Tim Brady Three Cities in the Life Dr. Norman Bethune

Opera is a place for grand and heroic themes. No other musical form can adequately encompass the monumental scale and rapturous emotions that are the working materials of this art of epic. And composer/guitarist Tim Brady has chosen a hero well suited to his ambitious three-part work, Three Cities — a tribute to one of Canada’s most profoundly important social champions, Dr. Norman Bethune. The thoracic surgeon left his successful practice treating tuberculosis patients for the battlefields of civil war Spain and later for strife-torn Mao’s China, where he died after having trained thousands of doctors and medical workers and where he treated countless victims of war. With virtuosic deployment of resources — his "orchestra” is a modest eight musicians (four strings, one saxophone, one percussion, a piano and an electric guitar) — Brady gets the massive sound demanded by his epic subject. Gigantic chords, huge crescendos, dense textures, throbbing rhythms and fully detailed lyrical passages meticulously conducted by Pierre Simard to support the rich baritone of Michael Donovan. The text, drawn from the writings of poet Dorothy Livesay, Rafael Alberti, Lu Xun and Bethune himself, tells a non-linear story of a man struggling to cope with the brutality of events beyond his control. His anguish, frustration and anger are magnificently mirrored by Brady’s evocative writing and multi-layered orchestration. Even if opera isn’t your cup of tea, Three Cities will quicken your pulse. (Ambiances Magnétiques)