For me, this is the moment I never tire of in this process: sitting with the issue almost complete, gobsmacked as always by the sheer diversity of musical life teeming under the lens of the month’s microscope.

September’s writers often spend a fair bit of time looking back at the summer past, as much as looking ahead at the month to come. In part, as I have noted in other Septembers, this is because the Toronto International Film Festival strides like a colossus across the middle of the month, so there are fewer live concerts in September than any other in the year. No major musical presenter in town hoping for undivided media attention goes head to head with TIFF. (For devotees of this magazine hungering for their customary musical fix, all is not lost, though. Once again managing editor Paul Ennis, in TIFF Tips, has seized the opportunity to combine his twin passions for film and music and has combed the TIFF catalogue for films with one or another musical slant. As always it’s a rich and eclectic mix and worth a look.

There are those rare and serendipitous coincidences (too neat to be planned) where a film of significance comes to TIFF right at the same time as a concert by the subject of the film in question. It sort of happened three Septembers ago when the Brentano String Quartet came to town, for a concert at Music Toronto, at the same time as the film A Late Quartet for which they had done the actual  playing. This year’s example is way more interesting - the Silk Road Ensemble is coming to Massey Hall two days after the world premiere of The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble at TIFF. If the movie delves into the social aspects of the Silkroad Project touched on in Andrew Timar’s cover story, taking in both events will be a real treat for lovers of music and film alike.

That being said, the propensity of our September writers to look back at the summer because of slim concert pickings is even more pronounced than usual this year because it has been, to say the least, an unusual summer. “The Summer to End All Summers” we called it on our June cover – a bit too apocalyptic, it should be said, for more than one reader. “Let’s hope not!” one WholeNoter muttered, darkly. (The reference – a bit too oblique in retrospect – was to the eagerly anticipated Luminato mounting of R. Murray Schafer’s magnum opus, Apocalypsis, at the Sony Centre.)

Readers will notice that Apocalypsis features in the  summer musings of more than one WholeNote writer; In with the New columnist, Wende Bartley, joined up with the Element Choir to experience the event from the inside out; Brian Chang, who steps into Ben Stein’s choral shoes this issue, was in the balcony with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in which he sings (tenor, I suspect from his first column!); and David Jaeger refers to the work’s genesis in his musings on the golden years of CBC Radio (The Future of Canadian Music, Back Then, page 57), this time on the topic of commissioning. 

Speaking of Jaeger’s piece I got a bit of a chuckle (that’s 20th century talk for LOL) in his description of another commission mentioned in the piece – a song cycle titled Private Collection by John Weinzweig. “[It was] written for the young, emerging soprano, Mary Lou Fallis. I remember John telling me, that she was ‘pretty hot stuff’ as a performer, besides being an excellent singer.”

As for Mary Lou Fallis, she is a welcome guest in this issue, writing in Just the Spot (page 54) about her long association with Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, where she, along with yours truly, will, on September 25, host what promises to be a splendid concert/celebration of this magazine’s 20 years of existence. For details (and to arrange your free ticket to the event) see the magazine’s back cover!

But back to the topic of Luminato and Apocalypsis, one last time. Beyond the writers already mentioned in this opener, I counted at least ten other WholeNote staff and contributors, myself included, who went to see and hear Apocalypsis. And for every two who saw it, there were at least three different opinions as to its artistic merit and significance: it was an overblown insult to the perfection of Schafer’s vision; it was a tribute to director Lemi Ponifasio’s genius that he could massage Schafer’s bombast into something genuinely theatrical; it was an artistic triumph; it was an artistic failure; it was more than the sum of its parts; it never really came together….

As for me, to borrow a phrase from Bob Ben’s column Mainly Clubs, Mostly Jazz, page 45, “when petty concerns of quality and integrity eclipse art’s purpose (whatever it is), that, to me, is tragic.” Granted, Bob is talking about jazz jams, but there’s an idea worth delving into here. Apocalypsis for me had a purpose that was as much social as artistic. It brought together, under one tent, a thousand performers and twice as many witnesses, to experience something that as a totality existed only in the moment of enactment. Each of the performers, musicians, singers and soloists alike played their part. None had a chance to see  the whole picture, only to be part of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Whoever is charged with taking Luminato into the future should reflect on this: as a festival, as a fixture, its future depends on being more like this one show – a giant tent under which our city’s artists are invited to play. Bringing in the headliners, the stadium shows, the big names is part of that mix, for sure. But the real spectacle is the musical and artistic city we already are and can continue to be if top-down “bring in experts to fix it” cultural policies are set aside in favour of humane social policies that enable our artists, along with the other working poor, to afford to live and play here.

We’ll be watching, and keeping score.

publisher@thewholenote.com 

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Wu_Man_1.jpgThe historic trade routes collectively referred to as the Silk Road, an interconnected web of maritime and overland pathways,  have, for centuries, served as sites for cultural, economic, educational, religious – and purely musical – exchanges. In that light, “silk roads” can be seen as a significant factor in the development of the ever-evolving hybridities that have shaped the face of the modern musical world.

In 1998 the Grammy Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma proposed “Silkroad” as the name of his new non-profit organisation. That project, inspired by his global curiosity and eagerness to forge connections across cultures, disciplines and generations, has grown several branches, the first of which was the successful music performing group, Silk Road Ensemble (SRE). It has played to sold-out houses at Roy Thomson Hall in 2003 and 2009 and will return to perform at Massey Hall on September 15. (Serendipitously, Toronto audiences will have another opportunity to see the SRE up close this September. Morgan Neville’s feature-length documentary The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble graces TIFF’s red carpet, enjoying its world premiere.)

Wu Man’s view from the pipa. Chinese-born Grammy Award nominee Wu Man, widely hailed as the world’s premier pipa (Chinese lute) virtuoso, has a unique perspective on the SRE’s career. An educator, composer and an ambassador of Chinese music, she has a prolific discography of 40 albums and counting. She was among the first musicians to get the call from Yo-Yo Ma to help in founding SRE.

Author: Andrew Timar
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Tiff_Tips_1.jpgWelcome to The WholeNote’s fourth annual guide to the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), shining a light on films in which music plays an intriguing role. This year’s selection includes a film version of one of the most compelling musicals of the new century, several titles documenting musicians and their work – from two biopics and movies whose characters revolve around music – to those featuring soundtracks integral to their films’ artistic success. With 289 feature films from 71 countries, the following 27 choices are not the product of an exact science, only a loose guide for music-loving readers with a cinematic appetite.

Classical_and_Beyond_1_-_Goodyear.jpg"There are so many composers and so many projects,” Stewart Goodyear said recently to WholeNote editor David Perlman. “What makes this life so exciting is that the discovery is endless; the road doesn’t end and there’s discovery galore.”

The two men were wrapping up the latest edition of Conversations <at>The WholeNote for the magazine’s YouTube channel, a conversation prompted by Goodyear’s upcoming appearance as soloist in the first concert of Mooredale Concerts 2015/16 season, September 27. Billed as “Legendary Piano Variations,” it’s the coupling of two major works, Bach’s joyful Goldberg Variations and Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations (the essence of which, according to Alfred Brendel and others, is humour).

Goodyear talked about the similarities in the two pieces: “They both centre around dances. There is humour in both (of course used very differently), voices, innovative harmonies – one in each set almost sounds like a 21st-century work, the harmonies are so advanced it still shocks the listener. Even if the listener has heard it around 10,000 times – like yours truly – it always makes a huge impression and I’m bowled over by what I hear.”

That’s the boyish pianistic explorer talking, the 37-year-old pianist who is famous for the Beethoven “Sonatathon” in which he has played all 32 sonatas in chronological order at one sitting, who calls himself a “music gourmet” with an appetite for big programs (such as performing all five of the Beethoven piano concertos with the Niagara Symphony Orchestra on Hallowe’en night, repeating the marathon the following Sunday afternoon, November 1). Or, on the same weekend as the Mooredale date, performing all five Beethoven concertos in a slightly more traditional setting with Edwin Outwater and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony: One and Four on Friday evening; Three (and Symphony No.8) on Saturday afternoon; Two and Five Saturday evening.

“It humbles me as an interpreter,” Goodyear continued, discussing his Toronto recital. “I always want to bring an intimacy to both of those works…to get into the marrow.”

Playing these two monumental works on the same recital is “like a Canadian program for me,” he says. His introduction to the Goldberg Variations was Glenn Gould’s 1955 recording of the piece “and then immediately after, I heard [Gould’s] second [recording].” The first recording of the Diabelli Variations he heard was Anton Kuerti’s. Goodyear's own CD of the Diabellis was released last fall by Marquis and very favourably reviewed, by among others Christina Petrowska Quilico in our November 2014 issue.

Goodyear had lived with the Goldbergs all his life before finally performing them in public for the first time on Gould’s own piano at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa last spring, surrounded by portraits of Gould. “I was face to face with Glenn Gould,” he said. “It gave me another excuse to connect with the audience.”

Gould’s piano felt custom made to him, he says. He found playing it “challenging” with its “brilliant sound and lots of colours. Just being a part of that history inspired me a lot,” he continued. “I felt that there was something spiritual going on.”

The Mooredale recital will be Goodyear’s fourth performance of the Bach this year. “Every time I do it, it’s different,” he said. The notational text is sacrosanct, the basis for all Goodyear’s formal preparatory work until it feels “like it’s in every pore.”

“So that whatever happens, it feels like I’m improvising,” he elaborated. “I know it 500 percent that whatever comes out it’s not like I’m reciting something or reiterating something; it’s just coming out.”

Part of his practising method is delving into a piece’s history and its qualities. In the case of Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony which he’s playing again with Paavo Järvi, later this season with the Orchestre de Paris, it’s trying to “find the seed to this masterpiece.” Listening to him talk about its character reveals the way he relates to a musical work: “It’s very theatrical; there are sweeping gestures, extremely lyrical, very colourful, with fermatas, rallentandos. There are moments when you see the lovers running to each other just like Hollywood; there are slow-motion moments when they finally embrace. It’s a technicolor extravaganza. It’s a beautiful work, 80 minutes long. It’s decadent, it’s pure, it’s everything. It’s romantic.”

It’s a telling insight into Goodyear’s approach. Despite the marathons, despite the prodigious technique and memory that they require, the basis for Goodyear’s appeal is his empathetic relationship with the music he performs and his ability to communicate that to an audience – qualities that will undoubtedly be evident to all who hear him in Walter Hall on the last Sunday afternoon of September.

Summer Pleasures. A completely different traversal of the Beethoven piano concertos took place in Stratford August 27 to 29 when Stratford Summer Music presented Jan Lisiecki and the Annex Quartet with Roberto Occhipinti, bass, in three programs encompassing all five of the concertos in transcriptions by the German composer and conductor, Vinzenz Lachner’s (1811-1893). It was Lisiecki’s first time performing all five piano concertos. In the days leading up to our September production deadline, I was fortunate to find time to attend the middle concert which paired the Second and the Fourth.

The 20-year-old wunderkind was his usual gracious and charming self as he introduced the concert. “We can’t give you all the drama,” he said. “But we can give you intimacy and the beauty of this music.”

St. Andrew’s Church is a bright room acoustically but Lisiecki met its challenge (and that of the Yamaha grand) in the Piano Concerto No.2, Op.19, begun when Beethoven was still a teenager and only published after his first six string quartets (Op.18). Lisiecki’s touch was even-handed, very classical, marvellous. He made every note count. The Allegro con brio was Mozartean in its passagework, Haydn-like in its succession of swells but intimations of the composer-to-be were clearly present. The Largo that followed is not one of Beethoven’s best but Occhipinti’s rich, sonorous sound stood out. The lively Rondo, however, is a delight, presaging the more mature symphonist, and the performers seemed to relish playing it, bringing out the joy that flows from the return of the opening theme in its inverted form.

The six played like cohesive, well-balanced chamber musicians in the Rondo, and the piano part especially stood out since it didn’t have to compete with a full orchestra. This transparency continued in the Op. 58 concerto, a piece composed in that luminous time just after the Triple Concerto, the “Waldstein” and “Appassionata” Sonatas and the “Eroica” Symphony and immediately before the “Razumovsky” String Quartets. Lisiecki often played with a sound big enough to match an orchestra which made for a less balanced whole, though given the somewhat rough-hewn sound of the violins, it was not unwelcome. Intimations of beauty leading into the cadenza were dashed by a hurried approach until a surfeit of melody righted the course on the way to a thundering climax.

The second movement conversation between the dark and dissonant strings and the gorgeous lyricism of the keyboard set up the magical, rhapsodic piano cadenza. The spirited third movement Rondo, seemed to outrun its musical sense. But all was right in the encore, the Rondo of the “Emperor” Concerto, in which Lisiecki seemed re-engaged if not re-energized. It was a generous gift to an appreciative audience who greeted the conclusion of each of the three pieces with a standing ovation.

(All of which makes me look forward to Lisiecki’s December 6 recital in Koerner Hall when his program will include Chopin’s 24 Preludes, Mendelssohn’s Variations sérieuses and Mozart’s marvellous Piano Sonata, K331 among other works.)

Paul Lewis. Still on the subject of Stratford Summer Music, on the last Thursday afternoon of July in a warm St. Andrew’s Church (hand-held fans were provided) British pianist Paul Lewis spoke to his congregation, as it were, those of us privileged to hear this supreme interpreter of Beethoven and Schubert, describing how he saw the pieces he was about to play – what he called “true peaks of the piano repertoire” – Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas. 

The concert turned out to be the highlight of my summer. You can read more about it in my blog on thewholenote.com. (Lewis will also be giving a recital, of Brahms, Schubert and Liszt, in Koerner Hall March 20, 2016. I already have a ticket.)

Botos and BartókMeanwhile, the tenth anniversary season of Toronto Summer Music reached a significant climax August 6 with separate concerts late in the afternoon and into the evening. Robi Botos and Béla Bartók, two Hungarian-born émigrés to the New World, were appropriate poster boys for the well-conceived and multi-layered 2015 TSM festival.

With its extensive schedule built around a foundation of TSM Academy fellows and mentors, the concerts, masterclasses, lectures, films and open rehearsals flowed organically, buttressed by a number of additional concerts featuring special guests such as soprano Measha Brueggergosman, pianists Garrick Ohlsson, Ingrid Fliter and Danilo Pérez and the Danish String Quartet. They provided ample evidence for artistic director’s Douglas McNabney’s contention at the opening concert that TSM provides “a significant contribution to the cultural life of this city in the summer.” Not to mention a significant contribution to the life of the Academy fellows.

I took in six concerts, one dress rehearsal, two masterclasses and a lecture over the 25 days of the festival and barely scratched the surface. Highlights included the well-devised “American Avant-Garde” program devoted to Cage, Feldman, Ives and Zorn with the personable pianist Pedja Muzijevic and the irrepressible Afiara String Quartet; Ohlsson’s Scriabin; the Danish String Quartet’s playing of Adès’ audacious Arcadiana; the Borromeo String Quartet’s complete Bartók cycle in one evening, preceded the day before by first violinist Nicholas Kitchen’s illuminating lecture on the week he once spent exploring Bartók’s original manuscripts in Budapest; Finnish lyric soprano Soile Isokoski’s memorable masterclass; Botos’ exuberant tribute to Oscar Peterson in the presence of Peterson family members at a rollicking, jam-packed Heliconian Hall; Brueggergosman’s touching and extraordinarily beautiful Summertime. Further details on TSM 2015 can be found on thewholenote.com.

Classical_and_Beyond_2_-_Gerstein.jpgSeptember is here. The TSO begins its 2015/2016 season with a crowd-pleasing program headed by guest soloist Itzhak Perlman in Bruch’s dazzling Violin Concerto No.1. With its gorgeous melodic lines and virtuoso passages seamlessly integrated, it’s one of the most popular concertos in the violin canon. Having just turned 70, Perlman will celebrate that milestone as well as his ongoing relationship with the TSO (which goes back to 1966) in Roy Thomson Hall, beginning at 7pm September 24. The orchestra then jumps into the deep end with a rousing program featuring the legendary Three B’s. Following Leopold Stokowski’s arrangement of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor the TSO moves on to the rich and melodious Double Concerto of Brahms with TSO concertmaster Jonathan Crow and principal cellist Joseph Johnson as soloists. Post-intermission comes Beethoven’s iconic Symphony No.5. If you have never heard this piece live, get yourself down to RTH September 25 or 26 or experience it September 27 in the glorious acoustics of the George Weston Recital Hall. If you haven’t heard it recently, now’s the time. A live reacquaintance with this music is essential at least once every decade. September 30, Shostakovich’s jaunty Suite for Variety Orchestra (which may be familiar to some readers for its use in Stanley Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut) is joined on the program with Gershwin’s challenging Concerto in F. The mulit-faceted Russian-born, American Kirill Gerstein is the piano soloist and the guest conductor is the gifted American James Gaffigan. October 1 and 3 Prokofiev’s indispensable Symphony No.5 augments the program, making for a full musical evening indeed.

QUICK PICKS

Sept 13: Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society. South African pianist Petronel Malan’s program includes Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata.

Sept 16: KWCMS. The New Orford String Quartet opens its program with Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 3, Op.18No.3 before moving on to the seminal Op.130 and its original ending, the Grosse Fugue, Op. 133.

Sept 18: Prince Edward County Music Festival (PECMF). The New Orford String Quartet performs Brahms’ String Quartet No.2, Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue Op.133 and Gary Kulesha’s String Quartet at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene.

Sept 19: PECMF. The Gryphon Trio’s concert includes Beethoven’s Archduke Trio at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene.

Sept 19, 20, 21: KWCMS. Georgy Valtechev, violin, and Lora Tchekoratova, piano, perform all ten of Beethoven’s sonatas for violin and piano in a series of three concerts.

Sept 20: RCM. Glenn Gould School faculty-member, 80-year-old John Perry’s big program for a Sunday afternoon includes Mozart’s divine Piano Sonata K.333, three Brahms IntermezziOp.117, Beethoven’s penultimate piano sonata, Op.110 and Schubert’s melodic masterpiece, his final sonata, D960.

Sept 25: PECMF. “Inspired by Clara” – chamber music by Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann and Brahms at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene.

Sept 26: RCM. The ARC Ensemble’s ambitious program includes the sublime clarinetist Joaquin Valdepeñas in Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet K581, Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet Op.57 and Weinberg’s Sonata No.1 for Violin and Piano Op.12. You’ll need a ticket, but it’s FREE, part of Culture Days.

Sept 26: PECMF. An evening of German and French cabaret songs with Patricia O’Callaghan at the Regent Theatre.  

Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote.`


As things go, the sweet sounds of summer are winding down as we gear up for the beginning of a new concert season. Three highlights of the summer for me personally were joining with 1000 other performers as a choir member in R. Murray Schafer’s Apocalypsis, singing with the Element Choir backing up the mind-blowing Tanya Tagaq at Nathan Philips Square and experiencing the purely delightful piece DIVE, featuring singer Fides Krucker and the music of Nik Beason. In all three, the voice was a predominant player. As I looked over the listings for this coming month, I couldn’t help observing the number of concerts and events featuring music by women composers and leading performers. One can question whether a point should be made about this, but given the long struggle for gender equality in both composition and conducting, it is worth noting that something is shifting. One element that appears in common among several of these events is the presence of the female voice.

New_1_-_Thierry_Tidrow.jpgMonk Feldman and Caitlin Smith: On September 29 Arraymusic is collaborating with the Canadian Opera Company to present the works of two women composers – Barbara Monk Feldman and Linda Caitlin Smith – for the free noon hour series at the COC’s Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. Monk Feldman’s piece, Love Shards of Sappho, originally commissioned by Arraymusic in 2001, is being presented in celebration of the COC’s premiere in late October of her opera Pyramus and Thisbe. The piece is built around texts written by the Greek lyric poet Sappho, who lived during the 600s BC on the Greek island of Lesbos. Renowned during her time, only a few fragments of Sappho’s writings remain. The texts used by Monk Feldman are clear and full of musicality. The words begin: Harmony clear voiced/I shall go/Clear voice I go/Clear voice/Garlanded/Adorned/ Delightful choir. Feldman’s music has been described as quiet and full of an intense intimacy. One can easily imagine the inspiring pairing these words and musical style will create, particularly in the hands of soprano Ilana Zarankin.

The other work on the program is Hieroglyphs, written in 1998 by Linda Caitlin Smith. Smith’s music is characterized by great attention to the sensuous qualities of sound and is a perfect concert companion in this program. Hieroglyphs consists of definitions of nine words drawn from dictionaries dating from 1859, 1906 and 1939. The list of words and definitions was assembled by Elissa Poole and Linda C. Smith and will be sung by Danielle MacMillan. The Arraymusic ensemble accompanies both works. 

Hannigan conducts: In the February issue of TheWholeNote, I interviewed soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan regarding her upcoming vocal performances in the TSO’s New Creations Festival. During the interview, Barbara spoke about breaking new ground as a conductor, another field predominantly occupied by men. Part of her own unique twist on taking up this new professional path was to do away with the traditional conductor attire and wear clothing that allowed her to be fully expressive with her bare arms as she conducts. On October 7 and 8, she returns to Toronto to conduct the Toronto Symphony in a program of works that span from Mozart and Haydn to Stravinsky and Ligeti. She will begin the program by singing Luigi Nono’s Djamila Boupacha before turning to the orchestra to conduct Haydn’s Symphony No. 49 “La Passione.”

Lorca to Lludgar: Another Canadian soprano who has been making international waves with her “impeccably pure and iridescent” voice is also returning to Toronto to perform in Soundstreams first concert of the season on September 29. In “Beyond the Aria,” Adrianne Pieczonka will take the stage along with Toronto-based mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó to perform a collection of works, including one of my personal favourites, George Crumb’s virtuosic Ancient Voices of Children, composed in 1970.  Drawing on the evocative poetry of Federico García Lorca, the piece uses a variety of sonic techniques, such as the soprano singing into the piano strings, and incorporates temple bells, musical saw and toy piano to convey Crumb’s essential vision: a request to God to “give me back my ancient soul of a child.” Other pieces on the program include selections from Crumb’s American Songbook, Luciano Berio’s arrangements of songs by Lennon and McCartney and a world premiere by Argentinian-Canadian composer Analia Llugdar. A Jules Léger Prize winner in 2008, Llugdar’s works frequently incorporate singing and speaking voices while pursuing her aesthetic vision of a search for “the core of the sound.” Her piece in this program, Romance de la luna, luna is inspired by the Lorca poem of the same name. Soundstreams’ press release is in sync with the theme of this month’s column: a concert celebrating the soaring voices and talents of Pieczonka, Szabó and Lludgar, three exceptional musical women.”

Companion events: At a companion event to the September 29 concert, Soundstreams will present one of their popular Salon evenings on September 18 further exploring the poetry of Lorca as interpreted by poet Beatriz Hausner. Krisztina Szabó will perform new compositions by Anna Atkinson, Juliet Palmer, James Rolfe and Christopher Thornborrow, each of which was written using the same Lorca excerpt. Other events that offer insight into the concerts mentioned above include a discussion of the sources that inspired Barbara Monk Feldman’s opera on September 24 at U of T’s Faculty of Music. Arraymusic will present a talk on Linda Smith’s Heiroglyphs and the extended piano techniques in the work of Barbara Pentland on October 3 as part of the Toronto Public Library’s Music 101 series. In addition, at the Canadian Music Centre, September 26 will see the launch of Pioneers of Electronic Musica new book by Norma Beecroft, as well as a special performance by the Canadian Electronic Ensemble. David Dacks, artistic director of the Music Gallery, will interview Beecroft about her research covering both international and Canadian composers working in this medium.

ACWC: As is evident from these numerous events, the focus on the musical artistry of women is rising fast and strong. It wasn’t always this way, and in 1981 a group of women met to find a way to address the absence of women composers in concert programming across the country. The Association of Canadian Women Composers was formed the next year and is currently working to actively promote the organization and present concerts. On September 18, their “Earth Music Concert in Waterloo will feature music by 12 ACWC composers.

New Beginnings: With the Labour Day weekend marking the end of the summer, I want to bring your attention to an event that occurs each year at Yonge-Dundas Square – the New Music Marathon and Musicircus! produced by Contact Contemporary Music. Because Labour Day falls a bit later this year, you just might be reading this in time to go and check it out. On Saturday, September 5 there will be a series of performances and interactive installations, including John Oswald’s epic composition Spectre recreated for 1000 string instruments. Then on September 6 in an intimate setting in an east-end loft space – The Jam Factory – Montreal’s ensemble Shalabi Effect will be performing, among others.

Continuum Contemporary Music begins their season on September 19 with their program “At the Seams.” On centre stage will be the awarding of the Jules Léger Prize to Thierry Tidrow for his composition Au fond du cloître humide commissioned by Continuum. The program will go on to feature world premieres by three other former Léger Prize winners: Chris Paul HarmanAndré Ristic and  Alec Hall. Rounding out the program will be a work for Gergory Oh by New York-based composer Caroline ShawEsprit Orchestra starts off with their “Con Brio” concert on October 4 with a newly commissioned work by Omar Daniel, a thriller inspired by the Nordic myth of the husband killer that uses Estonian folk idioms. The other Canadian composer represented on the program is Zosha Di Castri whose piece is treated as an evolving narrative recreating the sounds of a fictitious culture. Two other works by Jörg Widmann from Germany and Thomas Adès from England complete the theme of musically creating other worlds.

New_2_-_The_Visit.jpgThe Music Gallery season gets underway on September 25 with a program of contrasting cellos. The Visit, a group comprising cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne and vocalist Heather Sita Black, will perform and launch their new CD Through Darkness Into Light. Europe-based Tristan Honsinger joins Montreal’s In The Sea, an improvising trio formed by Nicolas Caloia.  Honsinger has returned to his former home of Montreal where he got his start improvising more than 40 years ago to join up with the younger Montrealers of In the Sea.

Quick Picks:

September 19: Canadian Music Centre. ∆TENT New Music Ensemble. Tsurumoto and others.

September 21: “Hybridiana: Canadiana Music from the Modern Era.” Works by Somers, Palmer, Buczynski, Archer, Kunz, Lustig and Coulthard. Featuring Hybridity (Shaelyn Archibald, Daniel Wheeler, Emily Hill and Michael Bridge).

September 24: “Hogtown Brass at the CMC.” Music composed especially for brass quintet.

September 5: Music Gallery /Bicycle Opera Project. “Shadow Box.” Works by Thornborrow, Burge, Höstman, Rolfe, Burry, and others.

September 13: The Oratory. Missa Septem Dolorem. New composition for two sopranos and organ by music director Philip Fournier.

September 20: Shrinking Planet Productions. “Canadian Visionaries I.” Works by Schafer, Glick, Buczynski, Coulthard and Pentland.

September 25: Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. “New Music Kingston Series: Dynamic Percussion/Piano Duo,” Kingston.

October 4: Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society. “Moveable Feast.” Two Bach cello suites plus two newly commissioned works related to them. 

Wendalyn Bartley is a Toronto-based composer and electro-vocal sound artist. sounddreaming@gmail.com.

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