By Roog Kubur, June 13 2022—
If you’re tuned into Calgary’s art scene, you would have noticed that at the end of May a lot of new events were announced. Like, a lot. Alberta Ballet, the Calgary Philharmonic and Arts Commons have all simultaneously let the world know what to look forward to this year and it was mildly overwhelming to say the least. Luckily, here is a quick recap of everything that will be happening so that you won’t need to scour through the different websites to get the rundown.
Calgary Philharmonic’s season is full of pieces that will appease anyone, from classical music enthusiasts to Marvel fans. Their season opens on Sept. 10 with a performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9., a piece calling for freedom and fighting against oppression — an apt way to set the tone for the remainder of the season.
Alberta Ballet’s season opens from Sept. 14-17 with guests from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet for their production of The Handmaid’s Tale, inspired by the novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood. Choreographed by Lila Yorke, this is a unique take on the story that has enraptured readers for decades. If you’ve seen the series or read the book and you’re looking for something to fill the void, be sure to check this interpretation out.
The Classic Albums Live series at Arts Commons will be returning once again, kicking off on Sept. 22 with U2: The Joshua Tree. For those of us who just missed the era when we could hear Billy Joel, Pink Flloyd and Heart live, we can look forward to this series to bring to life classic rock tunes.
The Calgary Philharmonic blends social justice and music on Oct. 1 with I Rise, a piece inviting five artists to express Laura Hawley’s commission of L.R. Knost’s poem of the same name. A celebration and exploration of Blackness following the hardships of the past two years, this is something to remind us the power of music as a medium.
Alberta Ballet continues to highlight female choreographers with Away We Go — a collection featuring Moving Still, Skyward and Petal from Oct. 27-29. Each of the three pieces highlight different dimensions of perseverance from an artist’s perspective. For all creatives looking to feel seen, this ballet will be that vessel.
BD&P World Stage and Arts Commons are coming back to you with music and performances from across the world, kicking off with Aida Cuevas: 45th Anniversary with Mariachi Azatlán on Nov. 25. If you’ve never heard of ranchera music or don’t listen to Mexican music in general, expand your horizons and give this show a go. This is only one of the many cultures explored through this series and is your gateway to listening to classic music from every corner of the world.
November is the kickoff of the Calgary Philharmonic’s curated series with Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, an intensely emotional piece exploring life and death after the birth of his first child. On Nov. 26, music and ballet enthusiasts will be able to catch Stravinsky’s Firebird in conjunction with Alberta Ballet School, a heroic tale of a prince defeating the firebird and rescuing his princess.
As Christmas rolls around, treat yourself to a production of The Nutcracker from Dec. 16-24. The classic ballet features a score from Tchaikofsky and a story anyone could recite in their sleep. As if that’s not enough to sell you, there will be brand new choreography in Act 2, done by Edmund Stripe to celebrate the 15-year anniversary of the Alberta Ballet.
If you’re more a fan of contemporary classics, the Calgary Philharmonic will be putting on Home Alone in Concert, a live-to-picture performance of the beloved film. This also features the University of Calgary chorus and celebrated conductor Sarah Hicks.
In January, the philharmonic will be bringing back a beloved performance from 2019, Brahms v. Radiohead. This piece is a blend of Radiohead’s OK Computer and Johannes Brahms’s Symphony No. 1. While it sounds like an unlikely pairing, conductor Steve Hackman brings the performance to life in a way that makes everything not only work, but change your perspective about classical and contemporary music.
The Queen’s Cartoonists are a quirky group that need some appreciation. As part of Arts Commons’s Jazz series, they will be taking the stage on Jan. 26 to provide a live soundtrack to some old school cartoons with characters like Betty Boop and Bugs Bunny. These cartoons are funny not only because of the slapstick humour, but also because some of the jokes are just genuine knee-slapping hilarity.
Complexions Contemporary Ballet will be taking the stage in February with Love Rocks, which explores modern day humanity in our current political and social climate. The one-act production features music from Lenny Kravitz and is a must-see for anyone looking to expand their artistic palette.
February at the Philharmonic highlights Celeigh Cardinal and Shawnee Kish in their songwriter spotlight. Providing vocals that would make anyone swoon, these two are joined by conductor Lucas Waldin to provide an experience to celebrate Canadian excellence.
From March 16-25, indulge in another classic, Giselle, a ghostly story of love, revenge and the personification of all the young women who have been betrayed. If you’re looking for a story of tragedy followed by the most heart-wrenching display of love you’ll ever see, this is something you cannot miss.
The entirety of March from the Philharmonic is filled with contemporary and classical icons, including Lakisha Jones providing the vocals for The Best of Whitney, a night of classics from Whitney Houston, Diana Ross and other pop divas. If you’re looking to expand your appreciation for sounds of the 80s while being introduced to a vocalist who can definitely continue their legacy, be sure to check this out.
PCL Blues will be celebrating its 25th anniversary at the Martha Cohen with Judith Hill in September and its season will be bringing back singers who blues fans have known and loved. If you’re a fan of blues or you’re looking to expand your musical palette, check out Jack Broadbent on April 14-15. Slide guitar is already an impressive feat, but this performer puts a gritty cloak over it that will entice any listener.
From May 11-13, the company will be translating the story of Colombian painter Fernando Boltero to the stage with Botero. First showing in Colombia in 2021, this will be the world premier of the complete show.
For all the Marvel nerds out there that would like to add another layer of insanity to the modern classic that is Black Panther, join the orchestra for the International Film Festival for a live-to-picture adaptation of the film. This is a next-level way of experiencing a film that is already so well loved for its music, and will certainly make you sound cooler when you tell your friends where you were that weekend.
This season is long. There’s a lot to look forward to and even more to actually attend. Now that attending these events in-person is possible, it would be a waste not to go out and explore what this city has to offer. Prices can range from manageable to a full-blown investment, but it will always be worth it to splurge on seeing good art. This is a condensed version of what each institution has to offer so if you would like to see the full list, it is available through the Alberta Ballet brochure or Arts Commons and Calgary Philharmonic’s websites.