Serving Toronto's most liveable community with the Annex Gleaner

Of bats and bees

February 27th, 2012 · No Comments


By Alexa Huffman

Alex McMaster plays on her cello-courtesy Sarah Mackie

Two Annex-based musicians will be busting out the cello, gong, and glockenspiel while they sing and perform in a new show.

Alex McMaster and Ed Reifel will be immersing themselves in a powerful performance inEverything Under The Moon, which tells the story of a bat and a bee trying to save themselves and their respective species. It touches on the themes of environment, loss, adaptation, friendship and community.

McMaster and Reifel are working together with fellow musician Christine Fellows and artist Shary Boyle.

“It’s nice because I have a bit more of an input creatively,” said Reifel. “We all kind of contribute, work together, and add suggestions.”

McMaster agrees. “It’s definitely fun to be part of a show where you have something to do with the end result.”

The two are heavily involved in Everything Under The Moon. They will be playing the instruments they are known for—McMaster on her cello, and Reifel on a variety of percussion instruments including the gongs, glockenspiel and more unusual ones like cans and a water gong, with McMaster also on the clarinet and trumpet.

The two will also be dressing as a variety of characters. McMaster will be an owl and the bat. Reifel is the bee and an Inuit elder.

“The show is accessible to people of all ages and is open to interpretation,” said Reifel. “It’s interesting, reading it over lately, there is a friendship theme, growing up looking back to your roots. Even though you had different relationships in your life, different relationships with your family, you always look back to your early years.”

Ed Reifel plays percussion in the show-courtesy Sarah Mackie

Both musicians are able to recall music being an influential part of their own early years. McMaster has been playing the cello for 33 years, starting when she was in kindergarten.  Reifel actually started off playing the cello, but by Grade 7, he saw a drum set in the band room at his school and never turned back.

He has now been on percussion for 26 years, mostly playing in orchestras. McMaster mainly records classic albums live.

Both have played around North America but are now based in the Annex area.

“The subway is right outside my front door,” said McMaster “There are three health food stores and countless restaurants. It’s sad but true, I seldom leave the area.”

Since she enjoys listening to music so much, McMaster regularly checks out Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor St. W.) and Trinity-St. Paul’s Church (427 Bloor St. W.). Reifel also praises the church, saying there is a real atmosphere about the place, a fact he noticed when he played at a service.

Not only do Reifel and McMaster praise the Annex, they admire Toronto as a whole.  Reifel sees his career expanding in the city and McMaster feels the same way.

Ed Reifel and Alex McMaster outside the Aroma Cafe in the Annex

“Toronto seems to be the place where you can make a living doing interesting things,” said McMaster. “I don’t think there’s any other place like it in Canada.”

Currently they are focused on getting ready for Everything Under The Moon, which will run on Feb. 18 to 23 at the Enwave Theatre. The cast did three workshops in early December where they recorded the live music from the show.  The rehearsal will continue in February including a full week of rehearsals on Toronto Island and two full days in the theatre.

McMaster and Reifel are enthusiastic about this current project as it is so visually appealing and interactive compared to some of the other gigs they have played. They praise Boyle, who puts on visuals on projections and has designed paper cut outs for the performance including totem poles that are cardboard animal heads.

The show is about creating art on the spot and the music follows what you see on the screen.

“I know that not all the work we end up doing will be super challenging, or rewarding, or creative, but even if one of these things comes along every year, stretches the brain, it’s great,” said McMaster.

Tags: General