Ticket Giveaway: Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’ (Thursday June 15, 2017 at 8 p.m.)

Two great works featuring strings—Barber’s poignant Adagio and Bartók’s riveting exploration of the instruments’ possibilities (the potent third movement appeared on the soundtrack of the classic horror film, The Shining)—share a program with Kurt Weill’s satirical “sung ballet”, The Seven Deadly Sins, starring mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta in a new, semi-staged production directed by Joel Ivany.

Andrew Balfour: Kiwetin-acahcos (North Star): Sesquie for Canada’s 150th [2′]

Barber: Adagio for Strings [7′]

Bartók: Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta [32′]

Brecht/Weill: The Seven Deadly Sins (semi-staged) [39′]

Thank you to our friends at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for gifting Thirty Four Flavours with a pair of tickets to the ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’ (Thursday June 15, 2017 at 8 p.m.) performance!

What are the rules when entering the Thirty Four Flavours and Toronto Symphony Orchestra Ticket Giveaway?

Simple! Please sign up to Thirty Four Flavours Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thirtyfourflavours, Twitter https://twitter.com/34flavours, or email subscription to enter the draw. When you have signed up please send me a Facebook message, a tweet or email (thirtyfourflavours@gmail.com) telling me you why you want to win the Symphony tickets.

Deadline for the Thirty Four Flavours and the ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’ Ticket Giveaway is Monday June 12, 2017.



Book Report: “All the Beloved Ghosts” By Alison Macleod


In 1920s Nova Scotia, as winter begins to thaw, a woman emerges from mourning and wears a new coat to a dance that will change everything. A teenager searches for his lover on a charged summer evening in 2011, as around him London erupts in anger. A cardiac specialist lingers on the cusp of consciousness as he awaits a new heart—and is transported to an attic room half a century ago. In an ancient Yorkshire churchyard, the author visits Sylvia Plath’s grave and makes an unexpected connection across time. On a trip to Brighton, reluctant jihadists face the ultimate spiritual test. And at Charleston, Angelica Garnett, child of the Bloomsbury Group, is overcome by the past, all the beloved ghosts that spring to life before her eyes.

Precise, playful and evocative, these exquisitely crafted stories explore memory, the media and mortality, unfolding at the line between reality and fiction. Written with vigorous intelligence and delicate insight, this collection captures the surprising joys, small tragedies and profound truths of existence.


“All the Beloved Ghosts” By Alison Macleod requires all of your attention.  But down that phone, put off that music and get settled into bed for a proper read.  Macleod challenges the reader to split threads and view a snapshot that tethers reality with fragments of fiction.

One of the most powerful stories in the novel entitled ‘Dreaming Diana:  Twelve Frame’s’ brings all kinds of giddiness.  The short story speaks to frames of time that the writer captures her paralleled romantic relationships to that of Diana and Charles.  From their early years of courting, to their marital demise and eventual death; the writer paints a portrait that demonstrates the cracks in the paint within her own marriage.

‘Above them, of time, I want to press rewind again, to spool the clock back.  I want a maid, bearing a stack of fresh sheets, to hit the ‘down’ button, stumble into their world mid-descent and delay them with her apologies.  I want her to bother Diana for a smile, a word, an autograph.  I want her to alter the sequence.  On they go.’

The writer speaks to her confusion, questioning and worry about her own relationship and reflects on it with the help of photographs of Diana in the media.  These parallels are a wonderful window into the writer’s voice and the complexities of her situation.

Stitching fiction into the texture of a collection of narratives that are fueled in truth makes for not only an interesting read but a reminder into our own existence.  How many parallels can you find within your own life to what is happening currently in the media, friends and family?  Macleod provides the literature that makes for an interesting aperitif tool towards reflection.


Book Report: “Men Without Women” By Haruki Murakami

A dazzling new collection of short stories–the first major new work of fiction from the beloved, internationally acclaimed, Haruki Murakami since his #1 best-selling Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.

Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all.

Marked by the same wry humor that has defined his entire body of work, in this collection Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic.


It’s very rare that you get transported to a place and time that is so authentic that you feel like you never want to leave when you are in the confines of a book.  Murakami is the Master when it comes to introducing the reader to a space and time that is completely foreign to western readers but yet shares the sensibilities that we all can relate to.  “Men Without Women” by Haruki Murakami will not disappoint when it comes to capturing these nods.

‘The image of her in another man’s arms as stuck in my mind, as real as life.  As if there was a demon with nowhere else to go clinging to a corner of the ceiling, eyes fastened on me.  After my wife’s death, I expected the demon would disappear if I just waited long enough.  But it didn’t.  Instead its presence grew even stronger.  I had to get rid of it.  To do that I had to let go of my rage.’

Introspectiveness and sensitivity is what Murakami articulates with the finiteness of the best calligraphy pen.  His words are chosen with the detail of a farmer’s market fiend and with intent that evokes an emotional response.  “Men Without Women” By Haruki Murakami reads like a painting.  It is brimming with textures and angles that will encourage reflection that perhaps may interrupt your reading flow.  It is a well deserved purchase and a transformative read.



Review: The Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’ (Friday, June 2, 2017)


Sir Andrew Davis begins our musical exploration of the 1930s with three exceptional works. Hindemith’s Concert Music for Brass and Strings is a stunning showpiece for orchestra without the woodwinds. The amazing sonorities of these two sections playing against and with each other are without comparison anywhere in the orchestral repertoire. Our own Jonathan Crow is the featured soloist in Berg’s beautiful Violin Concerto—a rich, lushly Romantic work tinged with elegiac sensibilities. Berg’s use of the contemporary language his teacher Schoenberg created is highly personal, a singular voice amidst the experimentation and angularity of this musically tempestuous decade. Alexander Dobson, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and the Huddersfield Choral Society join the Orchestra for Walton’s exhilarating oratorio Belshazzar’s Feast. This exciting work might be his masterpiece. It is dramatic, lyrical, highly original, and completely compelling.

Peter Oundjian

Music Director

Sir William Walton’s spectacular biblical oratorio—tracing the liberation of the Hebrew slaves from captivity in Babylon and powered by a 200-voice mass choir—is the climax of a program conducted by TSO Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis that includes the eloquent violin concerto that Alban Berg composed in tribute to a young woman who had died at eighteen.

Babylon was a great city,

Her merchandise was of gold and silver,

Of precious stones, of pearls, of fine linen,

Of purple, silk, and scarlet,

All manner vessels of ivory,

All manner vessels of most precious wood,

Of brass, iron, and marble,

Cinnamon, odours, and ointments,

Of frankincense, wine, and oil,

Fine flour, wheat, and beasts,

Sheep, horses, chariots, slaves,

And the souls of men.

Walton came to attention through impudent, jazz-inflected scores such as the spoken-and played “entertainment” Façade (1922), and cemented his reputation as a bright light of music with the warm, haunting Viola Concerto (1929). He made further inroads into conservative domains (but not through conservative means) by creating an example of that long-time British favourite, the choral work with orchestra.

Belshazzar’s Feast was commissioned by the BBC, to be premièred at the 1931 Leeds Triennial Festival. Author Osbert Sitwell came up with the Old Testament story of the “handwriting on the wall” as the subject. Using the King James edition of the Bible, he drew upon the books of Daniel, Isaiah, Revelation, and the Psalms. The première audience initially registered shock at the fierceness expressed by both text and music, but by the end of the performance, the score’s sheer visceral impact swept them to their feet.

After the stern opening proclamation, the baritone soloist and chorus lament the oppressed state of the Hebrew slaves in Babylon. The baritone sings an unaccompanied recitative enumerating Babylon’s vast riches and its profound evils. The vibrant depiction of the feast proper makes prominent use of the jagged rhythmic syncopations of early jazz. The chorus, taking the viewpoint of the Hebrews, describes how Belshazzar, king of Babylon, commits blasphemy by having his slaves bring forth the golden drinking vessels that his father, Nebuchadnezzar, had stolen from the sacred Hebrew temples in Jerusalem, at the same time as he had enslaved the population. Belshazzar and his courtiers imbibe from them, sealing their doom in the eyes of God. Belshazzar (baritone soloist) calls for praises to be sung to his people’s gods. The chorus shifts to the role of Babylonians, singing ecstatic odes to their deities.

At the height of the festivities, the God of the Hebrews intervenes. He sends forth a phantom hand to inscribe the fate of Belshazzar and his people on the wall of the palace. The scene is climaxed by the chorus’s electrifying shout of “Slain!” as Belshazzar and his kingdom are cast down. The Hebrews celebrate their freedom in a jubilant hymn of praise.


‘Belshazzar’s Feast’ as performed by The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is not for the faint of heart.  Its rich diversity, thunderous punctuated exclamation points and heightened moments of deep meditation encircle the piece.  As we inhaled its grand stature – it was hard to sit still throughout the performance.  The mood deliberately made us fidget and yet encouraged us to lean into the discomfort.

TSO Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis challenged the violin concerto beautifully and exhaustingly conducted the score with tireless intent, as a vulnerable audience member there were notes that I felt required a dab sweat from my brow.

The orchestra was mesmerizing and were working as a cohesive whole it is was hard not to marvel at the complexity of ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’ as sung by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and Huddersfield Choral Society but to feel it’s foreboding and almost guttural tones.  Forget a rock concert in an arena – if you are looking for a heart smacking experience, ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’ as performed by The Toronto Symphony Orchestra needs to be your new religion.

The fine stitching in of the orchestra and the choirs was quite a feat to encounter.  Sir Andrew Davis is a genius and a poet.  His delicateness with bringing the piece to life with such respect and at the same time conjuring a mood, space, time and a myriad of emotions  – one cannot help but be moved.  Your dollars are well spent when bearing witness to Davis’ masterpiece.  You will also be leaving a slightly more enlightened person than when you arrived.

Take time out of your work, school and life schedule to immerse yourself in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.  From a place of meditation and healing – experiencing ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’ is not only transformative but could be helpful in creating a space in your mind and body for some deep healing on the orchestra’s time.



Summer Weekend Reads: “The Sunshine Sisters” By Jane Green


As the summer is upon us, you maybe gearing up for road trips, cottage country weekends or better yet a flight to a faraway place.  What better way to unpack your mind then with some light reading.  For your summer weekends away, be sure to keep reading www.thirtyfourflavours.com as I give you the inside scoop for fun reads!

If you are escaping from the city this weekend, pick up “The Sunshine Sisters” By Jane Green.  The New York Times bestselling author of Falling presents a warm, wise, and wonderfully vivid novel about a mother who asks her three estranged daughters to come home to help her end her life.

Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.

As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother’s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London—and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.

But now the Sunshine sisters are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy have never been close, their mother’s illness draws them together to confront the old jealousies and secret fears that have threatened to tear these sisters apart. As they face the loss of their mother, they will discover if blood might be thicker than water after all…


Book Report: ‘Option B Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy’ By Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

9781524732684From Facebook’s COO and Wharton’s top-rated professor, the #1 New York Times best-selling authors of Lean In and Originals: a powerful, inspiring, and practical book about building resilience and moving forward after life’s inevitable setbacks.

After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build.

Option B combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Beginning with the gut-wrenching moment when she finds her husband, Dave Goldberg, collapsed on a gym floor, Sheryl opens up her heart—and her journal—to describe the acute grief and isolation she felt in the wake of his death. But Option B goes beyond Sheryl’s loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. Their stories reveal the capacity of the human spirit to persevere . . . and to rediscover joy.

Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead. Two weeks after losing her husband, Sheryl was preparing for a father-child activity. “I want Dave,” she cried. Her friend replied, “Option A is not available,” and then promised to help her make the most of Option B.

We all live some form of Option B. This book will help us all make the most of it.


‘Option B’ from Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant is a must read.  We all encounter different kinds of grief.  Sometimes on a daily, monthly or yearly basis.  Grief aside – we are aging, raising families, nurturing relationships.  Do we have time to strengthen our resilience?  Yes, not only is strengthening our resilience a life skill but a way to breathe in a new way of thinking, living and embracing our lives with threads of self compassion,  a growing a support system and investing time into our emotional and mental health.

The past few years have been tough for me for a variety of reasons.  I have sought out therapy to provide my mind with a respite to heal.  Indeed, important pieces to the puzzle of living a healthy life but also tough to face head on when you are knee deep in mud.

Faith has also been an important part of my healing.  As Sandberg states, ‘turning to God gives people a sense of being enveloped in loving arms that are eternal and ultimately strong.  People need to know that they are not alone.’  This is especially true when you are feeling too proud to ask for help.  Prayer, meditation, quiet moments in bed with a good – build one’s soul as early first steps towards change.  I appreciated Sandberg’s note that traumatic experiences can lead to deeper faith.  For me the reluctance of having to go to church as a child has dissipated as an adult.  The pure act of meditating, being still and listening to readings is the easiest and cheapest form of therapy every week even if you are not the most religious person in your place of worship.

I appreciated that Sandberg flushed our Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief and reminded me that anger plays such a huge part in grief.  ‘They are five states that don’t progress in a linear fashion but rise and fall.  Grief and anger aren’t extinguished like flames doused with water.  They can flicker away one moment and burns hot thee next.’  Important words to dwell upon when you have kids and want to explain to them perhaps where they think their emotions are coming.

If speaking about your anger or grief isn’t your thing – try processing it through writing it out.  Make it as simple as writing out your thoughts and how you got there, what is working for you when you are in that space and what is not or perhaps even try creative writing to flush out your emotional wounds.  Writing has always been helpful for me when it comes to getting outside of my head.  I have found creative ways to let go of grief by going out, enjoying events and reflecting back my learning through my own healing written words.

‘Option B’ is a game changer and a must purchase.  An easy but a deep read into encouraging reflection in your life, relationships, personal growth.  It’s amazing to gaze upon one’s own deep roots that are getting in the way of living your best life with friends, family and in your work.

‘Option B’ from Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant is also a wonderful reminder of how one can heal on their terms and in their own time.  Bono is quoted in the book as saying ‘Joy is the ultimate form of defiance.’  Through the strengthening of one’s emotional, mental and physical core we can all get to a place of resilience in times of adversity as we master the building blocks of self compassion, healing and introspective work.


Ticket Giveaway: Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s ‘CA-NA-DA!’ (Saturday June 10, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.)

This heartwarming program takes you on a nostalgic journey through the best of popular music from Canadian stage and screen. Hear classic tunes such as the “Log Driver’s Waltz” and “The Hockey Theme” (from Hockey Night in Canada), as well as a symphonic suite from Canada’s longest-running musical based on one of the country’s most beloved books, Anne of Green Gables… and so much more!

Program includes:

Alex Eddington: Dancing About Architecture: Sesquie for Canada’s 150th [2′]

Campbell/Harron/arr. Farnon: Symphonic Suite from Anne of Green Gables

Gimby/arr. Barnes: Canada

Maclellan/Shirley Eikhard/arr. Rebecca Pellet: Anne Murray Medley

Various/arr. Faith: Theme from A Summer Place/Moulin Rouge

Dolores Claman/arr. Toth: Hockey Night in Canada

Paul Anka/arr. Lucas Waldin: Main Theme from The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson

Burton Cummings/arr. Paul Ruhland: I Will Play a Rhapsody

Hemsworth/arr. Rebecca Pellet: Log Driver’s Waltz

Thank you to our friends at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for gifting Thirty Four Flavours with a pair of tickets to the ‘CA-NA-DA!’ (Saturday June 10, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.) performance!

What are the rules when entering the Thirty Four Flavours and Toronto Symphony Orchestra Ticket Giveaway?

Simple! Please sign up to Thirty Four Flavours Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thirtyfourflavours, Twitter https://twitter.com/34flavours, or email subscription to enter the draw. When you have signed up please send me a Facebook message, a tweet or email (thirtyfourflavours@gmail.com) telling me you why you want to win the Symphony tickets.

Deadline for the Thirty Four Flavours and the ‘CA-NA-DA!’ Ticket Giveaway is Wednesday June 7, 2017.