March’s Child Jack MacQuarrie

jackmac credit joan andrews current  img 1067  copy The WholeNote’s Bandstand columnist since September 2006, Jack MacQuarrie was born on Christmas Day,1925, and raised in Walkerville Ontario (now Windsor).How many hats can a music-loving fellow wear in a lifetime? Just ask the man who has 30 or so instruments in his house.

There was no band in Jack MacQuarrie’s high school, but he was bitten by the band bug in grade 11 when he joined The High Twelve Club Boys Band (sponsored by a service club), and then the local Kiwanis Boys Band. They were “borrowed” by the commanding officer of the local naval training unit who’d been asked to recruit a reserve band. Boys as young as 12 through 17, whose parents gave permission, found themselves Probationary Boy Bandsmen with a uniform and pay – for rehearsals, Navy parades, concerts in the park and Navy events.

MacQuarrie went on active service after high school. He learned some new instruments – those involved in radio and radar. When WWII ended he completed his undergraduate degree at U of T where he played in the Varsity Band, the Conservatory Concert Band and the U of T Symphony. One memorable university summer he played trombone six nights a week in a dance band at the popular Erie Beach Pavilion – seven days a week, from nine until midnight.  Sundays they’d go to Detroit and hear all the touring big bands – Ellington, Kenton, Burnett, Herman, Dorsey.

MacQuarrie returned to sea during the Korean War as a Navy Lieutenant Commander and diving officer. He laid aside music during those seven years, but since 1957 has  played continuously in professional and community ensembles too numerous to list here, including the Don Bowes Big Band, the Swing Machine, the Newmarket Citizens’ Band, The Village Brass (a quintet), and the Markham Concert Band. 

With music fuelling his lungs, mind and spirit, MacQuarrie returned to university, acquired an MBA and then did four years of graduate studies in engineering –  investigating human performance in hostile (underwater) environments. He received a Massey Fellowship under Robertson Davies. He worked for some time at marketing in the airborne electronics business. He’s a past president of the Skywide Amateur Radio Club, was the first instructor for the Hart House Underwater Club and is still active in the Naval Club of Toronto. In January 2013 MacQuarrie was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for contributions to Canada.

Today MacQuarrie and his wife, Joan Andrews, are both volunteers in research on brain function and aging, comparing musicians with non-musicians, at the Baycrest Centre. They continue to renovate their 150-year-old house.  MacQuarrie retains a commercial pilot’s license, writes and edits, and plays regularly with the Newmarket Citizens’ Band (tuba), Swing Machine (bass trombone) and the Don Bowes Big Band (tenor trombone).

babyjack 1906 musical child crop for tocMusic in your life when that childhood photo was taken? Music was always in the house – lots of radio from Detroit stations. My mother was a semi-professional singer, church soloist, and for a time, a member of the Detroit Light Opera Company. My father was a dedicated opera fan, and the Metropolitan Opera was on our radio every Saturday afternoon. My mother organized a vocal quartet which practised regularly in our living room for some years.

Earliest musical memories?  I remember my mother singing the role of Buttercup from HMS Pinafore as she worked around the house.  My Grade 2 teacher took us to a concert by the Detroit Symphony.

Music in your family now? My wife, Joan, was head of music at a high school, is assistant conductor of the Amadeus Choir, conductor of the Village Voices choir, sings in an all-women’s choir and plays flute in two groups. For some years we were both actively involved with the organization of CAMMAC music camps. This year I have cut back from five rehearsals a week to three. Music is the dominant theme in this house every day.

 Jack MacQuarrie’s full interview coming soon.

WHO IS MAY’s CHILD?

mysterychild april2014 photoRECENTLY:

•Figaro’s Wedding (Against the Grain Theatre)

as the smarmy Alberto;

•The Lesson of Da Ji (Toronto Masque Theatre)

as the Flesh-Eating King;

•Dichterliebe: The Poet’s Love (Coleman Lemieux & Co.)

not your basic song-and dance routine;

•Schütz and Buxtehude

(Theatre of Early Music with U of T’s Schola Cantorum);

UPCOMING:

•A Poet’s Love (Talisker Players);

•Airline Icarus (Soundstreams) as the pilot.

Know our Mystery Child’s name?

Send your best guess to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by April 24.

1987, and not yet a tall, dark, baritone.

National Music Camp in Orillia, Ontario, with the Toronto Children’s Chorus.

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS!

•Mooredale Concerts presents The Canadian Brass (April 27 MacMillan Theatre), whose memorable performances have made them world-wide ambassadors for the brass quintet. Each of these five are virtuosos but their unique ensemble sound is what sets them apart. They will play a spirited program featuring works by Bach, Schumann, Brahms, Gershwin, Bizet, Waller, and some traditional popular classics. A one-hour Music and Truffles concert for young people (1:15) precedes the 3:15 main concert. Kenneth and Pauline Hodge and Doug McInroy each receive a pair of tickets!

•Hannaford Street Silver Band’s 2014 Festival of Brass is three remarkable days, April11-13, of masterclasses with guest artists, band showcases and concerts, including The HSSB Youth Band, The JazzFM Youth Big Band,  brass bands form across Ontario and beyond, Pennsylvania’s  the River City Brass (dir. James Gourlay), and the  grand finale  “Slide Show”  – HSSB with guest conductor Patrick Sheridan and soloist Wycliffe Gordon, trombone virtuoso. Cynthia Sloane and Fraser McKee are each the lucky winners of a three-day pass.

John Brooker and Frances Giles each win a copy of HSSB’s latest CD, Ontario Reflections: Hannaford Live, VOl.1

Music’s Children gratefully acknowledges Christina, Francine, Joan, David, Ray, Nan and Archie.


November’s Child was Benjamin Britten

brittenBenjamin Britten composed some of the most compelling, and widely satisfying music of the 20th century. From huge works for big public occasions, operas, ballets, orchestral and choral works through to intimate chamber music best suited for almost private consumption, Britten’s music is variously (and sometimes simultaneously) for virtuosi, for amateurs, for sophisticates and school children, for reasons meriting more ink than can be afforded here.

On the heels of the Canadian Opera Company’s October production of Britten’s Peter Grimes (arguably the best opera of the 20th century) Britten was named 25 times in The WholeNote’s November concert listings. International centenary celebrations of his life and work are ongoing including November 22 which would have been his 100th birthday, at least 200 concerts in 44 countries. Upwards of 100,000 children performed his song cycle Friday Afternoons in a live-streamed relay which started in Auckland and ended in Los Angeles.

On May 26 2013 in Toronto the closing concert of Stephan Ralls and Bruce Ubukata’s “Britten Festival of Song” concluded The Aldeburgh Connection’s final season (of 31). It included Friday Afternoons performed by young singers from The Canadian Children’s Opera Company. Ralls and Ubukata’s musical and personal partnership began in 1977 when they met as musicians at Britten’s and Pears’ Aldeburgh Festival.

October’s Child was Atom Egoyan

octobers child - atom egoyanAtom Egoyan is an acclaimed film, stage and opera director, also the author of several books and articles who teaches and speaks internationally. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1999. When he’s not travelling the world, he lives in Toronto with his wife, actress Arsinée Khanjian, and their son, Arshile.

Egoyan was born in Cairo to Armenian/Egyptian parents and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. As a teenager he was very interested in reading and writing plays. He moved to Toronto at 18 to study International Relations and also classical guitar. As a student at the University of Toronto’s Trinity College his early short films, starting with Howard In Particular were made with the assistance of the Hart House Film Board. His first feature film was Next of Kin (1984); his latest feature The Devil’s Knot, with a score composed by longtime collaborator Mychael Danna, premiered at TIFF in September 8. His vigorous career includes upwards of 20 remarkable films, as well as performance art and theatre starting with projects at the Rhubarb Festival and Tarragon Theatre. He premiered an award-winning multi-media and live action production of Samuel Beckett’s Eh Joe at the Gate Theatre in Dublin in April 2006 which played in Sydney in 2007 and New York in 2008. Egoyan returned to the Toronto theatre scene in 2012 to direct Khanjian in Cruel and Tender at CanStage.

Richard Strauss’ Salome was Egoyan’s first opera. He included significant cinematic elements:  live video and film were incorporated and one crucial scene was performed behind projected images. First staged for the Canadian Opera Company in 1996, it was performed at the Vancouver Opera in November 1997 and Houston Grand Opera in 1998. In 2006 Egoyan directed the COC production of Wagner’s Die Walküre, Salome for the COC again in 2013, and Feng Yi Teng — an opera composed by Guo Wenjing — at Luminato 2013. He’ll direct Mozart’s Così fan tutte for the COC in January 2014.

mysterychild nov  300dpiWhen you look at your childhood photo today …?

I wonder what that person would have thought of the person who’s looking at the picture now?

Musicians in your family?

My sister (pianist) Eve Egoyan is an amazing, brilliant musician. I’ve always been in awe of her talent.

If you could travel back in time and talk with the little person in that childhood photo is there something you’d like to tell him about music?

Take music theory WAY more seriously! I studied classical guitar for many years, but wish I were more versant in technical language, especially now that I’m working in music theatre.

What is your absolute earliest musical memory?

Trying to sing along to “Yellow Submarine,” but thinking the words were “‘Yallah,’ Submarine!” (I understood more Arabic than English at that point.)

Where did hearing music come into your childhood?

Through my love of the Beatles and my parents’ classical recordings of Stravinsky, and then — explosively — Jesus Christ Superstar.

Your first memory of making music?

Singing in my school chair. Later I was in a school production of Pirates of Penzance, which left a huge impression on me.

Music in your film work?

I have an amazing relationship with my composer, Mychael Danna — he’s scored all my films. He won an Oscar this year for his work on Life of Pi.

How did you meet composer Mychael Danna?

Mychael Danna was very famous at U of T where we both studied. We connected through doing plays there.

Music fit in your family life today?

Between the opera work, film scores and various concerts (not to mention the times I still play classical guitar), it remains a huge part of my life. 

For November's Mystery Child Click Here.

To see the winners for this Mystery Child Click here.

October’s Child, Atom Egoyan

musicalchildOctober’s Child, Atom Egoyan, spent much of October in Europe, once the Toronto International Film Festival ended. We’ll have more to tell you about music in his life at a later date.

Acclaimed film and stage director Atom Egoyan (born in Cairo, raised in Victoria, BC) recently directed Feng Yi Teng, an opera composed by Guo Wenjing, which was presented at Luminato in June. Egoyan’s latest feature film, The Devil’s Knot, with a score by long-time collaborator Mychael Danna, premiered at TIFF on September 8 and will continue to premiere internationally through October and November. Egoyan, who directed Salome for the Canadian Opera Company last season, returns to direct Mozart’s Così fan tutte (January 8 to February 21).

September’s Child Rufus Wainwright

rufus and marthaOn the subject of his latest recording, Out of the Game, Rufus Wainwright has said, “In a lot of ways, while my mother was still alive, I was singing to her. She was my toughest critic and my biggest fan. With her not having been around for this album, there was a kind of release, a necessity to get to the next step.”

“There’s a famous saying that your mother gives birth to you twice — once when you’re born and once again when she dies. So having a slightly tougher, wiser attitude on this record, I think I only could have done that after her passing ...”

Composer and singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright is a musical chameleon with roots in both Canada and the USA. He’s the son of Loudon Wainwright III and the late Kate McGarrigle — half of the musical sisters duo Kate and Anna McGarrigle.

Wainwright was born in New York State, grew up in Montreal, and has lived in London, New York and Los Angeles. His daughter, Viva, now two, lives with her mother, Lorca Cohen (daughter of Leonard Cohen), in Los Angeles. Wainwright and his partner Jorn Weisbrodt have a home in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood (Weisbrodt is the artistic director of Luminato) but Wainwright spends a huge amount of time touring internationally — he’ll make two Ontario appearances before the end of the year — October 11 with the Toronto Symphony at Roy Thomson Hall, and November 2 at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre.

Rufus Wainwright has recorded seven albums of original songs in a range of styles. Other projects (among many) include Shakespearean sonnets set to music for a theatre piece by Robert Wilson, soundtrack collaborations and an acclaimed show and recording in which he recreates Judy Garland’s 1961 Carnegie Hall concert. He recently composed an opera, Prima Donna, which had its North American premiere at Luminato in 2011.

Wainwright’s sister, Martha Wainwright, is also a singer and songwriter with a considerable career. Music was clearly the fabric of their childhood — raised among people for whom singing is as normal as breathing, immersed in a songwriting ethos with the power to move anyone, regardless of musical preferences, because it’s personal in a universal kind of way. Singing to, for and about each other has remained a Wainwright/McGarrigle constant.

In June 2013, Nonesuch Records released Sing Me The Songs: Celebrating The Works Of Kate McGarrigle — two CDs of performances from benefit concerts in New York, London and Toronto which include Rufus and Martha Wainwright and a remarkable array of friends and family. Many, including Anna McGarrigle, elder sister Jane McGarrigle, Emmylou Harris, Teddy Thompson, Norah Jones, Sloan Wainwright and Joel Zifkin are in the feature documentary Sing Me The Songs That Say I Love You: A Concert For Kate McGarrigle, directed by Ian Larson (seen at Luminato and TIFF Go to the Movies in 2012). Proceeds from the CDs go to the Kate McGarrigle Foundation, which supports cancer care and sarcoma research.

Canadian performers across all genres often travel far away before finding themselves on a river that brings them back. Wainwright didn’t sing Joni Mitchell’s River at the June Massey Hall birthday tribute concert for Mitchell’s upcoming 70th birthday, but the songs he performed — All I Want, A Case of You, Slouching Towards Bethlehem and Free Man In Paris — were each in some way about searching and longing. 

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS!

  “Rufus Wainwright with Orchestra” (TSO, Oct 11, 8pm) will feature Wainwright as both a composer and singer-songwriter. The concert will include music from Wainwright’s opera Prima Donna, his orchestral setting of Five Shakespeare Sonnets and songs that reflect his extraordinary range of musical appetites (from Arlen to Berlioz), with Melody Moore, soprano, and Jayce Ogren, conductor. There’s a pair of tickets for Kathleen O’Neil.  

Prima Donna – The Story of An Opera is a 90-minute documentary film by George Scott (Decca, 2010). This fascinating portrait of Wainwright, his musical history and career, includes interviews with Wainwright and family, Prima Donna collaborators and commentary by Renée Fleming. Why opera? A scene with Wainwright and his mother, sitting on her sofa, listening to an old record by Beniamino Gigli, might just hold a clue or two. Lucky Naomi Luker and Paul Sayer each win a copy.  

All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu is Rufus Wainwright’s sixth album (DECCA RECORDS, 2010). Wainwright’s first recording after the death of Kate McGarrigle is a departure from his usually more extravagant arrangements: these 12 original songs are for piano and voice. Three are settings of Shakespeare’s sonnets 10, 20 and 43: The words “All Days Are Nights” are from the sonnet 43: “All days are nights to see till I see thee...” Loretta London and Sheri Katz each win a copy, along with a copy of Out of the Game, Wainwright’s newest album of original pop music (Decca, 2012).


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