Win a Pair of Tickets to see Jann Arden in Concert!

In addition to giving away tickets to The Twelve Days of Christmas starring Colin Mochrie, I am also giving away a pair of tickets to see A Jann Arden Christmas!

There's no one quite like Ms. Jann Arden; she's an incredibly talented singer with a beautiful tone and has plenty of sass and a great sense of humour. She'll be performing classic Christmas carols and more at her concert at Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe Street). 

I am giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky reader for Jann Arden's SOLD-OUT show on Tuesday, December 13 at 8:00 p.mThere are many ways to enter (see below). Good luck! 

Open to Canadian residents only, 19+.

Contest ends Saturday, December 10 at 12:00 a.m. Winner will be contacted directly via email and announced on social media.

For more information on A Jann Arden Christmas, visit:

Win a Pair of Tickets to The Twelve Days of Christmas!

Beloved Canadian comedian Colin Mochrie stars in the The Twelve Days of Christmas. This festive concert features a live-action pageant and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. It's a holiday spectacle that will be sure to leave you rolling with laughter in the aisles as Mochrie narrates the show. 

I am giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky reader for the performance on Friday, December 9 at 7:00 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe Street). There are many ways to enter (see below). Good luck! 

Open to Canadian residents only, 19+.

Contest ends Wednesday, December 7 at 12 a.m. Winner will be contacted directly via email and announced on social media.

For more information on The Twelve Days of Christmas, visit

A Night at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra: An Alpine Symphony

Sir Andrew Davis, TSO 4_Malcolm Cook photo.jpg.jpg

By: Zena Rebello

As a 20th century history buff and frequent patron of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO), I was thrilled to attend a live performance of Richard Strauss’ An Alpine Symphony. As part of the TSO's The Decades Project, its aim was to expose audiences to the mix of excitement, ingenuity, trepidation and emotions of the time by highlighting the music and spirit of the 20th century, one decade at a time.

The night’s program focused on the period from 1910 - 1919 which was largely consumed by apprehension, the ravages of the First World War, and the jubilation of the post-war years. As conductor Sir Andrew Davis pointed out during his preamble into the night’s program, the music of the decade reflected myriad of these emotions.

The program began with the jubilant work of American composer – and former insurance salesman – Charles Ives, entitled Decoration Day which is now known as Veterans Day in the United States. This celebratory orchestral piece which hails New England’s valiant soldiers was followed by the featured works of Czech composer Leoš Janáček and British composer Edward Elgar, which both centred on the themes of war. The former being colourful and grandiose; the latter being evocative and ominous in nature, kindling the regret and remorse of war. I found myself profoundly drawn into the music, with each composer eliciting different emotions. It was evident how the events of the decade impacted orchestral composition at the time.

During the intermission, the audience was serenaded by a special performance of the alphorn. The musicians were dressed in traditional Swiss Alpine attire and played their alphorns (long alpine horns) which were originally used for driving cattle up the mountains. I had only ever seen this instrument played by cartoon characters. To experience the alphorn live was magnificent! Its sound were both beautiful and bold, melodic and dominant. This was a harbinger for the focal piece of the evening.

After the intermission, I could see the orchestra reassembling. The various instruments being brought onto the stage included two harps, two sets of timpani, a plethora of horns and a wind machine. I had never witnessed such a massive ensemble of instruments before. As the orchestra began to play, Roy Thomson Hall was transformed into the Alpine hills.

The symphony – which is actually more like a tone poem – illustrated Strauss’ boyhood adventures in ascending and descending a mountain over a 24 hour period. The music started dark and low-pitched, then rose with splendour to mimic the rising sun. Themes of forests, flowering meadows and an alpine pasture complete with the sounds of cowbells and bird-songs were captivating. From the light percussion and wind machine emulating a waterfall to the climax of the trek when the summit is reached, the orchestra held the audience with every note.

The music then took a thunderous turn signifying an alpine storm where every instrument was banged, plucked, blown and strung in ordered chaos. Watching the musicians play their instruments in unison, with such intensity was the highlight of the evening. This instalment of the Decade’s Project was intoxicating and I look forward to experiencing the 1920s with the TSO!

To learn more about the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, visit

Photo by Malcolm Cook.

Zena Rebello is an environmentalist, traveller and budding blogger. She has a Masters degree in Atmospheric Science and is always looking for exciting adventures which introduce her to new foods, cultures, and people.

A Night at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra: New Creations Festival

By: Saema Nasir

As the lights in Roy Thompson Hall dimmed and the excited chatter around me quieted, I wondered what to expect from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s concert, Two Memorials: Anton Webern & John Lennon. As it turned out I should have expected the unexpected. The concert was part of the TSO’s 12th annual New Creations Festival, which celebrates avant-garde contemporary music.

The evening started with Australian composer James Ledger’s tribute to Anton Webern and John Lennon. I expected some covers of John Lennon’s songs to be accompanied with some pleasant classical compositions. Instead, as the conductor raised his arms and as his body began to sway to the music, it was jarring, distinctive and powerful. Grandiose cacophony evoked emotions of fear, apprehension and excitement. The music sounded like it would have been perfect for the soundtrack of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller – mysterious and enthralling.

I had to rethink my perception of what I considered a symphony and it also opened my eyes to the work of Webern and Lennon. As the music crescendoed, I felt totally immersed in a musical world that was exuberant and anything but subtle. Lined up next was From the Vortex Perspective, a TSO commission in which the music of composer Paul Frehner and a film by Peter Mettler  were played simultaneously. What was unique about this segment of the evening was that the filmmaker and composer worked together to highlight the often close relationship between film and music and it strived to create music and visuals that worked hand in hand, complimenting each other. They certainly attained this, as both the film and the music matched in their eerie, heart-thumping and electrifying qualities. The audience seemed hypnotized by the artistic imagery that floated across the screen and by the raw and rousing beats they were hearing.

Next came Brett Dean’s trumpet concerto, which was performed by a Swedish soloist for whom is was specifically created. This piece of music aimed to explore the concept of the heroic figure and it did so wonderfully. The music rose, seemingly highlighting the soaring heights the hero reached with his or her victories. Then it took a softer tone, lulling to perhaps convey the hero’s more introspective moments where he or she contemplated the nature of their existence. This was a superbly performed piece and was highly stimulating.

This surprising evening at the TSO was worth it. This concert wasn’t Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor; indeed, the TSO truly opened my eyes (and ears!) to the various forms of music and aroused my senses with the electrifying nature of all the compositions. I was most impressed and can’t wait to hear what the TSO has in store for the future!

Photo by Malcolm Cook.

Saema Nasir is a marketing communications specialist who blogs, writes, paints & explores her beautiful city of Toronto. She has a Masters in Public Relations and also blogs at Follow her on Twitter @saemanasir