Welcome to issue #9 of HalfTones, The WholeNote’s mid-month e-newsletter with local music news updates, special offers and extra listings. Check out here what’s new this month in the Toronto musicmaking scene -- and be sure to look for the next issue of The WholeNote in print June 4. Heads up, the June 4 mag combines June, July, August - your one-stop guide to the best of the summer.
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Maybe you missed this trio of Broadsway babies, shaking things up at Metropolitan Community Church , May 9? Don’t despair! You can catch them during the TD Toronto Jazz Festival in their wickedly entertaining act at the Hard Rock Café, June 27 – an evening of everything from Gershwin to Gaga, Sondheim to Schwarz, and a whole lot of laughs, presented by the Toronto Jazz Festival.
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The term “pianistic supernova” is not one that music reviewers should ever use lightly, but it can surely be applied to Marc-André Hamelin. Since making his debut in 1985, this Montreal-born pianist now based in Boston continues to prove that his musical talents really are extra-ordinary, earning well-deserved accolades from critics and audiences alike. Although Hamelin has long championed composers slightly left of the mainstream, his newest recording features two that are decidedly more familiar – Janáček and Schumann – in an engaging program of music from the early and late Romantic periods.
Music-centric films were less evident in the 2014 Hot Docs than last year’s bountiful crop, yet there were a handful of notable movies that kept feet tapping and sent the mind reeling.
Allan Hicks’ fearlessly intimate Keep On Keepin’ On focuses on the relationship between nonagenarian jazz trumpeter Clark Terry (b. 1920) and blind pianist Justin Kauflin who is in his early 20s. Terry joined the Count Basie band in his late 20s, describing it as prep school for the university of Ellingtonia and stayed with Ellington for a decade before becoming the first black musician hired by NBC (he was a regular on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, for example). He’s best known as a teacher, however, with his famous system of doodle-tonguing and thousands of students (Strikingly, Quincy Jones at 13 was his first.) spreading his philosophy of music far and wide.
The Toronto Jewish Film Festival (TJFF) invariably includes movies in which music is the major force and this year’s 22nd edition (May 1 to 11) is no exception. From a thorough examination of Sophie Tucker, “the last of the red hot mamas,” to more conventional bios of Marvin Hamlisch and Lionel Bart, from a brief but focused look at Barbra Streisand’s roots in Brooklyn to a fascinating examination of the legendary jazz writer and tireless First Amendment advocate, Nat Hentoff, and a restored copy of the 1938 Yiddish-language film, Mamele, the TJFF has again unearthed evidence of the unmistakable ties between Jews and music.
Born in Sussex, England, Dobson grew up in Toronto where he attended Royal St. George’s College. He began singing with the Toronto Children’s Chorus at the age of nine. His solo début was at twelve, as treble soloist in the Canadian premiere of Lloyd Webber’s Requiem under conductor Elmer Iseler. Dobson also sang with World Youth Choir, Ontario Youth Choir, and Mendelssohn Youth Choir, and attended camp of some sort every summer until university, when camp was replaced with planting trees in the summer to support his studies. Dobson studied choral conducting at the University of Western Ontario, and graduated from The University of Toronto Opera Division. Dobson’s career to date embraces a wide range of choral and concert repertoire, and opera on Canadian and international stages.
A more detailed biography is included at the end of this interview.