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Farewell 'Jests in Time'

We've been keeping busy here at Spectrum. Last Saturday, April 6th, we concluded the third part of our 5-concert saga this season with 'Jests in Time'!

Jests in Time brought a whole lot of funny and the darker side of humour to the Alliance Francaise de Toronto stage. We were grateful of the opportunity to work with the Odin Quartet, accordionist Simone Baron, and interpretive dancer, Alex Pollard. It was Spectrum's first time working with a dancer in this context, and we had a blast exploring music and movement though it was also a challenge. Working outside our comfort zone, we learned how to communicate effectively with a new arts medium and got to make a few jokes in the process!

We premiered 7 new works by Spectrum team members - Chelsea McBride, Mason Victoria, Tiffany Hanus, Graham Campbell, Jackson Welchner - as well as our guest composer & accordionist, Simone Baron. Our 2019 New Voices Composer in Residence, Noah Franche-Nolan made his Spectrum debut, contributing a piece titled "Trois Variations" that simultaneously celebrated his grandmother, a real life jester as he said, and his French-Canadian heritage.

We've already tackled a few archetypes this season. Back in November, we looked at the Sage in "The Road Not Travelled" and the Rebel in "Breaking Down Barriers" back in February. For this concert, which looked at comedy and the Jester archetype, we had our very own jester brought in - comedian Eric Andrews, who has been named SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s “Next Top Comic” and featured on Discovery, Much Music, CTV and much more! We were thrilled to have him do a stand-up set at the start of the show to set mood for the rest of the night. While we find enjoyment in comedy as it brings us together, allows us to make fun of the little things in life and provides us with an escape for the moment, comedy isn't always fun and games. There is an element of vulnerability in comedy, which Eric truly captured.

Following along this line, many of the Spectrum composers chose to explore the darker side of humour and the irony existing in comedy. For instance, Spectrum composer Jackson Welchner wrote a piece titled, "Pagliacci", based on the famous joke as known from Watchmen. The piece was in three parts, to follow the three-part joke:

I heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Life seems harsh, and cruel. Says he feels all alone in threatening world.
Doctor says: "Treatment is simple. The great clown - Pagliacci - is in town. Go see him. That should pick you up."
Man bursts into tears. "But doctor..." he says "I am Pagliacci!"

Though Pagliacci as a clown is supposed to cheer people up and make them laugh - what can be done when Pagliacci himself needs cheering up? In this way, comedy can be used to hide insecurities and create a facade around a person.

The Spectrum composers of course explored the light side to humour too - with robots gaining feelings, to reflecting back on those moments in your life where everything once when wrong you can now laugh at, to finding amusement in day-to-day life. We all ought to have a little bit of a jester in us, to allow ourselves to laugh and find joy in the small things, and not take ourselves too seriously.

While we say farewell to 'Jests in Time' and thank all those who contributed to its success, Spectrum looks forward to our next concert - Coding Chaos - coming up on May 2nd. We tackle yet another challenge - working with technology, more specifically artificial intelligence. We hope to see you there!

- Zoe Brown, Managing Artistic Director

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