Articles written by: Irwin Block

Victoriaville music festival: Organized, improvised sound
Features

Victoriaville music festival: Organized, improvised sound

Normally placid Victoriaville becomes a musical Mecca May 16, as musicians and fans from across North America gather for the 29th edition of the Festival International de Musique Actuelle. With 20 concerts over four days, it offers a panorama of musical territories and sonorities, expanding the possibilities of organized and improvised […]

Folk diva Judy Collins’ life an open songbook
Features

Folk diva Judy Collins’ life an open songbook

In the pantheon of musicians who emerged in the late 1950s and 1960s during the folk revival, holding a prominent place alongside Bob and Joan and Joni is clear-as-honey voiced Judy Blue Eyes. Listening again to the five LPs she recorded during that era, I was transfixed by Collins and […]

Montreal Chamber Music Festival screen grab
Reviews & Previews / What's Happening

Montreal Chamber Music Festival: First-class jazz is in the cards

Musical gems culled from three centuries played in small-group formations by top-tier performers—that and some first-class jazz is in the cards during the month-long Montreal Chamber Music Festival that gets underway this month. Talking about it with festival founder, cellist Dennis Brott, I returned in my mind to the marvelous […]

Book review: A Land to Die For? by David Ranan
Reviews & Previews

Book review: A Land to Die For? by David Ranan

Throughout Israel’s embattled history, it has been a badge of honour to serve in the country’s armed forces. For obvious reasons, public expressions of conscientious objections, draft dodging or anti-war sentiments have been virtually non-existent. While objections to the draft remain relatively marginal, there has been a change among Israeli […]

Retiring teachers’ union leader: ‘Easy-peasy it was not’
Features

Retiring teachers’ union leader: ‘Easy-peasy it was not’

Union leadership usually begins on a voluntary basis, when none of your colleagues wants to accept the challenge of standing up for a worker’s rights, in the office or on the shop floor. It puts you in conflict with management, marks you as “the enemy within” and exposes you to […]

Controversial professor Norman Cornett sees his classroom as a laboratory
Features / What's Happening

Controversial professor Norman Cornett sees his classroom as a laboratory

A group of 25 adults gather around a table in a church hall on a Sunday afternoon to engage with a Montreal professor and his guest. Norman Cornett, 62, has convinced the usually private novelist Rawi Hage to attend a third session in what Cornett calls dialogic learning. It is […]

Music review: North American Jazz Alliance; The Montreal Sessions
Reviews & Previews

Music review: North American Jazz Alliance; The Montreal Sessions

North American Jazz Alliance; The Montreal Sessions (Challenge Records) The accordion never threatened the dominant place of the saxophone, trumpet or piano in jazz combos, but virtuoso Art Van Damme (1920-2010) was the instrument’s leading exponent. In the 1960s and 1970s, he created a unique group sound in combining his […]

Courtesy of stock.xchg
Features

Montreal’s linguistic geography nothing to ‘strahss’ over

As a fledgling journalist in 1964, I was assigned to cover federal politics for United Press International in Ottawa and it was a tremendous learning experience, including linguistically. As I worked with an older crowd of top-notch reporters on Parliament Hill, I realized I did not speak English the way […]

Senator Hugh Segal is ready to see job eliminated, if that’s what voters want
Features

Senator Hugh Segal is ready to see job eliminated, if that’s what voters want

Most Canadians would be hard pressed to name any of Canada’s 105 senators. That’s the nature of the beast. Our senators are appointed by the governor-general on the recommendation of the prime minister. They require no public support or accountability to serve until age 75, and barring a scandal they […]

Peru’s Inca Trail: No horsing around
Travel

Peru’s Inca Trail: No horsing around

The heroes of Machu Picchu are the porters, descendants of the peoples who were part of the Inca empire. The Inca made up the largest civilization in South America, which dominated what is now Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and into the mountains of Bolivia and Argentina from about 1300 until […]