It has been an interesting week from a cultural and enrichment point of view.
First, the positive cultural experiences. Thursday night was the ballet – the Alberta ballet’s performance of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet with the Edmonton Symphony. You knew things were going to be good when the set was revealed and the dancers arrived on stage in simply stunning costumes – great performances by all, including the symphony. I was hooked. This was only my second time at the ballet – the first time was the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden – I will definitely go again.
Then last night (Saturday) it was Convocation Hall for the Turtle Island String Quartet. Now I have followed these guys for some time – David Balakrishnan and Mark Summer have been there since the start, while Evan Price and Mad Tolling are newer. All were excellent in their jazz fusion string quartet. Lots of new stuff, though they did play Tremors from their 1990 Windham Hill album, which I like a lot.
In between we watched a “gluppy” film – The Day After Tomorrow (2004). This pseudo-rubbish-science fiction movie based on the idea of sudden and catastrophic climate change due to global warming (itself an absurd idea) just got sillier and sillier as the film went on. What started off showing promise – it has amongst its cast Dennis Quaid, Ian Holm and Sela Ward and was directed by Roland Emmerich (Stargate, Universal Soldier, Independence Day). Full of factual errors and sloppy work, this is a picture to avoid.
The rest of the week was an intellectual treat. The low point was an Alberta Cabinet Minister who, when asked about water conservation, said that we should play close attention to “Israel and the Israelites”, since they are good at this. At least he knows his bible. A second low point was a speech from the Premier of Alberta, Ralph Klein. He gave it to an audience of 200 persons, mostly young leaders from across Canada, while chewing gum.
The high point was a speech and discussion with Jeffrey Simpson, columnist with the Globe and Mail. Not only was he insightful, he was also crystal clear – just like his columns. He inspired many at the table I was at. Another star was Lorne Calvert, Premier of Saskatchewan (“the most difficult Province to spell, but the easiest to draw” and "my Province is so flat, we can see the future coming!"). Finally, the young leaders themselves were an inspiration – thoughtful, persistent, creative, demanding – just what we need. Made me feel better about the future of Canada.