Where Dem Boidies Iz

If, as i suspect, my regular readers did a quick double-pump past the letter on page four so as not to miss our regular little chat, then neither of you will have the foggiest idea what the “Help The WholeNote Thrive” panel to the left of this is all about. And even less of a clue what I’m talking about when I explain that we chose the number 3,000 for the campaign because its 1/10 of the number of copies we regularly print.

So I will make a deal with you. Go back and read the letter on page four, and when you come back I will not say another word about any of all that. Promise.

Read more: Where Dem Boidies Iz

Seeing ... Orange?

“SEEING RED” is a cut-and-dried emotional state — no ifs, ands or buts about it. Someone gets your goat, pushes a very particular button and, bingo! Rage, remorse and, if one has a sympathetic judge, community service and anger management courses.

There are however those other situations where one hesitates to push the red rage button, even if only briefly, while trying to figure out whether one has actually been offended. “Are you talking to me?” DiNiro’s character in Taxi Driver would say at that point, giving the other party an opportunity to say something like “No actually, but thank you for asking. Because I can see why you would have been rather offended if that were the case.”

“SEEING ORANGE” you might call this slightly more circumspect approach to things — a warm haze that can turn either into a glow of contentment or into blazing anger, once one has ascertained whether one was being laughed at or laughed with, truly lauded or merely damned with faint praise.

Well it seems that our inaugural Orange Pages education directory, launched in March, has the eminent educator Sterling Beckwith “seeing orange” in more ways than one. This is why, in 391 words’ time, I will temporarily cede this thunderer’s podium to him, to say precisely what is on his mind. (For those of you who dare to admit that you don’t know who Sterling Beckwith is, one theory has it that he was named after a studio in the Department of Music at York University, well used not just for intimate musical performance but for workshops, seminars, symposia and the like — events related to his own personal passion which is music education.

Before he does though, here are two or three other things I’d like to note.

VANCOUVER VIEW POINT:As devoted readers of this little essay both know, we have a habit here at The WholeNote, when taking on new things, of learning to swim by diving into what we hope is the deep end and striking out for the far side. Take last month’s column, West Coast Notes, exploring the music scene in Victoria BC, for an example. Not content with just asking Ian Alexander to write about the music scene in his relatively newly adopted home town, we positioned the piece under the rubric “Canadian View Points,” evoking the grand vision of dipping our stylus in the Pacific and heading off on a grand cross-country adventure, acquiring loyal local correspondents as we go, laying the groundwork for the gathering and dissemination of vital information about live local musical activity coast to coast to coast ... but without having the foggiest idea what the very next step should be.

Well, either fortune favours the brave or fate smiles on fools, but either way, it’s opera to the rescue, as OPERA America and Opera.ca descend on Vancouver in early May for a major conference, and Christina Loewen of Opera.ca steps into the cross-Canada batter’s box with our second Canadian View Points report. Loewen being Toronto based, and the conference being a one-off event rather than part of the ongoing Vancouver scene, we’ll still have to find someone “on the ground” in Vancouver to carry the ball on an ongoing basis. So if you’re reading this in the Canadian left coast’s largest city, and don’t mind diving in the deep end, get in touch. And would-be correspondents anywhere east of Vancouver with an ongoing live local music picture to paint, take note. We’re coming your way.

And now, Mr. Beckwith, over to you.

—David Perlman, publisher@thewholenote.com

Sea to Shining Sea

As editor of this magazine I have spent a significant portion of the last 18 years attempting to see to it that we have the resources at hand for some 3,600 to 5,000 concert listings a year to be harvested, sorted alphanumerically, arranged in such a fashion that they can be readily found by whomever is looking for them, and judiciously divided up as fodder for a dozen or so writers, so that the magazine is not riddled with repetition.

You’d think that under those circumstances filing and sorting would have become second nature after a while and even, after a fashion, a source of pleasure. Well, maybe for some, but not, alas, for me. Simple decisions about where things are supposed to go can throw me into a state of crisis for longer than you would believe — longer, for example, than it takes Tristan (or any of Wagner’s other moral-fine-motor-skill-deficient heroes for that matter) to explain to the love of his life that he’s promised her to a buddy and, even though he’s really broken up about it, a promise to another guy is a promise that has to be kept.

World domination? Take the table of contents on the previous page, for example. Does my little piece on page 15 about our Conversations at The WholeNote video series really constitute a “feature”? And why is Ian Alexander’s “West Coast Report” on page 30 listed under the heading Beat by Beat when we have no plan in place (yet) to make it a regular column?

In less time than it takes me to agonize through things like this, Brünnhilde could have written a whole “tips for rookie travellers” guide for Siegfried, alerting him to the dangers of letting strangers pour your drinks.

As for calling Alexander’s “West Coast Report” a beat column, call it an exercise in wishful filing, if you like. After all there should be a way for the kind of gleaning and broadcasting of musical listings that we do to take root and flourish, coast to coast to coast, especially in this age of digital media.

So here’s to the ceremonial planting of The WholeNote’s “first spike” on Vancouver Island! The task of marshalling an army of coast to coast WholeNote beat correspondents is under way! Can world domination be far behind? (But don’t tell Mr. Alexander the grand scheme. I don’t want to scare him off.)

Agent Orange? It’s not just in the area of live concert listings that this addled and aging editor finds himself dreaming of spreading the good word far and wide. The Orange Pages in this issue, commencing on page 59, is our first full-blown attempt to come up with a forum for schools and teachers, summer camps and programs to get the word out about who they are and what they offer. Taken along with Rebecca Chua’s piece about her inspirational visit to the Sistema Toronto program, page 56, the death of the music we follow seems less than the sure thing it is so often predicted to be.

Hats off to musical nation building I say! Sea to shining sea. Class by class and beat by beat. Category by category!

Awards: The subject of categories brings us by what James Joyce called a “commodius vicus of recirculation” to the topic of award shows, something more than usually on the collective radar at this time of year.

Nominees have been announced for the April 21 annual JUNOs, this year coming from the Brandt Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan. As usual The WholeNote’s DISCoveries team has done itself proud. Of the 20 nominated albums in the four classical categories the JUNOs offer, The WholeNote had already reviewed 17 prior to the announcement of the nominees. A proud record, that one! In the three jazz categories, we reviewed nine of 15, also no mean feat. As is our custom, we will post on our website a full list of nominees in these seven categories, along with handy links to our reviews.

And still on the topic of awards, a tip of the hat to Toronto’s Mychael Danna, featured in last month’s issue of The WholeNote. Danna, as most of you will be aware, took the Oscar for his score for Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. I expect that many who saw the film and stayed through the credits were awed by the sheer number of people involved in bringing it to the screen. (I think the number 14,000 was mentioned in the credits themselves.) It would be interesting to figure out how that compares, for example, to the number of people it takes to put on all the concerts listed in a single issue of this magazine. Or to the number of people singing regularly in choirs across this land. A fair bit of sorting and filing that would take. I’d better get started.

But before I do, one last award-related note, this time in connection with the Glenn Gould Foundation’s announcement, February 21, that the tenth winner of the prestigious prize is none other than Quebec’s Robert Lepage.

It’s a boldly interesting path that the GGF is on. The awarding of the ninth prize to Leonard Cohen last time out signalled an increase in the frequency of the prize and also a significant broadening of eligibility criteria for prize winners, from a fairly narrow classical base (Oscar Peterson being the one previous exception) to a less category-driven view of music’s place in “the arts.” The leap from Cohen’s Montreal to Lepage’s Quebec City might not be significant in terms of miles. But as an affirmation of the GGF’s intention to cast off the chains of rigid categorization in deciding whom to honour, there could be no more worthy honoree than the risk-taking, genre-defying Lepage.

Each GGF prize winner also selects a “protégé” to receive an award. Cohen’s was none other than the Sistema Toronto project mentioned earlier in this opener. It will be fascinating, as events unfold, to see who Lepage selects. After all, from small beginnings ... sea to shining sea. 

David Perlman, publisher@thewholenote.com

A Sunshine State of Mind

Way back when, The WholeNote was an occasional column called “Classical Heaven on $100 a Month” in a homegrown community newspaper called the Kensington Market Drum. “Everything within a 15 minute bike ride of College and Spadina is our turf” the Drum declared, thereby, by fiat, turning everything from City Hall to Walter Hall to Dixon Hall to Barbara Hall to RTH into legitimate Kensington Market news, including all the goings on at what was then generally referred to as “The Clarke,” namely the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, just east of us on College Street.

We’re talking the late 1980s here, folks, when a facebook was what you draped strategically over your sleeping nose to keep the summer sun off, and the good doctors at the Clarke delighted as much as all the rest of us in the simple art of coming up with clever acronyms for things. I remember, at the time, receiving one punch-drunk press release from the aforementioned Clarke Institute which managed in three paragraphs to make reference in capital letters to Seasonal Affective Disorder, Mood and Affective Disorders, and Bipolar Affective Disorder, thereby proclaiming themselves in one breath to be the answer for all that ails society’s SAD, MAD and BAD.

To their credit, it didn’t take them long to realize the error of their ways; to understand that in their line of work patients, as much as doctors, can recognize an acronym when they see it. So MAD and BAD disppeared from their PR lexicon, before too much of a fuss could be made. But Seasonal Affective Disorder has shown a remarkable tenacity. A quick Google search, right now, January 28, 2013, yields no fewer than 2,900,000 results for the phrase. Not too shabby, as pre-internet coinage goes.

Part of why SAD has stuck, here in Canada at least, is because of how completely it dovetails with the February Blues, that state of mind that dogs us all as we crawl past the turn of the year towards the spring and summer light that feel right now as if they will never return.

Well, abandon despair, all ye who enter here! In these pages are all the little signs of hope, musical candles in the dark, that you need to begin your journey back to the light: from Lunar New Year, to a Valentine-themed outbreak of Chopinesque passion, to almost weekly announcements, by various presenters, of musical seasons to come, well into 2014.

And it’s no coincidence that February and March are the months when we at The WholeNote crank up our efforts to pull together as much information as we can about what the summer offers in the way of music education. See our little house ad on page 50.

This year we are going a step beyond: putting together for March not just the summer’s musical offerings, but a directory of as much as we can gather about the individual teachers and community musical schools that offer, year round, musical solace against all the manifold despairs of the dark. We’re calling it our “Orange Pages.” Partly it’s because we’ve already assigned Green, Blue and Canary to other uses. And partly because it suggests that an active musical life can be a reliable shortcut to a sunshine state of mind. 

—David Perlman, publisher@thewholenote.com

Roadmaps and Rants

True to the spirit of the individual and organization in question, the announcement from Jeanne Lamon came first not as a press release but as a letter to Tafelmusik’s subscribers. “After more than thirty years at the helm of Tafelmusik, I feel it is time for me to move on to the next stage. You, as a member of our audience, are one of our most loyal supporters and I wanted you to be among the first to know.”

What she wanted us to know was that in 2014 she will be stepping down as full-time music director of Tafelmusik “to focus more on our artistic training programs which are at a very exciting crossroads.” And she went on to talk about a “national and international search for a successor” and ambitious plans for the next two years, including “acoustical renovations to our beloved home venue at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, more great recordings on our new Tafelmusik Media label, and the establishment of the Tafelmusik International Baroque Academy. The latter has been a long-standing dream of mine and it will take a lot of dedication, time and commitment to take this initiative to the next level. I feel very passionate about this undertaking and want to devote the time it fully deserves.”

So I had been all set this month to launch this opener with a paean of praise for Jeanne Lamon. But then I saw that my colleague, CD Discoveries editor David Olds, had already beaten me to the punch, in Editor’s Corner on page 61. So I think I will let it go, for now. Besides, right now I am green with envy at the thought of anyone having a succession roadmap that stretches all the way out to 2014. The only thing I know clearly about 2014, for crying out loud, is that sometime in the course of that year I will throw away my 2013 calendar.

For another thing, having followed Lamon’s, and Tafelmusik’s, fortunes for the better part of three decades, I am quite sure she’s going to remain so busy and so involved, for the foreseeable future, that premature eulogies will look ridiculous. So instead I’m going to jump the gun and talk about another pioneer who is about to step down, after 40 years of incalculable service to Canadian music, on Monday, December 31, 2012—CBC producer extraordinaire David Jaeger.

Jaeger joined the CBC in 1973, hot out of a Masters Degree in composition at University of Toronto. He worked first as a programmer for the program Sounds Classical, and a year later, moved on to produce a contemporary music program called Music of Today (hosted by Norma Beecroft). From the ten programs he produced with Glenn Gould on the music of Arnold Schoenberg, soon after arriving at the CBC, to his role in the commissioning and production of John Cage’s seminal work, A Lecture on the Weather, a radio-phonic work observing the American bicentennial, to the almost 30 years he produced the program Two New Hours, contemporary music was the backbone of his CBC career.

The numbers alone are staggering. He had a hand in commissioning more than 300 new works, and over 1,200 concert recordings. But the facts behind the numbers are even more impressive. In 1975 he was named the English Radio Coordinator of the National Radio Competition for Young Composers, a post he held for 27 years. He represented CBC English Radio as a delegate to the International Rostrum of Composers (IRC) in Paris for more than 20 years and, from 2002 to 2008, was the only non-European ever to preside over that body.

He commissioned R. Murray Schafer’s iconic String Quartet No.3 for Two New Hours, produced Schafer’s Wolf Music at Wildcat Lake in the Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve, and Schafer’s opera, The Palace of the Cinnabar Phoenix, in the woods near Pontypool, Ontario. He created the CBC partnership with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra to establish their New Music Festival and initiated live broadcasting of that event all the way up to 2006. He also created the partnership with Soundstreams Canada to establish their Encounters series in Glenn Gould Studio, a series of radio-sponsored concerts with works by high-profile international composers sharing the stage with music by significant Canadian composers.

It is not possible to overstate the importance of his role in giving presence and heft to contemporary music in Canada.

For him, as for Lamon, the kudos will undoubtedly follow. For Lamon, I predict, the highest praise will be in the extent to which Tafelmusik continues to build upon the foundation she laid.

I sure wish I could hope the same for the CBC. 

publisher@thewholenote.com


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