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Workman Brings Swagger to SNS

Symphony Nova Scotia with special guest Hawksley Workman
Friday, September 30
Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, Halifax

It was an evening of firsts at the Rebecca Cohn auditorium in Halifax last night, as Symphony Nova Scotia kicked-off its 2011-2012 Pops Series with sure style and swagger.

Conductor-in-residence Shalom Bard made his opening night a memorable one, as he and his musical peers welcomed Canadian eccentric troubadour-extraordinaire Hawksley Workman to the stage for his orchestral debut.

Donning rolled-up jeans and shirt-sleeves, and sporting a chic chapeau and scarf, the singer-songwriter brought his perky personality to play from the get-go with a series of quirky quips that immediately connected with the near-capacity crowd.

Workman set the tone for the soiree soon after, opening with the aptly-timed Autumn’s Here before launching into a wide swath of songs from his 11 recordings over the next 40 minutes.

If the carefully-layered arrangements weren’t enough, the sheer physicality of Workman’s performance was plenty to win over the audience. Alternating Telecaster, Les Paul and harmonica, the singer-songwriter leaned into every note, even more so when drawing upon his mega-dimensional, multi-octave voice – evidenced best with the rousing rendition of Warhol’s Portrait of Gretzky, which brought the first set to a rollicking close.

After a reset to open the second half, Workman and his longtime pianist Todd Lumley (aka Mr. Lonely) merged seamlessly with SNS, swirling through a myriad of newer and older material – including stirring versions of Oh You Delicate Heart and Goodbye to Radio, before saving the best for last with the stunning No Beginning, No End that trailed off into the crisp fall night.

Hawksley Workman and Symphony Nova Scotia perform again tonight at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium. ~ Stephen Patrick Clare

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