Friday, 11 May 2012

Canadian tour in tweeds and novelty sunglasses

I just got back from a Concerts in Care tour in British Columbia. I stayed on the Sunshine Coast with my mum, and commuted into Vancouver on this beast here.
It is thanks to this, the Queen of Coquitlam (nowhere near) and its sister ships on the BC Ferry fleet that, if you were born on the Coast, you're likely to be very good at being on time for things.
The view going across is lovely.

The funny bulge here is the core of an extinct volcano...how that enchanted me as a child. I grew up literally in its shadow.
And the little island below is Shelter Island, where my father kept his booming grounds, and where my brother now keeps his. Oh! Every contour means something, even if it's just a familiar shape in my brain. 
But even with all this beauty, many just read their book or sit at their laptop. It's a commute. But I couldn't. Hence I'm writing this in London.

Roza Rogers
There are friendly faces on the ferry. This lady here saw me hemming my dress (from Vivien of Holloway! How lucky I am that I can consider such clothes "for work"!) and suddenly could stand it no longer. "I'm a seamstress," she said.
"Ha ha, I'm not," I said.
"I can tell! You know how I can tell?"
"No..."
"You're moving the needle to meet the thread, not the other way round."
I remember a passage in Huckleberry Finn like this. Huck is trying to pretend he's a girl, and he's rumbled on this particular detail.
"I'd love to do it for you," this lovely lady said.
And she did! With an accuracy and a speed that astonished me. Her name is Roza Rogers and she is not only a seamstress and alterationist, but an Interior Design Consultant! In Gibsons, folks. So if you live in Gibsons and want either of those things, Roza is your lady. She works for theatrical productions too.
No photos were taken of me singing in this dress, but I have one from a couple of years ago. It was at a VE Day event in Laleham-on-Thames.
I sang entirely in Vivien of Holloway, or Monsoon, for this BC tour.
MUCH fun was had. And my pianist was the versatile, fun, creative Doug Balfour. He's also a Music Director for many shows in Vancouver, and in other towns too!
I brought some Jubilee sunglasses I got from Accessorize for a fiver, and wish I'd brought more! EVERYONE wanted to buy them!


A Monsoon dress that's very 30s.
Was almost late, hence I hadn't changed out of my clod-hoppers.
 
I sang a patriotic song from 1941 called "The King is Still in London". It brought down the house every time.
It was probably just the sunglasses.

It was lovely to stay at the house...you can see in the smaller picture below that it's a gorgeous place. Sea, beach, trees, islands...and me in tweed, reminding myself and others that I now live in England.

I was able to do some outreach concerts for the Coast Recital Society, and my piano teacher came to one of them, so I had the chance to tell a room full of people that my career, based on my research of songs, wouldn't be anywhere at all without her. "If it hadn't been for Mrs. Stuart, all those pieces of sheet music would just be a lot of random dots!"
Dress by Vivien of Holloway. 
Also present was the amazing, amazing Elisabeth, the extraordinary Octogenarian who was born in Germany and who anonymously gave me a money order for $100 every Christmas. It was always signed "From St Nicholas". I puzzled over the handwriting and card like Sherlock Holmes and put the money solemnly away into the savings account, waiting for the day when I could go to study music at College. How those money orders inspired me, made me look forward and plan, and feel worth something.

This is called the "Runaround Sue" dress. Made in London.

This was the first time I had a chance to show her what my voice had turned into as a result!
So I did Ombra mai Fu, Morgen, Plaisir d'Amour, and At the River, as well as my lighter things.
What incredible satisfaction to be able to say thanks at a concert. You can say thanks WITH the concert, express yourself through the most potent medium available.


After a week or so, I took the notorious "Red Eye" overnight plane to Toronto. One leaves at 10:30pm and arrives, their time, at 5:30am. Vancouver time is a bit earlier!!
Staggering out of the building, you're ripe fodder for the taxi drivers if you're not used to them, the grasping, disgusting crooks! At least, mine was.
I've got his card, so I really ought to name and shame shouldn't I? All I can say is be on your guard, folks!

In Toronto
That very day was my Canadian Showcase. I saw the Toronto Space Needle all touched with gold in the sunrise, and noticed all the magnificent old bathing pavilions along the lake. They looked like Bel Epoque casinos. I wonder what they're like inside?
I slept for a bit on my Canadian manager's sofa, then met the magnificent Shira Gilbert, PR in Canada. VERY capable hands there. And Scott Morin's team, young AND enthusiastic about my kind of music. Then I rehearsed with the very excellent pianist recommended by Doug, a fabulous man named Steve Hunter. I reckoned that anyone who A. had just put out a CD of Scott Joplin and B. was recommended by Doug had to be great. And he was. I don't have any photos of the event, but there was tea and cakes (was to be wine and cheese but I insisted like a spoiled Diva on tea and cakes and guess what? They went first. Mind you, Scott - the man in charge - made sure to get excellent cakes. NOT Mr. Kipling excellent, but Laduree excellent. This is Toronto!) and people from the jazz and the classical sides of the fence. I got into some red velvet and sang Always (had them singing the chorus), My Lovely Day, Yours, Let Him Go Let Him Tarry (had em shouting the chorus), and We'll Gather Lilacs. Was encored, and did Honeysuckle. Yelled "piano solo!" and Mr. Hunter took off! He has stride chops, he does.
Well that was a taster. All anyone need do is ask for more. Which it seems, they are doing. May have to renew that Canadian passport of mine.


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