Spotlight on Scene First: Between Breaths Orchestral

Business members and guests enjoy a sneak peek of Between Breaths Orchestral at the St. John’s Arts & Culture Centre. Photo: Ashley Harding Photography

Have you ever watched a concert, play, musical, or a live performance of any other kind and wondered how it all seems to magically come together? While the performers and players on stage make it seem so effortless, there are also many hands behind the scenes that help make the art come to life.

On February 13, business members were treated to a special sneak peek into the nuts and bolts of the artistic process during Business & Arts NL’s latest Scene First event. Scene First strives to bring the business and creative communities closer together through artist talks, tours and more. By taking members of the business community centre stage, these events increase interaction and engagement between the two sectors, helping to create connections and foster potential partnerships while growing the passion for local arts.

L-R: Robert Chafe, Peter Soucy and Ian Sutherland. Photo: Ashley Harding Photography

The latest Scene First event took members to the St. John’s Arts & Culture Centre for a special preview of Between Breaths Orchestral – a creative collaboration between Artistic Fraud and the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra (NSO).

Between Breaths tells the awe-inspiring story of the “Whale Man,” the late Dr. Jon Lien, who spent two decades freeing whales trapped in fishing nets (and who pioneered rescue techniques). Following last year’s sold-out run, Artistic Fraud commissioned acclaimed composer Duane Andrews to adapt the original score by The Once for a 30-person orchestra – resulting in a production that pulls at the heartstrings with its soaring soundscape and impassioned performances. (The St. John’s shows took place on February 14 and 15. This spring, Artistic Fraud will bring the production, minus the orchestra, to Arts and Culture Centres around the province and to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.)

Dr. Ian Sutherland addresses the crowd. Photo: Ashley Harding Photography

Dr. Ian Sutherland, Business & Arts NL board member and dean of the School of Music at Memorial University, kicked off the evening by inviting guests to examine the role that the arts plays in their own lives and speaking to the power of the creative economy.

Photo: Ashley Harding Photography

After enjoying some wine and conversation, guests were then taken on a backstage tour, eventually ending up on centre stage where they got to witness director Jillian Keiley and team in action.

Photo: Ashley Harding Photography
Photo: Ashley Harding Photography

Next, Pat Foran, producer with Artistic Fraud, led the guests in a quick round of trivia, distributing signed Between Breaths posters to the winners. Foran also fielded questions and gave a background on the history of the company and a preview of what’s in store as it looks ahead to its 25th anniversary next year.

Pat Foran provides some background on Artistic Fraud. Photo: Ashley Harding Photography

The guests were then invited into the balcony of the main theatre where they were treated to a bird’s-eye view of a rehearsal of the production in progress. Under the direction of Keiley, guests got to see how all of the moving parts come together. Brilliant projections of whales and ocean waves danced across the orchestra as they tuned their instruments and practiced their entrance and exit. The business members were given a good idea of just how much work and repetition is involved with making a performance as close to perfect as possible.

Jillian Keiley and team get to work. Photo: Ashley Harding Photography

To cap off a wonderful evening, guests got to hear from Hugh Donnan, CEO of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, as well as playwright Robert Chafe. Chafe shared some insight into his creative process and journey, and enthralled the crowd with stories of how the productions come together. The audience gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of just how much heart, time and commitment goes into producing great theatre.

L-R: Ian Sutherland, Hugh Donnan, Pat Foran and Robert Chafe. Ashley Harding Photography

“Artistic Fraud consistently produces courageous, artistically adventurous original work that engages and stretches patrons emotionally and intellectually. Coupled with the spirited and innovative NSO, we have a hybrid of performance excellence to inspire any audience anywhere. We could not dream up better ambassadors for our province and arts community,” says Peter Soucy, Business & Arts NL’s Director of Collaboration.

“The Scene First event offered access to the complexity of such co-production, exposing the logistical and collaborative intricacy we rarely glimpse or fully appreciate. We have solid cause to be proud of such dedication to quality.”

All photos by Ashley Harding Photography: