New Vancouver opera company to put on first show tomorrow night in Marpole

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Operatic duo Jacqueline Ko (left) and Robin Eder-Warren will sing some of Western music's greatest arias in Opera Mariposa's debut show tomorrow night at Marpole United Church. Photo courtesy of Opera Mariposa.

By SHAWN GILL

A brand new Vancouver-based opera company will be debuting in Marpole on Saturday night. The performance Witches, Waifs and Wives will feature an arrangement of some of the greatest arias from the operatic repertoire sung by two prominent locally based soprano vocalists.

Robin Eder-Warren and Jacqueline Ko will head Opera Mariposa’s debut show, accompanied by Michael Onwood on piano. In their advertising, the show’s creators promise a colourful demonstration of “strong women, lavish costumes and beautiful music.”

For years, Opera Mariposa artistic director Jacqueline Ko, has wanted to start her own opera company to give opportunities to “fantastic” young local talent to showcase their skills, said colleague and friend Robin Eder-Warren.

Eder-Warren, who’s just returned from several months of singing and coaching in Germany and Luxembourg, says she and Ko are excited that “finally [Ko’s] dream is coming to fruition.”

“Some of the greatest singers you can encounter in town may only get the opportunity to sing one role a year or maybe two,” said Eder-Warren. “We’d love to present some of the greatest singers that we know and love to [local] audiences.”

The show will take place at Marpole United Church this Saturday starting at 7 p.m. Tickets range in price from $13 and $15 and are available at the door, online at www.operamariposa.com or by phone at 778-918-9498.

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Mozart’s Requiem coming to Shaughnessy

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The great composer's last work, incomplete at the time of his death, will be brought to life by Vancouver musicians tomorrow night at Shaughnessy United Church. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

By SHAWN GILL

The Shaughnessy Heights United Church Choir will team up with two other local acts to bring to life a rarely performed version of Mozart’s Requiem, one of the most famous pieces in classical music.

Eight-five singers from the Shaughnessy Heights choir and the New Westminster based Amabilis Singers, will be accompanied by the West Coast Symphony.

“It’s one of the most fabulous pieces as an orchestral choral work. Both groups were ready to do it. I wanted to give them a really good challenge, and there’s not much that beats the Mozart Requiem in terms of a challenge,” said choir director Ramona Luengen.

Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor was commissioned by an Austrian count and left uncompleted at the time of the great composer’s death at 35 years old.

“So much of [the Requiem] was left incomplete when Mozart died,” said Luengen. “There are a lot of stories about who was involved with what. His widow asked several people to work on it to complete it.”

Mozart’s widow Costanze had his top pupil F. X. Freystadtler and Joseph Eybler, his close friend and respected composer, complete much of the rest of the work, by working from Mozart’s notes.

Finishing what remained of the Requiem after Freystadtler and Eybler’s contributions was difficult, as Mozart’s early demise had left large parts unplanned. Constanze contracted Franz Sussmayr, the copyist, to finish the Requiem. Sussmayr rewrote the entire score, erasing completely the contributions of Eybler.

“What we are accustomed to hearing is the work of [Sussmayr],” said Leungen.

The H.C. Robbins Landon edition, which restores Eybler’s contribution to the Requiem while maintaining Sussmayr’s work intact, is the version of the Requiem that will be played tomorrow night.

“In terms of musicological research, this is a little closer to what we think was performed around Mozart’s time,” said Leungen.

The Requiem was commissioned by count Franz von Walsegg to commemorate the anniversary of his wife’s death on Valentine’s Day 1791.

Tomorrow’s concert starts at 8 p.m. at Shaughnessy United Church at 1550 W. 33rd Avenue. Tickets are available at the door or by calling 604-433-6538. Adults pay $20. Free admission for children.

UBC housing strategy hopes to offer subsidies to staff and faculty

UBC would like to make it more affordable for its staff and faculty to live on land that is both gorgeous and expensive. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

By SHAWN GILL

Property assessments recently went up 40 per cent on the West Side. At least one West Side community is looking at novel ways to increase affordability so that it will be able to compete for talented people nationally and internationally.

Lack of affordable housing on or near UBC is seen by its board of governors as a significant impediment as the university competes with other North American universities to lure talented young researchers. Thus the Community Planning Task Group recently released a discussion paper to determine in what ways affordability on-campus can be improved.

The group visited several North American universities that are located in other expensive cities to inquire about their housing strategies. They found that several universities intervened in their housing markets in order to make housing more affordable, as an incentive to lure and retain talented faculty.

The group’s findings lead them to recommend several options in their discussion paper. In all the options, tenured or tenure-track faculty would be able to buy and sell campus housing at 33 per cent less than market value, and housing costs would be capped at 30 per cent of a household’s yearly income. which is a popular benchmark for affordability.

In addition to ownership, a partnership with BC Housing is proposed that would launch a non-profit housing society to deliver affordable rental housing to university staff with yearly incomes of less than $64,000. The housing society would offer subsidies to renters, so that their rent would not surpass the magical 30 per cent of their household’s income.

The university sees subsidies to its staff as essential because the market selling price for a 796 square foot unit on its lands is $557,000. UBC hopes to be able to offer this same unit to its faculty for no more than $373,000, a 33 per cent discount.

Between March 20 and April 2, the Community Planning Task Group of the University of British Columbia is soliciting public response to its UBC Housing Action Plan discussion paper.

Vancouver’s 2012 Stanley Cup Playoff strategy

Penny Ballem, city manager, will announce present staff recommendations on how to avoid repeating scenes like this during the Canucks 2012 playoff run. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

By SHAWN GILL

Local establishments in trendy West Side neighbourhoods are set to benefit from the recommendations city manager Penny Ballem is expected to make to council Tuesday.

Nearly a year after rioters caused up to $5 million dollars in property damage and tarnished the city’s international reputation, the Canucks are set to begin the 2012 playoffs. Ballem is expected to echo police chief Jim Chu’s recent statement in which he basically discouraged hockey fans from congregating downtown. The recommendations that Ballem is expected to communicate to council on Tuesday (March 27) are as follows.

Fans will be encouraged to attend several celebrations at neighbourhood community centres around the city, rather than gather in an overcrowded mass in downtown, as they did last spring.

The giant outdoor screens that were installed on downtown streets for last year’s Canucks playoff run will certainly not be reinstalled. It’s believed that the outdoor viewing areas encouraged the excessive drinking that helped cause the riot.

As it says in the Vancouver Police’s “2011 Stanley Cup Riot Review,” more efforts will also be made to “manage alcohol consumption upstream and during the event.” Translation: the city and police will work with liquor distributors and local bars to stem the flow of alcohol during large events.

There will be more concentrated efforts on the part of the police to identify potential troublemakers. This will be achieved through officer training in crowd management techniques.

In this way, the city will attempt to curtail the activities of rioters and at the same time maintain as much of a festive and welcoming spirit as possible for citizens with peaceful aims.

New community plan for Marpole

By SHAWN GILL

A new community plan is in the works for Marpole. Council will consider the planning department’s recommendation that council approve the terms of reference documents for the Marpole Community Plan, as well the terms of reference for the community plans for Grandview-Woodland and the West End.

One council approves the terms of reference, as it is expected to do on March 29, the planning department will be able to start working with communities to develop their plans. The purpose of terms of reference are to provide the framework for community plans.

City planning staff have identified several areas that it has prioritized in regards to Marpole’s development:

  1. Development pressures: In 2011 800 new units of housing were built in Marpole. Much has changed in the 33 years since the last Marpole Community Plan was drawn up. As Vancouver becomes more densely populated, there will be increasing pressures on Marpole to develop new housing. The new plan will include recommendations to “help direct growth to suitable locations,” so that existing infrastructure is not overwhelmed and the city can coordinate growth.
  2. Housing: Marpole has a higher incidence of renters than the city as a whole. 57 per cent of Marpole residents live in rental units and 84 per cent of rental units in Marpole were built pre-1975. The city says that “expanding housing diversity through alternative housing forms,” will be attempted, and aging rental stock should be preserved and enhanced.
  3. Community: Replacing Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre, the oldest community centre in the city, is a city priority.
  4. Alternative forms of transportation: Marpole is more car-dependent than the city as a whole (only 33 per cent of trips are made by walking, biking or transit compared to 41 per cent for the city as a whole — 2006 Census). To increase the number of non-automobile trips, the city will enhance existing pedestrian and cycle connections in Marpole. A concrete example of this is the brand new, North Arm Trail, which passes through Marpole on or near 59th Avenue.
  5. Parks: The city has determined that 55 per cent of Marpole’s existing park space is in poor condition, compared to the city average of 20 per cent. Upgrading parks, including public access to park space along the Fraser River will be prioritized in the new plan.

With all of these priorities in mind, it will be interesting to see how the plan will develop once the process opens up to public consultation.

New rezoning along the Canada Line near Marine Drive

By SHAWN GILL

The latest proposal in the city’s plan to add density along the Canada Line is a new development to be built at Cambie St. and 64th Avenue.

The rezoning of 8018-8090 Cambie St. has been approved by the city’s planning department and faces a public hearing at City Hall this Monday.

The development plan calls for two mixed-use towers of 31 and 25 storeys to be built on a corner that is currently zoned for commercial use.

The towers will include 441 condominiums and 110 market rent units. In addition, the buildings will house retail shops.

The proposed development will be just a three-minute walk from the Marine Drive SkyTrain station, and the Marine Gateway development, which is expected to be finished by 2015. The pros posed development will stand just four blocks from the North Arm Trail, a brand new pedestrian and biking corridor that runs from Champlain Heights in the east to Southlands in the west

Currently, the corner of 64th Avenue and Cambie Street and the surrounding area is a residential area without any businesses or buildings higher than two stories.

The city’s Cambie Corridor Plan calls for increased density along Cambie St. between 10th Avenue and Marine Drive in order to accommodate up to 15,000 new residents along the Canada Line by 2041.

Ridge Theatre closing to make room for condo development

The Ridge Theatres art deco lettering and neon lights have enchanted generations of Vancouver movie goers. Photo courtesy of VanCityBuzz.com

By SHAWN GILL

Another city landmark, known for its neon sign and cozy theatres, is set to meet the bulldozer.

The Ridge movie theatre has been a fixture of the Kitsilano community for 63 years but is set to be demolished to make way for a $60-million redevelopment project that will include 50 units of condo space and a grocery store.

News of the Ridge’s demise comes just days after the Playhouse Theatre Company suddenly shut its doors last Saturday.

Disheartened Vancouverites turned to Twitter to vent their feelings about what they see as indicative of the city’s cultural dissolution:

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The closing of the Ridge comes a year after the West Side lost the Hollywood Theatre, another throwback silver-screen treasure, which had elicited cheers from generations of Vancouverites.

It’s always sad to see well-known cultural artifacts, torn down and replaced modern structures. World-class cities make it a point to maintain connections to their pasts while planning for the future. It’s true that in order to move ahead Vancouver must meet the insatiable demand for housing. But surely there is a way to grow while keeping the city’s cultural heritage intact?