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Circle game: reinventing the music of Joni Mitchell

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April 29-May 20 | Fire Station Arts Center

Tickets: $ 23, at firehallartscentre.ca


It happened to all of us – pre-modern music entered our lives and changed everything.

Usually the usual route is a new friend or an older brother turning us on to their soundtrack, and all of a sudden we’re not just walking to a different drummer, but dancing and singing too.

A few years ago, musicians Andrew Cohen and Anna Kuman had their moment of musical discovery when they locked themselves into the music of Joni mitchell, arguably the most influential female recording artist of the late 20th century.

The 73-year-old Fort Macleod singer-songwriter’s catalog inspired the duo to create Circle Game: Reimagining the Music of Joni Mitchell.

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Vancouver, BC: April 14, 2017 - Director Andrew Cohen and choreographer Anna Kuman work with the cast of Circle Game: Reimagining the music of Joni Mitchell, at the Firehall Arts Center in Vancouver.
Director Andrew Cohen and choreographer Anna Kuman work with the cast of Circle Game: Reimagining the Music of Joni Mitchell. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

The show takes 29 of Mitchell’s songs and reinvents them in a modern way. The show lasts 90 minutes and will be presented by multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Rowen Kawn, Scott Perrie, Adriana Ravalli, Kimmy Choi, Sara Vickruck and David Z. Cohen.

“It all started for us in 2013. It was Joni’s 70th birthday year,” Kuman said.

“There was a lot of press on her and her contribution to the Canadian and international music industry. We started hearing his music everywhere we went, so we started to research a little more, and we found the poetry of his lyrics to be incredibly poignant and relevant to the struggles our generation was going through now, ”he said. said Kuman who, like Cohen and other millennials, had heard Mitchell’s songs and covers over the years mainly through their parents.

“There’s a movement of people right now looking in thrift stores and sort of recycling, and I feel like good music is one of those things that will always stand the test of time.” , Kuman said.

“There will always be future generations who will go back and do this research and watch and learn, and that’s how music evolves. “

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For the project, the duo wondered: what if Mitchell wrote songs like Chelsea Morning, Big Yellow Taxi, Fiddle and the Drum, Both Sides Now, California and Circle Game, today?

“It came naturally,” Kuman said of listening to Mitchell with a contemporary pop ear.

The next step was to prepare for the show at Kuman’s alma mater, Capilano University.

“We love the word ‘reinvented’,” Cohen said. “Our goal was to go through the entire Top 40 (music) lineup today. We wanted to focus on different genres. Don’t worry, there is no automatic adjustment.

Kuman and Cohen’s partnership extends beyond work – they’ve been married for a few years. The decision to create a new show meant that they always took their work home, and everywhere else as well.

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“We talked about it all the time,” Kuman said with a laugh. “For our honeymoon (in 2015), we backpacked Asia for four months. We had our notebooks everywhere we went.

“It’s about opening people’s minds to the message, and that’s what we’ve tried to do by making these new arrangements. Leave all your previous conceptions of his music at the door, ”Kuman said.

“Leave the perception that it’s your parents’ music at the door.” Enter and listen to the message that is said.

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Andrew Cohen, David Z. Cohen, Sara Vickruck and Anna Kuman are working on Circle Game: Reimagining the Music of Joni Mitchell.
Andrew Cohen, David Z. Cohen, Sara Vickruck and Anna Kuman are working on Circle Game: Reimagining the Music of Joni Mitchell. Photo by Tyler Branston /PNG

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