I would like to say first before we go into the show, I have never even heard of Annette Studio. I was excited to see what Anastasia Minster and Raphael Weinroth-Browne were up to, and to see this new location for myself. When I first entered the main room, I was immediately struck by the inviting warmth of the room. It was like walking into your eccentric Aunt’s living room with a flair of eclectic eras and a sense of slight madness. I could feel these walls understood music very well.
As it turns out, I spoke with a gentleman in the room, and he used to come here years ago in the 80’s when this was a satellite office for the Royal Conservatory. This was one of the piano rooms used to perform your exams in. Apparently it has gone through various metamorphoses over the years, only to become a place where music is sacred again. Concert goers in Toronto, you must visit this place because this is a true gem that Toronto should be proud of. It is tucked away like a real treasure waiting to be discovered. You will be opening up yourself to a wonderful experience.
Well tonight was a true trifecta moment for me. Raphael Weinroth-Browne walked on quietly, quickly tuned his cello and opened the set with selections from his atmospheric CD- World’s Within. This was a real treat coming from a man who has also graced the Royal Albert Hall stage. It is becoming a rare sighting seeing this dynamic performer in such an intimate setting. If you want to get a sense of his music, here is a link to my review of his CD World’s Within.
Raphael’s treatment of layering his sound is always fascinating to watch, because it is a little different each time. He is truly in his element when he is in the moment. With each note, his intent is to paint a very scenic picture for your mind to drift into. I have to admit, I think I have a new favourite from him. The piece is called “In the Face of Adversity”. It is a very emotional story and I am glad to have discovered it.
After a short break, both he and Anastasia Minster walked on quietly and began with her music. She was a little shocked by how quiet the room was. It almost seemed to make her a little nervous. From my point of view, nobody wanted to miss a single note. The audience hung onto every sound these two made. I asked a young lady in front of me if she was here for either artist, and she said she just loves coming to this spot to listen to new music. She heard she would be walking into a place where dark, solemn and romantic sounds were going to be made, and she knew she had to be here.
Well Anastasia does not disappoint, because that is what she does best. Her music seems to be born from poetry and spiritual literature. She does reference Herman Hesse to be one of her influences. I now know some of her energy comes from, because I have read every one of his books, and her music accompanies his writing with a female perspective.
Her material comes from an organic place and grows through channels of longing, meditative pensiveness and quiet praise. With song titles like the Ocean Song, Haloes, and Father, comes from personal experiences and idealisms that make the listener open up quietly and process their own story.
Now put these two musicians together and you have one of the finest blends of sound to encapsulate the song from two sides, and tell the story from a very devoted place, like two doting parents keeping their child safe. It is rare to have two storytellers working together to get one story out. You would think there would be some kind of competition, but not here, their collaboration tells every story with a sense of being inside an emotional construct of secret passage ways. It can be quite mystical and a little jarring for the sensitive child in you. This is the kind of music that really keeps your heart engaged.
They finished the night off with a piece called –“Solarus”. It is a song that can manifest dreams through wistful and lonely channels. With that said, the evening finished off in style with Anastasia receiving flowers for such a lovely performance. A truly elegant evening to reconnect with your soul, thanks to Anastasia Minster and Raphael Weinroth-Browne and the special energy of the Annette Studio. The trifecta of a memorable evening.
Here are a few images of the performance: