Ottawa·The Weekend List

A new look at our distant cousins, plus jazz and Rossini

Check out some futuristic jazz, a major choral work from Gioachino Rossini, and a new exhibition that suggests Neanderthals may be more like us than you think.

Neanderthals are a lot like us in new exhibition at Canadian Museum of History

Neatherthals are depicted as skilled technicians and artisans as part of a new exhibition debuting at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau. (Mauro Cutrona)

This weekend, check out some futuristic jazz, a major choral work from Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, and a new exhibition that suggests Neanderthals may be more like us than you think.

All too human

Neanderthals, those much-maligned, distant relatives of ours, are getting an upgrade at the Canadian Museum of History thanks to new revelations about the mysterious species that disappeared around 30,000 years ago. 

For years, history books and museums portrayed Neanderthals as dim-witted knuckle draggers and crude cave dwellers.

But new evidence shows they were community builders and skilled artisans who cared for their sick and even mourned their dead by placing flowers at grave sites.  

A new exhibit, with 150 artifacts and fossils, aims to tell the story of how Neanderthals really lived. 0:50

"They produced complex tools. They produced items for collection and for ornamentation and used pigments to paint," said Janet Young, curator of physical anthropology at the museum.

The museum's latest exhibition, simply called Neanderthals, comes to Canada from France and contains 150 artifacts and fossils, including handmade weapons and four skulls.

The show is augmented with related items from the museum's collection.

"All these human features that we believe are related just to ourselves were in fact shared by this other species." said Young. 

  • Where: Canadian Museum of History, 100 Laurier St., Gatineau.
  • When:  9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Exhibition runs May 17, 2019, to Jan. 26, 2020.
  • Cost: Adults $20, seniors $18, students $16, children $12. Family passes are available for $50 and can be purchased here.
To quote Toronto-by-way-of-Trinidad jazz musician Brownman Ali: 'I'm interested in playing the music of tomorrow, not the music of yesterday.' (Nils Blondon)

The future of jazz

"I like to think I'm taking the audience on a train to the unknown," says Brownman Ali, jazz trumpeter extraordinaire and the busy leader of eight different jazz ensembles.

Born in Trinidad, raised in Toronto and now a mainstay of the jazz haunts of New York City, Ali is a prolific composer who cross-pollinates jazz with hip hop, funk and soul music.

Although he's adept at all styles of jazz — including the standards — Ali prefers his music challenging and fresh.

"I'm very interested in playing the music of tomorrow, not yesterday," said Ali, who performs this weekend in Ottawa. "Really our job as searching artists is to look to the future."  

Brownman brings his electric trumpet and the award-winning Brownman Electryc Trio to the Avant-Garde Bar Saturday night.

  • Where: Avant-Garde Bar, 135 Besserer St.
  • When: Saturday night at 8 p.m.
  • Cost: Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door and $10 for students with ID. 
Award-winning musician Jenna Richards is one of two pianists who'll be joining 150 voices performing Rossini's Petite messe solennelle Saturday night. (Sandra Abma/CBC)

2 pianos, 150 voices

There's nothing really small about the Ottawa Classical Choir's presentation of Gioachino Rossini's Petite messe solennelle (Little solemn mass)

Under the baton of Michel Brousseau, the choir will be joined by Montreal's le Chœur et l'Orchestre philharmonique du Nouveau Monde — a combined total of 150 glorious voices  who will deliver a work that's both sacred and full of Rossini's joyful flourishes.

Two pianists and a harmonium player will share the stage with the singers.

Local pianist and award-winning musician Jenna Richards says she's never experienced anything like it.

"It's the only piece I've ever done with this kind of orchestration," said Richards. "You hear the percussive sounds on the piano and then the fluid sound of the choir behind us as we're playing. It's beautiful."

  • Where: Dominion-Chalmers United Church, 355 Cooper St.
  • When: Saturday at 8 p.m.
  • Cost : Tickets cost  $35 and $55, and can be purchased here.

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