SesayArts in Conversation: Andrew Burashko, Artistic Director, Art of Time Ensemble



Sesaya specializes in music and arts education.

Andrew Burashko

Andrew Burashko

In 1997, painter/filmmaker John Christie and poet/art critic and Booker Prize-winning novelist John Berger began a conversation about the nature of colour through an exchange of letters. Three years later, this correspondence became a book, entitled I Send You This Cadmium Red, which was, in turn, adapted into a radio play by the BBC in 2002, with original music composed by Gavin Bryars.

When Bryars sent a recording of the radio program toAndrew Burashko, the Founder and Artistic Director of Art of Time Ensemble, it inspired in him the idea for a live stage production, combining music, theatre and visual projections.

This was the inception of Art of Time Ensemble’s unique and acclaimed multimedia production of I Send You This Cadmium Red, originally staged in 2011. On April 9 it returns in a new production at the Enwave Theatre.

Though this production reunites the creative team of director Daniel Brooks, musical directorAndrew Burashko, and multimedia filmmaker Bruce Alcock as well as actors Julian Richingsand John Fitzgerald Jay reprising their roles (as John Berger and John Christie, respectively), audiences shouldn’t expect a replica of the original. For instance, the restaging features additional, newly-composed music by Bryars, performed by long-time Art of Time collaborators Carolyn Blackwell (viola), Robert Carli (bass clarinet), Joseph Phillips (bass), and Rob Piltch (guitar).

In anticipation of the new production, SesayArts had the opportunity to ask Andrew Burashko about I Send You this Cadmium Red as well as his upcoming collaboration with acclaimed saxophonist Branford Marsalis in May…

1.       As a parent and teacher, I’m grateful that Art of Time Ensemble exists in Toronto so that young people can experience classical music within a contemporary context. I’m curious to know about the responses of children/young people to Art of Time concert productions.

Our concerts always have a profound effect on teenagers who attend them – especially teenagers with an interest in and love of the arts. I don’t think our concerts are for young children.

2.       There’s excitement about the return of I Send You this Cadmium Red. How can parents and teachers prepare children to fully appreciate the complex, multidisciplinary, multisensory experience of this unique concert?

I think they will be fine without any preparations. Bruce Alcock’s brilliant animation greatly amplifies and contextualizes the words. However, familiarity with some of the art/artists discussed in the letters would greatly enhance the experience – having some visual reference to the work and aesthetics of Kandinsky, Caravaggio, Klee, Bacon, Matisse, Yves Klein…

3.       Can you speak to one of the central ideas (paradoxes?) of this production, the notion of describing colour and sound, which are sensory, and so, by their nature, elusive?

It’s interesting. To me the senses are anything but elusive – they are direct pathways to physical experience. So, to speak of colour which is all around us and affects us through our sense of sight – is to speak of it in terms of all our other senses. Why is one red hot and another cold? What does that particular green taste like? Is yellow a stain or a solid object? Is it round or triangular? What colour is the moo of a cow or a gust of wind? Why are some blues exotic while others are modest? All the questions invite us to understand colour through our own largely physical experience.

4.       Could you tell us about how your upcoming recital of classical music with saxophonist Branford Marsalis–known predominantly as a jazz musician– came to be?

I’m very interested in exploring where different styles and genres of music intersect. Branford embodies the intersections of jazz and classical music through his love of and interest in both. I’m really looking forward to making music with him.

5.       What book is on your bedside table right now?

Albert Camus’ last novel The First Man, which was published over 30 years after his death. He was an important part of my growth and development — his ideas, his poetry and passion. It’s been interesting to discover this book after not reading him for at least a dozen years. 

What: I Send You This Cadmium Red: Meditations on Colour and Sound, April 9 – 12, 8 pm

What: Branford Marsalis and Andrew Burashko: A Recital, May 23-24, 8 pm

Where: The Enwave Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, 231 Queens Quay West, Toronto


© Arpita Ghosal, Sesaya, 2014

Posted in Interviews, Theatre, Uncategorized.