March, 2013 / Author:

Compelling Cirque du Soleil collaboration reaches Winnipeg

Where circus meets symphony and music comes alive onstage in the bodies of some of the world’s best circus performers, you’ll find a show that’s making its Canadian premiere in Winnipeg this April. Cirque Musica is a collaboration between performers from Ringling Bros. Circus, Barnum & Bailey, Cirque du Soleil and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) for a special sensory experience. 

“The show is an integration between the worlds of cirque and symphony,” says Steve Cook, who comes from both backgrounds himself and is the creator and producer of the show. “The audience takes a journey.”

Performer Matt Roben plays MC during that journey in the role of comedic host. Raised in California, Roben collaborated with Texas-based Cook a couple of years ago and has been involved in the show ever since. 

“It’s nice, [because] the symphony crowd gets a little lighter of a show and the non-symphony crowd gets to appreciate a symphony through kind of a POPS show, that might bring them in because of the circus – but they might start to realize ‘wow, this symphony thing’s pretty cool.’ It’s a lot of fun,” said Roben.

Besides classical and popular hits, the show features original music by Emmy and Academy Award-nominated composer Marcelo Zarvos. The past two years, Cirque Musica performed across the United States, but Cook says they are excited to share the entertainment with Winnipeg. The show is family-friendly and appeals to all ages.

“What we’ve seen is it enables the audience to enjoy this great music in a whole new way. They’re clapping and cheering as they’re hearing Copland, and they’re on their feet when Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto plays. We have a flying violinist who plays that piece in the air,” Roben said. “The most enjoyable part for us as circus performers is having the live symphony behind us. It’s such an incredible feeling, having 100 of essentially the world’s greatest musicians sitting behind us, playing.”

The troupe will arrive in town in mid April and, after only one or two rehearsals with the symphony, the collaboration will be ready to hit the stage. Music will be conducted by the WSO’s Richard Lee.

Ticket prices to Cirque Musica vary according to seating. See for more details. The show will run April 26 – 27 at 8 p.m. and April 28 at 2 p.m.

– Larkin Schmiedl is a freelance journalist based in Kamloops, B.C. He hosts a weekly LGBTQ-issues radio show, Gaydio, and acts as LGBTI contributing editor with

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