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Arts

For a unique brunch experience, head to Le Balcon!

The Concordian was invited to attend a lively gospel brunch hosted by Le Balcon on February 26

Le Balcon is a cabaret located in the rustically beautiful St. James United Church in downtown Montreal. It offers dinner shows as well as gospel brunches.

The Concordian was invited to attend a gospel brunch on February 26th, featuring local band HOWzik. It was a dazzling experience that energized all the senses. 

When arriving, guests were escorted through the church to the Le Balcon area. As soon as one walks in, the amount of care and thought put into the space was evident. The interior design was splendid, with each piece of decor complementing the other nicely. Red lights illuminated beautiful stained glass windows, matching perfectly with red tablecloths and the stage’s red curtains. Eagle-eyed guests could spot “Le Balcon” faintly written in white letters on the thick curtains.The tables were decorated with black handkerchiefs and magnificent clear yellow rectangular candles. Several large black and white photos of the various artists that have performed at Le Balcon adorned the walls of the space. The interior design wasn’t the only thing that enhanced the experience, though: as guests dined, gospel music played in the background. 

Yogurt was served as an entrée. It contained blueberry jam, crispy granola, honey, and almonds. Afterwards, guests had a choice of crêpes or strata for their main meal. The strata contained egg and chorizo gratin, bread, aged cheddar, bell pepper, arugula, and herbed fingerling potatoes. In addition, there was a vegetarian version of this meal. The strata was described by another guest as savoury, fresh, light and refreshing but still filling. She added that the flavour combination was amazing and pesto added to the presentation. 

The other option, crêpes, were rolled with roasted apples, maple and salt flower caramel, and apple and spice jelly with crumble. They were delicious. The apple filling was smooth, tasty, fresh and juicy. The caramel added a kick. Overall, the flavour combination was mouthwatering. 

Along with the food, drinks such as mimosas and alcoholized coffee were available. 

After dinner came the main attraction: the band HOWzik. Before their set, the group introduced themselves and the history of gospel music. They told us we would be taken through the journey of gospel. They were right.

The group began with African songs such as, “Kumbaya” by Soweto Gospel Choir and “Nazo bondela yo” by Rosny Kayiba. The bands also presented on the history of the music they performed, stating they were ancestral songs from Africa that predated slavery. 

Afterwards, the group switched to a song dating from the period when enslaved Africans arrived in the Americas, called “Oh Freedom!”

The group then switched to a different era, in which the Christianization of enslaved people occurred and gospel music began to appear. The five songs performed in this phase were “Wade in the water we Dey,” “Très longtemps,” “Amazing grace,” “Let praises rise” and “Oh happy day.” The first two songs were performed before a break, which gave a chance for both the band and audience to relax and refresh. The last three songs were performed afterwards. 

Finally, the group performed three upbeat and uplifting original songs in French. These were “Cris de joie,” “Plus haut,” and “Apprends moi à t’aimer.” 

As the group sang, lights and visual effects enhanced the experience. Indeed, different coloured lights accompanied by dancing shapes projected on the walls around the stage served to further immerse the audience into the spectacle. Also, flashing  lights were used to add intensity. For example, during the “Nazo bondela yo” number, blue lights illuminated the stage and stained glass windows while white foliage-like shapes covered the walls. Given the slower pace of the song, the lights only flashed sparingly. In comparison, during the more upbeat “Yindule/Soki toko lingana” number, pink lights aggressively flashed while pink shapes, which occasionally turned white, covered the walls. Special effects perfectly matched the tones of the songs, as quieter more emotional tracks like “Wade in the Water we Dey” had fewer special effects while more upbeat songs like “Cris de joie” had more flashy effects. 

Another aspect that added to the immersive nature of the experience was the harmony between the band. The musicians and singers complemented each other perfectly. They even wore matching black outfits for the first part of the set. Then after the break, they wore matching white shirts and blue jeans. Harmony was not just found among their outfits, but also within their voices. Each singer also had a chance to shine. During different numbers, different singers took turns taking centre stage.

The band also energized the crowd by asking them to sing, clap, or dance along. For example, during the performance of “Wade in the Water we Dey,” the crowd was encouraged to sing along. This made the audience part of the performance which enhanced the experience. 

Overall, gospel brunches at Le Balcon are a perfect weekend morning activity for music lovers no matter their religious background. Every day, different artists perform at Le Balcon. Upcoming events include a Flamenco evening.

 

Visuals courtesy Sydney Gastaldo 

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Arts

RECHARGER/Unwind: an unforgettable journey

Oasis immersion’s second exhibition is a simultaneously soothing yet exhilarating immersive journey of the senses

RECHARGER/Unwind, the Oasis immersive studio’s second ever exhibition, features 10 presentations from both local and international artists that are centered around three themes: relaxation, stimulation, and reconnection.

“We really wanted to create something that uplifts somehow,” said Johnny Ranger, co-creative director at OASIS Immersion. “I think that it has a really good balance between some pieces that are strange, mysterious, and uplifting,” he added. This balance was achieved by having each room in the exhibition embody one of the three themes. In each room, various artistic presentations were projected all over the walls and sometimes even the floor.

When guests initially enter the exhibit, ethereal music transports them to a world of relaxation. The first room features three presentations that encourage visitors to unwind. First, visitors will experience Core, a cascading dance of light and sound. Then, they are treated to Migration, a moving piece of art that invites visitors into a constantly reassembling world. Multicoloured fields break apart and reform into ever-shifting purple waves.

Migration was created by Quebecois artist Ruban Mauve. “I just wanted it to be this thing that just brings you with [it] and you don’t know where it’s gonna get you, but you’re just onboard and you just enjoy the experience of travelling with this,” explained Mauve.

Next, rotating plant ecosystems spring to life. This is Floralia, a speculative future where samples of extinct plant species are preserved and displayed in a virtual archive room. Crackling sounds add a dramatic flair and unsettling ambience to the piece.

After this journey to a virtual archive, visitors step into the second room focused on stimulation. Energizing lights and sounds create a gripping and inspiring experience by stimulating the senses.

The room’s invigorating lights and sounds worked wonders for Abdullah Icuyz, a visitor who was engrossed in the experience. “[I] pretty much liked the three [rooms], but my favourite one was the second one,” said Icyuz.

Icyuz was particularly inspired by Horizon, a piece by French artist Alex Le Guillou. This piece explored the way we perceive dreams and reality. Light particles intermingle to form abstract shapes inspired by the sky and seas, including pinkish shapes resembling star systems.

This second room along with Horizon’s two other presentations, Frozen Music and Journey, are also featured. The former shows frozen structures that shift and change over time. A serpentine structure made of fine white light slowly travels along the room’s four walls, then suddenly visitors hear a ding among the airy music, and the whole structure transforms, revealing a new serpentine form. As the number of dings increases so does the music and the shape’s speed, creating a feeling of escalation among guests.

Journey, the final presentation in the second room, presents some of the most memorable visuals of the exhibition. Towards the end of the presentation, a train of light spreads on the walls speeding from one wall towards the next, as a little girl runs towards it, hoping to catch the train.

After this impressive demonstration, guests visit the reconnection room, the final stage of the exhibition. This room offers four presentations and aims to reconnect visitors with themselves, nature, and social interaction.

The first presentation, New Land  by Alex Le Guillou, presents beautiful scenes of nature while upbeat music plays in the background. White arctic forests and lush green boreal forests meld together to create a stunning intricate landscape.

The second piece, Recursive Reflections, plunges the audience into an alien world. Green tones of membrane-like figments resembling cell membranes and strains of green flesh-like figments are appear over the walls. Eventually, among gaps between the different membranes, a world seems to be revealed. The world then transforms into a variety of geometric patterns.

During the third presentation, Flow, shapes of shifting color resembling clouds float about as celestial music accompanies the piece. The clouds later expand, turning into granular waves of lights.

The final presentation, The Quiet Pond, delves into primal instincts such as anxiety and fear. Among the purple vegetation on the pond’s shore, yellow eyes appear, creating a disconcerting feeling. Occasional flashes of light and a strange child-like voice saying “hello” add to the unease of this presentation. Eventually, the eyes become bubbles of light and shift upwards as the dense vegetation transforms into a whimsical yellow and orange foliage. Later, the room is entirely underwater. Bodies fall within the water, renewing a sense of anxiety.

Despite their different styles and subjects, all the presentations have something in common. They are all generative art pieces. Generative art is art created with the use of computer coding and programming. “The whole exhibit is about using generative to feel better,” explained Mauve. “Generative process in general is this task of putting on rules and setting out barriers for the content to evolve with.”

“It is really a different type of animation, it creates variety in the way it’s building animation,” added Ranger.

In order to get the full experience, Ranger recommends multiple visits. “And some of the people I know that came to see this exhibition want to come back again to live it because it’s not something that once you see it you know. No, it’s an experience and if you come back in a month or a month and a half, it will be a different experience.”

The exhibition will run until the end of January and is open from Wednesday to Sunday.

 

Photo courtesy Margaret Wdowiak

The Concordian’s guide to a spooktacular Halloween 2021

As green leaves turn to a rusted orange and carved pumpkins appear on people’s doorsteps, Montreal begins to brim with life. Halloween is finally coming back! Grab your vaccine passport and get ready to discover the dozens of spooktacular activities being offered all around the city. Here are six events you won’t want to miss.

Fright Fest at Six Flags La Ronde

A classic of the Montreal Halloween season, the Fright Fest at the Six Flags La Ronde amusement park offers a variety of frightening activities, including four haunted houses: Cursed Farm, Nightmares, District 510 in the Dark, and Evil Circus 3D. After visiting the terrifying haunted houses, brave visitors can board one of the park’s many thrilling roller coasters, including the diabolical Demon. Unfortunately, while one might think that the horror is only confined to haunted houses and rollercoasters, this could not be further from the truth. Three scare zones are spread-out throughout the park, and you could encounter demons giving directions, while vampires and zombies ambush unsuspecting passersby. Fortunately, family-friendly shows offer visitors relief from the terror. The fest ends on Oct. 31.

Halloween Exhibition — Pumpkins and Other Curiosities

This free exhibition is perfect for West Island-based Concordians with gentler souls. Attendees will be able to discover fun pumpkin facts and admire a collection of pumpkins decorated and carved by young Dorval students and acclaimed pumpkin master Alex S. Girard, le Citrouilleur. The exhibition runs from Oct. 23 to 31.

Drag Brunch MTL and Time Out Market Montreal Halloween Extravaganza

This activity is perfect for drag lovers. The extravaganza taking place on Oct. 31, headlined by accomplished drag performer Barbada de Barbades, will feature musical and comedic drag performances. Spectators can purchase food from the city’s top chefs to enjoy as the performers sing, dance and perform stand-up. Dressing up is encouraged, and costumed guests will automatically be entered into a contest to win a $50 Time Out Market gift card and a limited edition tote bag.

Candlelight Halloween concerts

Rejoice music lovers: the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel presents a series of exclusive concerts from the end of the month until mid-November. A 60-minute soundtrack of fear will be played by the Listeso Quartet on strings. Onlookers will bask in the light of hundreds of candles as the quartet plays timeless classics such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and appropriately spooky classical pieces such as “Marche Funèbre” by Frédéric Chopin.

Trick or Tease at Café Cléopatra

For those wanting to indulge their wild side, Trick or Tease at Café Cléopatra is the perfect opportunity. On the night of Oct. 29, the club will feature pole dancing, twerking, burlesque, tribal fusion belly dancing, and desi fusion performances accompanied by an MC and DJ. Patrons will be able to quench their thirst with the venue’s bar and drink service. For those wanting a full experience, costumes are recommended (hint: there’s a costume contest).

Montreal Halloween Party

Gather your friends and come party on St. Laurent Blvd. between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. on Oct. 31. Everyone is welcome at the massive party, but costumes are a must so don’t forget to bring your dress-up A-game. Costumed party goers will dance to a wide range of music, from the newest hip hop beats to the hottest EDM tracks. In addition, attendees will have the chance to capture this moment forever with the help of a professional photographer, and a lucky few will have access to the limited bottle service.

We hope this guide piqued your interest. The Concordian wishes you a happy and spooktacular Halloween.

Categories
Arts

The Inspirations exhibition offered visitors the chance to embark on an immersive audiovisual journey

OASIS immersion’s latest exhibition showcased several unique presentations that were guaranteed to transport individuals into unforgettable worlds

Exhibited at the Palais des congrès de Montréal, OASIS immersion’s latest show Inspirations sought to inspire its visitors by showcasing the artistic prowess of Quebec. “Inspirations is about hope, optimism and reaching one’s full potential,” explained Denys Lavigne, co-founder and executive creative director of OASIS immersion. “Through a carefully constructed collection of audiovisual experiences, our goal was to connect with our audience in such a way that would trigger something inside, and empower them in taking action on something they feel passionate about.”

Lavigne and his colleagues planned to achieve this goal using the immersive properties of the three rooms located in the OASIS immersion studio. The 105 laser projectors and 119 surround sound speakers enable the OASIS immersion team to create customizable 360-degree projections on the walls and floors in each of the three rooms.

The immersive nature of the exhibition became apparent as soon as one stepped into the first exhibition room, known as the portail. Mellow music interrupted by bird sounds played loudly as colourful shapes merged and shifted across the walls and floors. Seated visitors were given the opportunity to look upon poignant, ever-shifting walls as swirling multicoloured lines ran across their backs. Touching tributes written by loved ones adorned the walls and served as introductions for the exhibition’s main artists.

“We felt [loved ones] were the best ambassadors to relay the backstory of each topic and share the type of authenticity we wanted to provide our audience to set the stage for the exhibit,” Lavigne explained. “Secondly, because in more traditional museum environments you’ll often have exhibit introductions that intellectualize a theme, [or] a topic to a point [where] it creates a disconnection between the art and the visitor; we did not want this to happen, and favoured a more intimate approach that best suited the tone we had chosen for the exhibit.”

Next, visitors could enter a room known as the teleporteur room, where they would be transported across the world. From the depths of the Pacific to the International Space Station, the ground beneath their feet was constantly shifting. Accompanying sounds varying from thrusting spacecraft engines to rocking waves helped to captivate the audience.

After their journey through Earth and space, visitors arrived at the final immersive room, known as the panorama, where the bulk of the exhibition waited. Visitors were treated to several different audiovisual presentations, including a production by YouTuber Émile Roy that highlighted some positive aspects amidst the gloom of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this room, onlookers were also transported across the Pacific Ocean, where they were given the chance to discover unique flora and fauna. Amidst this vast expanse of water lay breathtaking islands with lush forests and bursting volcanoes. Visitors also got the chance to observe the incredible people who call these islands and waters home virtually.

In addition to this, visitors were also treated to an ethereal performance by pianist Alexandra Stréliski. An animated projection of the talented musician walking among a forest of three-dimensional neon shapes could be admired during this presentation.

The panorama room also featured a presentation detailing astronaut David Saint-Jacques’ journey from humble engineer to space pioneer, as well as a presentation that featured a rendition of hygge through dance directed by Vallée Duhamel. In Scandinavian culture, hygge is a way of life that prioritizes enjoying the present and establishing deeper connections with others.

The final presentation of the exhibition was an ode to Quebecois creativity. The spirit of Quebecois culture was a fundamental element in this presentation. “In a way, this project is homage to the creative spirit in Quebec and Montreal, and how it’s been recognized globally,” Lavigne added. “We sometimes take it for granted, but the rich cultural environment in which we live is a privilege that we need to handle with care, and we wanted to play a small role in enriching its outreach.”

Overall, this project was a vibrant experience that granted visitors the opportunity to travel to far-flung spaces and enjoy the richness of Quebecois artistry without ever having to leave the Palais des congrès. It was also a great way to spend a Saturday night for individuals who may have been looking to broaden their horizons.

The Inspirations exhibition was displayed at the Palais des congrès de Montréal.

 

Photograph courtesy of Denys Lavigne

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