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Take a Ride With Le Cyc

By Jessica Lewis

Put together bicycles, a chorus, illustrations and an orchestra and you’ve got the makings of a project created by a group of out Guelph, Ontario. Le Cyc, dubbed a “bike opera,” uses approximately 380 slides projected to the beat of a six-piece orchestra, to tell the story of a town called Le Cyc, where evil politicians corrupt citizens by taking out their competition before the bi-annual bike race.

“The idea of Le Cyc is based on this failed utopia, the idea of power being pedaled from our bodies in every aspect, but it fails,” said illustrator Dave Willekes, who only used ink, wine and coffee to create the slides.

Composer Eihab Boraie came up with the idea for the project while he was waiting for Willekes to return from his cross-Canada tour on bicycles with his (now former) band, the Special Purpose. Boraie sings the story’s tale using a heap of different voices, accompanied by the six-piece orchestra made up of Claire Whitehead, Andra Zommers, Dan Paille, Martin Eckart and co-writer and Kazoo! Festival creator Brad McInerney. The orchestra builds an atmosphere of intense suspense and sinister wrong-doing as they sing along with Boraie. You can’t miss a beat in this kind of concert.

On September 18, Le Cyc lugged their instruments and projector to Toronto’s Music Gallery (inside of the St George-the-Martyr Anglican Church) where they performed for a packed house. It was the perfect setting for such an eerie story.

As the church grew darker, the shadows played supporting roles. The pews were packed with steadily-numbing asses, but no one seemed to mind because the show was so captivating. It wasn’t just the audience that was captivated, but also the group creating the work.

“It was really fun to actually see it come together because we were just hoping to do something we would like to see,” said Boraie. “We were really humbled by the fact that there are a lot of people who seemingly like to watch what we’ve done.”

It took about two years to make Le Cyc what it is today. Throughout this time, the group went through a variety of merch ideas including plans to put out a double vinyl release of the music or to publish a graphic novel with an accompanying CD. The group settled on a plan to create a DVD of the show, which should be available by April 2010. In the meantime, they’ve been working on a behind-the-scenes featurette for the DVD and they have been commissioned by Wavelength to create a new multimedia project for the Images Festival in April 2010.

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