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    Ensemble Polaris – Definitely Not the Nutcracker

    Wednesday, 10 December 2014 12:05

    Written by Lise Hosein

    Tomorrow night, the Aurora Cultural Centre is hosting a concert that takes a step away from traditional western Christmas fare. Definitely Not the Nutcracker is the name of this show performed by the Ensemble Polaris, a collective of Canadian musicians who are really engaged with what they call the “idea of North.” What that means to them is including the music of all of the countries that deal with the snow and cold of winter in this program that centres around Tchaikovsky’s famous Nutcracker suite. While you’ll hear songs you recognize from the ballet, you’ll also hear instruments and turns of phrase that recall places as far away as Scandinavia, Russia, and Roma. I talked to Ensemble member Colin Savage - he plays clarinet and recorders for the ensemble, and he opened up to me about their instrumental choices:



    But it’s not just the musicality – there’s a bit of a difference from the mood you experience listening to Christmas carols or the Nutcracker suite. While Ensemble Polaris keeps the liveliness of the holidays, they also include a bit of romantic melancholy I think we all experience in winter, and the music of other northern countries  often captures that in a uniquely expressive way. The stories told in the songs Ensemble Polaris plays tell a Tim Burton-esque, sometimes almost eerie tale of people caught in a strange winter world. Colin explains:

    Ensemble Polaris is taking us on this unusual and captivating winter journey tomorrow night at the Aurora Cultural Centre – you can visit www.auroraculturalcentre.ca to grab tickets – they’re $25 today and $30 tomorrow. Plus your entry to Definitely Not the Nutcracker gets you first look (which means first choice!) at their Whose Art is It Anyway?  where you can buy small works by mystery artists for $50. All of the proceeds go to programming at the Centre. And to find out more about Ensemble Polaris, go to www.ensemblepolaris.com or see them perform their Nutcracker Nouveau on Sunday, December 27th, at 918 Bathurst St. in Toronto.

    Here’s a sample: their take on the Sugar Plum Fairy.



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