bridger15 wrote:Leonard Cohen's remarks at the Glenn Gould Prize Gala.
Leonard Cohen Honoured, Glenn Gould Celebrated
posted by Vish Khanna at 1:58 AM
Vish Khanna's recap of the Ninth Glenn Gould Prize gala for Leonard Cohen at Massey Hall,
featuring performances and speeches dedicated to Cohen's life and work.
After a weeklong appreciation for the life and work of Leonard Cohen, last night Toronto was graced with the presence of the legendary songwriter himself. Massey Hall played host to the eclectically programmed, "Glenn Gould Prize Gala Concert in Honour of Leonard Cohen," a wondrous event where it was occasionally difficult to determine whom the man of the hour really was.
After opening remarks by host, actor Colm Feore, and other dignitaries, it fell to Glenn Gould Foundation Executive Director Brian Levine to introduce Mr. Cohen, who walked on-stage to a raucous standing ovation. Promising to keep his remarks "mercifully short," Mr. Cohen told charming stories about his two encounters with Glenn Gould. The first, as a novice interviewer completely captivated by what Gould had to say, Cohen admitted that he was never able to make good on the magazine profile he was assigned to complete.
On the second occasion, they were contemporaries in a New York City recording studio in the sixties, where Gould wasn't about to tolerate Cohen's hipster jargon. "I said, 'Hey man, what's shakin'," Cohen recalled. "He said, 'I didn't know you were from Memphis, Tennessee.'"
And so began a night dedicated to Mr. Cohen but also to Mr. Gould and the foundation bearing his name. After Cohen's acceptance speech, Feore described the author/poet's early days, when he received $25 grants from the Canada Council of the Arts, as reading fees between 1959 and 1960. Feore then made the surprise announcement that, in recognition of that support, Cohen was donating his $50,000 prize to the Council.
As part of the prize, Cohen was also asked to name a young recipient for the City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protegé Prize. He selected the children of Sistema Toronto, an organization that provides music education for youth. This seemed like an auspicious place to begin the performances for the evening, which alternated between interpretations of Cohen's songs, poems, and prose, as well as anecdotal speeches about the man, who observed it all, beaming from his seat in the balcony.
It was an international, multi-generational affair with Jimmie Dale Gilmore, actually conjuring Hank Williams with his winsome take on "Tower of Song." Young Canadian powerhouse Basia Bulat was gorgeous and stirring in her interpretation of Cohen but, much like Gilmore's performance, there was a slight tension present. It can't be easy hitting the stage cold, dispensing with banter to keep the show running on time, and then playing Leonard Cohen songs to Leonard Cohen. It just can't.
Guest speaker Adrienne Clarkson warmed things up, discussing her eccentric encounters with Mr. Gould and how they intertwined with her relationship with Mr. Cohen and his work. "I know that someone recently said to you, 'Are you going to keep doing this - touring and singing,'" Clarkson said, addressing Cohen. "And you replied, 'What else am I going to do?' In some people's mouths that might sound like finality, but in yours, it is the fulfillment of a promise. It is what we want you to do for us."
After performing with actor Gordon Pinsent, who read an original Cohen-inspired poem, Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo and Travis Good of the Sadies played a charming if nervous "Famous Blue Raincoat" (Keelor laughed and cursed, after flubbing a lyric). This preceded a soulful take on "Crazy to Love You" by frequent Cohen collaborator, Anjani.
If Massey Hall was abuzz for anyone besides Mr. Cohen, it was legendary singer-songwriter John Prine who ambled on-stage to perform his own "Souvenirs." After that masterful display, he shyly performed "Bird on a Wire," which the audience greatly appreciated. Prine returned later, joining Cowboy Junkies for a scrappy yet spirited version of "One of Us Cannot be Wrong."
Author Michael Ondaatje expressed his admiration for Cohen's portrayal of the Montreal he knew so well, in Cohen's 1963 novel, The Favourite Game. Whenever Bob Dylan sings the line in "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" about how "even the President of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked," the audience always cheers. It's a curious celebration, and Ondaatje was greeted with something similar, reading a near 50-year-old passage about how dull the Prime Minister of Canada might be.
In between the brief sets, as the tech crew scrambled about to reconfigure the stage for the next performer, we learned a lot about Glenn Gould. Mr. Feore took these moments to share all sorts of anecdotes about Gould's life on earth (and in outer space), which was a tad strange, given that the evening was ostensibly for Leonard Cohen. At least Feore was saying something to the audience, as the musicians had little time to do so.
American folk artist James McMurtry broke with tradition, speaking to the crowd while retuning his guitar and, in something of an overshare, plugging a song of his own called "You'd a Thought," which includes the subtitle, "Leonard Cohen must die." Still, he did a spirited, non-traditional take on "Closing Time" that was a highlight.
Both Melissa Auf der Maur and actor Alan Rickman made captivating speeches. Montrealer Auf der Maur, who initially seemed coolly detached, got on a roll, basically selling her city to Toronto. "I feel it's impossible not to mention the beauty and character of Montreal when celebrating Leonard Cohen because it's a city that has the power to define people and becomes a muse unto itself," she said. "A Montreal ladies man is the classiest ladies man of them all."
The stately and charismatic Rickman juxtaposed a 16th century poem with Cohen's "This is It," and then read Cohen's "Going Home," which he simply inhabited, as if it were his own composition. "Like most people here tonight, I'd say I know Leonard Cohen, even though I don't know him at all," Rickman said. "But, like you, I've met him on every page and every song." It was touching and beautiful with the perfect hint of drama one might expect from the actor.
The evening ended with performances by Serena Ryder, both solo, and then later joined by Adam Cohen, the son of Leonard. Hearing Adam sing his father's songs, "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" and "So Long, Marianne" was eerie; he sounds just like a younger version of his dad and, on an evening filled with recollections about ancient history, the middle of the 20th century, the enduring legacy of Glenn Gould, and Leonard Cohen's tall tower of song, its temporal confusion was an appropriate nightcap.
Photos: Leonard Cohen Honoured at the Glenn Gould Prize Gala Concert
Leonard Cohen accepts the Glenn Gould Prize, but donates the $50,000 cash prize to the Canada Council for the Arts.
Photograph by: Jeevan Brar, Postmedia News
Leonard Cohen is honoured at the Glenn Gould Prize Gala Concert at Massey Hall on May 14, 2012 in Toronto.
Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Photos+Leo ... z1uwTEx9cG
Artistic Community Regales Leonard Cohen
By Jane Stevenson ,QMI Agency
First posted: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 03:15 AM EDT | Updated: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 03:30 AM EDT
Montreal music and poetry icon Leonard Cohen received the $50,000 Glenn Gould Prize on Monday May 14, 2012 at Massey Hall where he was also feted with an all-star lineup of musical performances and poetry readings of his work. (Michael Peake/QMI Agency)
Leonard Cohen Montreal music and poetry icon Leonard Cohen received the $50,000 Glenn Gould Prize on Monday May 14, 2012 at Massey Hall where he was also feted with an all-star lineup of musical performances and poetry readings of his work. (Michael Peake/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - The torch was symbolically passed from father to son at Massey Hall on Monday night.
Adam Cohen wrapped up the two hour-plus Glenn Gould Prize Gala Concert in honor of award recipient Leonard Cohen with a rousing rendition of the elder Cohen’s classic "So Long, Marianne".
“For those of you who do not know ... I am the son of a well known singer from Montreal — Celine Dion,” joked the junior Cohen while proud papa beamed from the hall’s second floor balcony. Then, adding more seriously, “I welled up when my father was speaking. I’m so honoured to be part of this honour.”
Earlier, the senior Cohen, dressed in a suit, tie and fedora, handed over his $50,000 prize money to the Canada Council For The Arts and, as previously announced, named Sistema Toronto — who give free classical musical lessons to Parkdale students — the winner of the $15,000 City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protege Prize.
Then the 77-year-old singer-songwriter, poet and novelist settled in to watch an impressive lineup sing his praises, many via stripped down versions of his songs, while others read poetry and novel excerpts.
In his acceptance speech, Cohen said he met Gould twice, first as a would-be interviewer for Holiday magazine in the late ‘50s, early ‘60s, and later when they were both recording at Columbia Records studios in New York City.
“He was recording something sublime and I was recording something otherwise,” joked Cohen. “I was infected in those days with the new hip language. I said, ‘Hey man, what’s shaking?’ He said, ‘I didn’t know you were from Memphis, Tennessee.”
As for the botched Gould interview, Cohen admitted he stopped taking notes in longhand of what became a several hour chat. After becoming so engrossed in the first few minutes, he had to evade the magazine’s editor wanting a story.
“I stopped answering the phone,” he deadpanned. “I finally joined the witness protection (program).”
Joining the younger Cohen on the performance roster were American singer-songwriters Jimmie Dale Gilmore, John Prine, James McMurtry, Canadian rising stars Basia Bulat, Serena Ryder, former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor (who forgot a line to "Famous Blue Raincoat") actor Gordon Pinsent, The Sadies’ Travis Good, sometime Cohen collaborator Anjani Thomas, author Michael Ondaatje, Montreal musician Melissa Auf der Mar, Cowboy Junkies and British actor Alan Rickman.
It was an eclectic group.
For outright performances, the fiery, raspy-voiced Ryder stole the show with her solo acoustic guitar rendition of Sisters of Mercy while Rickman’s dry delivery had everyone beat. He quoted Cohen responding to a female fan at a London concert, suggesting it might be time he changed the Book of Longing to the Book of Fufillment.
“It was perfectly timed pause and then Mr. Cohen said, ‘What’s fufillment got to offer?’” said Rickman to huge laughs.
Clarkson, a self-confessed Cohen groupie who admitted she saw his last tour nine times in four different countries, painted the funniest picture of the night about sharing some Cheese Whiz one night out of his fridge.
And of Cohen’s reputation Auf der Maur gentled kidded: “A Montreal ladies’ man is the classiest ladies’ man of them all.”
Host and actor Colm Feore, who once starred as the titular character in Thirty Two Short Films on Glenn Gould, filled the time between performances with Gould facts and stories but really the night belonged to Cohen.
“I go into immediate childish ecstasy when I hear somebody covering one of my songs,” said Cohen, putting the performers at ease before they even began.
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