A Poe Cabaret

August 19 clock 12:12 AM


Eastminster United Church
Toronto, Ontario

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Presented by:

Academy Concert Series

Event Details

A Poe Cabaret” was initially co-commissioned by Luminato and the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival and is a program co-created and curated by Tom Allen and Lori Gemmell. It features an original and dramatic setting of Poe’s The Raven for narrator, harp and string quartet by Canadian composer Alexina Louie, as well as André Caplet’s Conte Fantastique (inspired by Poe’s The Masque of Red Death) for harp and string quartet and Debussy’s string quartet all woven together through story telling, narration and poetry.
Debussy was deeply inspired by Poe (as were many of the symbolists around him) and was commissioned by the Met to write an opera on Poe’s story The Fall of the House of Usher. He was paid $10,000 (in 1910!) but never finished it. As it dragged on, and as his personal public and financial life crumbled around him, he began to see himself as being David Usher, whose ancient house collapsed around him, pulled down by the guilt and grief of some horrible, unstated crime in his past.
Caplet’s Conte Fantastique is a musical paraphrase of Poe’s The Mask of the Red Death, and includes many specific references embedded in the music to tell the story.
The final concert of the season on May 4, 2019 will feature special guests harpist Lori Gemmell and narrator Tom Allen.

Featured Program


  • The Raven for narrator, harp and string quartet by Alexina Louie
  • Conte Fantastique by André Caplet
  • String Quartet by Claude Debussy


  • Tom Allen, narrator
  • Lori Gemmell, harp
  • Sheila Jaffé, violin
  • Bethany Bergman, violin
  • Emily Eng, viola
  • Kerri McGonigle, cello