Togni is old school — very old school. Or old schola, if you prefer.

Togni, 22, is passionate about Gregorian chant and refers to himself as “second in command” in a Halifax-based chant group, or schola. Directed by Robert Bruce and together for the past two years, the schola sings monthly at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Halifax, and less frequently at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Halifax.

Dead Sea Scrolls shatter ROM records

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{mosimage}TORONTO - The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit comes to a close at the Royal Ontario Museum Jan. 3 after six months of unmatched popularity in the museum’s history.

“It’s definitely come down to between this and the Egyptian Art and the Age of the Pyramids which was in 2000,” ROM media spokesperson Marilynne Friedman said before Christmas. “There’s the expectation that 300,000 people will have visited the scrolls by close on Jan. 3.”

Celtic performance celebrates all Irish

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{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.