L’Histoire du Toronto Summer Music

It was all there tonight, on the stage of Koerner Hall.

Sometimes concerts are microcosms that allow you to see and grasp everything in one lucid moment. It’s the second year of Jonathan Crow’s tenure as Artistic Director of the Toronto Summer Music Festival, and already I’m seeing some wonderful indications, portents of what’s in store.

The progam was yin and yang, really, two contrasting items. We began with a lovely bit of music that functioned like the straight man, contrasting to what was to follow. Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring was warm, alternatively playful and sentimental. I suppose at one time this score was a cool surface, but in context with what was to follow, this was the softer gentler part of the evening.  While the second half would involve staging, the first half was a concert of music only.

We were listening not just to Crow & colleagues from the Toronto Symphony Chamber Soloists –especially Miles Jaques clarinet & Kelly Zimba flute—but Summer Fellows from the Festival sharing the stage: Katya Poplyansky, Jennifer Murphy & Samuel Park, violins; Cassia Drake & Damon Taheri, violas; Francesca McNeeley & Rebecca Shasberger, cellos, and Ana Manastireanu, piano.

How many hats does Crow already have? He’s the TSO’s concertmaster, the artistic director of the TSM Festival, but tonight we watched him also mentoring a group of wonderful young players.

And after intermission, things went in a totally different direction, as Crow turned to his colleague Alaina Viau for a production of L’Histoire du Soldat by Igor Stravinsky. Viau works on the production side of the TSO when she’s not also creating works as artistic director of Loose Tea Music Theatre.


(l-r) Derek Boyes as the narrator, Suzanne Roberts Smith, the Soldier, and Jennifer Nichols, the Princess.

I don’t know whose idea it was to program these works, as part of a festival whose theme is “Reflections of Wartime”. The title of Stravinsky’s work links it to war, although there’s not much actual soldiering or war in the piece. But it’s exactly the centennial of the work from that amazing decade when Stravinsky burst upon the world stage particularly with the Ballets Russes & the ballets premiered with Diaghilev. L’Histoire contains lots of moments that almost echo passages you’ve heard in Le Sacre du Printemps. But this is a work whose edginess pushes wonderfully against the safer sounds we heard in the first half (which is why I suggested Copland played straight man to Stravinsky). And it’s a delightful work of theatre, possibly anticipating the kind of things you could see in a cabaret  in Germany years later.

And so, after the intermission we watched six players sharing the stage with Derek Boyes our devilish narrator, Suzanne Roberts Smith, as the actor portraying the Soldier, and Jennifer Nichols, who joined in partway through as dancer & choreographer, portraying the Princess. It’s a version of the Faust story, the hero mostly at the mercy of this devil, naïve & innocent & largely helpless, but heroic nonetheless. Smith filled the stage with her persona, especially eloquent near the end. The unexpected gender of soldier is a welcome choice from Viau, one that made the work feel very new to me. As for Nichols, I think it’s astonishing to watch this eclectic work, listening to narration as though in a storybook or melodrama, and suddenly watch the romantic dancing between Smith & Nichols. The fact that one is a beautiful & accomplished dancer, while the other is not? A very theatrical element, actually. Instead of watching virtuoso dance, we were watching an encounter between two people. Boyes, Smith & Nichols were ably supported by Crow –especially in his wonderful solos playing the violin on behalf of Smith—and the TSO Chamber Soloists: Jaques, Zimba, Gordon Wolfe trombone, Jeffrey Beecher bass, Andrew McCandless trumpet, Michael Sweeney bassoon, Charles Settle percussion.

Part of the magic is in the knowledge that each of these programs is a one-shot deal. No further performances, alas! But that does make the ones we see that much more special.

TSM Festival continues until August 4th .

Posted in Music and musicology, Opera, Theatre & musicals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unforced Tears of Exile

Toronto Summer Music Festival’s theme for 2018 is “Reflections of Wartime”, in the centennial of the last year of World War I.  Tonight was my first concert, a presentation titled “Tears of Exile”, a program by Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal (SMAM), led by their artistic director Andrew McAnerney. While SMAM sometimes perform with period instrument ensembles tonight’s works were all unaccompanied. We heard 12 singers easily fill the Walter Hall space.


SMAM Artistic Director Andrew McAnerney

Here’s the programme note that you might expect to explain the rationale for what we heard:

In the 7th century BC Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon, conquered Jerusalem. The destruction of the Temple of Solomon, the ruin of the Kingdom of Judah, and the captivity of the Jews in Babylon were described in the Lamentations of the prophet Jeremiah. The text, which considers this defeat to be a punishment from God, inspired several great composers of the Renaissance. This program features three magnificent and moving polyphonic Lamentations from the 16th century –by the Briton Thomas Tallis, Spaniard Cristóbal de Morales, and Flemish-German Roland de Lassus–, each adapting the magic of counterpoint in the spirit of his respective nation.

Okay, that’s a start, but doesn’t fully explain, particularly in context with the Festival’s theme. Perhaps the best idea would be to tell you what we actually heard in addition to those Renaissance works, a series of works that will be hard to surpass as Reflections of Wartime.

In the first half of the concert we heard Lamentations by Tallis, de Lassus and then a 20th century setting by Ralph Vaughan Wiliams  composed in the first decade after WW I even though employing the text in Latin. After intermission we heard the very same text as the Vaughan Williams but as though we were flashing back to the Renaissance for a setting by Lassus, followed by de Morales. And then we were treated to another 20th century setting: or at least I think it’s a setting. This last one by Rudolf Mauersberger, “Wie liegt die Stadt” was in German without a Biblical textual reference, yet was very much of a piece with the other texts, and sounded like it could be a lamentation from the Book of Jeremiah, if we ignore the missing letters from the Hebrew alphabet: a characteristic found in the Lamentations, and emulated by all the other composers, Vaughan Williams included.

That final work may have referenced Jerusalem –like all the others—but had additional resonance for the composer, who had seen the destruction of Dresden. So in other words for this concert it was as though we were standing outside time, looking at the exile of the Israelites, but with the benefit of those 20th century perspectives. All save the final German text closed with the line in Latin “Jerusalem convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum”, translated as “Jerusalem, turn back to the Lord your God.” Every one of the texts takes up that idea from Jeremiah, that God was punishing sinful humans, remembering, mourning, lamenting. With all the 20th century wartime images we’ve seen, bombs dropping, buildings shattered, one feels the ancient texts & scores with a great immediacy.

It was wonderful to be able to compare the different settings, to hear different approaches to text & to voice, sometimes contrapuntal in a smooth flowing texture, at other times voices emerging out of the background. And when we came to the German text its intelligibility is entirely different from the Latin ones, because the music isn’t a dense counterpoint but more direct statements, its events not something we read in the Bible but have seen in films & photographs.

SMAM have a wonderful versatility. When they’re singing the Renaissance texts you figure that early repertoire and a historically informed style is their strong-point. And then they start singing Vaughan Williams, making more sense of him than any of the local choirs I’ve heard recently, precisely because they are understated, with clear elegant phrasing. The Mauersberger too was excellently executed, the voices unforced and exactly as strong as they needed to be.

Toronto Summer Music Festival continues until August 4th.

Posted in Music and musicology, Reviews, Spirituality & Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Demoralization as a tactic

Don’t lose heart.

But do you ever wonder whether someone might be deliberately trying to wear you down, demoralize you, persuade you to give up?

I know that as a persistent CBC listener & CNN watcher, as a voracious consumer of news about political subjects, that sometimes I feel frustrated even angry. And after days and weeks of frustration, one becomes fatigued, worn down. The logical outcome of this might be to turn cynical or simply to become heart-broken by all the negativity.

Years ago I wrote about the phenomenon of the negative ad, in particular the attack ad.

To summarize what I said (which isn’t necessarily all that original), attack ads have at least two outcomes:
1. Most obviously they encourage us to dislike someone or something. For example when we see three people talking about Justin Trudeau, describing him as “not ready” concluding “nice hair though” we may succumb to the peer pressure, and conclude that Trudeau’s not a great choice for PM.

2. Less directly, they call an entire category into question. If you see too many ads insulting different brands of motorbike, you may decide to purchase a car instead. Ads attacking politicians? At a gut level you may decide all politicians are crooks or liars or worse. You stop trusting any politician, you stop listening, you will stop participating, and maybe even stop voting.

The ads attacking Trudeau likely backfired, as Trudeau’s competence became the issue in the election. And what do you know! when Trudeau held his own in the first debates suddenly the ad’s conclusion was called into question so that a voter might think hmm maybe saying he was “not ready” was inaccurate, setting up a whole series of questions about Harper (who in case you can’t recall, did not have such nice hair either).

I bring this up because it hit me like a bolt out of the blue, that we’re being bombarded by something similar in 2018.


Dan Rather, from his Facebook page

Dan Rather was the one who inspired me to see the connection. I say “don’t lose heart” because I think we’re being manipulated, encouraged to despair about the situation both in the USA & Canada.

HERE is what Dan Rather said that I saw quoted on Facebook today.

From the farce of yesterday’s hearing on Capitol Hill (“oversight” by mendacity) to the spectacle in Great Britain (a President’s destabilizing, unstable, and racist interview) to the trailing exhaust of American leadership left in Brussels (with a friend like the U.S. who needs… Russia?) to what awaits in Helsinki (a bromance with a wily KGB agent), what we are witnessing is far beyond the realm of this reporter to put into full context.

I doubt Dante could imagine the circles in which we find ourselves. P.T. Barnum couldn’t figure out a way to sell it. And Rod Serling would shake his head in disbelief. All metaphors are rendered largely impotent – be they circus, swamp, or dumpster fire – because they seem to understate the sheer dangerous absurdity of it all. There can be no individual accounting of all damage.

I surmise this is what in some ways passes for the strategy of the President and his accomplices. See how many reactionary judges they can install, how many loopholes for the rich and connected they can construct, how many protections to health, water and air they can shred before the inevitable backlash.

I list all of this not to sow the seeds of hopelessness. Quite the contrary. That is what the forces of authoritarianism wish – that they can launch a reclamation of the Gilded Age on the backs of a demoralized majority. But I have seen these types of actors before. I have seen these odds. They cannot understand that the forces of goodness can channel a fury of righteousness and action. The time for slumber is over. No one can ever argue that elections do not have consequences. Even with the hurdles they are erecting to democracy no President and no political party, no matter how cynical they may be, is bigger than the country at large.

Excuse me but let’s take his words literally for a moment, as we zero in on one key sentence.

That is what the forces of authoritarianism wish – that they can launch a reclamation of the Gilded Age on the backs of a demoralized majority.

How might we be demoralized? Let me count the ways.

1-The references to fake news, but also the use of FOX as a kind of propaganda machine. The discourse is twisted as a result, unless of course you’re an ardent supporter.

2-The references to The Law, and the ongoing critique of the FBI and Mueller as “a witch hunt” all lead to a debasement of the law and due process.

3-I won’t speak much about what’s happening at the southern border, only to say that this likely was meant to dishearten liberals, but has –like the “nice hair” ad—blown up in the GOP’s face. The amount of outrage is so enormous that I’m thinking that November will see a reversal of the two parties’ fortunes, notwithstanding the efforts to steal elections that we’re already seen.

4- oh yeah, and then there’s that business of stealing elections. The Democrats refusal to fight in 2000 was profoundly upsetting. If there is no due process, if the elections are rigged? Democracy itself is a farce.

So as Dan Rather said, look at these not as sad or depressing events, but as deliberate attempts to break your heart, to persuade you that Horatio Alger was wrong (to cite one American myth). Alger told Americans that anyone can succeed if they work hard. But not if the game is rigged, and the rich get to keep their spoils behind a wall while everyone else toils and struggles without ever making any progress.

Collegiality—whether it’s in the Senate or during debates or just when you chat while buying your coffee—is an expression of faith, a trust in the people around us: of all races & faiths. If you can open your heart and trust that the truth shall set you free and will prevail? You have something very powerful.

And if they take that away from you, it doesn’t matter how much money or property you have. It’s a kind of faith not unlike religion, because it’s not a matter of what you see. It’s about what you feel.

Don’t lose heart.

Posted in Personal ruminations, Politics, Popular music & culture | Tagged | 1 Comment

Parsifal Bayerische Staatsoper 2018

As a Canadian I regularly see pleasant but undistinguished productions that are enjoyable for some aspects, while leaving me unsatisfied overall. The performance of Parsifal that I watched tonight live-streamed from the Bavarian State Opera, sung and played with such brilliance, at times left me puzzled, but waiting for the scenes that always move me. Maybe I expected too much, especially with an opera that is among my favourites, and usually an event. While I may want a religious experience, I suppose I should learn to be content with something that is merely good in places, while letting down in others. Of course I invested the hours in watching and listening, and indeed was moved to tears in places.  I’d be hard-pressed to describe the interpretation of the opera, the objectives of the production beyond a bare description.  Even so it’s an opera that never leaves me cold especially when we get to the last act.

The production employs visual art as a kind of subtext, not unlike what we’ve seen in co-productions at the Met and ENO using the direction of Phelim McDermott and the art of Julian Crouch. This time it’s director Pierre Audi and designer Georg Baselitz. The best scenes were the ones where –after much visual sturm und drang in the first two acts—we were permitted to encounter the main trio of actors in the last act, without all the artifice, indeed without much art. This might have been the most beautiful Good Friday Scene I ever saw & heard: because it was unadorned, just the music and the performers on a mostly bare stage. So I suppose it’s meaningful when we finally get to see the characters without all the extra layers. Those layers helped set up this beautiful scene.

The overlay works best in Act II, a Brechtian game we play, where the women are wearing some sort of bodysuit resembling a naked body, with a looser outfit over that. And so we get glimpses of fake boobs and ass, that really enhances the scene when the young Parsifal encounters a stage full of half-naked flower maidens, all trying to seduce him with their bodies and mouth and cute singing. If they had actually been naked I doubt it could have worked nearly so well. But because it was in this funny alienated discursive space as Berthold Brecht sought, where we are thinking and feeling but not fully swallowed up in the illusion, we are as a result laughing at Parsifal’s bemusement even as we see that the boobs are all fake, and often saggy and silly looking.

resized 86362-parisfal-j--kaufmann-blumenmaedchen-c--r--walz

Parsifal (Jonas Kaufmann) among the Blumenmaedchen (photo: Ruth Walz)

The real star for me was Music director Kirill Petrenko, leading a very tender & sensitive reading. The video director regularly brought us back to the pit to watch Petrenko & the Bayerisches Staatsorchester at work. I was struck by how wonderful the production values were, the excellent sound & intimate camera work. Petrenko’s reading was a wonderful mix, at times majestic and respectful, as at the opening of the First or Third Acts, at times quick and light of foot, as in the Good Friday music.

The singing was as good as any you could find in the world today. Jonas Kaufmann sings but also acts a Parsifal who is youthful for the first 2 acts, and seems quite old to begin the last act: but inspired for the last scene. René Pape offers a different Gurnemanz than the one we see on the Met Opera video of the Girard production, much more outgoing and direct in his displays of emotion; where the Girard production calls for a more reticent display, in this one Audi gets Pape to respond, to smile, to rage, to cry, in other words to react to the drama and lead us in his displays of emotion. It’s an old trick –watching someone onstage thrilled or upset, showing us how to feel—and you bet I fell for it every time.

Kundry is sung by the variable Nina Stemme, perhaps the single most visually flamboyant element of a production that is predominantly black & white plus splashes of blood. Stemme looks different in each scene, and gives us a performance to match. She is perhaps most exciting in the last act when –as you may recall—she only has one line: but is otherwise fabulous to watch. Several times her reactions totally set me off. Her singing is of the powerful type, rather than subtle. I suppose Pape & Kaufmann are subtle in comparison

And then there’s the Amfortas of Christian Gerhaher whose acting sometimes is blatant to the point of caricature, limping & mugging yet singing with a broad range of sounds. Sometimes he’s as sweet as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, at other times crooning or moaning or growling. But the characterization hangs together, impossible to take your eyes off him, stumbling around with a blood belly.  And in his brief appearance as Klingsor, Wolfgang Koch is magnificent, with a sound reminiscent of Gustav Neidlinger, a remarkably sympathetic portrayal of a role often turned into a monster or a travesty.

Someday there may be a DVD available of this performance. I’ll get it if I can.

Posted in Art, Architecture & Design, Opera, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

1960 Les Troyens

It’s a testament to what might have been, this CD I’m reviewing, a relic to be sure.  In 1960 the stars didn’t quite align, wouldn’t permit the recording that was intended, Sir Thomas Beecham engaged to conduct Hector Berlioz’s mammoth Les Troyens in New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC: but it was not meant to be.

The complete Les Troyens wasn’t heard in the composer’s lifetime, a larger than life work I’d dearly love to see undertaken here in Toronto by the Canadian Opera Company. It might be ideal for the COC, with lots of big moments from the orchestra & chorus, although one does have to recruit at least one spectacular tenor soloist for the role of Aenée, and such a long work would be expensive to prepare.  That won’t stop me from dreaming of Berlioz’s orchestral colours.

The CD is conducted by Robert Lawrence, a noted Berlioz champion & scholar: or so say the liner notes.  He’s not the reason I obtained it, as the soloists on the cover were the reason I was attracted, after seeing the recording mentioned by a friend on social media.  But reading the liner notes I realize what might have been, that didn’t quite come to fruition.

The recording is actually from two different days, as Beecham’s plan was to honour Berlioz’s original division of the work into two different works, namely La prise de Troie and Les Troyens à Carthage.  The recording captures two concerts roughly two weeks apart.

Oh well, no Beecham.   But I bought it for three key parts:

  • Aenée, sung by tenor Richard Cassilly
  • Didon, sung by mezzo-soprano Regina Resnik
  • Cassandre, sung by Eleanor Steber

The detailed account in the liner notes of the event in New York at the end of 1959 and to begin 1960 makes for a tale as epic as the one in the storyline.  Can the notes be believed? While it says the work was to be presented with few cuts, in fact there’s a lot missing from the 3 CD set. Three CDs?  Yes, the ballet has mostly been cut.  The Dutoit –OSM recording for example is more than three quarters of an hour longer, on 4 CDs not 3.  I am having a great time listening to the wonderful singing on this new recording: but the opera has been distorted.  If for example we’re missing the celebratory ballet in the First Act –after the dark procession, to open the 2nd scene and just before the overwhelming sadness in the pantomime of Hector’s son & widow: it’s continuously dark for most of the act as we’re then on to Cassandre’s desperate ranting just before the horse is brought into the city.   Here’s an example of what we’re missing (from another recording), one of those cheerful Berlioz divertissements.

No question, ballet sequences like this one make the opera longer: but they’re an essential part of the whole.

But I bought the CD hoping for great singing.  I heard Richard Cassilly sing a powerful Siegmund in the Canadian Opera Company’s Die Walküre in 1976, a singer who was a regular with the COC in the decade before.  I remembered the timbre of his voice very clearly, and eagerly wondered: what could he sound like in his youth?  Surely even better. This CD answers the question. The edge and ring are remarkable. He mostly sings on pitch, in one of the most difficult roles.  The live performance does undermine a few moments, as for example in Cassilly’s entrance for “inutile regrets”, when his first word is almost inaudible, possibly because he is entering. Or maybe the engineer simply messed up and had the microphone level too low? But live means dramatic, and I wouldn’t trade that for studio perfection.  His voice rings wonderfully even though he can’t reach the C in that final big aria.

The two female leads are also interesting to hear.  Steber’s Cassandre suffers from a grasp of the language that is mediocre.  Even so her vocalism is passionate, at times so dark as to sound almost painful in its intensity.

Resnik’s Didon is the most successful characterization on the recording, precisely sung and in tune.  Her final half-hour is devastatingly powerful, her heart-break showing more genuine anger than any Didon I’ve heard.  Once Aenée has gone –at her insistence—she shows another side, a sadder tone and a nostalgic love that must lead her to take her own life.  The characterization hangs together wonderfully well.  And I keep listening to her duet with Cassilly to close the fourth act, a wonderfully musical reading.

While Beecham didn’t participate his hand is still evident on the tiller.  The sound of this orchestra is deliciously full, the brass totally in your face.  Speaking of orchestras, it’s very vague on the notes as to what orchestra we’re hearing. There’s no orchestra mentioned in any of the usual places, although when you pore through the booklet you see one indirect mention of them, as it says “Robert Lawrence, critic, author, musicologist, and associate conductor of the American Opera Society, would step in.” Earlier we see that these concerts are being presented by the American Opera Society.  Can one conclude that this is their orchestra? Perhaps: but it’s totally undignified considering they the biggest contributors to this massive piece are never actually named, never credited; and ditto for the chorus.  Presumably they too are from the American Opera Society.  Too bad they’re not mentioned by name.

The bits of Beecham I’ve heard on youtube suggest that the substitution weakens the performance. Lawrence is a bit too respectful, at times dragging the piece and much slower than what I hear from Beecham’s 1947 recording.  In the big procession of the horse to conclude Act I –one of my favourite moments—Lawrence commits an unpardonable sin, mistaking this music for something symphonic rather than diegetic.  When a huge procession marches and comes to a big climax, to broaden the tempo and slow down for a musical effect makes it clear: you’re in a concert and not in a real procession. You wouldn’t do this in a real march.  But the orchestral sound is remarkable, big and powerful even if it’s mono.  For the key vocal ensembles, Lawrence and the orchestra sound just fine, Berlioz being well served.

So let me be clear.  Les Troyens is one of my favourite operas. As I’m eternally hungry to hear different interpretations of this music, I found it fascinating.  But unless you’re a rabid Berlioz fan like me, or perhaps a fervent admirer of Resnik, I can’t in good conscience recommend this recording, not when there are other versions available that give a better account of the score, and with better sound.

Posted in Music and musicology, Opera | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A conversation with psychic Anastasia (Stacey) Agouros

I begin a bit differently on this occasion. I will speak about metaphysics & my beliefs.
While I grew up infatuated with science, Hamlet put it nicely when he said

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

I believe in God, in life after death. What is the Bible? A series of inspired books, written by people who heard messages from beyond. I believe some parts more than others, although I’ve read it all. While science seems to have all the answers, and has shifted the balance in our societies, away from holy men & religion to secular forms of power, that doesn’t mean that the voices from beyond have stopped speaking.

And as always there are people who listen to the messages from other realms. For example Anastasia Agouros, who I know simply as “Stacey”.

Her business card says “Motivational Counselor, Clairvoyant Psychic Reader, Intuitive Life Coach”.

I have been to other psychics before and this isn’t my first session with Stacey. Today is different because after we have our session, I will also interview her. I have questions about what she does and hope this could be a fascinating interview.

I hope you’ll agree.

Barczablog: How does it work? Do you hear voices or feel something when you answer a question?

Stacey: Good question. So it’s all of that. I feel things very strongly. I hear them. I get messages. And I actually get images as well, while I’m talking to you (let’s use you, as an example of course).


Stacey Agouros

What I do is, I prepare about a half an hour prior to you coming. So I get a sense, not only because I know you and I have a visual on you, I also try to get a sense of what I’m feeling around you and what I’m also seeing, what I would consider an “energy DNA level”. So are there things effecting you on a cellular level?

Barczablog: So you can feel how alive I am or how dead I am right now. Physical health & psychic health..?

Stacey: And their emotional health. Whether they feel like their head is in a spin or their emotions are in a spin or compartmentalize from emotions, to the physical to the spiritual.

Barczablog Do you think you can read them when they don’t know themselves?

Stacey: Yes

Barczablog because you’re seeing through us in some ways.

Stacey: Right.…so a really good example. Someone who comes in and believes that they are a certain type of person. Do I have the ability to see through that person? Yes, but: I also have a sense of whether they can deal with that reality.

Barczablog But you can only work with what they tell you.

Stacey: Right. But I have had the sense where people aren’t being truthful not only in what they say but also energetics. The thing is, my job is not to push past that boundary. To say a few things, thank goodness I’ve been doing this long enough that I know how to articulate things that I can bring out in gentle ways, to know what they’re capable of managing. So I will find ways to tell a person in ways that they can understand.

Barczablog: So a person is presenting themselves one way, and you feel the other side as well. So when they present themselves one way but you experience the whole of it? That must be stressful, like cognitive dissonance, a kind of psychic dissonance..?

Stacey: Yeah it’s a terrible thing to say, but there have been clients that I didn’t want to meet again.

I’m going to share a story. There was a woman who came to me many years ago. She’s the only one who ever told me: “I know you don’t like me as a person”. That’s exactly what she said to me.

(she continued) “But your job is not to decide whether you like me or not, but to be objective enough to read me.”

Barczablog: Were you able to do it?

Stacey: I was. She said to me “you gotta learn how to detach”. This was more at the beginning of my career. And she was absolutely right. I learned how to disconnect so that I can be objective, to say what needs to be said.

Barczablog save your emotions for later..?

Stacey: But to be able to distinguish: this is what she can handle. This is how I’m going to say it. And what my personal opinion is? She taught me to not judge.

Barczablog: But do you ever get into confrontations with someone where they may not want to hear what you’re saying. You may not see that coming.

Stacey: Yes there have been some times when I’ve gotten angry and I’ve said things to people, saying I’m not trying to be mean and disrespectful, I’m not going to change my mind about this being my view. So people will come to me and say ‘Stacey this is how it is’ and I’ll say yes this is how it is, but this is not how it needs to be. You have a conscious ability to choose between what it is you want and what is real.

Barczablog: Aha you’re suggesting a very important question to me. Talk for a minute about free will. You read this and are you making predictions that can’t change, or does it depend on what people do?

Stacey: very interesting. There is such a thing as free will. Every step we make, there are 15 different door-ways to every decision.

Barczablog: is that a metaphor? Or literally true

Stacey: it’s literally true

Barczablog 15?

Stacey: at least..! so what it comes down to is free will. And as a reader what I choose is the most probable outcome. The energy they’re working at the moment you’re reading them? That’s the most probable outcome that you’re leading them towards. So you have the option of what’s possible, but this is what path I see you taking.

Barczablog but you’re not talking about the distant future, like 40 years in the future.

Stacey: That’s a good question. I don’t see 40 years down the road. Hmmm, [reconsidering] That’s not a true statement. I have read people this is how I see you passing and this is your thought process when I see you pass. It’s come to fruition. A couple of clients said “Stacey when you said this to my mother, I heard her recording, and that’s exactly how it went. It was exactly what she said. And you (meaning Stacey) were one of the last people she thought of. Because she remembers recalling your session.” And to me wow that’s phenomenal.

Barczablog that must be an amazing thought, that as they leave this incarnation (life), they’re actually conscious of the process, and you helped them.

Stacey: Yeah it’s amazing. There was a time I had a client, who had a son, who was hit by a vehicle at 95 miles an hour. She called me from the hospital. They’re saying he’s not going to make it. There’s a lot of fluid on the brain. I said to her “you are going to call me every day, and every day I will give you a report on how he is progressing”.

So of course she would go back to the doctors. He was at Sunnybrook, and then they transferred him to Sick Kids. They didn’t want to listen. Every day she went in and said “this is what my reader said. This is what’s going to happen”. And what they started to notice is that the things I was saying would happen, started happening to him: to the point where the doctors & the nurses were saying “have you talked to Stacey today”?

Barczablog (loud guffaw)

Stacey: So that for me was really triumphant. The only one thing I find really remarkable, is that there was a time when I said to my client “be prepared, your son is going to go into a temporary coma, and when he does he’s going to see his grandfather who has passed away. And he’s going to see another man who he’s going to perceive as God. And “God” is going to ask him if he wants to stay. And his exact words will be ‘no way Jose. I’m going back’. So this child did survive.

He’s 29 years old now. And when he was 18 he and his mom were sitting at a table, talking about his recovery. So he’s cognisant: but it just takes him a little while to get his thoughts together: because of the damage to his brain. And he says (I don’t know how they got on the topic of spirituality) “I saw papa, and there was this man that looked like God. I think he was God.” So his mom said “so describe him to me”. And he said “you know he asked me. He asked me point blank: ‘do you want to stay’”: and my exact words to him were ‘no way Jose’.”

So I predicted this 10 years prior to this experience. And when she heard this she messaged me right away, “you’re not gonna believe this. Ten years ago you said I would have a conversation with him where he would tell me what he said to this universal being: and in fact it did happen”.

Barczablog: aha, so you may not have been seeing something ten years in the future. You may have seen it close to the time it was happening, and the report was much later.


Stacey: it’s hard to understand how miraculous the world really is and yet it’s things like that, that give you proof that there’s something beyond our existence. And so free will has everything to do with that. We can choose something and then all of a sudden decide not to do that because of fear or what people will think or our own fears, and so we change our path. I think it’s like a fork in the road, so that our guardian angels will take us back to the path, to what it is they want us to be able to do.

Barczablog: I don’t think it’s all written in a book, meant to be, but there are certain things, we’re pushed in particular directions.

Stacey: I believe that when we’re on the other side, or heaven, imagine yourself on a beach. My concept is, it’s like we’re on a beach, taking a time out, and relaxing, taking a time out after your previous life, and we may come across a story or novel. And you’re like ‘oh my gosh I want to live this reality I want to know what it for this person to experience this.’ And they sit with the group or council, and they say “I really want to live this lifetime, I know this can serve my soul, it can give me peace, it can give me opportunity”.

Barczablog: To learn something?

Stacey: Yes that’s right. And so we put the right people in place. Sometimes those guardian angels or archangels or council may tweak a couple of those things.

Barczablog Edgar Cayce said something similar, speaking of our interlife time, when we choose.

Stacey: Right

Barczablog That works for me.

Stacey: What we do is create our experiences. No one is better or worse. It’s what we believe. So why is it that we have some people in the world who are extremely confident, multi-billionaires? Because it’s based on how emotionally they feel. If we could attract what we need through thought, we’d all work two days a week not five, it would be summertime all the time. There would be no war or any corruption or anything displaced. And we would live this miraculous world. And it is a miraculous world. It’s what we attract that shapes us. We attract by emotions not by thought process.

Barczablog: do you see war in the future?

Stacey: I do.

Barczablog it’s scary shit.

Stacey: it’s scary shit. I don’t believe it’s a nuclear war of any kind. I do believe there will be atrocities: as there always are.

Barczablog …but I’m more interested in talking about you and learning about what you do.

What is a guide? Are we talking about angels? Are they the same creatures, as might turn up in Biblical stories in olden times?

Stacey: some people perceive it as that. Guardian angels are mentors. They’re teachers. They’re the ones who are going to help us go through the good bad and the ugly, to ultimately serve our souls, and our lessons that we come into this lifetime to experience. See, Heaven is a place of solace, a place of rest, of beauty, a place of joy. We have beautiful buildings that have a hall of records, that have a hall of history, a hall of religions.

Barczablog That’s counter-intuitive. A hall of religion?

Stacey: a hall of different religions.

Barczablog. Ah! that’s cool. So is it in the sense that a museum will have a hall of different technologies?

Stacey: Absolutely. Imagine the oldest library, that has books and book and books of different histories of every lifetime.

Barczablog So I’m wondering about your own theology, your beliefs. I don’t see organized religion in there. Do you believe in God?

Stacey: I do. I believe in a higher power. I believe there is more to life than what we can tangibly see and taste.

Barczablog And any attempt to put that into a book, however inspired, is going to reduce that multiplicity, infinity…

Stacey: And there’s a hall of music.

Barczablog And a hall of football (kidding)… because I’ve been talking on social media about how, while some people play by the rules, and others take dives and fake injuries, there are those who prosper from cheating… I suppose it’s a lesson, like art. You learn from it.

Stacey: A hall of all records exists up above. Imagine something like the University of Toronto, with the beautiful old buildings, multiplied by a billion.

Barczablog So who cuts the grass?

Stacey: ha that’s a good question! Oh my goodness that would be a big task.

Barczablog speaking as a guy who works in Facilities. But maybe the grass never grows.

Stacey: funny you would say that. But when I meditate, I sometimes go to a place like heaven. And the temperature is always a steady temperature. Now someone who was a snow-bunny, who loved having some cold in their life: they would imagine a place that includes some colder weather.

Barczablog So if you were Inuit, and had lived your whole life in a place of cold, what would your heaven be? If you had never seen a lion or a pyramid, do you discover things in your heaven, or is it limited by what you’ve seen in your subjectivity?

Stacey: Good question.

Barczablog I guess you work with what you’ve seen

Stacey: I’ll tell you what I find fascinating. The knowledge I’ve gained about what we would consider heaven to be, has been confirmed by other world renowned readers, which to me is so fascinating.

Barczablog So there’s a community of…

Stacey: a community seeing heaven a certain way.

Barczablog So do you spend much time talking to your colleagues? Go to conferences and talk about the afterlife?

Stacey: I don’t have a big community of other readers that I connect with. And yet when I do, I like to find out what their perspectives are and what it is that they see.

When I started this gift one of the very first thoughts was “I feel I need to take this out into the world’. And then my second thought was ‘well we’re a dime a dozen’.

Barczablog: (loud belly laugh) really?

Stacey: swear to God.

Barczablog do you beat yourself up sometimes?

Stacey: oh yes absolutely.

Barczablog: Did your parents insist that you needed a degree, or want you to work in a restaurant (LOL) …thinking of My Big fat Greek wedding?

Stacey: Thank God no. My mom was always my main parent and she always encouraged me to do what I loved.

Barczablog were they okay with the fact that this isn’t exactly Greek orthodox church stuff…(?) Did that bother them?

Stacey: Ah my family was outraged. My extended family was outraged.

Barczablog So were you excommunicated?

Stacey: I was

Barczablog Wow you were??!!

Stacey: Yes. And yet my mother always stood by me.

Barczablog you’re in a good place with your mom, right?

Stacey: Yes

Barczablog was it a long struggle?

Stacey: I was very disappointed. I was very young at the time.

Barczablog:  so you must have been having images etc before you know what you really were.

Stacey: Pretty much

Barczablog So did you have, like, dreams when you were a little girl?

Stacey: No. Actually the very first memory I have of being intuitive, yeah I didn’t know it at the time. I was living in British Columbia in a very small town up north. And we lived in a really really old building. When I’d go to bed every night I would hear people walking in the hallways. And a couple of times I asked my mom.

Barczablog (laughing)

Stacey: because I remember knowing that they were in bed.

Barczablog That’s just like Samuel! In the Bible? He thinks someone is calling him. They think “no”… finally they realize God is talking to him.

This is the passage from I Samuel 3

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” ]

Barczablog… it’s the same thing. A child doesn’t know what it is they’re hearing.

Stacey: Yes. I didn’t know who it was. I would ask my mom and she would say “honey it’s nobody. Your dad and I are in bed”. The lights were off.

Barczablog: It didn’t scare you did it?

Stacey: no. It kind of creeped me out, as a little kid. I was 8 or 9, and I didn’t know who it was. But at the same time it didn’t scare me either.

And the next set of memories was maybe at the age of 15, and feeling in my bedroom that there were all these people in my bedroom. That the room was filled.

Barczablog:  Were you awake?

Stacey: while I was awake, during the day. So I’ll give you an example. So especially being 14 or 15, being young and impressionable, I didn’t want to change. I didn’t feel comfortable changing in my own room.

Barczablog: taking your clothes off in front of all these people.

Stacey: Yeah! I felt that there were all these people in my room.

Barczablog:  Scary!

Stacey: but I wasn’t scared at all. I just said “whoever you are, could you please leave my room”.

Barczablog (giggles)

Stacey: “…let me change, and then come back.” And I swear to you, if you had been a bug on the wall, you would have seen, a bunch of people coming back.

[I wonder as I type this up afterwards…. Would the bug on the wall have seen this? Can a bug see guides or angels?]

Stacey: And at the time I didn’t realize it was guardian angels.

Barczablog: So that suggests that whole other line of questioning for me. You felt safe. But there is that whole tradition of scary demons & ghosts. Schubert’s “Erlkönig”. (I sing the famous tune)

Is that bullshit?

Stacey: Unfortunately it isn’t.

Barczablog: so there are scary ghosts? What is it? the spirit of someone who had a difficult life?

Stacey: Yes. It’s very rare to encounter true demonic energy.

Barczablog So you have stories like the Flying Dutchman, who is cursed because he made an ill-advised vow (“I’m going to make it around Cape Horn or I’ll be damned”) and failed. He’s punished for eternity.

But I wouldn’t think God works that way.

Stacey: No.

Barczablog So why on earth would someone –a spirit—stick around?

Stacey: Believe it or not Leslie, it comes down to trauma. Okay? That’s what it comes back to.

Barczablog so if someone was in a plane-crash, their soul might stick around?

Stacey: because they’re stuck. Because they’re afraid.

Barczablog Because they don’t even know what’s happening.

Stacey: right… especially if it’s very quick. Again, it’s not that there aren’t demonic presences out there. They’re just more rare. Usually if someone encounters a ghost, which I have several times on many different occasions, it’s because they’re trapped, they’re stuck.

Barczablog Do you help them? Help them finish their business?

Stacey: Yes.

Barczablog So you’re like a therapist.

Stacey: yes I used to do it before I had my daughter.

And let’s go back to this. At the end of the day my grandma was extremely religious, and raised me to be quite religious. So I got quite confused at 14- 16 year old stage. Is this real? Is this demonic? Is this bad? How am I coping with this stuff. Why me? Because I felt initially that I was cursed, having this gift. And I felt this tug of war between what I learned religiously and what is okay; what makes sense and what I was feeling. I know the first time I read a couple of people I was like

‘I know I don’t know these people regardless of what they believe, and I know what I have given them is not bad. So how can that be a bad thing?’

I was very confused between what religion taught me and what I was experiencing. I was told by family members “this is the devil’s work” or ”you’re dabbling in things that are bigger than you, stop what you are doing”.

Barczablog “You don’t understand what you’re doing”… Did they give you that?

Stacey: Absolutely.
I talked to my mom about it.
And she said “does this feel like something good for you”?
“Yeah” I said.
“do you see the impacts you’re making and are they positive”?
“Yes” I said
“How are people responding to you?” she asked
“With love”.
Then she said “so you need to continue this”.

Barczablog: that was wonderful….So she over-rode any flak you got from anywhere else.

Stacey: and I think she thought it was a bit of a phase, I gotta be honest.

For me I was so fascinated by this, it felt more real than what I was taught about religion.

At the time, there was somebody in my life who told me about a New Age bookstore in downtown Toronto on Yorkville, called The Omega Centre. It was the largest spiritual bookstore. And she told me “go check this out”. So I did. I think I spent about five hours there.

And so the things I learned about esteem, and that there’s something bigger than us, and more to life than what we can physically tangibly see: that was so real for me. And so for me at 19 that’s when things started to bloom. I wanted to understand this more. I wanted to have more of an idea of what’s really going on here.

I believe in the equality of everything, so I believe in Eastern Medicine and I believe in Western Medicine.

Barczablog: So you’re not saying one is right and one is wrong

Stacey: no I’m not saying that at all

Barczablog: Like you were talking to me about acupuncture (a suggestion for my arthritis, in a session we had). You always try to frame things in the most positive terms no matter how troubling they might be.

Stacey: yes. My job I feel is to uplift & encourage. Not to discourage.

Barczablog The word “judge”. Do you ever use it? Okay you’re aware of judgment as a human activity, but I never hear you do it.

Stacey: never. It’s not my place.

Barczablog you’re more of a mirror. Showing us not just the face but the spiritual essence, to reflect back who we are.

Stacey: right, because that’s the most important part.

Barczablog because we can’t see that part….and you can.

Stacey: right

Barczablog…. (loud… being a bit ironic) So what do you see right now? Just you and me? Or seventeen dudes hanging out? (laughter) or the couple who hang out with me who came to the wilds of Oshawa [NB our conversation was at Stacey’s home in Oshawa].
And would it matter if I got in a car or in a plane: my guides travel with me?

Stacey: Absolutely. They never leave you ever, no matter where you go, whether you’re consciously aware of them or not.

Barczablog Do you think Neil Armstrong’s guides went with him to the moon?

Stacey: I do actually. As crazy as that sounds.

Barczablog: not at all.

Stacey: We are never ever alone.

Barczablog but when you’re changing (laughing) you might like that!

Stacey: never ever alone. It doesn’t mean we don’t feel alone.

Barczablog we feel alone because we forget.

Stacey: The more emotional we are, the more distraught we are, the more trauma we experience, the less we feel supported. And a lot of times it can be an illusion, a perception.

Barczablog the illusion that we’re alone?

Stacey: that’s right

Barczablog the illusion that nobody understands us?

Stacey: And some of us have the ability to reach out. Others don’t feel the ability to reach out.

Barczablog Would you say you’re an extrovert?

Stacey: yes

Barczablog Aha. You seem to communicate this stuff really well.
So let me ask you. Do you think that when we’re children, we all have these experiences? But when we hear those steps upstairs (like what you heard), some of us are afraid and say “leave me alone”, and the guides clam up, because we silence them?

Stacey: (looking dubious)

Barczablog Or we’re so scared maybe we cease to trust them?

Stacey: I think that’s better.

Barczablog Because you seemed to trust them. What’s that about? That’s so interesting.

Stacey: you know Leslie I don’t know if I can explain it to you.

Barczablog Don’t you think we all have these experiences as children?

Stacey: 100 percent. And some of us are more attuned. I mean there’s a lot of children that I’ve heard. There was a time I was working with psychic kids and I really enjoyed it, where they’ll go to parents and say “I had this experience”. Now depending on that parent’s belief system it might be like they’d say “Nah honey it was nothing”. Or “you made it up in your head”. Where in my case, well, when I was a little girl my mom did it too.

Barczablog:  I think there’s a possibility to prove some of this in a clinical setting. Just as in the First World War there were what they call “natural experiments” (horrible incidents where a phenomenon like getting shot could create the framework for an experiment eg allowing to test what happens if your left & right hemispheres aren’t connected, due to a stray bullet), similarly I saw something like this. I’m talking about Alzheimers, where I’ve heard of this sort of thing. When you have dementia, your defenses go down.

Stacey: Yes it’s a loss of inhibition. We grow up with conditioning, and rules. We’re not supposed to do this, not supposed to do that. So when children have that sense of innocence they’re not afraid of those things.

So I’ll give you an example. My little one, she’s three and a half. And she was saying to her dad “oh Uncle Scott doesn’t like mommy”. And so my ex-husband messages me and says “who’s Uncle Scott?” And I have no idea. As a woman who’s intuitive, it raises the flag: that she’s being exposed to a soul, who is talking to her, and maybe feels threatened by me.

Barczablog : so this would be a guide connected to him?

Stacey: not a guide but an actual ghost, connected to his home. So I asked him to look at his closing paper. We both just moved out here. And if there’s any previous owners on the house who had the name Scott. I said that because she doesn’t do that here, so what has she been exposed to?

One, very logically and practically it could be a dream. But when children dream because they’re so innocent they usually forget. It’s not common that a child would be consistent with certain things and certain words & certain experiences unless they actually experienced it.

Barczablog by the way are you okay with me mentioning this in the interview?

Stacey: Absolutely. So he never got back to me because he’s very logical and practical and that’s okay. But I would be very curious to know if there was somebody in his home who…

Barczablog If he discovered it, that might freak him out a little, too.

Stacey: maybe

Barczablog especially with a partner if there were issues of fidelity ..? that might freak him out too.

Stacey: with my female friends over the years, with their boyfriends,, there has been lot of animosity over the years as they got to know me because they feel threatened by me. My response is, let them feel threatened. What are they doing that’s unethical, that they are afraid for me to know..?

Because I don’t judge.

Barczablog but maybe when they’re checking you out, that they think you’re assessing them.

Stacey: absolutely

Barczablog: I mean you have ethics. Like a psychotherapist or a doctor. You’re confidential. But that’s important. People need to understand that the same ethics that constrain a doctor or psychiatrist, applies to you. And you’re doubly constrained because you actually feel this. You’re not doing this (the discretion) merely from a professional prohibition. You feel the actual karma of hurting someone.


Stacey Agouros

Stacey: Absolutely. The only thing I will do, is, if in fact if an individual is suicidal, then I will tell them before they continue with me, that if they don’t have the help, I can help them get the resources: but if I feel they are a threat to their lives, I will have to let someone know. I think it’s my moral duty.

And I network with a lot of really good groups. I have a lot of really good therapists who are clients, that are fascinated by this work. There are all these resources that I can lead someone to, if they need those resources. I’m constantly networking.

Barczablog would you say that the people who come are only believers in metaphysics, not people who are more scientifically oriented?

Stacey: I’ve had people come see me who say to me after the session “it’s wonderful, I never believed in this before I came to see you, there are things that there’s no way you could have known: but what’s the science behind this?”

Barczablog Maybe we just haven’t figured it out yet! When you look at a TV or a phone, you can use the device without knowing how it works. I just push a button. I think it was Isaac Asimov [when I double-checked it was Arthur C Clarke] who said ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’.

And there’s a ton of faith behind a lot of science. I have an old school-chum who is an adamant denier of anthropogenic climate change. He’s a geologist, and thinks our data is too flimsy to be able to support such claims. But his belief or disbelief is again: an acceptance of a body of thought, not unlike what happens when you accept a religion.

Stacey: Me personally, I believe anything is possible. When someone comes to me and says ‘Stacey you’re not going to believe me’ I’m like “oh try me, I probably will..!”

[big laughs on both sides]

Barczablog: speaking of climate science: how bad is it?

Stacey: I think we’re in trouble. We’re in some serious trouble. I think human nature is that, until something is in our face, we’re not going to deal with it. Until something actually happens they don’t believe it will take place. Does a city have to be underwater before people take heed and decide “we have to change”?

To some degree the damage will have been done, but the rest of the world can be saved.

Barczablog: Everyone is a critic, and not usually gentle.

Stacey: You need to listen to what’s inside you. If I had listened to even one person when I was young, I’d be doing a 9-5 job, miserable as hell. And always wondering if I could have-should-have-would have done it. And in the end by doing that sometimes there is even financial success. Maybe not to the degree of billions but success. Thank God for me I’ve been blessed enough since the age of 23 I quit my fulltime job. And I’ve been fulfilling this dream ever since. And it has supported me with a home & a car. And all these beautiful things. Because I have chosen to believe that this is where my passions are and this is helping. So when your passion becomes greater than what somebody else’s perception is of you, that’s where you become victorious. Success doesn’t have to be in someone else’s eyes. If you change one life, one at a time, you’re making a big difference.

I remember the first time a reader told me –I was very young—and I started this gift, she said to me, at a psychic fair actually “honey you’re not going to change the world”. Well I balled my face off. And now I know why she said that to me. Because my attitude was to turn around and to say “okay, I might not be able to change the world, but I’m going to change one life at a time.”

So I had a choice. I could have believed her. Been deflated. Not allowed someone else’s opinion to take over. Even if she meant it like that, or not…

Barczablog She was also competition.

Stacey: Perhaps. I chose to take it as: “I’m going to take on this challenge.” Because I know what I’m capable of. I know what I’ve heard, feedback-wise, and I know I’m making a difference. And at the end of that day, really Leslie, that’s what I care about. Being able to make a difference in someone’s life. To show them something bigger and greater than what they believe. And to give them something greater.

I didn’t have…. My mother was too busy trying to raise three children, trying to keep the fort down, on a really small income. I didn’t have the support I needed for someone to lead me down the path that I was supposed to be on: which is obviously this one. I found the strength to persevere. I want to be that voice. I want to be that calmness for someone else.

Barczablog: Ultimately all lives matter. All lives are the same, in the life-long dialogue.

Stacey: if I could give the world a wish, I’d put mirrors in front of billions and billions of people, and I’d ask them to sit there and take a good long hard look at what they see in the mirror. And if they’re not happy, they could come to terms, really sit there. It would be an interesting concept in prisons. Or in places where people have no choice but they can’t do anything else, but look in this mirror, admit their truth.

Barczablog And maybe Congress or the House of Commons, where you have politicians, or City Hall. Who are putting out lies all day. Who are you really?

Stacey: you can run from anyone, you can hide. But you can’t hide from yourself.

Barczablog: Do you pick up on past lives?

Stacey: on occasion. It has to be effecting the individual in the present.

Barczablog So let’s say someone who is afflicted, whether it’s something from earlier in this life, or a past life. What’s the difference if they can’t remember?

Stacey: yes… very good question. Past lives, if they’re affecting someone in this lifetime, I can usually pick up on them. What is the difference? So if you’ve done something in past life are you doomed to repeat it again because you’re not consciously aware?

Barczablog: Can you do a penance or in some way make good?

Stacey: Yes. Because while you don’t consciously remember, there is a part of you –on a soul level—that does. On a soul level we recognize. We don’t understand from one lifetime to another, on a soul level. Hence someone who’s never been.. okay me perfect example, I can never stand anything being sharp being pointed at me. Not a mail opener, not a knife. Not a butter knife. I have never ever been threatened or hurt. But any sharp object…

Barczablog You think in another life…(?)

Stacey: Yes! So whether it was self-inflicted –it doesn’t feel like it is because usually it’s usually pointing at me from someone else—or if it was sitting on a table. Now I have to admit I’m not as bad as I used to be. Because I’ve chosen to work at it. There’s no doubt it’s a past life memory. Though I don’t have conscious memory of it our bodies, our senses, this is why people sometimes have phobias. Right? Because it still happened. It just didn’t happen in this time-frame. So past life definitely does have an effect. But we always have the ability to change it, that’s the beauty about the present.

Barczablog You talked about a ghost that might have been traumatized, from a not nice experience. Would it be fair to say that the guides are always good?

Stacey: Yes. Guardian angels work from a completely different energy source.

Barczablog But are they ever misunderstood?

Stacey: All the time!

Barczablog So they may be trying to do something good, but the person may react or resist because of what they perceive.

Stacey: I just did it this week. We do it all the time, because it’s our perceptions. It’s human nature. Self-inflicted.

Barczablog I was just thinking, when you said that, is it the human, or the soul’s tendency?

Stacey: definitely not the soul’s tendency. Well…. That’s a good argument. I mean it’s more human nature in the fact of habitual behaviour, rather than it being the soul. But –going back to the past life thing—there’s definitely a connection that could trigger that. So, I think it’s more habitual behaviour.

Barczablog: So: how far back can you go? I would love to know about Beethoven or about Cleopatra. Are there no remnants of energy from that far back? Because you hear people joke about this, when the talk about past lives, in movies and that.

Stacey: you know what Leslie, I’ve never picked up on either one of them. But in all fairness, have there been people I’ve read that have revealed parts of past lives, and then they’ve done the research and those things are actually factual? That they’ve discovered that they’re factual? Yes.

When I was in the Mayan ruins and I was on my first trip and that was the only day that I was on my own, and I went to the ruins and all I’m feeling is Atlanteans. And I’m thinking ‘I don’t know how this is possible’ how they would have got there but there were Atlanteans here… only to watch something on TLC, I’m doing the dishes and they’re saying for sure the Atlanteans where there. And I went “oh my god! That’s so cool.”

Barczablog …because you could feel it..?

Stacey: yes I could feel it. When you go to places that hold lots of history, lots of memory, you can definitely as a reader recall those circumstances. Everything holds energy. We also have beings of light who at those times will come and assist that process. And if we learn to believe in it and to tap into that source, the work becomes even more brilliant.


Anastasia –Stacey—Agouros, who I know simply as “Stacey” is a “Motivational Counselor, Clairvoyant Psychic Reader, Intuitive Life Coach”. You can find her through her website https://www.staceyagouros.com and on Facebook.

Posted in Personal ruminations, Psychology and perception, Questions, Questions, Spirituality & Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oundjian Ode to Joy

Tomorrow will be the last concert in this month-long celebration of Peter Oundjian’s tenure with the Toronto Symphony. I would have gone tomorrow but unfortunately I have to be somewhere else, and will miss that last encounter between orchestra & conductor, between Peter & his audience.

Oundjian-Beethoven 9 from back of hall (@Nick Wons)

Peter Oundjian leading the massed forces of Beethoven’s 9, seen from the back of Roy Thomson Hall (photo: Nick Wons). And doesn’t that look like the mother ship is about to land?

Tonight was pretty good though even if it’s but the penultimate.

We heard Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.  The piece is ideal for this sort of occasion, an instant happening. For three movements the orchestra plays while a crowd of brooding faces watch and listen from the stage. It was almost like three different symphonies, totally unlike one another, each in the presence of the 150 formally attired singers of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, waiting their turn. The dissonance that opens the last movement might almost sum up the shock we feel when oh my they’re standing up, perfectly synchronized.

Something is going to happen!  Of course it won’t be a surprise when they also sing in perfect synchronization.

And –to quote Anna Russell—if Beethoven doesn’t tell the whole story, all over again (admittedly in miniature).

It’s quite a drama, with the conductor at the centre.

The first movement begins with a lot of nothing, as Harvey Olnick pronounced decades ago. Olnick was a music professor describing the opening of Die Walküre by Richard Wagner, pointing out the way Wagner’s opera begins with something reminiscent of Beethoven and the drama of pure ambiguity, “nothing” in the sense that Beethoven opened a discursive window, a space for us to listen and think, gradually filled in by the first big statement of the theme and lots more. Olnick felt that every composer wanted to do what Beethoven achieved, as so many others imitated this model, including Gustav Mahler with his own 9th symphony that Oundjian led just last week, also in D but much gentler to begin.

The second movement, a scherzo that could be titled “and now for something completely different” (like so many other scherzi come to think of it), gets them playing in a whole other way; and just when you think you know where Beethoven’s leading you (the timpani & that obsessive rhythm first in a string figure than enlarged to the whole orchestra), presto, he knocks you on your can for the trio, in an entirely different rhythm from a different part of the orchestra, and an entirely different flavour. Where the main section of the scherzo is powerfully rhythmic and even a bit scary, the trio is cute and nostalgic: as trios are wont to be.

Two movements down, and so far pretty close to perfect from the TSO & Oundjian, as far as I could tell.

We go off in another meditative direction for the third movement, lyrical & sublime, even at the quick tempo Oundjian takes: which as I must have said many times, is how I always prefer it. The orchestra are playing with great enthusiasm but entirely surrendering to the boss, following him to the ends of the earth or at least the end of the movement.

And then lordy by Jordy, we come to that cacophonous opening to the fourth movement when all heck seems to be breaking loose, and on top of everything else the choir is standing up.

And as I implied in invoking Madam Russell a moment ago, the opening reminds us of where we’ve been, the ups and down of emotion. Do we want to traverse such a path? shall we try a bit of movement #1? how about a sample of #2? or how about #3?


But we are going to be admonished: not these tones, but joy instead. First it’s just the strings playing that recitative, then it’s the baritone solo sung by Tyler Duncan, one of the most impressive versions of this I’ve ever heard. It’s quite a challenge when you think about it. On the one hand there’s this big orchestra, sounding like all heck is breaking loose. So you have to sing big and loud just to be heard. But hold on a second, you have to sing big and loud, while saying “oh friends, not these tones” (meaning: not this emotional stuff….).

He will tell us that instead, let’s be joyful.

So you got that? He has to sing loudly while telling us to be joyful, which (if you think of a poor struggling baritone bleating as loudly as he can) often comes off with all the kindness and joy of a U-boat commander ordering you to put your hands in the air. (if you don’t believe me go look on youtube, but don’t say I didn’t warn you).  Yet Duncan managed to smile, managed to look friendly, and yes, managed to sing this audibly without bellowing or shouting, beautiful tone, coherent, perfect.


And so we’re into the “Ode to Joy”, Duncan’s baritone echoed by the big chorus standing behind who are now not just bearing witness in their silent formal splendor but adding weight to whatever anyone sings, and genuinely sounding joyful.

MacKinnon, Segal, Haji, Duncan, Peter Oundjian (@Nick Wons)

Soloists MacKinnon, Segal, Haji, Duncan, led by Peter Oundjian (photo: Nick Wons)

We’ll get some other solo burblings, echoing Duncan’s exhortations, as Andrew Haji, Lauren Segal & Kirsten MacKinnon join in or sing their own lovely solo moments.

We build then soften, then build some more, Oundjian leading them all to a wild Dionysian conclusion.

I’m sure he’ll come back to visit from time to time, especially as he remembers the passionate ovation at the end.

Joy indeed!

Peter Oundjian thanks audience (@Nick Wons)

Peter Oundjian thanking the audience as they thank him (photo: Nick Wons)

Posted in Music and musicology, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment