Des McAnuff winner of the Governor General Performing Arts Awards performs Pinball Wizard with The Who’s Pete Townshend at the 20th Anniversary Gala at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. May 5, 2012
Photo Credit: George Pimental
The 20th Governor General’s Performing Arts Gala was a thunderous success complete with a surprise grand finale featuring one of rock music’s legends. The Who guitar god Pete Townsend joined his friend and GG laureate Des McAnuff on stage for a raucous medley performance of hits from The Who’s Tommy Broadway musical.
Other memorable moments from the Gala include:
- An angelic performance of RUSH’s Spirit of the Radio by the cherubic children singers of the Christ Church Cathedral Choir, followed by a rare classical music rendition of Tom Sawyer by the full 61-member National Arts Centre Orchestra. The performances were introduced by none other than Matt Stone, the co-creator of the cult South Park TV series who jokingly credited RUSH with sharing with the world Canada’s “strange customs”, such as featuring “at least one 12-minute epic song on each album”.
- An incredible tongue-twisting, jaw-contorting performance of Oulipo Show by Quebec actors Carl Béchard, Danièle Panneton and Pierre Chagnon. The theatrical tour de force was performed in honour of laureate Denis Marleau.
- A funny and emotional tribute to laureate Mary Walsh by fellow Newfoundland comedian Andy Jones, who affectionately hailed his friend “a five-alarm fire… and a living 9-1-1 call!” (He added: “If she was a theory it would be chaos… If she was a car it would be a truck!”)
- A elegant and touching homage to filmmaker Deepa Mehta by literary giant Salman Rushdie who counted her among the legends of contemporary world cinema.
- A rousing tribute by the Gala’s elegant master of ceremonies Colm Feore, to all of the 159 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards laureates since 1992 and the launch of a national campaign to let “all Canadians and the world know that our country is an Arts Nation by Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.”
A wonderful behind-the-scenes highlight was a private meeting between the members of RUSH and four budding rock musicians who met at intermission to kibbitz about things dear to a rock musician’s heart, such as picking the right guitar gear and the tips on bass playing. The four teenagers and their band Inner Volition were featured in the wonderful National Film Board short film here.
Meeting their idols made for the “best night of my existence” according to one of the young musicians.
RUSH, Mary Walsh, Des McAnuff, Denis Marleau, Paul-André Fortier, Janina Fialkowska, Deepa Mehta, Earlaine Collins… The 2012 laureates are all inspirational artists and individuals who form a powerful bridge between the past, the present and the future: that’s what the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards are all about!