Critical Mass Vancouver, July 2023

Milan Ilnyckyj at July 2023 Critical Mass in Vancouver, by @jordanvegbike

By happenstance or grace I ran into the best Vancouver Critical Mass in years when the library ushered me out at 6pm. It was my first bike ride in 11 years, and my first e-bike ride ever, on a rental e-bike available right beside the mustering area north of the old art gallery.

Critical Mass is one of the most brilliant forms of non-violent direct action ever devised. Today’s Vancouver ride showed me the city like I never saw it in 22 years growing up, and felt like the safest bike ride I ever took. Safe in the middle, I never worried about a single car. There were pairs of kids on the back of long e-bikes; dogs in carriers wearing goggles; several audio mixes from portable speakers in different parts of the mass; and a lot of good grace and patience — as well as a great deal of overt support — from pedestrians as well as drivers.


Tonight at the Glenn Gould studio, I was lucky to hear “Tangorium“: a “Tango fusion show for full Orchestra” with clarinet and accordion soloists Kornel Wolak and Michael Bridge.

The energetic, virtuosic, and intensely creative fusion pieces were an impressive demonstration of what some people accomplished during the pandemic, and the rapport on stage between the composers had a little of the mischief of Vaudeville or a buddy comedy. Attending felt like being present at one of the forefronts of world culture, though with the benefit of a medium and mood that was inviting and mood-lifting rather than alienating or cerebral.

There is immense cleverness and application in how Kornel, Bridge, and their conductor slash composer-arranger Charles Cozens have combined classical with tango and other musical styles, and the hosts’ facility with languages and foreign names is impressive. I don’t have the musical sophistication to say much about what they actually did, but I found it all to be a concert like no other and a compelling and gratifying thing to witness.

I am still new to orchestral appreciation, but I must also extend my appreciation to the Greater Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra, who gave power and substance to the written music and leading instruments and applied their talents skillfully to show how music from broadly separated traditions can speak in duet and with many voices at once.