HalfTones - Vol 2 #3 - November 17, 2014

NEW ON OUR WEBSITE

2014-11-05 18.29.19Our two latest “Conversations <at> The WholeNote” are now up on our website! Hear soprano Suzie LeBlanc’s premise for her latest CD, La Veillée de Noël, and Esprit Orchestra’s music director Alex Pauk on concert curating, new music, and what’s coming up on the next concert, “Revealed Time” on November 23.

Prizes! Prizes!

WIN tickets to opening night of Tafelmusik’s “Messiah”; special “family pack” tickets to Ross Petty Productions’ “Cinderella: The Gags to Riches Family Musical” at the Elgin Theatre; tickets to the upcoming International Divas concert; and entry into the Bach Consort’s Christmas Oratorio performance, featuring renowned soloists alongside members of the TSO and COC! Just click the links below and follow the instructions to enter in the contests of your choice. Feel free to enter all four!

Tafelmusik’s “Messiah”

“Cinderella” at the Elgin Theatre

International Divas

Bach Consort’s “Christmas Oratorio” 

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Cinderella, Now In Theatres

Here’s to family-friendly musicmaking -- Ross Petty Productions’ comedic take on the Cinderella story is onstage at the Elgin Theatre this month.

In a fresh take on a classic tale, “Cinderella: The Gags to Riches Family Musical” is Ross Petty’s theatrical offering this holiday season. Running from November 21 to January 4 at the Elgin Theatre, this production provides a child-friendly departure from your typical holiday musicmaking. Featured in the title role is none other than Danielle Wade, best known as the winner of the CBC-TV series “Over the Rainbow.” Ross Petty himself plays the role of Cinderella’s evil stepmother.

The WholeNote has special “family packs” of four tickets -- each pack a $235 value -- available for interested readers! Just visit our Prizes Section and follow a few simple instructions for a chance to win.

This show promises a fair dose of humour, song and dance this season -- for more information, visit http://rosspetty.com/current-show/the-show. 

Handel’s Messiah: A Survival Guide

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The weather has dropped to below zero, holiday decorations have made their way into retail outlets, and for concertgoers -- Messiah season is upon us. Standard musical fare during the holiday season, the sheer size and scope of Messiah performances every year can be at times inspiring for this city’s musical life -- and at other times, simply daunting. With performances of Handel’s famous oratorio seeming to start earlier and earlier each year, a “who’s-who” of Messiah musicians in our December issue alone doesn’t seem to cut it. Here’s the lowdown on what’s in store this year, Messiah-wise, as well as a guide on how to navigate local offerings to find the performances that bring you the most musical cheer.

Annual Favourites: Toronto can count on several excellent performances of Handel this season from the usual suspects, who do Messiah concerts every year, and do them well. Chief among these is Tafelmusik -- their run is December 17 to 20 at Koerner Hall, featuring their choir and period-instrument orchestra, with soloists Lydia Teuscher (soprano), James Laing (countertenor), Colin Balzer (tenor) and Brett Polegato (baritone). This show is sold out from year to year, and is an audience favourite in the city. The Tafelmusik run also includes its popular sing-along show, hosted on Dec 21 at Massey Hall by none other than “Herr Handel” himself.

The WholeNote has tickets to opening night of Tafelmusik’s Koerner Hall performance up for grabs -- just check out our Prizes Section to see how to win. For details on Tafelmusik, visit their website, tafelmusik.org.

Other performances from major concert presenters in the city include the Elmer Iseler Singers’ “Handel: Messiah” on December 5, with guests Virginia Hatfield (soprano), Marion Newman (mezzo-soprano), David Pomeroy (tenor), Giles Tomkins (bass) and the Amadeus Choir; and the TSO’s “Messiah,” December 16 to 21, featuring Jane Archibald (soprano), Allyson McHardy (mezzo-soprano), Lawrence Wiliford (tenor) and Philippe Sly (bass-baritone) with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.

For the Out-Of-Towners: Chorus Niagara performs two Messiah concerts this season on December 6 and 7, in Grimsby and St. Catharines respectively. Featuring soloists Jennifer Krabbe (soprano), Lyndsay Promane (mezzo), Charles Sy (tenor) and Tristan Jones (bass), as well as the Talisker Players on period instruments, these concerts are certain not to disappoint if you’re in the area.

The Guelph Chamber Choir also offers a performance using period instruments, with guests Musica Viva Orchestra, on December 20 at Guelph’s River Run Centre.

For a concert that presents Handel alongside other festive offerings, the Huronia Symphony Orchestra’s December 21 concert in Barrie features the Overture to Messiah, as well as works such as Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and a carol sing-along.

Variations: On November 28 to 29 at the Fleck Dance Theatre, Ballet Creole presents “Soulful Messiah,” a performance of tap, African-Caribbean, ballet, jazz and modern dance to the soundtrack of Quincy Jones’ rendition of the Messiah.

Also on the 29th, the Tallis Choir pairs Handel with Purcell, performing Purcell’s “Behold I Bring You Good Tidings, Te Deum and Jubilate” and Handel’s “Anthem for the Foundling Hospital” (which includes the Hallelujah Chorus) with the Talisker Players, at St. Patrick’s Church.

For something family-friendly, the Pax Christi Chorale presents a “Children’s Messiah” on December 13 at 4pm, a more casual performance that is free for children and PWYC for adults.

Finally, look out on December 20 for the Aradia Ensemble at St. Anne’s Anglican Church, where they will present their annual “Dublin Messiah” concert -- its title an homage to the Dublin concert hall where Handel’s work was first performed.

For details on all of the Messiah concerts listed above, as well as many others happening across the province in the coming weeks, take a look at this newsletter’s special Messiah listings section here, where you’re sure to find a performance that seems right for you.

JUST IN: NEW LISTINGS

ADONIS PUENTES’ ALBUM LAUNCH AT HUGH’S ROOM NOVEMBER 18

The fraternal twin brother of Alex Cuba, Cuban singer-songwriter Adonis Puentes has earned a Grammy nomination as the singer for band Mongorama and a JUNO nod for his solo album Sabor a Café. Puentes’ latest album, titled Veinte Anos, is a duo project with Cuban tres player Pancho Amat. A tribute to trova singer Maria Teresa Vera, Veinte Anos has already received a nomination for a Cubadisco Award.

Puentes launches Veinte Anos at Hugh’s Room, on November 18 at 8:30pm. Tickets are $25(adv)/$27.50(door). For a taste of the new album, click here  to see one of Puentes’ latest videos. For more information on the concert, check out our listings below.

Other new or corrected (*) listings this month follow. For a complete list of Messiah listings, click here.

Tuesday November 18

8:30: Hugh's Room. Veinte Años: Homenaje a María Teresa Vera. Album Release. Adonis Puentes, sonero; Pancho Amat, tres player. 2261 Dundas St. W. 416-531-6604. $25(adv)/$27.50(door).

Thursday November 20

2:00: Orchardviewers. Toronto Classical Pianist Ricker Choi. In Concert. Toronto Public Library, Northern District, 40 Orchard View Blvd. 416-393-7610. Free. Room 224.

Friday November 21

9:00: Hart House. Fernanda Cunha. Contemporary and traditional Brazilian compositions performed by singer Fernanda Cunha. Arbor Room, 7 Hart House Circle. n/a. Free.

Saturday November 22

7:30: Silverthorn Symphonic Winds. Autumn Rhapsody. Wind ensemble repertoire celebrating the many colours of fall. Alfred Reed: Alleluia! Laudamus Te; Howard Cable: Scottish Rhapsody; Jay Chattaway: Mazama; and others. Yorkminster Citadel, 1 Lord Seaton Rd., North York. $20; $15(sr/st).

Saturday November 29

3:00: Oakville Chamber Orchestra. Extraordinary Talent. Sarasate: Zigeunerweisen; Mozart: Flute Concerto No. 1 in G Major, mvt. 1; Ravel: Tzigane; Handel: et the Bright Seraphim from Samson; Gounod: Je Veux Vivre from Romeo and Juliet; and others. Arielle Silverberg, violin; Chelsie Vaillaincourt, flute; Jasmine Lin, violin; Leslie Bickle, soprano; Geoff Tiller, trumpet; and others. Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre, 2302 Bridge Rd, Oakville. 905-483-6787 (OPUS). Free; donations accepted on behalf of ArtHouse.

Sunday November 30

CANCELLED: 8:00: Community Baroque Orchestra of Toronto. In Concert. Works by Telemann, Philidor and Marais. Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw St. 416-929-0125. By donation.

MESSIAH LISTINGS

Sunday November 23

2:30: Georgetown Bach Chorale. Handel’s Messiah. Presented on historic instruments. St. James' Anglican Church, 6029 Old Church Rd., Caledon East. 905-584-9635. $35; $10(st). Also Nov 29 (eve, Knox Presbyterian, Georgetown), 30 (mat, St. John's United, Georgetown).

Friday November 28

8:00: Ballet Creole. Soulful Messiah. A dance production choreographed to Quincy Jones' R&B rendition of Handel's Messiah. Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W. 416-973-4000. $20-$45. Also Nov 29 (mat and eve).

Saturday November 29

2:00: Ballet Creole. Soulful Messiah. A dance production choreographed to Quincy Jones' R&B rendition of Handel's Messiah. Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W. 416-973-4000. $20-$45. Also Nov 28(eve) and Nov 29(eve).

7:30: Georgetown Bach Chorale. Handel’s Messiah. Presented on historic instruments. Knox Presbyterian Church (Georgetown), 116 Main St. South,Georgetown. 905-877-2848. $35; $10(st). Also Nov 15 (eve, Lakeshore United, Goderich), 23 (mat, St. James Anglican, Caledon East), 30 (mat, St. John's United, Georgetown).

7:30: Tallis Choir. Purcell's Messiah. Purcell: Behold I Bring You Good Tidings; Te Deum and Jubilate; Handel: Anthem for the Foundling Hospital(including Hallelujah Chorus). Guest: The Talisker Players; Peter Mahon, conductor. St. Patrick’s Church, 141 McCaul St. 416-286-9798. $30; $25(sr); $10(st with ID).

8:00: Ballet Creole. Soulful Messiah. A dance production choreographed to Quincy Jones' R&B rendition of Handel's Messiah. Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W. 416-973-4000. $20-$45. Also Nov 28(eve) and Nov 29(mat).

Sunday November 30

 2:30: Georgetown Bach Chorale. Handel’s Messiah. Presented on historic instruments. St. John's United Church (Georgetown), 11 Guelph St., Georgetown, On. 905-877-2531. $35; $10(st). Also Nov 15 (eve, Lakeshore United, Goderich), 23 (mat, St. James Anglican, Caledon East), 29 (eve, Knox Presbyterian Church, Georgetown).

3:00: Guelph Chamber Choir. Carols For Christmas: Carols and Seasonal Readings for Christmas and Winter. Benjamin Britten: Ceremony of Carols; Harold Darke: In the Bleak Midwinter; Fode Fjellheim: Northern Lights; Handel: Hallelujah Chorus; and traditional carols for choir and audience sing-along. Gerald Neufeld, conductor; Alison MacNeill, piano; "Winter’s Eve Trio" (Sharlene Wallace, harp; Joe Macerollo, accordion; George Koller, bass. St. George's Anglican Church, 99 Woolwich St., Guelph. 519-763-3000. $25; $10(st); $5(with eyeGO).

Friday December 5

8:00: Elmer Isler Singers. Handel: Messiah. Guests: Virginia Hatfield, soprano; Marion Newman, mezzo; David Pomeroy, tenor; Giles Tomkins, bass; Amadeus Choir; Lydia Adams, conductor. Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen St. E. 416-217-0537. $55; $50(sr); $20(st).

Saturday December 6

2:00: Musikay. How to Handle Messiah. A workshop/sing-along on Handel's Messiah, led by Musikay's Maestro Potvin. Grace Lutheran Church, 304 Spruce St., Oakville. 905-825-9740. $30 general admission.

7:30: Chorus Niagara. Messiah: A Niagara Holiday Tradition for 50 years. Handel's Messiah performed on period instruments. Jennifer Krabbe, soprano; Lyndsay Promane, mezzo; Charles Sy, tenor; Tristan Jones, bass; Talisker Players. Mountainview Christian Reformed Church, 290 Main St. E., Grimsby. 1-866-617-3257 or 905-688-5550 x3257. $35; $33(sr); $25(under 30); $15 (st); $5(eyeGO). Also Dec 7(mat, St. Catharines). Donations welcome of non-perishable food items in support of Grimsby Benevolent Fund.

7:30: Etobicoke Centennial Choir. Sacred Traditions. Handel: Messiah(part 1); seasonal carols and songs. Carl Steinhauser, piano; Henry Renglich, conductor. Humber Valley United Church, 76 Anglesey Blvd., Etobicoke. 416-769-9271. $25.

7:30: Grand Philharmonic Choir. Messiah. Handel. Jennifer Taverner, soprano; Kimberly Barber, mezzo; Cory Knight, tenor; Daniel Lichti, bass-baritone; Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony; Mark Vuorinen, conductor. Centre in the Square, 101 Queen St. N., Kitchener. 519-578-6885. $25–$75.

7:30: Orchestra Kingston. Messiah Sing-Along. Guest soloists; audience participation. Salvation Army Citadel, 816 Centennial Dr., Kingston. 613-634-9312. $15-$20. Rehearsals Nov 25 & Dec 2 at 5:30, Salvation Army Citadel.

Sunday December 7

2:30: Chorus Niagara. Messiah: A Niagara Holiday Tradition for 50 years. Handel's Messiah performed on period instruments. Jennifer Krabbe, soprano; Lyndsay Promane, mezzo; Charles Sy, tenor; Tristan Jones, bass; Talisker Players. Calvary Church, 89 Scott St., St. Catharines. 1-866-617-3257 or 905-688-5550 x3257. $35; $33(sr); $25(under 30); $15 (st); $5(eyeGO). Also Dec 6(eve, Grimsby). Donations welcome of non-perishable food items in support of Community Care.

3:00: Elora Festival and Singers. A Village Messiah. Handel. Elora Festival Singers; Noel Edison, conductor. St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 760 St. David N.,Fergus. 519-846-0332. $40.

3:00: St. Anne's Anglican Church. Cantate: A Neighbourhood Christmas Concert. Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on Christmas Carols; Handel: Messiah (excerpts); carol-sing. Choir of St. Anne's; Junction Trio & Friends; Matthew Otto, conductor. 270 Gladstone Ave. 416-536-3160. $15; free(child). In support of Youth Scholarship Program, Div. 14, Community Police Liaison Committee.

Friday December 12

7:30: Cellar Singers. Messiah. Handel. Jennifer Taverner, Jennifer Enns Modolo, Joseph Levesque and Benjamin Covey, vocals; Mitchell Pady, artistic director; Blair Bailey, organ. St. Joseph's Church (Bracebridge), 118 McMurray St.,Bracebridge. 705-817-7664. $30; $15(gen/st). Also Dec 14(mat).

Saturday December 13

4:00: Pax Christi Chorale. Children’s Messiah. Handel: favourite choruses and arias. Church of St. Mary Magdalene, 477 Manning Ave. 416-531-7955. PWYC; free(child).

7:30: Arcady. Messiah. Handel. Ronald Beckett, conductor. Ancaster Christian Reformed Church, 70 Garner Rd. E., Ancaster. 877-700-3130. $25.

8:00: Mississauga Symphony Orchestra. Hallelujah! Messiah and Friends. Handel: Messiah(highlights); Bach: Christmas Oratorio Part 1. Guest chorus and solo vocals. Hammerson Hall, Living Arts Centre, 4141 Living Arts Dr., Mississauga. 905-306-6000. $48–$62.

Sunday December 14

 3:00: Cellar Singers. Messiah. Handel. Jennifer Taverner, Jennifer Enns Modolo, Joseph Levesque and Benjamin Covey, vocals; Mitchell Pady, artistic director; Blair Bailey, organ. St. Paul's United Church (Orillia), 62 Peter St. N., Orillia. 705-817-7664. $30; $15(gen/st). Also Dec 12(eve).

 3:00: Peterborough Singers. Handel’s Messiah. Pamela Birrell, soprano; Laura Pudwell, mezzo; Colin Ainsworth, tenor; Michael Adair, bass; Paul Otway, trumpet; and others; Sydney Birrell, conductor. George Street United Church, 534 George St. N., Peterborough. 705-745-1820. $20-$30; $10(st). Also Dec 15(eve).

Monday December 15

7:30: Peterborough Singers. Handel’s Messiah. Pamela Birrell, soprano; Laura Pudwell, mezzo; Colin Ainsworth, tenor; Michael Adair, bass; Paul Otway, trumpet; and others; Sydney Birrell, conductor. George Street United Church, 534 George St. N., Peterborough. 705-745-1820. $20-$30; $10(st). Also Dec 14(mat).

Tuesday December 16

8:00: Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Special: Messiah. Handel. Jane Archibald, soprano; Allyson McHardy, mezzo; Lawrence Wiliford, tenor; Philippe Sly, bass; Toronto Mendelssohn Choir; Grant Llewellyn, conductor. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St. 416-593-4828; 416-593-0688(Chinese). $38-$105. Also Dec 17, 19, 20, 21(mat).

Wednesday December 17

7:30: Tafelmusik. Handel: Messiah. Lydia Teuscher, soprano; James Laing, countertenor; Colin Balzer, tenor; Brett Polegato, baritone; Ivars Taurins, conductor. Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor St. W. 416-408-0208. $49–$119; $39–$104(sr); $29–$104(35 and under). Also Dec 18, 19, 20, and 21: Sing-Along Messiah, Massey Hall(mat).

 8:00: Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Special: Messiah. Handel. Jane Archibald, soprano; Allyson McHardy, mezzo; Lawrence Wiliford, tenor; Philippe Sly, bass; Toronto Mendelssohn Choir; Grant Llewellyn, conductor. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St. 416-593-4828; 416-593-0688(Chinese). $38-$105. Also Dec 16, 19, 20, 21(mat).

Thursday December 18

7:30: Tafelmusik. Handel: Messiah. Lydia Teuscher, soprano; James Laing, countertenor; Colin Balzer, tenor; Brett Polegato, baritone; Ivars Taurins, conductor. Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor St. W. 416-408-0208. $49–$119; $39–$104(sr); $29–$104(35 and under). Also Dec 17, 19, 20, and 21: Sing-Along Messiah, Massey Hall(mat).

Friday December 19

7:30: Tafelmusik. Handel: Messiah. Lydia Teuscher, soprano; James Laing, countertenor; Colin Balzer, tenor; Brett Polegato, baritone; Ivars Taurins, conductor. Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor St. W. 416-408-0208. $49–$119; $39–$104(sr); $29–$104(35 and under). Also Dec 17, 18, 20, and 21: Sing-Along Messiah, Massey Hall(mat).

8:00: Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Special: Messiah. Handel. Jane Archibald, soprano; Allyson McHardy, mezzo; Lawrence Wiliford, tenor; Philippe Sly, bass; Toronto Mendelssohn Choir; Grant Llewellyn, conductor. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St. 416-593-4828; 416-593-0688(Chinese). $38-$105. Also Dec 16, 17, 20, 21(mat).

Saturday December 20

7:30: Aradia Ensemble. Dublin Messiah. Handel. Jacqueline Woodley, soprano; Maria Soulis, mezzo; Adam Fisher, tenor; Giles Tomkins, bass; Kevin Mallon, conductor. St. Anne's Anglican Church, 270 Gladstone Ave. 647-960-6650. $35; $20(sr/st).

7:30: Guelph Chamber Choir. Messiah. Handel. Sheila Dietrich, soprano; Daniel Cabena, countertenor; Chris Fischer, tenor; Alexander Dobson, bass; Musica Viva Orchestra on period instruments; Gerald Neufeld, conductor. River Run Centre, 35 Woolwich St., Guelph. 519-763-3000. $35/$30(4 or more); $10(st); $5(eyeGO).

7:30: Tafelmusik. Handel: Messiah. Lydia Teuscher, soprano; James Laing, countertenor; Colin Balzer, tenor; Brett Polegato, baritone; Ivars Taurins, conductor. Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor St. W. 416-408-0208. $49–$119; $39–$104(sr); $29–$104(35 and under). Also Dec 17, 18, 19, and 21: Sing-Along Messiah, Massey Hall(mat).

8:00: Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Special: Messiah. Handel. Jane Archibald, soprano; Allyson McHardy, mezzo; Lawrence Wiliford, tenor; Philippe Sly, bass; Toronto Mendelssohn Choir; Grant Llewellyn, conductor. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St. 416-593-4828; 416-593-0688(Chinese). $38-$105. Also Dec 16, 17, 19, 21(mat).

Sunday December 21

 2:00: Tafelmusik. Sing-Along Messiah. Handel. Ivars Taurins, conductor. Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor St. W. 416-872-4255. $29–$47. Also Dec 17, 18, 19, and 20(Koerner Hall, eve).

3:00: Grand River Chorus. Singalong Messiah. Handel. Grand River Orchestra; Shannon McCracken, soprano; Timothy Wong, countertenor; Shawn Oakes, tenor; Kirk Lackenbauer, baritone. Grace Anglican Church, 15 Albion St.,Brantford. . $25; $15(sr/st).

3:00: Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Special: Messiah. Handel. Jane Archibald, soprano; Allyson McHardy, mezzo; Lawrence Wiliford, tenor; Philippe Sly, bass; Toronto Mendelssohn Choir; Grant Llewellyn, conductor. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St. 416-593-4828; 416-593-0688(Chinese). $38-$109. Also Dec 16, 17, 19, 20.

3:30: Huronia Symphony Orchestra. The Glory of Christmas. Moll/Balaburski: Sadie’s Door (premiere); Handel: Overture to Messiah; Calvert: ‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime; Anderson: Sleigh Ride; traditional Christmas classics; carol sing-along. Oliver Balaburski, conductor. Guests: Barrie Belltones Handbell Choir. Collier Street United Church, 112 Collier St., Barrie. 705-721-4752. $25; $10(st); $5(child).

THANKS FOR SUBSCRIBING

Our next issue of HalfTones, Vol 2 No 4, is out on December 9! The next print issue of The WholeNote, a double issue for December and January, will be published on December 1.

Please contact halftones@thewholenote.com with any HalfTones inquiries.

 


For Whose Benefit?

Above all else, a disclaimer: The WholeNote attests and affirms that no real clarinet choirs were harmed in the making of the licorice stick joke (page 36, col 1, para 5) in Jim Galloway’s Jazz Notes column this issue. Welcome back, Jim! 

Youthanized: It’s amazing how the keepers of various public arts and cultural purses (arts and cultural councils and funds) have the power to send the spirits of their clients and would-be clients soaring to the heights or plunging to the depths. We only qualify for one or two of these, a situation not likely to change unless “survival arts” becomes a discipline like “visual arts” for example. And at the best of times, such as right now, the money that we receive from these sources never exceeds more than five or six percent of what it takes to keep this enterprise swimming doggedly towards the economic safety of some distant (and perhaps imaginary) shore.

Starting with soaring, we are chuffed beyond measure to announce that the Ontario Media Development Corporation has agreed to support our proposal to develop an online “Listening Room” as an adjunct to our DISCoveries CD/Record Review Section.  We’ll be tweaking and testing starting this coming month, with a full scale launch in the spring. Stay tuned, And welcome aboard, Thom McKercher, who will be piloting this initiative.

The “sinking feeling” side of things is a little harder to nail down, because it’s not specific to us but rather something that the whole musical milieu we serve is going through to some extent. It is the result of the fact that, despite the emergence of new creative organizations all the time, the governments that supply the aforesaid arts councils and funds with cash are hugely resistant to increasing the amount of money available. The Ontario Arts Council, for one, has had its budgets flatlined for years. So the money available must be shared among more recipients. Older organizations find themselves threatened with “youthanizing” - letters announcing little cuts here and there, and threatening larger cuts unless the organizations in question address themselves to newer or younger or more diverse audiences. Would it not be better to have the resources to fund directly the arts and culture arising organically from these new constituencies as they emerge?

It’s not the fault of the councils and funds. It’s the chronic lack of respect that arts work gets from dumb politicians at every level. 

Election reflections, Ontario October 27 2014: Speaking of dumb politicians,make no mistake, there’s no worse feeling after an election than to have voted fearfully (“strategically” it’s sometimes called) for the lesser of two evils. And it’s especially sour when the stratagem fails. That’s what happened in my small town the last time round. The bigger bully got elected anyway, and I had the taste of it in my mouth for a long time.

So this time round I said “strategy be damned” and voted with a hopeful heart. (So how did that work out for you, Dave?)

Well, definitely no sour taste so far; and a bit less fear in the air, because it appears the strategic voters carried the day, even without my help, which is a bit of a blow to the ol’ ego.

Mine is just a small town, mind you, but I suspect that even in what are colloquially referred to as “world class cities” the same dynamic applies: you vote, then wait, en masse, to see who the real beneficiaries of the power you have awarded will be.

Best chat I had along the way during this election campaign, by far,  was not with a candidate but with a super-fine young vocalist who showed up at a fundraiser/party for a particularly hopeful mayoralty candidate in the old home town. We chatted away, while an evening’s worth of fine musicians added their musical hearts and skills to the evening’s hopeful hullabaloo.

As is so often the case, the fundraiser fell further and further behind schedule the longer it went, and our conversation had time to wander over the whole range of galas, fundraisers, benefits  and the like – events that as you know run the gamut  from “pay what you can” to hundreds of dollars a plate; and from spontaneous uprisings, organized at lightning speed in response to calamity, to events planned months in advance with military precision all the way though to huge events.

Where music and musicians fit into such events is as varied as the range and scale of the events. “Sometimes, as in a case like this” my musical companion said, “I am doing it because I would give this candidate money myself if I had money to give. And it’s funny ... I am happier sitting around here waiting my turn even if we are an hour and a half behind, than I would be if the same thing was happening at an event for which I was being paid scale or more and was just part of the decor, arriving and departing through the kitchen door like the rest of the hired help.”

“And somewhere in between,” she said, “there are the events where you know that a lot of the people involved are being paid a standard wage or fee, for the flowers, or the catering, or the invitations, but  somehow, as a musician, I’m expected to do my work for free because as an artist I should understand that it’s for a good cause. Or even more grating, that I should be grateful because I am being given the opportunity to perform for a ‘real’ audience.”

It wasn’t an embittered rant; just a bit of gentle back and forth on how it takes all kinds to make a world. And to make the world better.  

When my musical companion did finally get up to add her voice to the mix, that election fundraising night at Hugh’s Room, it was as always with all her heart and all her might; all in all the music that night made the club feel like it had rafters, ringing with hope and with laughter.
The point is that when hope needs harvesting, music is often just what is needed to gas the engine and to bring muscle to the mix. In cases like that, who benefits? Everyone.

This issue’s Galas and Fundraisers listings are chock-a-block with events at every scale of ambition and complexity from the simplest to the grandest. But the concert listings too are replete with the same impulse. Scan the concert listings for any week, and see how often a worthwhile cause is named as the beneficiary of a given event, even if it is only to enable the venue to keep the roof over the rafters the music rings round in.

Tributes Abound: Close cousin to the benefit concert, but with a differently generous impulse at its heart is the tribute concert. There are two I want to mention briefly here. One is a Counterpoint Orchestra event in memory of a longtime member, Paul Willis. You can find it November 8 at 7pm in the GTA listings and read a short “remembering” article about him in the previous issue of The WholeNote. The second is a concert in memory of organist Massimo Nosetti, November 12 at 7.30 at St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Bloor Street East (also to be found in the GTA listings). I remember an organ concert Nosetti gave there in 2012, with a 30-piece orchestra.

Kubrick’s Musical Odyssey: Ears Wide Open

“A film is – or should be – more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.” – Stanley Kubrick

Imagine, as you walk through Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition (October 31 to January 25 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox), that you have an iPod loaded with music from Kubrick’s films. Listening to this music as you stroll would further illuminate the artefacts from the filmmaker’s extensive archives that already comprise an extraordinary glimpse into the working habits and intellect of one of the most thorough directorial minds the world of cinema has ever seen.

Prokofiev’sNevsky: The first piece on that iPod, perhaps surprisingly, would have to be Prokofiev’s soundtrack to Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky (1938), which Kubrick bought after seeing the film with Alexander Singer, a friend from high school (and later a director himself). Kubrick was so obsessed with the record that he played it continually, well over 100 times, so much so that his younger sister, fed up, broke it “in an absolute rage,” Singer said. “Stanley never got over [the battle on the ice].”

Read more: Kubrick’s Musical Odyssey: Ears Wide Open

Ready, Set... NYOC

feat - nyocIf you find yourself in a music school or studio in the coming months and hear through the walls of a practice room snippets of Holst’s The Planets or of Strauss’ infamous Dance of the Seven Veils, chances are that if the musician inside is under 30 years of age, they have their mind set on summer. Not because they are yearning for long days and sunny weather alone, but because the National Youth Orchestra of Canada is as usual well under way with planning its program for the summer ahead, and the application process for participants has commenced.

The National Youth Orchestra of Canada is not your average musical summer camp. Billed as “Canada’s orchestral finishing school” for ages 16 to 28, the NYOC recruits members from across the country for its annual program and tour, coaching participants in chamber music and the orchestral classics. And with 14-hour days of training, six days a week from June to August, summer at Laurier University – where the program takes up its residency – becomes a veritable hotbed of musical activity.

Read more: Ready, Set... NYOC

Virtuoso Violins Piano Prodigies

beat - classicalAnne-Sophie Mutter was only 22 years old when she started her first foundation in aid of young string players; it was limited to the area of Germany at the foot of the Black Forest where she was born. As a teenager if had become clear to her – she told me in a recent telephone conversation – that “we string players sooner or later run through the same circle of problems mainly to do with finding the right teacher but also with finding an instrument which can be a musical partner for life, and hopefully financially obtainable as well. So my first foundation was sort of a tryout, how I could help younger colleagues.”

Now in its 16th or 17th year, the Circle of Friends of the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation provides instruments for the foundation’s chosen scholars as one attempt to help. Another is commissioning new works. The Toronto program of Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Mutter Virtuosi in Roy Thomson Hall on November 21 opens with a commission by the Circle of Friends for double bass -- Ringtones by the American Sebastian Currier.

“Obviously throughout history the double bass has been one of the important pillars of the orchestra but there have been very few solo performers,” she said. “Roman Patkoló was one of my first scholars and I was totally blown away by his talent, by his artistry and great passion,” she continued. So even though her original plan had not included the double bass that much, it became “really a main focus of my foundation” with four pieces commissioned for Patkoló starting with “a beautiful double concerto” written and recorded by André Previn, “a very pizzazz-y solo piece by Penderecki,” as well as “a very intellectual spherical piece” by Wolfgang Rihm.

Ringtones is a very serious piece but also leaves room for fun,” she continued, explaining that it’s a way to build a case for the virtuosity of the bass. Showing off her sense of humour, she dead-panned: “Ringtones are for the very first time in a concert welcome!”

As to what it’s like to perform with her students and former students -- who comprise the Mutter Virtuosi with whom she’s sharing the RTH stage – she recounts how when she was 13, Karajan treated her as an adult, addressing her with the German equivalent of “vous,” not “tu,” which would be normal in speaking to a 13-year-old. She points this out to indicate that experience and age are irrelevant to the “all-embracing strength of musical language.”

“No matter how young we are,” she went on. “At the end of the day it’s really your personal viewpoint, and of course, a certain skillfulness, that we only have to share.

“Of course I’m looking with great love and devotion into the lives of the ones I’ve been a small part of for 10 or 15 years and it’s beautiful to see how all of them have found their place in music... it is really the Olympic ideal to make the best out of what you have that is the driving force behind the [foundation’s] selection process.”

Mendelssohn’s great Octet is on the program in Toronto, so I asked Ms. Mutter why she admires the composer so much. Her answer was especially revealing. She began by saying that it was only eight or ten years ago she re-started learning the Violin Concerto:

“My wonderful teacher Aida Stucki never seemed to be quite taken by what I did with the piece and I never felt quite free with what my vision was. So it wasn’t one of the pieces I felt comfortable with and when it was up to me to decide what repertoire I would delve into I thought, ‘Well if no one likes my Mendelssohn playing, I’ll just stop playing it.’

“Then many years ago, I think around Kurt Masur’s 75th or 80th birthday [80th in fact, in 2007] he said ‘I want a gift from you: Restudy the Mendelssohn and let’s do it together.’ Of course, when Kurt Masur wishes something I’ll go to the end of the world for him, so the least I could do was restudy the piece and come to different conclusions. And he gave me wonderful insights.

“I came to admire Mendelssohn as the humanist he was and actually today he’s for me a perfect example of what I expect a musician to be, also [what I expect] of the younger generation: someone who is socially engaged and open-minded and goes with open eyes through life.”

She explained that Mendelssohn built the first music school in Germany for “students of all cultural and financial backgrounds,” and of course, “he resurrected Johann Sebastian Bach.” She summed up her feelings: “Somehow I seem to admire an artist in general even more if he also turns out to be a useful member of human society, apart from being very skillful at what he’s doing.

“Obviously the Octet stands for all these qualities. There’s such a beautiful quote from Mendelssohn who used to say, particularly about the Octet, that when he is writing or making chamber music he hopes that it is ‘like a conversation between very well-educated and interesting friends.’

beat - classical 2“And this is pretty much how I feel when I am playing with my young colleagues. We all bring our own viewpoints to it and there’s a lot of freshness and passion in the air, which is the main ingredient really of rediscovering what we think we know.”

I had read that Ms. Mutter had recently begun using a baroque bow to perform Bach, so I asked her if she would be using one in the Toronto performance of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, only to discover that new regulations involving animal materials made it difficult to bring even copies to North America. She told me that she will continue to play Bach with it wherever she is able mainly “because the original phrasing in the Bach scores is only to be obtained by bows which are much lighter in the frog [the bottom part of the bow that is nearest to the hand] which was the case in Baroque times.”

While they don’t use baroque bows in their playing of the Vivaldi, it’s nevertheless much less dense and more transparent playing today than what she thought was proper in the 1980s. In Toronto she and her Virtuosi would be keeping that “transparent and very airy sound in mind, for sure.”

I was quite curious about what led Ms. Mutter to take up the violin as a child since I knew that she didn’t come from a family of musicians. She spoke of growing up “kind of a tomboy” with two older brothers in a house with a lot of classical music and literature. Her father was a journalist who later became a newspaper editor. As engagement presents her parents gave each other recordings by Furtwängler and by Menuhin. “That shows how much that was part of their life and how much that became part of our life at home.”

“We listened to a lot of classical music as well as jazz,” she continued. “And that is probably the reason for my deep-rooted love of jazz because I felt so comfortable and basically soaked it up like mother’s milk.

“So for my fifth birthday – it must have been the constant presence of that violin sound which made me want to try it for myself. And I’m still trying it,” she added, almost seriously.

I asked her about the violinists who made an impression on her in her youth and the depth of her answer was quite telling: “The great, unforgettable David Oistrakh definitely left the deepest impression: his presence on stage, the warmth of his personality. I remember there were students sitting literally at his feet ... Yes, I was six years old and he played the three Brahms sonatas.

“A few years later I was fortunate enough to hear Nathan Milstein who became another of my [favourites]; I obviously also played with Menuhin at a later stage of his life; I heard Isaac Stern in person; I was rather close to Henryk Szeryng. I was really very fortunate to hear all of these icons of violin playing at a still fabulous age and in great shape.”

As to what makes a great violinist great, Ms. Mutter responded that “we’re all trying to be a well-rounded musican.” She finds the idea of being a specialist rather boring, caught up with technical details and perfecting them without really having the scope to see the bigger picture. She thinks it’s wonderful that the violin is “an instrument which is best in company with someone else, with another musical partner.” At the same as she extols the virtues of “just being a useful part of the whole” she says, “Of course you have to find – as violinist, pianist or conductor – you have to find an angle where music is newly or freshly or whatever ... it has to bring a spark to something.”

She spoke of shattering the illusion of the listener who might think he knows what you’re playing already and may feel slightly tired of it. “Of course that illusion has to be taken away the moment that the particular artist goes on stage,” she explained. ”Then it really has to be totally fascinating.” When I enthusiastically agree, she responds, “Hopefully.”

Her extensive discography which began when she was just 15 – Deutsche Grammophon celebrated her 35-year recording career with a 40-CD box set last year and her 25-year collaborative partnership with pianist Lambert Orkis was marked with The Silver Album, a 2-CD compilation this year – prompted a question about what, if anything in the violin repertoire she looks forward to recording.

“Sadly, sadly, of course life is too short,” she responded. She is fascinated, she went on to say, with the great encores that Jascha Heifetz used to play, “a repertoire that is sadly, frowned upon in German-speaking countries.” Listening to two CDs over the course of an evening recently, she remarked how struck she was by the “nobility of this great violinist,” and that for the next few months she would be exploring this repertoire. Beyond that? “The repertoire is endless – you can go in this direction or that, ...Walton, ... Barber, more contemporary music ... the Beethoven string quartets.”

“Yes, Paul, it’s kind of [a mock scream over the phone, as if saying it’s all too much to contemplate]” I counter that it’s something to look forward to; “One after the other,” she replies.

There is so much to do. Even as she takes the Mutter Virtuosi on their first North American tour, their New York appearance is just one part of Carnegie Hall’s Anne-Sophie Mutter Perspectives in which all facets of her musicianship will be on display, from her recent appearance in the Bruch Violin Concerto No.1 with the Berlin Philharmonic under Simon Rattle at the beginning of October, to the Annual Isaac Stern Memorial Concert November 11 (with Orkis on piano for Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” sonata, and a performance of Currier’s Ringtones with Patkoló), to a concert next spring with Yefim Bronfman and Lynn Harrell (including Beethoven’s “Archduke” trio). Playing Sibelius, Berg and Moret with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas’ New World Symphony completes the six-concert series.

WholeNote readers will be interested in the fact that the Mutter Virtuosi Carnegie Hall concert on November 18 will be live-streamed and available on medici.tv for view for 90 days thereafter. Like the concert in Toronto three days later,  the program includes Vivaldi’s Four Seasons but instead of Mendelssohn and Currier the Carnegie program features Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins BWV 1043 and André Previn’s.

What does she think about the live streaming, I ask. “It’s not downloadable but you can look at it and get horrified from another angle,” she jests, before adding more seriously: “I feel very honoured [because very few concerts are being streamed].”

So anyone going to the November 21 Roy Thomson Hall concert (or contemplating it) will be able to get a sneak preview in the few days before, or more likely cement a memory of parts of the Toronto concert any time through mid-February.

beat - classical 3Jan Lisiecki: Like Mutter, Calgary-born pianist Jan Lisiecki began music lessons at five and started recording for Deutsche Grammophon as a teenager (he was 17). He will bring his musical sensibilities to Beethoven’s third, fourth and fifth piano concertos in a series of concerts with the TSO November 12 to 22. I was fortunate several summers ago to hear Alfred Brendel play all five of the concertos with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood and I can’t overstress what a pleasure such concentrated exposure can be. Guest conducting the TSO will be Thomas Dausgaard who has paired each concerto with a symphony by his Danish countryman, Carl Nielsen. Nielsen, a contemporary of Sibelius, is known for his energetic post-romanticism, and he was quite explicit about the life force music represented to him. Symphony No. 4 “The Inextinguishable” is particularly expressive in this vein, having been composed during the first half of the First World War. It’s paired with Beethoven’s most lyrical piano concerto, the Fourth, November 12 and 13.

beat - classical 4Itzhak Perlman: Like Mutter, Izhak Perlman is a towering figure on the world violin stage and occupied as well with music education. His upcoming RTH recital December 1 with pianist Rohan De Silva crosses three centuries with music by Vivaldi, Schumann, Beethoven and Ravel. At his concert here two years ago with collaborator De Silva, he introduced the entire post-intermission part of the program from the stage, with the joyful aplomb of a Borscht Belt kibitzer. Any opportunity to hear what he cals his “fiddle playing” should not be missed.

Leon Fleisher: For many years this city has been fortunate to have Leon Fleisher in its midst. As the occupant of the inaugural Ihnatowycz Chair in Piano at the Royal Conservatory, his presence has been felt in teaching, conducting, performing, examining and giving masterclasses. On November 25 at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, he will appear on stage in a Q & A after the screening of the fully packed 17-minute film, Two Hands: The Leon Fleisher Story, which documents his battle to overcome focal dystonia, a movement disorder that affected the use of the fourth and fifth fingers of his right hand. Watching him rise from the depths of despair at the peak of his concert career to remake his life as a musician is thrilling to behold. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet him in person.

beat - classical 5Three days later on November 28, Fleisher conducts the Royal Conservatory Orchestra in a program that includes Mozart’s Symphony No.39 and Brahms’ Symphony No.3. On the mornings and afternoons of November 29 and 30 he will give masterclasses in Mazzoleni Hall. He will share a musical legacy traceable back to Beethoven directly through his teacher Artur Schnabel and Schnabel’s teacher Theodor Leschetizky who studied with Carl Czerny who studied with Beethoven. Anton Kuerti can claim a similiar connection through another pupil of Leschetizky, Mieczysław Horszowski, who taught Kuerti.

The evening at the Bloor also includes the feature-length, documentary Horowitz: The Last Romantic, a true curiosity by the noted filmmakers Albert and David Maysles (best know for Salesman, Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelter). The impish pianist and his shrewd wife Wanda (Toscanini’s daughter) are filmed in their apartment where Horowitz is recording an album at the age of 81. The up-close camerawork devoted to his fingers is just one of the attractions of this fascinating film.

Bavouzet and the LPO: Coincidentally, pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, who recently played Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at RTH October 17 with an energetic London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski, suffered from functional dystonia that affected his right hand from 1989 to 1993. In the Prokofiev Bavouzet moved confidently from wistful calm to devilish passagework, from idiosyncratic note picking to mysterious pianissimos as he revealed the composer’s Russian soulfulness. In the evening’s other major work, Shostakovich’s Symphony No.8, the LPO displayed great clarity and airiness including wonderful sound clashes, vibrant searing melodies in the strings, terrific brass work and yeoman flute playing that set up the intermittently febrile march of the second movement  and the sardonic third before the gratifying, sombre conclusion.

And So Much More: MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship-winner Jeremy Denk leads a parade of world-class pianists into November’s concert halls. He’s followed by the inimitable Richard Goode, the dynamic aestheticism of Simon Trpčeski, the elegance of Angela Hewitt (in a program that ranges far and wide from Bach and Scarlatti through Beethoven’s Op.110 to Albéniz and Liszt), to Mooredale Concerts’ “Piano Dialogue” between David Jalbert & Wonny Song and the adventuresome Christina Petrowska Quilico whose name is often found in the pages of TheWholeNote’s CD section.

And then there’s the Dover Quartet, the Daedalus String Quartet, the Cecilia String Quartet, the Windermere String Quartet, the Zuckerman Chamber Players, the Canadian Brass, Leonidas Kavakos & Yuja Wang, Dmitri Levkovich ... It goes on and on. Like Tchaikovsky, Danny Kaye’s famous tongue-twister of a patter song, name after name, concert after concert. What riches there are to be found in this issue’s listings.

Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote. He can be reached at editorial@thewholenote.com.


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