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The Glenn Gould Variations at Convocation Hall

Glenn Gould at the piano (photo courtesy of Glenn Gould Estate/ Sony Music)

The University of Toronto is hosting a one-of-a-kind event honouring world renowned pianist Glenn Gould. To learn more about Dreamers Renegades Visionaries: The Glenn Gould Variations, U of T News turned to Ron Davis, a leading jazz pianist and former Secretary of the Glenn Gould Foundation, where the earliest idea for event first took shape. 

Davis is co-director of the event, with Professor Pia Kleber, which will take place at Convocation Hall, September 23 and 23, 2012. 

It’s difficult to know what to call it: Immersive conference? Creative summit? Performance showcase? Interdisciplinary hijinks?

Inspired by the life and work of Glenn Gould, this event is designed to be one part TED Talks, one part variety show, one part theatre, promising to assemble over 50 leading global artists, thinkers and creators from all the world. Each presenter will talk or perform for 19 minutes or less with actor/comic Rick Miller (MacHomer) acting as guide and navigator throughout the twelve hours over two days that the event will run.

"We wanted to ensure everyone could share in the adventure," says Professor Pia Kleber, Helen and Paul Phelan Chair in Drama. "Student passes have been priced from $60-$100.

"By comparison, it costs $16,000 to attend the TED Talks.”

The list of artists and presenters participating in the event is wide-ranging and eclectic, including thought leaders, media gurus , writers, multimedia artists and musicians. Adrienne Clarkson, Lang Lang, Norman Jewison, Atom Egoyan, Alan Cross, Chilly Gonzales, and Step Up's Lombard Twins are just a few of the star attractions.

Boing Boing founder Cory Doctorow, tech podcaster and magician Brian Brushwood, the CBC’s Anshuman Idamsetty and Nora Young, Lemon Bucket Orkestra, DJ LRS, orchestra-meets-DJ Nicole Lizée, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, Robert Wilson, Djanet Sears, Brent Carver, Tod Machover, producer of The Wall Bob Ezrin and many more will appear.

The event’s goal is to spread the spirit of Gould’s work on the occasion of the anniversary of his birth.

Gould was not only one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. He was a writer, a visionary, a television personality, and a master of radio. He was a fearless, boundary-busting artist with endless curiosity. He had a wicked sense of humour. He explored music, media and technology with genius. He experimented. He innovated. He challenged. He not only broke the mould, he made his own moulds. Then he broke those too.”

There is no shortage of achievement among the remarkable organizers either. My co-director, Professor Kleber, is a well-known and powerful woman of the theatre. She has played a primary role in developing the creative ideas behind the event, and in making them happen.

Executive Producer David Daniels is the rare combination of an entrepreneur and arts producer. He has brought a business sense to the imaginative concept behind Dreamers Renegades Visionaries: The Glenn Gould Variations.

The Creative Director of the event is Johanna Schall. A prominent theatre director and actor in Europe, Schall has given Dreamers Renegades Visionaries: The Glenn Gould Variations a compelling dramatic shape and flow. She has a prominent theatrical lineage: her grandfather was the legendary playwright Bertolt Brecht.

Dreamers Renegades Visionaries: The Glenn Gould Variations is about entertainment and innovation. Says Executive Producer Daniels “By presenting top-calibre artists and personalities, we want to remind the world of Gould’s phenomenal creativity. And we want to reach out to those who don’t know about Gould, to stimulate their interest in his unique brilliance.”

Details and tickets: glenngouldvariations.ca