So BHJ and I went to see the Toronto Symphony Orchestra perform a tribute to Mozart on the 250th anniversary of his birth last Friday. I like classical music, enough that I listen to it a few times a week - especially now that I'm watching less TV (dammit) - but I haven't been to a live performance in years. The music was poignant and spectacular, and I was vividly reminded of how much I used to love watching the conductor's hands move in such a beautiful but peculiar ballet.
I wasn't surprised that the TSO is so terrific. Toronto has a ton of local talent, some of the best music, theatre, and art that the world has to offer, in fact. What we also have, and which people sometimes forget about, are a number of great readings series that feature both local and international writers.
As always, a good place to find listings for the TO hip-happening cultural scene are the free weeklies NOW and Eye. Another good place to find listings for readings in particular is at Word. You'll find that a series like the Harbourfront Reading Series draws writers from all over the world and smaller ones will showcase more local talent, so there's lots of variety.
Another way to go about it is to look up some of your favourite writers, hit their website and see what their tour dates are. Get on their mailing list so that you can find out when they'll be in town. You might find out that your favourite writer, who conjures up stories on the other side of country (or the globe), will be here on our very own doorstep. Grab a friend - grab me, god knows I like being grabbed - and head out to hear what they have to say.
Even if you're not a writer, why not step out of your comfort zone a bit? Take some time to meet some of the artists who have brought so much enjoyment to our lives, and all that jazz. The truth of it is, the book biz is pretty cutthroat these days, and most midlist and emerging writers need all the support they can get. On top of that, readings can be a lot of fun, they're usually free, and if you're going to buy the book anyway, why not do it when you can get it personally autographed by the author? After that you can head out to watch some live music or pop into a pub and indulge in a few pints. Make a night of it.
If you're not in TO or a large urban centre, check your community listings to discover some local talent of your own. Or you could try and take in a reading the next time you're visiting the big city. Either way, you won't be disappointed.