The Art of Time Ensemble will celebrate a Canadian icon on their upcoming album Songs of Leonard Cohen Live, arriving next week.
“The 13 tracks on this album were recorded live in concert as part of a Leonard Cohen tribute in 2018,” says Andrew Burashko, The Art of Time Ensemble’s founder and artistic director. Over three nights, this tribute also featured 15 Canadian authors and poets, many of whom knew Leonard Cohen personally. These shows were deeply emotional, and it shows in every single performance.
“In choosing the songs for this tribute, I wanted to cover the entire span of Cohen’s career, showcasing both well-known classics and lesser-known tracks such as Come Healing and Treaty from very late in his career. I also very deliberately chose a diverse group of composers and arrangers with disparate sensibilities to create a very distinct aesthetic universe for each song. The singers on this album are all veterans and icons of the Canadian pop music scene — all forces of nature and in their own right. Their passion for these songs shines through in every performance.”
One of the standout tracks on the album — which is due Sept. 29 — is a haunting version of Cohen’s signature classic Hallelujah, sung by Steven Page and Gregory Hoskins, as the song’s memorable waltzing lyrics beat in rhythm with even the most robust of heartstrings. Other notable numbers include Come Healing, featuring Sarah Harmer, and A Singer Must Die, also sung by Page. Harmer’s version features a piano, woodwind, and string accompaniment with her bright vocals that feel poignant today. Page’s take on A Singer Must Die is almost comedic. Yet its outing is sprinkled with sad undertones. At moments, you’ll feel that you’re in a smoky 1950s Paris jazz club sipping whiskey.
The Art of Time Ensemble were born in 1998, brought together by Burashko’s vision. With a mission to ‘engage diverse audiences in powerful arts experiences through the performances, collaborative endeavours, and curatorial vision of its artistic director. The ensemble draws on Toronto’s best artistic creatives from the world of music, art, dance, and theatre. They combine high art and popular culture delivering enrichment and enlightenment to their audiences through the power of music. The dedication of the ensemble’s cast of arrangers, musicians, and artists has kept the ensemble strong for over 20 years, which has allowed collaborations with people from all corners of the world of art.
Members of the group over the years have included Jonathan Goldsmith, Rachel Mercer (principal cellist of the National Arts Orchestra), Benjamin Bowman (concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera), Stephen Sitarski (concertmaster of Esprit Orchestra), Steven Dann (soloist and former principal violist of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Toronto Symphony), Thomas Wiebe (soloist and cellist of the Duke Trio); Phil Dwyer (renowned composer and jazz saxophonist), the great Canadian guitarist Rob Piltch, and many more. As well as a pool of experienced musicians, The Art of Time Ensemble works with dancers, filmmakers, artists and writers.
The Art of Time Ensemble lineup for Songs Of Leonard Cohen Live includes vocalists Steven Page, Tom Wilson, Sarah Harmer, Gregory Hoskins and Sarah Slean, accompanied by Andrew Burashko, piano; Amy Laing, cello; Robert Carli, saxophone/clarinet and arranger; Sheila Jaffe, violin; Rob Piltch, guitar; Joseph Phillips, double bass; Bryan Baird, arranger; Gavin Bryars, arranger; Andrew Downing, arranger; Kevin Fox, arranger; Jim McGrath, arranger.