TORONTO - The funky former professional jazz musician Fr. Stan Fortuna from New York’s Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal will perform two shows in Toronto this month.

Fortuna and his Fodera five-string bass will first appear on May 18 at the Poetry Jazz Cafe in Kensington Market. 

“I’m going to be playing with a young Catholic-Italian pianist, Carmen Spada, and a drummer,” said Fortuna, ordained in 1990. “It’s going to be great, we’re just going to improvise and play some jazz standards and I’ll do some of my stuff too.”

Published in Arts News

TORONTO - There’s a lot to sing about in the revised Roman Missal, and hundreds of Catholic musicians plan to do just that at Toronto’s Annuciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish on Pentecost Sunday.

By late April, the Office of Lay Formation had already signed up more than 200 musicians for a May 27 Mass with Cardinal Thomas Collins. The Mass will celebrate the last year spent preparing for and then implementing new Mass texts musically. Registration for the event will be open right up until the baton drops for the entrance hymn, said Lay Formation executive director Bill Target.

Published in Arts News

TORONTO - Massimo Nosetti has just flown from Italy to Nashville (a.k.a. Music City, U.S.A.), but not to visit the Grand Ole Opry or to practice his country twang to the whine of a slide guitar. Rather, Nosetti’s allegiance lies with “The King of Instruments,” the organ, and he is one of its undisputed champions.

Nosetti is a hard man to get a hold of. Because he’s on the first leg of a tour that will take him through the United States and to Toronto for the opening gala of the 2012 Organix music festival, we exchange a number of e-mails, a dozen missed phone calls, and finally, through a rather exasperated Nashville hotel employee, we connect. Most people would be somewhat wearied by both the travel and the exertions of performing, but Nosetti is charming, engaging and excited by his upcoming appearances.

Published in Arts News

TORONTO - When talking to Bruce Cockburn, one is reminded of a line from a Charles Bukowski poem: “I am not even near to being one of them, but they are there and I am here.” It’s not that Cockburn sets himself as a man apart. Rather, he is conduit for a musical and spiritual energy and an artistry that has been embraced and celebrated around the globe. This is because Cockburn, apart from his reputation as a legendary Canadian singer and songwriter, prolific guitar player and passionate humanitarian, is just like many of us — trying to find a place to fit in.

This journey of life and music will be presented on May 4 in a Vision TV world premiere of a new documentary called Pacing the Cage, which follows Cockburn on his 2009 “Slice ‘O’ Life” solo tour and reveals him as artist, activist, Christian and nomad spirit.

Published in Arts News

TORONTO - Hailed as having “natural acting ability and a clear arcing lyric soprano” by Classical 96.3 radio, praised for “a clear lyric soprano and quite beautiful sound” by Opera Canada, and about to star as Morgana in Opera Nuova’s production of Alcina, Taylor Strande appears headed to operatic greatness.

But despite the many rigours of a professional music career, Strande also parlays her impressive abilities into worship and service through the music ministry of her Catholic Church, particularly her work with the Our Lady of Sorrows chorale.

Published in Arts News

OTTAWA - Rapper Fresh IE could be pursuing a lucrative recording career, but instead the two-time Grammy nominee is “flying in the world’s smallest planes” to some of the most remote communities of the North.

He’s also finding his way to venues in the toughest sections of cities to spread the Gospel.

The message that Fresh, whose real name is Robert Wilson, brings is one of hope and radical conversion and that one does not have to become a slave to drugs or gangs or succumb to temptation of suicide or violence. God can transform the most unlikely person, bring forgiveness and hope.

Published in Arts News

TORONTO - The Our Lady of Sorrows Chorale and Ecumenical choirs will lift their voices in song April 15 in a memorial concert for the 72nd anniversary of the Katyn Massacre and the second anniversary of the Smolensk tragedy in Poland.

“Music is a force that can bind people or tear them apart,” said Gordon Mansell, music director and organist for Our Lady of Sorrows parish and concert organizer. “It is a language that transcends all others and its meaning can forge close ties and bridge cultures. When great sorrow is experienced, it is the sighs of humanity that call our attention to action. 

Published in Arts News

Music as a relaxing end to a long day of school is my refuge in times of stress. From the pressures of triple-essay deadlines to calculus crunch time, at day’s end I seek out music and my bed to provide solace in much the same way as I run to God for solace when I pray.

Prayer and music used to always be separate in my life. Sometimes I would pray, other times I would listen to music.

Occasionally I might play YouTube hymns as a combination of prayer and music, but not often. Then there were some days I wanted to listen to other genres of music but still wished to feel God’s presence. Finding music to fit this taste was very time consuming.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

TORONTO - Musician Susan HooKong-Taylor is doing everything she can in her music ministry to build up the body of Christ.

One way is through a Catholic arts initiative called The Beads.

“The Beads is an initiative that allows people to connect and then to express, to experience and to share a culture of life through the arts,” HooKong-Taylor told The Catholic Register.

Published in Arts News

TORONTO - For Andrea Rebello, singing sacred hymns is a way to express her love for God.

“(Singing) is an expression of how I like to pray,” said Rebello, cantor and music director at St. Clement Church. “Through the arts, we can really communicate our prayer and love of God, and our faith and devotion.”

Rebello has been doing plenty of praying lately, as she has just recorded a CD, Venite Adoremus, with some of those songs on the playlist at a Christmas concert she was to perform Dec. 17 at St. Clement Church. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the parish.

Published in Arts News

TORONTO - Singers, dancers, musicians and artists lent their talents to raise about $4,000 to support the pro-life charity Aid to Women at a Dec. 8 fundraiser at the El Mocambo nightclub.

The event was held on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

“The owner of El Mocambo is a Marian devotee and he loves Mary and so he loves to donate his club on Marian feast days to causes that understand those feast days,” said Elena Repka, event organizer and vice-president of Aid to Women’s volunteer board of directors. She asked that the club owner not be named to respect his privacy.

Published in Arts News
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