Sold-out show at Dundurn
by Hugh Fraser
If you've ever tried to squash into a tent on Dundurn Castle's grounds during a
sold-out performance of the Boris Brott Summer Music Festival, you'll never
complain about flying in a chartered jet again.
Leg room was about three inches tops, as the biggest tent that could be pitched
on the grounds without actually felling trees, filled up with an enthusiastic
audience bent on seeing Road To Avonlea star Gema Zamprogna as Sophia MacNab,
Zamprogna read excerpts from the diary that 13-year-old Sophia MacNab kept for
17 months beginning in 1846, while Boris Brott and his National Academy
Orchestra played appropriate music.
I was a little disappointed that Zamprogna wasn't in costume, especially since
this daughter of Sir Allan Napier MacNab, premier of Upper and Lower Canada and
Laird of Dundurn Castle, haughtily informed the audience that we were very
informally dressed indeed. And that she'd never seen so many musicians on her
"Does Papa know about this?" she demanded imperiously.
It would all have gone better swathed and draped in lace, crinolines and heavy,
Apart from that, Zamprogna made a fine Sophia, though her phrasing was sometimes
confusing as the commas seemed to get misplaced in that very long, rambling Rule
in her list of Mama's Rules, by which the very proper Victorian daughter lived.
Brott spent a little too long explaining some of the music, though most of it
did indeed need an introduction, being of obscure and Canadian origin.
What was interesting was that the orchestra was amplified by microphone and
brilliantly amplified, too.
Often the constant traffic noise on York Boulevard can torment a concert at this
venue, but so firmly did the microphones support the orchestra's sound, that not
even a swaggering Harley could destroy principal cellist Paul Widner's lovely
solo in Clarence Lucas's Overture to Macbeth