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article imageToronto arts festival sets sights on record-breaking goals

By Jeff Knebel     Jun 6, 2009 in Entertainment
Toronto’s third annual Luminato Festival of Arts and Creativity is officially underway, featuring a lineup of world-class artists, musicians and performers event organizers hope will rival the festival’s success in previous years.
Goals that the Luminato crew has set for themselves this year are in no respect modest; the group aims to increase attendance by a third from last year, to at least 1.5 million. And if record turnout isn’t enough, event planners are raising the bar higher yet for themselves this year with an attempt at a Guinness World Record for the largest organized jam session in history.
The festival, a multi-faceted artistic celebration featuring theater, dance, classical and contemporary music, visual arts, film, literature, and more, kicked off yesterday with a series of city-wide events that will continue through next weekend, according to Luminato CEO Janice Price.
“This year’s Luminato once again brings the best of the world to Toronto,” Price said. “Through ‘accidental encounters with art,’ massive free celebrations, and illuminating performances from the world’s brightest artists, Luminato offers audiences 10 exhilarating days of music, theatre, dance, arts, literature, and food events. There is truly something for everyone!”
The theme of this year’s Luminato is heavily focused on music, specifically the guitar. This year more than 150 events, many free to the public, will be held at various downtown locations throughout the festival’s extent. In addition, each year the festival features highly anticipated world premieres that, in the past, have gained immense wide-spread acclaim, according to an event press release.
In one of Luminato’s featured events this year, “The Great Canadian Tune,” festival-goers will be asked tomorrow to participate in a Guinness record-breaking attempt at the world’s largest guitar ensemble, with a rendition of Neil Young’s classic, “Helpless.” The Toronto-themed song won the title, “The Great Canadian Tune,” over nine other Canadian guitar classics in a recent country-wide public poll. Tomorrow evening’s world-title-attempt performance will be held at 4 p.m. at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square.
“The Great Canadian Tune” is Luminato’s attempt to one-up the town of Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany, current record holder for the world’s largest guitar ensemble. In 2007, 1,802 of the town’s residents gathered to perform Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.”
In order to participate in Luminato’s crack at the Guinness World Record, guitarists are asked to arrive at Yonge-Dundas Square no later than 2 p.m. to register. Participants are required to bring either a classic acoustic or unplugged electric guitar, and must be able to perform the selected tune proficiently, according to an event press release.
Other competing songs for the title included: “Taking Care of Business,” by Turner Overdrive; “The weight,” by The Band; “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet,” by Blue Rodeo; “Cuts Like a Knife,” by Bryan Adams; “1-2-3-4,” by Feist; “Hallellujah,” by Leonard Cohen; “Basement Apartment,” by Sarah Harmer; “Boy Inside the Man,” by Tom Cochrane; and “Courage,” by The Tragically Hip.
Another featured event Luminato will be hosting this year is the North American debut of Lepage’s “Lipsynch.” The nine-hour theatrical production, spread out over several days, is anticipated to draw many spectators from afar.
As is Luminato’s celebration of Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil’s 25th anniversary, which will include multiple performances by the group next week’s closing weekend celebration.
“Luminato’s closing weekend promises to be the biggest free celebration ever hosted in the city, from the Waterfront to Yorkville, the Distillery District to Yonge-Dundas Square,” Price stated. “Toronto’s central waterfront will be transformed like never before, engaging the entire city and giving audiences the opportunity to lose themselves in the kaleidoscope of art encompassed by our many wonderful artists.”
Artists from all over the world have traveled to Toronto for the festival, Price commented, including Canadian icon Leonard Cohen, Lizt Alfonso's Danza Cuba, Atom Egoyan and author James Patterson. Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer will be presenting some of his new work; Emmy Lou Harris, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin and Buddy Miller will also be performing.
Hundreds of thousands are expected to turn out for the festival and it's hoped the scope of the events and the audience will continue to grow over the years, said Chris Lorway, Luminato’s Artistic Director.
“We are extremely pleased to be working with visual artists and authors who are at the top of their game,” he said. “For this year’s festival, our central threads – a major festival of the guitar, a celebration of Edgar Allan Poe and his contemporaries, and issues of modern communication – have turned out to be very intricately linked.”
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