Toronto Concert June 30 2009
Gala Concert brings master organist Gillian Weir full circle

Royal Canadian College of Organists Celebrates 100th anniversary with major international organ festival

On Friday May 1 this year, I listened to Dame Gillian Weir, master organist, give a breathtaking recital, jet-lag be damned, to open the fourth annual ORGANIX festival, on Casavant Organ Opus 3095, newly installed in Holy Trinity Church, in the shadow of the Eaton Centre. The following morning I caught up with her for a whirlwind interview, a few blocks east, at the console of Metropolitan United Church's mighty Casavant Opus 1367, en route to the airport on her way back home to England.

Between those two organs hangs this particular tale.

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Read more: Dame Gillian Weir, master organist

What a wealth of chamber music there is on offer this month! The early days of April offer two opportunities to hear Arnold Schoenberg’s seminal early work, Transfigured Night — April 2 in its original string sextet version by the St. Lawrence String Quartet complemented by former quartet members, cellist, Marina Hoover and violinist/violist, Barry Shiffman, and April 3 by Sinfonia Toronto in the string orchestra version.

April 3 Amici will present “Poulenc’s Musings,” a program of Francis Poulenc’s chamber music, including his famous Sextet with the brilliant TSO wind principals, and his “Story of Babar” for piano, with Steven Page (formerly of the Barenaked Ladies) as narrator. Definitely not your average evening out!
Those who love Haydn’s string quartets will have two opportunities to hear the Eybler Quartet play an entire program of them: on April 6 at the Church of St. George-the-Martyr, and on April 9 at the Music Room of the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society. And all this in just the first 9 days of the month. (See the listings for many others, or better still search for chamber music in the listings on our website.)

Read more: Chamber wealth - Quodlibet: April 09

In December 2006 Cynthia Steljes, co-founder of Quartetto Gelato, died after a short but intense battle with an asbestos-related form of lung cancer. After a two-year period of reconstruction, now with two new members, and with the next two seasons planned, including an autumn 2009 Asian tour, the ensemble has been re-incarnated. Its other co-founder, violinist, tenor and Cynthia’s widower, Peter DeSotto, brings continuity; and management is provided by entrepreneur and graphic designer Darlene Kulig. The group celebrates its rebirth with CD launch concerts at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa on March 19 and at Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio on March 21.

Allan Pulker talked to Peter in mid February about the ensemble, its meteoric ascent, the tragic loss of Cynthia, its members, way of working and the new CD and concert.


Allan: How did you find the strength and the will to keep going after Cynthia’s death? It was a devastating loss, for you as her husband, of course, but also for the other members of the quartet as well.


Peter: I have a lot of trouble talking about it. Cynthia was a real sweetie. But I made a commitment to her that I would keep the group going; and it’s also a commitment to myself as an artist. This is what makes life worthwhile.

Read more: Peter DeSotto: Reinventing Quartetto Gelato

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The cities are Toronto and Los Angeles; the orchestras are the Niagara Symphony, the Scarborough Philharmonic, Sinfonia Toronto and the New American Orchestra; the flutist is Louise Di Tullio, and her nephew is Toronto composer and teacher, Ron Royer.

Let’s start with the flutist. You have probably never heard of Louise Di Tullio, but if you ever watch American movies you are almost sure to have heard her play. Since she began playing professionally in 1958 Ms. Di Tullio has been the flutist or principal flutist in at least 1200 films. She has played the music of all the great American film composers – Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Henry Mancini, David Rose, John Barry, Danny Elfman – the list goes on and on.

She was born into a family of musicians in Los Angeles, and grew up in a highly cultivated musical milieu. Her father and three uncles were all members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s string section as young men. Father, Joseph Di Tullio, and his brother-in-law Kurt Reher later became first stand partners in the cello section of the 20th Century Fox orchestra. Reher later returned to the L.A Philharmonic as the principal cellist.

Read more: Two Cities, Four Orchestras, a Flutist and her Nephew
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