A portrait Of Passion
A solo chamber suite of 17th century songs, sonnets, & scenes by
Dowland - Shakespeare - Purcell
Shakespeare's sonnets are the most famous and admired love poems in the English language. Dedicated to the mysterious Mr W.H. who "steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth", they passionately express the timeless powers of love.
Taking a cue from Oscar Wilde, Glenn McKenzie explores the possible identity of this intriguing "Master Mistress of a poet's passion" in his solo chamber work Evensong - an evocative 70 minute romp through English music and theatre's most boisterous and daring days
Painting a playful fictional portrait of the life of Mr W.H. Evensong offers fresh, contemporary interpretations of John Dowland's finest songs and Henry Purcell's most celebrated arias, all set among a selection of Shakespeare's best beloved scenes and sonnets.
Lamenting the tyranny of Time, celebrating the persistence of Love, at Death’s door, Mr W.H. flamboyantly recalls the roles he played as boy and man, the songs that he sang on stage and at court, and the sonnets that Will wrote for him in celebration of their relationship.
Evensong collects a fascinating and entertaining kaleidoscope of brilliant fragments from 17th century portraits of love, loss, and lunacy to consider and celebrate a forgotten life.
McKenzie takes the music of Dowland and Purcell, and creates emotive new versions using TripHop, Punk, Jazz, and EDM grooves, while performing Purcell’s ground-bass masterpieces “Dido’s Lament” and “Evening Prayer” in their exquisite original forms.
Lessons Of Darkness
To mark Refugee Week 2019, Glenn has curated and composed a chamber cantata 'Lamentation'.
This meditation on loss and grief features three 'Lessons of Darkness' from the ancient book of 'Lamentations' in a celebrated setting by Baroque composer Francois Couperin. The voices of Shakespeare, Bonhoeffer, and Annie Lennox join his to connect us throughout time and across culture with all those who have suffered the devastation of displacement and homelessness.
Two and half thousand years ago, a poet stood weeping in the abandoned ruins of their beloved city, struggling to compose a response to its utter destruction, the displacement of its entire population. Today, in the wake of the Christchurch and Sri Lankan terrorist attacks, and the context of an Australian government determined to exploit suffering as an instrument of state, the ancient book of 'Lamentations' ('Ekah' in Hebrew - "Alas!") cries out a haunting requiem to dispossession, to overwhelming desolation in the face of our inhumanity to each other.
'Lamentation' explores an emotional landscape that reminds us of the timeless universality of the human experience; an experience that transcends all attempts to separate and divide us.
"While our diverse cultures and experiences mark each of us uniquely, in empathy we all can acknowledge our common desire to be happy, and to avoid pain and suffering." Glenn notes, "‘Lamentation' is conceived as a meditation to unite us in compassion and kindness, and thus encourage us to strive together for a just world for all."
Words and Music Include:
‘Trois Leçons de Tenebré’ - Francois Couperin (1710)
- English Text & Musical Arrangement McKenzie (2019)
‘Morning Prayer’ - Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1943)
Psalms 6, 10, 52 - Text Myles Coverdale (1535), Music McKenzie (2019)
‘The Waters of Babylon’ Psalm 137
- Maori Chant Karana Nepe; Music Philip Hayes (1786)
‘The Strangers Case’ (The Book Of Sir Thomas Moore)
- William Shakespeare (1603)
‘Requiem for a Private War’ - Annie Lennox (2018)
Glenn McKenzie is a Kiwi actor, musician, and writer based in Sydney who has spent the past 35 years performing in England, NZ, and Australia.
Graduating from Auckland University with a B.Mus (Composition), he was a Drama/Arts Director for South Pacific Television; performed with Mercury Theatre (Auckland), Downstage, Depot, & Bats Theatres (Wellington); a featured Performance Artist at The Performance Space (Sydney) and on ABC Radio (AUS). He has directed The Victoria University “Summer Shakespeare” (NZ) plus written/directed for “The Lichfield Mystery Cycle” (UK).
An accomplished Counter-Tenor, with a broad repertoire ranging from Bach to Björk, he recently spent 5 years singing as a Lay-Vicar Choral and soloist in the great cathedrals of England.
Performer: Actor - Countertenor
Evensong - Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival 2015
- New Zealand Fringe March 2018
- Melbourne Fringe September 2018
- Newcastle Fringe March 2019
Lamentation - 2019 Refugee Week Sydney
Evensong (2015 - current)
This Wilde Illusion
Author: Young Adult Novels
Available @ Smashwords.com for free download
"Making It Home"
"The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea"
Sydney Summer Star Trek (2020)
Teacher: Voice - Audio Technology
'The Arts Of Noise' (A guide to finding & growing the Voice)
2018 New Zealand Fringe Festival
"Melodramatic, yet subtle; achingly poignant, then suddenly hilariously funny… These words could be a description of any number of Shakespeare's works, and here they are but a portion of the myriad adjectives that spring to mind when experiencing the wonderful journey we are taken on by Glenn McKenzie in his multidimensional one-man show, Evensong.
Shakespeare's words are as relevant today as they ever were, and it's both fascinating and affirming to sit and absorb these soundbites and snippets – which range from sonnets, to monologues from the plays (Richard III, Romeo and Juliet…), to beautifully apt songs by Renaissance composer John Dowland and early Baroque composer Henry Purcell – and notice how familiar so many of those phrases have become to us in the modern era.
McKenzie is a consummate performer, both as a musician and an actor, and as he flamboyantly flits from character to character, recalling the roles ‘W.H.' played as a boy and a man, he glides just as seamlessly between his countertenor singing and speaking voices.
There is much pathos and depth, as well as plenty of wit and lightheartedness, in dealing with the ‘tyranny of time' and the ‘love, loss and lunacy' that is experienced over a lifetime, and the physical movement and pacing is excellent throughout. There are well-placed silences, rapid excitements and passionate frenzies, twerkings(!), deft facial expressions and hand-gestures and beautifully poised long notes that hang in the air for just the right amount of time to allow us to digest their emotions.
The music is a smorgasbord of delight, ranging from Purcell's haunting ‘Dido's Lament', to a sassy rap (Ophelia), to electronica, to smooth-chorded synths beneath Dowland tunes, to funky jazz beats, to vampy keyboard, to dramatic cello and industrial textures beneath Purcell's ‘Cold Genius' aria, to pure-voiced Renaissance singing with lute-like accompaniment.
Glenn McKenzie is one of those rare gems who truly gives it his all in performance and is not afraid to lay himself bare in his characterisations."
Reviewed by Pepe Becker - NZ Theatreview
2018 Melbourne Fringe Festival
“McKenzie interleaves animated reading, storytelling, scene enactment, and stunning countertenor singing, sometimes accompanied by recorded backing tracks, and at other times accompanied by his own keyboard playing.”
“An enthralling performer, able to achieve wonderful things with his voice and body, without leaning on sets, fancy lighting, or changes of costume. He switches between characters with remarkable ease and impact, persuasively playing different ages, themes, emotions, and even genders, gracefully and artfully. His performance style is uninhibited, strongly characterized, dramatic, but never confronting. His vocal skills are rock solid, and his singing is mesmerizing - easily the highlight of the show.”
Review by Aridhi Anderson - Weekend Notes, Melbourne