Rainbow Chasing

People who have watched this magazine grow and change over the decades have seen us add other strands to our core commitment: to paint as a comprehensive picture as we can of live local music as it happens. Our BLUE PAGES came first — this month’s is the 14th iteration. A couple of years later we added our CANARY PAGES every May — an attempt to give choirs and prospective choristers an opportunity to find each other and new audiences. (Bit of trivia, we started out calling it the Choral YELLOW pages but a kindly lawyer advised us not to play with fire.) Our GREEN PAGES came next — not so much a commitment to things ecological as a nod to the verdant fact of summer music making.

And now, as we chase some rainbow ideal of full spectrum usefulness, it is music education, in all its forms, that has us choosing ORANGE as a colour to symbolize this brave new quest.

First installment of our ORANGE PAGES came in March, second comes next issue. Whereas in the first we tried to get a bit of a feel for who’s out there in the world of continuing education — private teachers, studios, community music schools — this time round we’re planning to start looking at the topic of full-time music-centred education at the secondary and post-secondary level.

Here’s the twist: this is a quest like no other before it. Because its starting point will be not what schools choose to say about themselves, but rather the questions that you, the prospective student, should have the confidence to ask.

All a bit cryptic? Never mind. All will be revealed.

And meanwhile, speaking of chasing rainbows, this is an issue of The WholeNote that sparkles like a prism in the autumn sun. Great writing, lots of candour, much as always to do and hear. We are happy to have you along for the great musical ride! 

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Sometimes it helps to make music … And Sometimes It Helps To Make Noise!

 

And sometimes a little bit of the latter helps to keep the place of the former front and centre in circumstances where society’s attention has every excuse to wander.

There’s a great little example of this noise/music mutual aid society in “Seeing Orange,” our education watch (page 57), where concerned and concerted muttering helped keep music alive in the region’s largest public school board for another year.

There’s also probably a complex variation on the theme that could be braided out, by learnedly contrasting the issue’s three strikingly different “takes” on new music: Ben Stein’s “Choral Scene”(page 26), Wendalyn Bartley’s “In With The New” (page 31) and Austin Clarkson’s reflections on the tightrope between music and noise walked by some of the past century’s seminal composers (page 12).

More straightforward, as the community we serve teeters on the edge of another new season of music making, is the simple observation that they (our region’s music presenters) are in the business of making music, and we are in the business of making a whole bunch of cheerful noise about their music, so that you, dear readers, have one fewer reason for your attentions to wander from the front-and-centre place that the conspicuous bravery of making live music warrants in a civilized society. They’ll do their bit, we’ll do ours, and you, we have no doubt, will continue to do yours.

Mind you, this isn’t the easiest month in Toronto for making noise in the arts media about anything other than film, as TIFF once more takes the town by the scruff of its cultural neck. Happily, our Paul Ennis, with one foot planted squarely in his love of film and the other in musical delight, has found a way for conflicted music lovers to rationalize an annual September movie binge (“Music Lover’s TIFF,” page 10).

So, let the woofing and tweeting begin! And we’ll see you on the other side. 

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We Are ALL Music’s Children

Long-time loyal readers will know that the title of this issue’s Opener is the title of one of our longest-running features/contests, compiled and edited by mJ Buell and usually found in the Musical Life section of the magazine. The feature asks you to guess the identity of a musician based on a childhood photo. Lucky winners get recordings or tickets to upcoming concerts featuring that individual.

This version of “Music’s Child” departs from that formula in a couple of ways: for one thing the photo on our cover is not that of a child, and for another, we are not going to ask you to guess who he is (Rufus Wainwright). But we will still offer you the opportunity to answer a question for the opportunity to win prizes. So, read on!

In her 1971 song River, Joni Mitchell longed for a river she could skate away on, “a river so long it would teach my feet to fly ... ” Well, summer music in Ontario, and beyond, is a bit like a river that flows both ways, with home-grown musicians on the road heading out of town, and as many from afar heading in. Two Luminato concerts at Massey Hall on June 18 and 19, titled “Joni: A Portrait in Song,” will celebrate Mitchell’s upcoming 70th birthday and Rufus Wainwright will be one of the performers helping to make the event an occasion to remember.

Like Mitchell, Wainwright is a Canadian singer-songwriter with an extraordinary range of musical appetites — seven albums of original songs, film soundtracks, song settings of Shakespearean sonnets and a full length opera, Prima Donna, which received its North American premiere at Luminato in 2011. Child of two musicians, Loudon Wainwright III and the late Kate McGarrigle, Wainwright is on a bit of a magical musical carpet ride right now. At last count there were 22 concert venues listed on his ever-changing website, just between now and the end of July, in Europe, the US and the UK. Somehow he also has three Ontario appearances wedged into what is left of 2013, including one with the TSO in October!

We don’t yet know if Wainwright will choose to sing Mitchell’s River June 18 and 19 at Massey. So “What did Rufus sing?” is the question you’ll have to answer for a chance to win this month’s contest. Send answers as usual to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . 

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, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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