Performances for every taste at Luminato


What appears to be a giant disco ball has taken up residence at David Pecaut Square in downtown Toronto as Luminato 2013 prepares to kick off. (Adrian Brijbassi/

Story by Waheeda Harris Senior Writer


Cold Specks will be among the performers honouring Joni Mitchell at Massey Hall during Luminato celebrations. (Julia Pelish/

TORONTO, ONTARIO — Thanks to a unique combination of arts programming and creativity, the annual Luminato Festival has become a must-attend part of the arts calendar in Canada’s largest city.

In the past seven years, the festival has welcomed internationally recognized creative types from theatre, literature, music, dance and visual arts to showcase their talents in new productions and exhibitions. At last year’s festival, attendees were treated to Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach, The Beethoven Marathon by Stewart Goodyear, and the wit and wisdom of  writer/editor Lewis Lapham on US-Canada relations.

This year’s 10-day festival continues this tradition, and brings art heavyweights such as Viktor & Rolf, Mark Morris Dance Group, Ronnie Burkett, DJ Kid Koala, Shyam Selvadurai, Murray McLauchlan, Marina Abramovic and iconic songstress Joni Mitchell to venues throughout the city, from the historic Massey Hall to the cosy atmosphere of the Berkeley Street Theatre.

But don’t think every event is traditional or contemporary performing arts — one of the Lunchtime Illuminations talks introduce magicians David Ben and Steven Cohen collaborating on stage with chef John Placko, a judge for the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Guide and an expert in molecular gastronomy. You’ll enjoy sleight of hand and cuisine.

For those planning on attending, other highlights of the 2013 festival include:

The Hub — This free concert series will include a wide range of performers including Roseanne Cash, Serena Ryder, k-os, Maxi Priest, Laurie Anderson, Lady Son, Patrick Watson, Sarah Harmer and the Music Mob, welcoming anyone to play with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra to celebrate the 200th birthdays of Wagner and Verdi.

Mark Morris Dance Group – This internationally renowned company will perform L’Allegro il Pensoroso ed il Moderato, combining William Blake’s paintings, John Milton’s poetry, and Handel’s music. The performance will be interpreted by 24 dancers, 26 member chorus, four vocal soloists and an orchestra.

A Literary Picnic – More than 60 authors will gather in Trinity Bellwoods Park to celebrate the written word with three stages for writers to discuss and examine the meaning of “Beginnings” and how they start their creative process, while a book exchange will be set up for participants.

Viktor&Rolf DOLLS – Exhibited at the Royal Ontario Museum’s Thorsell Spirit House, the Dutch fashion duo have created miniature dolls wearing original haute couture, designed especially for them, with each detail created for the scale of each doll.

Joni: A Portrait in Song – A Birthday Happening at Massey Hall – a line-up of superior musical talent will be performing to fete the singer/songwriter’s 70th. Among those appearing will be Esperanza Spalding, Cold Specks, Rufus Wainwright, Herbie Hancock and Kathleen Edwards. Mitchell, meanwhile, will perform a poem on June 18 and 19. On June 16, Mitchell will be interviewed on-stage by New York Times critic Jon Pareles at the University of Toronto.

The Courtyard Revue at Luminato – Hosted by singer/songwriter Jason Collett, this late-night cabaret will feature musicians and literary types in a unique stage collaboration of a dance party — and who will be featured? It’s a secret until the performance begins at 11:30 pm each night at the Berkeley Street Theatre.

Kid Koala’s Space Cadet  — Through an interactive musical experience, the Montreal DJ creates sounds from his turntables and a piano through individual headphones to listeners, who will also be viewing selected animation based on his graphic novel Space Cadet.

All venues can be reached via TTC and all events will go ahead rain or shine. For those wanting to get into the vibe, check out the Festival Hub, located at David Pecaut Square or The Shore Club, in the RBC Dexia Center.


More About the Luminato Festival:

Festival website:
Dates: June 14-23, 2013
Phone: Toronto 416-368-3100
Festival Hub: David Pecaut Square 55 John Street, Toronto (Metro Hall)
2013 Performers: Click here to see a full schedule of performances, including Joni Mitchell, Maxi Priest, Mark Morris Dance Group, Laurie Anderson, Sylvia Tyson, Murray McLauchlan, DJ Kid Koala.
Tickets: Prices and venues vary – to buy tickets call 416-368-4849 or click here.


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A Toronto-based freelance journalist since the beginning of the millennium, Waheeda has been lucky enough to visit every continent. She's always happy to travel, especially when she can swim in the sea, taste locally-made cuisine and spend an afternoon in an art gallery.

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