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Getting to know 2 master musicians

December 23, 2016

promo-pic-johns

The first time I sang with  John Miller and  John Reischman was in 2006.   Rosemary Campbell selected the three of us to perform together at the faculty concert in Sorrento where we were teaching in Swing Camp. Since that summer we have spoken  of playing music together once again and now finally,  approximately 10 years later, it’s going to happen.   Tuesday, January 3rd in Vancouver  will be the 4th concert of the Joy Of Jazz Concert Series on the Cottage Bistro Stage and this will be a rare and wonderful opportunity to come and hear us perform as a trio. http://www.joyofjazzconcerts.com

 John Reischman (mandolin) is typically busy touring with his acclaimed group The Jaybirds. The Jaybirds have a new recording coming out in 2017. John is a Juno–nominated and Grammy–award winning artist and is regarded as one of the truly great mandolin players of his generation.

John Miller (guitar) is truly versatile musician playing music that includes incorporates swing, country blues and latin jazz styles. He is a prolific composer, a highly respected teacher and he performs regularly in several ensembles in the USA.

These two gentlemen have been playing and recording together for over 20 years. They have recorded three  CD’s together. Seeing them perform as a duo is a truly inspiring experience.

I don’t know these two musicians very well but what I do know after spending time with them and in seeing them in various settings with others, makes me admire and appreciate them; not just their musicianship but how they carry themselves as true gentlemen. They are indeed gentle and funny and thoughtful. How lucky I am to get to sing with them both!

q-a-johns

Here are the 10 questions I posed in early December when we had our second rehearsal for the “Winter Moon” concert coming up in January 2017.

Do you enjoy the winter season and do you celebrate Christmas or Hannukah etc?

John Reischman ~ I do enjoy winter. Not as much as autumn or early spring, but it is nice to slow down for a bit and spend time with family at Christmas.

John Miller ~ I truthfully do not enjoy every aspect of winter.  I’m not a fan of it getting dark around 3:30 or 4:00 PM, and feel much better once we get past the Winter solstice.  Look out for those pedestrians!  I like cold clear weather.  I do celebrate Christmas every year.

Have you a favourite song or instrumental piece about winter?

J. R. ~ I really like the Vince Guaraldi sound track to a Charlie Brown Christmas. Gordon Lightfoot’s Song for a Winter’s night is really nice. I also like the traditional song A Roving on a Winter’s Night.

J. M. ~ I have lots of favorite hymns.  For secular songs, I really like “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Here We Come A Wassailing”.

What do you like about playing music with each other after all these years?

J. R. ~ I still enjoy the same things about playing music with John Miller that I did when we first started. He has a fantastic rhythmic feel coupled with interesting and usual chord voicings, and he is an endless source of beautiful original tunes. Plus he is a great friend and funny too!

J. M. ~ I always feel like playing with John Reischman is like attending a concert as well as playing one, it’s such a treat to hear what he does.  Plus, it’s good to spend time with a good friend

Do you play music every day?

J. R. ~ I’m sorry to say that I don’t. Life gets busy so there’s not always time to play. I do have instruments hanging on the wall to make it easier. Last year I was able to get into a routine of playing/practicing everyday and I hope to get back into that routine.

J. M. ~ I think of myself as playing every day, but I suppose there are occasional days when I do not play.  I should play every day, certainly.

Are there names of any upcoming artists in the world of instrumental music in any genre that you can recommend to listen to or watch for?

J. R. ~ One of the younger musicians I play with from time to time name is Molly Tuttle. She is a triple threat; singer, instrumentalist, and songwriter, and she excels at all three. She is known in the bluegrass world, but her music crosses over into Americana and folk. I’ve known her since she was a little kid so it’s great to see her come into her own. Her first solo recording will be released early in 2017.

J. M.~ I think that musicians I think of as up and coming have often been around for a while.  I really enjoy Classical pianists Alexandre Tharaud and Igor Levit and Jeremy Denk.

When you are performing concerts, do you have any pet peeves about certain things that you think shouldn’t happen while attending a concert?

J. R. ~ Well, it’s always annoying if you are playing a concert and someone is talking.

J. M. ~ I don’t like it when the sound person plays either a recording by the artist(s) performing the show on the sound system between sets, or plays some other music, completely at odds with what the performer does, between sets.  I much prefer the only music sounding at a show being what you hear being made on the stage as it happens.  Having music going non-stop de-sensitizes us to it.

Other than the instruments you play, what might be an instrument that you are particularly drawn to?

J. R. ~ I love the fiddle, and the tone that some get from a clarinet. Uilleann pipes are very cool.

J. M. ~ The piano

What is your favourite place to visit when you are on vacation?\

J. R. ~ I love the west coast of Canada and the US, from the ocean to the mountains, so I’m happy I live where I do!

J. M. ~ A place I can feel relaxed in–I don’t want to be tense on a vacation.

Do you enjoy composing your own music and how do you typically begin that process?

J. R. ~ Yes! I’ve had a bit of a dry spell lately, but I have some ideas recorded on my phone that I have have been reviewing. I think there is some potential there. About twenty years ago I had a lot of melodies come to me when walking. I still walk, but the tunes have not found me!

J.M. ~ I do enjoy composing but don’t have a set routine in how I go about doing it.

Do you enjoying teaching others?

J. R ~ Yes, it’s something I’ve been doing more of in recent years.
J. M. ~ Very much

Thanks to both of you for answering my questions. I look forward to making music in 2017!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Karin’s Q & A with vocalist Jaclyn Guillou

May 18, 2015
It’s Sunday May 17th and about 2 weeks from now American vocalist Kate McGarry (a favorite of mine and of vocalist Jaclyn Guillou) is coming to perform in Vancouver along with her wonderful guitarist husband Keith Ganz. There’s much excitement building up to their first ever Canadian performance. This will be the 3rd of the Joy Of Jazz Concert Series shows at St. James Hall.
I thought it might be fun to get Jaclyn’s perspective on Kate’s influence and appeal. Here is my little Q & A with Jaclyn’s thoughtful and detailed responses. Jaclyn is a wonderful vocalist and composer in her own right and has graciously taken the time to answer my questions while in the midst of recording her new album…
Kate-&-Keith
1. What in particular do you like about Kate’s style/approach to singing?
I have always been drawn to singers that have an open hearted rich quality to the way they express a story and lyrics. Singers like Betty Carter, Billie Holiday, Shirley Horn and Nancy King for example. Kate is amongst these singers, as she is deeply connected to the lyrics and also allows herself to draw closer to the music, exploring notes she would like to emphasize within the song. She honors the tradition and takes the melody to improvise around it in such a beautiful way without disrupting the lyrics. That is a hard thing to do. It is very apparent to me that she has an incredible amount of vocal technique but you can never “hear the technique” because her approach to the voice is expressed in an extremely natural way. That is what I love most about her singing. Above all, she spends time thinking about the arrangements and comes up with a unique interpretation that doesn’t distract from the original, it enhances it. And all of her choices, especially in her embellishments, come from within the message of the song. This creates a deep layered approach that brings so much more to the music and engages the listener to be able to hear the entire band surrounding her voice. I can listen to her albums over and over again experiencing new things each time.
2.  In what ways has the music of Kate McGarry influenced or informed your own style?
 Kate’s soloing has been the most inspiring thing. She has concrete ideas that don’t sound mechanical or cold. And while it’s easy to listen to, it’s not easy to transcribe, an example of her vast vocabulary and understanding of the changes on each tune.
Her arranging and overall general vibe of her albums have also been inspiring to me. Excluding her recent release, all of her recordings feature 2 chordal instruments (guitar and piano) with bass and drums in a quintet format and have arrangements that fully support her vocal choices. Her tunes yield a particular groove and vibe but don’t appear to feel dictated or overly arranged. It won’t always be a straight ahead or swing feel, maybe a slower straight 8ths tempo with everyone playing in the right places that lift her voice in a powerful way. In her albums Target & If Less Is More..Nothing Is Everything with Gary Versace & Keith Ganz there seems to be a collaborative sound going on which has certainly inspired me to be more part of the band.
3. Do you have favorite songs as recorded by Kate from her various acclaimed records over the years?
My favorite tracks of hers are sometimes tunes that I wasn’t too fond of or have been tired of hearing and she has converted me to become instantly in love with her versions. I remember feeling that way when I heard  “Can’t Help Loving That Man” from her duo album with Keith Ganz. I’ll name one favorite tune from each of her recordings: from The Target “It Might As Well Be Spring”, from Girl Talk “We Kiss In A Shadow”, from Less Is More “You’re My Thrill”, from Mercy Streets “How Deep Is The Ocean”, from Show Me “Gypsy In My Soul”.
4. The live record Genevieve & Ferdinand (except for one track) is a duo record with guitar/voice combination. Are there qualities you were able to hear in this record compared to other ensemble recordings which Kate has made?
I was certainly excited to hear her voice in this duo format because it truly is such a different thing playing duo! I am such a fan of Keith’s playing and it has been wonderful to hear him accompany her in such an acoustic way. The first time I heard Kate in concert 4 years ago was in duo with Keith so I know that the album must have been a long time coming. The intimate sound in her voice is highlighted on this album but it doesn’t feel like a departure from all her other recordings. It is a special treat that they shared this side of their playing for all of us to enjoy.
5. Kate is also a composer (as you are) What do you enjoy about her original compositions? 
In my opinion it is actually because Kate is a composer is what makes her a great interpreter. There is always a fresh approach to the tune regardless of whether she wrote it or not. In her own compositions I can appreciate the way that the lyrics and melody create a synthesis together. You don’t notice either one on its own so much which to me means that there are no sacrifices being made in order to find a more interesting note or word. They work as one and the feeling that exudes all of that is expressive and very much alive. Her song “Ten Little Indians” is one of the most beautiful pieces of music, it gets me every time.
6. If you were to describe what a new listener might experience at a Kate McGarry concert, what might you tell them in advance?
I would tell music lovers that despite whatever genres they might usually be interested in will not matter when it comes to this concert. That Kate & Keith will bring them into a whole new world of sound, so they should go for the experience of that. If you are looking for music that is real and without pretense, this will be a delight.
7. How did you personally discover Kate McGarry’s music?
I was first introduced to Kate by way of Randy Porter (piano player from Portland) who was working with me on my first album. We were discussing various singers and he was going through a list of all his favorites and all of a sudden he stopped dead in his tracks and said “You know Kate McGarry right? If you don’t, you must check her out right away! That’s your kind of singing, I just know it.” A few months later I drove 4 hours to Tacoma, Washington in the pouring rain to see her play. A night I will never forget!
So dear reader….if you’re reading this and it is not yet Sunday May 31st you still have a chance to obtain tickets to see this remarkable duo perform in Vancouver at St. James Hall. Go to http://www.joyofjazzconcerts.com
In closing here’s a little pic of us on stage at “Strong Women Strong Music” (Jaclyn Guillou & Karin Plato) from about a year ago now…
Jaclyn-&-Karin
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Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz…for the love of music

April 28, 2015

For the love of music…That’s right! The love of music is the reason I decided to produce the “Joy of Jazz Concerts” series in Vancouver.  Over a year ago now I began to sculpt and hone and shape my idea of presenting a small concert series which would enable the musicians to perform a nuanced and dynamic program where each and every note, phrase, word and musical line would be heard by the audience.  It’s all about the intimate and shared experience of a jazz performance whereby freedom of expression and playing in the moment help create the situation where both the listener and the music makers come together and connect and experience a type of bond.

The 3rd and final concert of this inaugural season takes place at the end on Sunday May 31 at St. James Hall.  Entitled “Songbird of May” the concert will feature Grammy nominee vocalist Kate McGarry and her husband Keith Ganz; an absolutely exceptional guitarist. This will be their Canadian debut and I certainly wish for a warm Vancouver welcome for the two of them. It is true that here in Vancouver Kate and Keith might not necessarily be house hold names.  I am one of several jazz fans who admire and appreciate these two fine artists and their approach to music making. Together they have made several recording together within larger ensembles and their latest release “Genevieve & Ferdinand” is a celebration of their ten year marriage and musical relationship. It’s a duo record and the recording has been receiving rave reviews from music columnists and reviewers everywhere. If not yet widely known in Vancouver, Kate and Keith are certainly well known in the USA and beyond and they have fans all around the world.

Genevieve-&-F

As I am concert presenter I believe I must cling to that adage “if you build it, they will come” and I need to continue to work on spreading the word of the upcoming concert in a variety of ways. I admit to having had a few insomnia-filled nights as I worry about how to attract a full house for these acclaimed musicians. Let me tell you more about Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz and why I love their music so much.

DUO kate

Kate and Keith perform what I call “music without glam or glitz”. It’s all about the soul, the story, the improvisations.  Those who know, really KNOW about these two great musicians and are well aware of their exciting musical chemistry and the high level of artistry they present in concerts and on recordings. Kate and Keith dig deep within songs you may have heard before but will hear again for the first time as new meaning announces itself within the lyric interpretation and harmonic development and soundscape. They seem to dig deeper still into their own souls and reveal some fragility while remaining strong at the same time (yes, that might sound like a contradiction) The duo remain confident in their exploration of the human condition. Their candor and truth allows us to experience our own personal stories and emotions and reactions. We are gently led on a type of journey that lays it all out on the table: this is life, this is love, this is sorrow, this is beauty, this is in the moment, this happened, this is connection…

KATE BLACK WHITECrop-K-&-K

It’s not all a deep chasm of serious stuff. There’s joyful abandon in the musical motifs and rhythms and improvisations.  There’s exhilaration in the energy release in the faster burning grooves and the interplay between voice and guitar. Above all there remains this truth seeking within each song interpretation. We breathe more deeply, we listen, we dance, we experience, we think, we identify, we remember.

Tickets are available now at Brownpapertickets.com  or follow links at www.joyofjazzconcerts.com You can also buy tickets at Red Cat Records on Main Street in Vancouver.

Special thank you to The Georgia Straight, Stikjazz Music, The Rogue Folk Club, Oceanwest Construction and to Coastal Jazz and Blues Society.

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Valentine’s Day with John Alcorn in Vancouver…

January 31, 2015

Interview with vocalist JOHN ALCORN  by Karin Plato

John swings

(John performs in Vancouver February 14 as part of the Joy of Jazz concert series at St. James Hall)

Karin. Who are some of your favorite vocalists John?

John. Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae, Shirley Horn, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Chet Baker

K. Are there certain vocalists who have particularly influenced your own style/sound?

J.  See above. For me, Billie is #1; the others follow her.

K. What are your thoughts about what qualities might define someone as jazz vocalist?

J.  Here are some of the qualities that Billie possessed: an innate feel for swing, a natural instinct for improvisation, intellectual curiosity, storytelling (the ability to understand and express text – and explore subtext), a constant need to “tell her truth” in song. These are some of the essential qualities that I search for in other singers – and that I strive for myself.

K.Besides singing and playing the piano, do you play any other instruments?
J. In my early years, I studied violin and tenor sax, but was a dismal failure at both!

K. Were you always destined to be a professional musician or are there other professions that intrigued you?

J. In my teens, I was passionate about the visual arts. First, with painting and drawing (I once fantasized about a career as a commercial artist), then, later, with photography. I still harbour the dream of returning to photography one day, as a secondary creative outlet.

K.Do you enjoy the process of composing/creating a new composition?
J. I love music in general. I also love words. Though I “wear many hats”, I tend to obsess on whichever project is immediately in front of me. So, when I’m in composer or lyricist mode, it becomes my passion – for better or worse. Yes, I love it! Additionally, I believe that each mode of creative expression feeds into the others. For example, exploring the best work of the great 20 th century composers absolutely influences my own writing. Conversely, as I pay close attention to my own song-writing, it only heightens my respect for other writers and inspires me to do my best to honour their art when I’m performing.

K. Could you name a few of your favorite song composers?
J. Of the Great American Songbook gang, Harold Arlen is at the top of my list of favourite composers, along with Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers. The lyrics of Johnny Mercer astound, inspire and move me – always. Stephen Sondheim, though jazz singers rarely explore his work, is really a genius, I think.

K. What’s one of your favorite things about working in the world of music and entertainment?

J. For me, having the ongoing opportunity to explore and perform exquisitely-crafted songs in the company of brilliant, creative musicians is truly a blessing and a gift. I cannot imagine a more rewarding life.

K .Do you have a special regime you follow to keep your voice strong and healthy?

J. I should. But I don’t. Well…I never eat a large meal before performing. Does that count? (lol)

K. If you could choose from the entire world of musicians, who might you include in your dream band?

J.  I already work with them – Reg Schwager and Steve Wallace – my dream team! That said, I am over-the-moon excited about playing with Bill Coon and Darren Radtke in Vancouver!

K. Do you have any plans of making a new recording in the future?

J. We already have one “in the can”, but the release is on hold temporarily. Other than that, I have a long list of recording projects I hope to bring to life someday – including a CD of the songs I’ve been co-writing with Reg Schwager.

K. What do you hope an audience gets or receives by attending a John Alcorn concert?

J. Every time I’m onstage, whether by myself or with other musicians, I try to approach each song as though this were the first time I’d sung it. I search for new meaning, fresh nuance; try to deepen my understanding of both music and text – and share that journey with the audience. This is the goal. I do not always achieve it. However, if some audience members have a flash of discovery, a twinge of real emotion, a new insight into a song they may have heard countless times before – if they believe that they are witnessing and sharing a moment of truth – then I’ll feel that I’ve done my job.

Thanks John. I’m looking forward to hearing you and Bill and Darren in concert on February 14th!

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Time to look back; time to look ahead…

December 30, 2014

It really is time. The New Year approaches and therefore I feel the need (as do so many of us it seems) to take the time to look back over the past year’s accomplishments, disappointments, joys and adventures. Mostly (although I do love reminiscing about what has happened; i.e. last year this time I was in New York City!!) I do tend to be a person who looks ahead at what’s to come. Sometimes that’s a good thing since there can be a level of excitement and anticipation. Sometimes that can be a burden such as when it leaves me with a worried mind or the idea of the unknown sets within me with a feeling of hesitation or trepidation.  Some days I seem to be a crow sitting on a branch, steadfast in my choices; in my decisions. Some days I view the world the world like a huge art gallery full of creativity and possibility and unique perspectives and ideas. Those are good days!

The-CrowKarin-ART

Well it’s been a great year. Thank you 2014 for all you had to offer in the way of music, friendship, family and experience, good health and life lessons too.

2015 is arriving any day now and I know I am a lucky person. I live in Canada. I have people in my life that are intelligent, creative, fun loving and kind and thoughtful. I am able to live my life with relative ease and I know for that alone I am indeed lucky. I have music and I do have TIME to make music and create opportunities within music such as my JOY OF JAZZ CONCERT SERIES. That began in 2014 and now will continue into 2015.

There were a few worries (ha, let’s say there were lots!) about the expense, time and effort that went into preparing for the first of the concert series in November. Was it successful? Yes indeed it was and Hurrah for that! The audience was appreciative about the music presented and with the artists I had chosen. Jillian Lebeck, Adam Thomas and James Danderfer played and sang beautifully and I was able to sing a set of music with the three of them as well; sort of kicking off the series I suppose since now for the remaining concerts in the series I am simply Artistic Director and chairs and table mover AND audience member.  I love music, particularly when you can hear every nuance the artist intends and that’s what I am after in presenting this concert series: intimate, natural and nuanced music where dynamics are heard and experienced.

The ambience and over all warmth in St. James Hall is something that I personally find very satisfying. This hall enables an audience to get comfortable, settle in and really experience an intimate concert with great sound and mood, perfect lighting to relax and simply listen and experience MUSIC.

JOY-with-Adam-etcSt-James-Hall-EMPTY

What I look forward to now in 2015 is presenting John Alcorn in concert at St. James Hall for a special Valentine’s Day themed show. This second concert in the Joy of Jazz series is called “My Funny Valentine” and certainly this will be a concert geared towards people who enjoy the great jazz standards. It will be an evening featuring the superb and perhaps underrated Canadian vocalist John Alcorn singing with two of Vancouver’s jazz greats: guitarist Bill Coon and bassist Darren Radtke.  THIS concert I know will be a wonderful experience and I’ll work hard to try to sell tickets and promote these great artists so that they have welcoming audience to perform to.  Tickets are already on sale through the website: joyofjazzconcerts.com

JOHN

I continue to work on my own music and I ponder the ways I could, should, might use some of those new songs and arrangements. It appears that I am still in my “simmer mode” when it comes to my own music career. I suppose there is no one waiting for more “Karin Plato music” and thus when the TIME is right and when I feel strongly enough about recording or presenting more of myself, I’ll work towards that end. Now is simply the time to work on my labor of love for this season (that would be The Joy of Jazz Concert Series) and also I’m embracing fully the performance opportunities that I accept or seek. I see some lovely ones on the horizon but that’s for another TIME…

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Have you heard the one about the jazz vocalist who created a new jazz concert series?

October 31, 2014

No really, have you heard about it?  No? Well, that’s probably because it’s not exactly trending news or some hot topic that the general population will care about.  Let me tell you a little something about what this jazz singer (that would be me) dreamed about and schemed about and now is putting into works here in Vancouver.  I have been involved in concerts over the years where I’ve been the producer, promoter, artist, arranger and “poster-putter-upper” This time around it’s true that I’ll be performing as part of a double bill for the first of the 3 concert series and after that date I’ll just be the puttin’ up posters and chairs and enjoying the music and musicians that I admire and appreciate as I try to bring my dream to life. The concert series takes place at St. James Hall in Vancouver and the website for the concert series has lots of information about the entire series: www.joyofjazzconcerts.com.  I’ll write more about that in another post but for now I’ll talk about the first concert which takes place Thursday November 27th.

Jillian Lebeck and Adam Thomas are two extraordinary jazz musicians and together they exist as a unique duo, both vocally and instrumentally. I’ve been a fan of both artists for many years now and I’ve seen them perform in various concert situations and witnessed what I would describe as a special musical chemistry. The mutual affection and admiration for each other is revealed in the music that they play and it’s obvious that although they are both strong solo artists they share a similar language and style when it comes to their vocal duets. Jillian and Adam each have such pure and lovely sounding voices and I feel happy and sad at the same time when I hear them sing. That’s possible in music!! There’s something very natural and unaffected and candid about how they perform a song and I witnessed this last July in my music studio.  I had booked Jillian and Adam to play as the rhythm section for a Vocal Jazz Summer Intensive that I taught and I asked if they might perform a couple of songs together  for the participants. Even in the casual atmosphere of a classroom in the span of just a few moments as they played and sang it was obvious that the magic was there and it was fun to watch the workshop participants’ faces as they too recognized the special shared gift Jillian and Adam have.  New and instant fans were made that day.

So, that’s about the duo work of Jillian and Adam. For the first concert I thought it would be a fun and fresh idea to sing with Jillian and Adam as my band for the first show and sculpt a set around what I might like to share with them and also to include one of my favorite instrumentalists in Vancouver to be on stage with us. James Danderfer plays his clarinet or his bass clarinet and always “brings it” and by that I mean he always has something musical to say with his instrument and he’s always listening carefully  and contributing beautiful melodies and harmonies when I am singing. This approach makes the notion of singing and playing in the moment a wonderful experience. There’s comfort and freedom in knowing that the people you are playing with can ebb and flow in that tide with you. Of course I have been lucky to experience that musical ebb and flow with many great musicians over the years and that’s what makes jazz based music such a thrill at times. I anticipate quite some excitement in sharing the stage with Jillian and Adam and James and I look forward to hearing what the four of us will sound like together.pink karin

Has the band been informed that I’ll have my uke Clooney along for the musical ride? Well…that’s not exactly a trending topic either so it’s possible that they don’t yet know but I’ll be sure to tell them soon…

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“Vancouver July Jazz Summit with Karin Plato”

May 8, 2014

I’m in the finally planning stages for this 5 day vocal jazz workshop in July featuring pianist Jillian Lebeck, bassist Adam Thomas & guitarist Bill Coon. It’s a “from prepare to perform” style workshop for vocalists interested in singing jazz and blues music. Contact me via email for further information: karinplato@shaw.ca