Montreal-born novelist Eric Rill, whose first two books were the political thrillers Pinnacle of Deceit and The Innocent Traitor, was working on a third thriller when he put it aside to pen An Absent Mind, a novel describing a descent into Alzheimer’s disease. Rill, who now lives in Panama, said he wrote the book after watching his father struggle with the disease for eight years.
“My goal was not only to write good fiction, but also to provide readers with a true picture of this dreaded disease that afflicts more than 35 million people worldwide,” he explained. “I knew I had to write this book to share the challenges faced by caretakers and loved ones as they watch someone they love deteriorate before their eyes.”
The book focuses on the fictional Saul Reimer, husband and father, whose slide into declining mental health is shown alongside the emotional rollercoaster ride shared by his wife and children. An Absent Mind was published this spring by Avante Press. www.ericrill.com
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Concert and Lunch: KlezKanada is hosting a fundraising concert, featuring its own students and master musicians, in aid of an ambitious scholarship program. For years, the Quebec-based Jewish cultural organization and music camp has been holding an international contest to find and bring the best 100 music students around the world to Klez Kamp to study and perform. The program costs about $100,000 per year. The concert luncheon is at the Oakdale Golf and Country Club, June 8, noon. Tickets $150 include a tax-deductible receipt. firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-252-8055.
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Idan Raichel Project: Motek Cultural Initiative’s third annual gala features The Idan Raichel Project; Raichel, who was lauded by the New York Times as a “singer of the world,” performs with a 10-piece orchestra. Motek’s post-concert VIP gala in Massey Hall’s Centuries Bar & Lounge features dancing, themed cuisine, open bar and an opportunity to meet and greet Toronto dignitaries, philanthropists, businesspeople and members of the Idan Raichel Project. VIP tickets at $360 also include valet parking and other surprises. Massey Hall, May 10, 8 p.m. 1-855-556-6835.
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Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory: The inaugural 21C Music Festival at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory features the world premiere of Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory, a composition for string quartet by Pulitzer-Prize winning composer Shulamit Ran and performed by the Pacifica Quartet.
The composition was inspired by an exhibit of German artists of the period of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933), some of whom perished in the Holocaust; also by the haunting works of artist Felix Nussbaum. “Knowing that their days were numbered, yet intent on leaving a mark, a legacy, a memory, their art is triumph of the human spirit over annihilation,” Ran explained.
Royal Conservatory of Music, 273 Bloor St. W., May 24. The “After Hours” concert follows the mainstage concert and should begin about 10 p.m. www.rcmusic.ca
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Stars of David: Harold Green Jewish Theatre and Angelwalk Theatre present Stars of David, the off-Broadway musical that offers a snapshot of modern North American Jewish identity set to music. It features words by many Jewish celebrities and songs by notable Broadway composers and lyricists. Conceived by Aaron Harnick, directed by Avery Saltzman, featuring Darrin Baker, Gabi Epstein, Lisa Horner and Will Lamond. Toronto Centre for the Arts, Studio Theatre, May 10 to June 1 (opens May 14). $25 to $65. www.hgjewishtheatre.com, 1-855-985-2787.
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Names in the News: Toronto-based Selfconscious Theatre and the Abilities Centre in Whitby have launched a crowdfunding campaign to support an upcoming production of The Book of Judith. The musical play was inspired by the friendship between theatre artist Michael Rubenfeld and Judith Snow, an artist and disability advocate who is quadriplegic. The show runs June 12 to 14 in Whitby. www.bookofjudith.com
Arts in Brief
• “In Conversation with Alan Borovoy” features the well-known champion of human rights and civil liberties in conversation with Marvin Schiff, discussing his recent memoir At the Barricades and his five decades of activism. Presented by Toronto Workmen’s Circle, 471 Lawrence Ave. W., as part of Jewish Heritage Month; free admission. May 13, 7:30 p.m.
• Carnegie Hall 1938 – The Birth of Swing is a commemoration of Benny Goodman’s famed concert of 75 years ago, featuring the 15-member Galaxy Orchestra. Sanderson Centre, Brantford, Ont. Wednesday, May 14, 2 p.m. $38. 1-800-265-0710, www.sandersoncentre.ca
• Film critic Shlomo Schwartzberg presents a two-part lecture on “Jewish Film Stars Who Influenced American Cinema,” focusing on Barbra Streisand, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks and Richard Benjamin. Miles Nadal JCC, May 13 (Allen & Brooks) and May 20 (Streisand & Benjamin), 1 p.m. The Active 55+ series costs $20 for both lectures or $12 (drop-in) for each. Registration, 416-924-6211, ext. 0.
At the Galleries
China – Back to the Future is an exhibit of photographs by Brenda Hoffert showing off a “new shiny China, unabashedly proud of its love affair with western culture, living alongside a China still steeped in antiquity.” Presented as part of the Contact Photography Festival. Gallery 133, 1260 Castlefield Ave. Opening reception May 8, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. with artist in attendance. www.gallery133.com