By day he’s a mild mannered radio broadcaster, whose afternoon show Shift is currently aired around the country to listeners of CBC Radio 2.
Tom Allen has had his own radio program on the CBC for the past 23 years, however, he is not just a pretty voice.
He’s put his master’s degree in music performance from Yale University to good use, having worked as a professional trombonist in Toronto and New York. He is also the author of three non-fiction books.
Those who listen to Allen’s radio broadcasts know that he loves telling the stories of how and why a piece of music came to be – and he’s put that interest to good use.
The creator of three musical theatrical productions, Allen’s Debussy vs. Ravel: The Judgment of Paris comes to the stage at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Sunday.
Described as a mix of cabaret, history and story-telling, combined with the timeless music of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel as well as original songs by the performers, Judgement is about the two famous French composers and their relationship as it goes from one of mentor and student to one of rivals.
“It shows how they competed for the love of their proud, fickle, darling, Paris,” said Allen. “There’s action, desire, war, death, beautiful music, and great songs. The songs work really well while also giving a message about music. It’s charming, funny and easy to enjoy.”
Joined by Kevin Fox (voice, cello, guitar), Lori Gemmell (harp, trumpet, piano, voice), Bryce Kulak (piano, voice, accordion) and Patricia O’Callaghan (voice, piano, percussion), Allen narrates and plays trombone in the show.
Judgement is set as the thunderclouds of the Great War pile up and burst.
“It is new and old, heroic and tragic, history and fiction,” said Allen.
It builds on the format of CBC Radio 2’s Shift, in that it combines timeless music with stories through in a manner that is both accessible and entertaining.
And like Shift, it is also not just for aficionados of classical music.
“People can be put off because they think they need a degree to enjoy classical music and that’s simply not true,” said Allen. “The people who wrote classical music are no different than musicians today. You don’t need any sort of prerequisites to enjoy it.”
Those who want some history with their musical entertainment, and to hear Allen’s voice live in person, can catch Debussy vs. Ravel: The Judgement of Paris at the Performing Arts Centre Sunday, Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $40 for adults, $37 for seniors, and $35 for students. Call the Ticket Seller box office at 250-549-SHOW (7469) or log online to www.ticketseller.ca.