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MUSIC

Lara MacMillan

Lara MacMillan

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photos: Dahlia Katz

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Miss Mercury

Lara MacMillan

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photos and artwork: Lara MacMillan

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LARA LOVES LEONARD

Eight years in the making, and finally now on the verge of a recorded collection of Leonard Cohen's poetry and songs. These arrangements bring to life the tortured and triumphant in Cohen's work with a stark honesty and genuine appreciation. So much time, thought, work, and planning has gone into this project. 
 

This chapter of life has had no limit of delays it seems. But soon, very soon the Kickstarter Campaign for Lara ❤️ Leonard will begin and you can pre-order your copy! 

Join our mailing list for Kickstarter Campaign updates

The Leonard Blog

Three Question Format - short and sweet... mostly.

Lara Loves Leonard - Beginnings 

Where did this project begin?

This project has been something I originally planned and curated for an independent theatre festival in Stratford, Ontario, eight years ago. At the time, I was teaching music privately, mostly young singers and wanted to challenge myself to "walk the walk."

See, I'd been singing my own songs, pretty well exclusively, for a decade. For me, the interpretation of the song suggests itself with an immediacy as I am writing. I can hear the sounds I want my voice to make just as I hear the pitches of the notes in my inner ear. But, I don't have that connection to other people's music. In fact, if the original recording of a song is convincing (and it almost always is) then I just would naturally fall into a version that mirrored the original. I was teaching interpretation of the modern and standard songbook and I hadn't done much dedicated and personal interpretive work. So I decided to put together some kind of show and test my mettle.

Why did I chose Leonard Cohen's work?

Because I admire his turn on a phrase and am consoled by his bleak, but hopeful, realism. A poet first, his words are meticulously crafted and worked over. Naturally, I wanted to make the show about his poetry too. Not just a concert, but a curated collection of spoken word and song. Lastly, there was real drama in the man. He had style, panache and weight. His persona and catalogue of works gave me a wide canvass and near-infinite palate to chose from. I found new (to me) works and found new meanings in old favourites. In listening to various songs, Leonard's versions and covers, I kept finding myself distracted from the story's thread by the music. So many instruments and voices. The words were still there, just not up front. That's when I decided what I wanted in accompaniment should be stark, atmospheric, and somewhat primitive. 

Who's in the band?

I knew I wanted only two musicians on stage with me and one would have to be a percussionist/drummer the other I decided would ideally play cello and acoustic guitar. My longtime drummer, collaborator and friend Roger Travassos is the percussionist/beat master and he engineered much of this collection. His openness, curiosity and discipline have inspired me again and again. When I first approached him about the project, I asked him for cello/guitar player recommendations and that's how Kevin Fox became involved. Fortunately Kevin was available for the show date I had fixed. His cello lines are longing and haunting, and his guitar parts lift like the wind.

When I think about our first rehearsal, me with mostly barely sketched out ideas and the desire to keep it as bare as possible I can recall how flexible they both were. How carefully they listened to what I was trying to say to discern what I wanted in the arrangement and then they did their thing. They created, as an ensemble of two, a unique atmosphere for each song, that feels like its own sonic universe. Serving the character of each song. The heart of the song. The poetry.

 

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