p11aImagine that we’ve just learned that some hitherto unknown manuscripts of music by a number composers have been discovered – and the names of these composers are Mendelssohn, Liszt and Weber. Since we already know these names, our response might well be along the lines of “What an important discovery! The history of European music in the 19th century will have to be rewritten to incorporate these previously unknown works.”

Looking at the phenomenon of newly discovered work from a different angle, what, then, is our response to the news that the music of a number of very good early- to mid-20th century composers has actually been discovered, performed and recorded? The names of some of them are Busch, Braunfels, Kahn, Reizenstein, Röntgen, Weinberg and Eisler; and since they are not familiar names, it’s easy to dismiss them as “minor composers.”

p11bIn fact, this isn’t exactly news. About seven years ago the Royal Conservatory appointed guitarist Simon Wynberg artistic director of its flagship ensemble, ARC (Artists of the Royal Conservatory). In that capacity he’s been doing the programming and research for ARC, and has been in contact with musicologists, record labels and institutions who are researching lesser-known composer of the 20th century, many of them victims of the Holocaust.

ARC gave its inaugural performances in the 2002-03 season. Since then it’s given concerts not only in Toronto but also in New York, Washington DC and London. Wynberg has organized a major tour to Israel in March 2011, and concerts at the Concertgebouw. In the long term, he plans for the ensemble to continue to perform and record unjustly neglected works, many of which have fallen through the cracks because of the political upheavals of the 20th century, as well as commissioning new works from contemporary composers.

However, getting back to the present, the current news from ARC is the release of its third CD, Two Roads to Exile, on the morning of May 6, with a short performance of excerpts from this disc. (The free mini-concert is a special event for WholeNote readers.)

Interestingly, the two composers featured on this disc were not victims of the Holocaust. Both survived World War II, but in very different ways. One of them Adolf Busch, was not Jewish, and the form his exile took was to move to the United States; the other, Walter Braunfels, was half Jewish, and survived the war by hiding in a church in the German village of Überlingen.

Consequently the reason their music has been forgotten is not because it has been found after 60 or 70 years in a basement. In fact the String Quintet by Braunfels was actually published in the 1950s. Wynberg bought a score and set of parts for the ensemble from the publisher – brand new but yellow with age. The String Sextet by Adolf Busch, despite Busch’s having made quite a name for himself in the USA as a violinist and as a co-founder of the Marlboro Festival, was never published – more a casualty of the exigencies of life, and the disruption of forced emigration than anything else. The ensemble’s performances and recording were all done from a hand-written manuscript, presumably by the composer himself.

I find the last paragraph of the CD liner notes, written by ARC artistic director, Simon Wynberg, on the reasons for the obscurity of these two composers and their works particularly fascinating. “After the war,” he writes, “there was an understandable desire to protect and encourage the music that the Nazis had proscribed.” This led eventually to “the hegemony of the avant-garde” and the dismissal, particularly in universities, as reactionaries “those who had followed traditional musical avenues.” Braunfels and Busch were both masters of traditional practices, and so, from the avant-garde perspective, had nothing to say. I’ve listened to their music on this CD and can assure you that this isn’t the case; while the compositional procedures may be familiar, I would never describe the music of either composer as imitative or derivative.

In the course of our conversation, I asked Wynberg whether the history of 20th-century music would be rewritten to include many formerly forgotten composers. He commented: “The more intriguing question is whether we are gradually moving away from the concept of a ‘core repertory,’ towards the cultivation of a new, broader and younger audience who do not have an inbuilt allegiance to the pillars of repertory, but are curious to explore the vast range of music that is now so readily and instantly available.”

Looking at The WholeNote’s monthly listings from this angle it appeared to me that this development is well under way. On May 2, for example, Amici’s “Silenced Voices” concert reads almost like one of Wynberg’s ARC programmes, with infrequently performed music by forgotten or ignored composers such as Schulhoff, Klein, Ullmann, Stetsenko and Gomidas. Curiously, on May 7 and 8 Brahms’ Two Songs, Opus 91 for mezzo or contralto, viola and piano, which because of the unusual voice/instrument combination will never quite be “core repertoire,” will be performed in two completely unrelated concerts. (The piece will first be played on a programme by the Birthday Series at Heliconian Hall, followed by a performance on Lansing United Church’s Chamber Concert Series.)

p12ap12bThe trend extends beyond chamber music to symphonic music, as many orchestras combine “core repertoire” with repertoire that is anything but. For example the Slovak Sinfonietta has programmed Zeljenka’s Musica Slovaca alongside Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto; the Oakville Chamber Orchestra has programmed Purcell’s Virtuous Wife and MacMillan’s Two Sketches on French Canadian Folk Songs with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons; the Scarborough Philharmonic has compositions by contemporary Canadian composers Ronald Royer and Michael Conway Baker on a programme that also includes Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3; and the Toronto Symphony has programmed Stravinsky’s Petrouchka (which I think is considered “core repertoire”) along with de Falla’s Suite No. 2 from The Three-Cornered Hat and Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. There are lots of other examples of programming that even a few years ago would have been considered “adventurous,” but which evidently is now occurring frequently.

The Royal Conservatory has published a book, written by Simon Wynberg, to provide background to the “Music in Exile” project. Early in the book he explains that the sense of dislocation experienced by those fortunate to be exiled to the United States was due to the absence there of “the European sensibility that considered music and culture not just central but indispensable to life.” The situation in Canada is no different. While so much of our art-music here is European, it seems clear that if a strong cultural tradition is to take root here it can’t be simply transplanted European culture, but something that has grown out of life in this part of the world. We live in an interesting time, when performers and performing organizations – finding that sticking with what may at one time have been the “canon” in Europe doesn’t always work that well here – are motivated to explore new and less known repertoire, at the same time developing the cultural sensibilities of our place and time.

Allan Pulker is a flautist and a founder of The WholeNote who currently serves as Chairman of The WholeNote’s board of directors. He can be contacted at classicalbeyond@thewholenote.com.

Spring is here – and by association I think of people in the spring of life, who are well represented in The WholeNote’s listings this month.


Lang Lang 2International Touring Productions brings the Slovak Sinfonietta, conducted by Kerry Stratton, to Toronto and six other cities in Southern Ontario in late April and early May. With the orchestra will be two pianists: Haiou Zhang, who will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.5 in E Flat (the “Emperor”); and Elaine Kwon, who will play Rubinstein’s Piano Concerto No. 4. Both pianists are young artists, still in their 20s.

There’s yet another orchestra visiting from Europe this month, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, which according to its websiteis comprised of the world’s finest young musicians under the age of 27, hand-picked through a rigorous auditioning process.” The young musicians are given an extraordinary opportunity to grow together as an orchestra under the direction of principal conductor Christoph Eschenbach, in a community setting based on “mutual understanding, respect, tolerance and awareness of the universality of music and life beyond it.”

The Toronto stop on their first North American tour will be at Roy Thomson Hall on April 6. On their programme will be Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.17 in G K453, performed by Lang Lang – who, speaking of youth, is only 27. I recently read on his website that when he was only two years old, he saw a Tom and Jerry cartoon on TV, in which Tom was attempting to play Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C-Sharp Minor. This first contact with Western music at this incredibly young age is what motivated him to learn piano! I hope the creators of Tom and Jerry have come across this story!

 

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra’s three concerts on April 23, 24 and 25 are called simply, “Zeitouni Conducts Brahms.” At a relatively young age, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, another product of the fertile musical soil of Quebec, was appointed associate conductor of Les Violons du Roy. With a long and impressive list of guest conducting appearances to his credit, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, he has become a big enough name to draw audiences.

 

Sibelius at the TSO

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has put together an ambitious Sibelius Festival, highlighting the orchestral music of Finland’s most famous composer. Over the course of five performances, taking place from April 14 to 22, all seven of Sibelius’ symphonies will be performed, as well as several lesser-known works for violin and orchestra. Guest conductor Thomas Dausgaard will be on the podium for the whole week – no stranger to the TSO or Toronto audiences. The featured violin soloist will be Pekka Kuusisto, the first Finn ever to win the International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition. He’s no stranger, either: Kuusisto played with the TSO in September 2008, and he’s also appeared in recital at Hart House.

 

“Spring” Quartets

Martin_BeaverA frequent visitor to Toronto, thanks to Music Toronto, is the Tokyo String Quartet. While the quartet’s genesis was in the 1960s at the Toho School of Music in Tokyo, and it has been quartet-in-residence at Yale University since 1976, it also has a strong Toronto connection through Martin Beaver, its first violinist. When you hear the Tokyo String Quartet, you are hearing not only one of the best string quartets in the world, but also “The Paganini Quartet,” a set of Stradivarius instruments named after the legendary virtuoso Niccolò Paganini, who acquired and played them during his illustrious career. The Tokyo String Quartet will perform Beethoven’s Quartet in C Major Op. 59 (“Razumovsky”), the Quartet in E-flat Major Op. 74 (“The Harp”) and the Quartet Op. 95 (“Serioso”) in Music Toronto’s last concert of the season, on April 10

 

There are several more fine opportunities to hear string quartets. Also on April 10, the Lindsay Concert Foundation presents the Cecilia String Quartet, and the Oakville Chamber Ensemble will perform string quartets by Mozart and Mendelssohn. On April 19, a quartet composed of members of the string section of the TSO will play quartets by Schubert, Beethoven and Brahms as part of the Associates of the TSO’s “Five Small Concerts” series. On April 25, Mooredale Concerts will present the Afiara Quartet, which some people think will be the next great Canadian string quartet. Flutist Robert Aitken, who needs no introduction to WholeNote readers, joins the Quartet in a Boccherini quintet, Alberto Ginastera’s Impresiones de la Puna, and Donald Francis Tovey’s Variations on a Theme by Gluck. The quartet will complete the programme with the Lyric Suite by Alban Berg and Mendelssohn’s Quartet in F minor. On April 29, the Silver Birch String Quartet will give a concert for the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society.

 

Student Talent

Last but not least, there’s plenty of student talent to be heard in April. The Toronto Secondary School Music Teachers’ Association “59th Annual Student Concert” on April 15 stands out. Others are the university choir visiting from East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania on April 9, the benefit concerts for the St. Simon’s and University Settlement music programmes on April 16 and 18 respectively, the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra on April 16, the Toronto Wind Orchestra on April 30 and the Toronto Children’s Chorus on May 1. On April 17 and May 2 respectively, the Canadian Sinfonietta and Arcady are presenting concerts showcasing young artists. The post-secondary music schools, of course, are hotbeds of music-making by young people – and even though many of the student ensemble concerts took place in March, there are still several in April. There are also student solo recitals at York University, the University of Toronto, Wilfrid Laurier, Waterloo, Guelph, Western, Queen’s and the Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School.

 

Allan Pulker is a flutist and a founder of The WholeNote who currently serves as Chairman of The WholeNote’s board of directors. He can be contacted at classicalbeyond@thewholenote.com.


Toronto’s music-presenting scene could be described as being like a good hockey team – having depth, and with strength in all areas. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Canadian Opera Company are both thriving; Tafelmusik is one of the best baroque orchestras in the world; in Sinfonia Toronto and the Esprit Orchestra we have two other professional orchestras, one focussed on the chamber orchestra repertoire and the other on contemporary repertoire. There’s great contemporary music strength in Toronto: Soundstreams consistently gives us innovative programming, as also do New Music Concerts, the Music Gallery, the Art of Time Ensemble, Continuum and Arraymusic.

At the presenter end of the spectrum, Music Toronto brings some of the world’s best chamber music and pianists to the city; the Aldeburgh Connection maintains a high level vocal recital series; and Roy Thomson Hall brings some of the world’s best singers, pianists and orchestras to its stage; Off Centre and the Women’s Musical Club also present chamber music at a very high level. While we have lost the influx of performers brought here when Livent was alive and well, others – such as a newly invigorated Mooredale Concerts under Anton Kuerti’s direction and the RCM’s new Koerner Hall series – have moved in to take up the slack.

page 18 Svetlana Dvoretskaia Karolina BalashAnother relatively new presenter is Show One Productions, founded and run by Russian-born “superwoman,” Svetlana Dvoretskaia. As I write she is busy in Montreal, where she’s presenting the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, which, as you’ll know if you read my column last month, performs in Toronto on February 24. On March 20 she is putting together on the stage of Roy Thomson Hall the remarkable combination of baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky and l’Orchestre de la Francophonie with guest conductor Constantine Orbelian.

A relatively new company, Show One first stepped into Toronto’s cultural scene in 2004, presenting  Vladimir Spivakov and the Moscow Virtuosi at the George Weston Recital Hall. In the early days, most of the audiences at Show One productions were from the Russian community; but now, according to Dvoretskaia, “It’s totally different. Russians are still supporting me a lot, but I would say they’re about 30-35 percent of my patrons now.” Encouraged by the success of her Weston Recital Hall concerts, she knew she wanted to move to a downtown location. At that time (a little over two years ago) there was nothing downtown comparable in size to the Weston so she took the risk and presented a recital by Hvorostovsky at Roy Thomson Hall, with more than twice the seating. “Of course it was a big risk on my part, but so is our business – always a big risk!” That concert was a great success, so concerts by the Moscow Virtuosi and the Moscow Soloists followed, and now the March 20 concert.

This collaboration between Hvorostovsky and Radvanovsky is one of many. They’ve performed together in Russia and Europe, as well as in productions by the San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. Orbelian is a frequent collaborator with “Dima” (as Dvoretskaia refers to Hvorostovsky) – and a fortuitous meeting with Jean Philippe Tremblay, conductor of L’Orchestre de la Francophonie, led to its involvement.

To say that Svetlana Dvoretskaia is enthusiastic about the show, which is also being done in Montreal, would be an understatement: “Italian opera is very dramatic – especially when it’s performed by such superstars.” Kudos to Svetlana for her courage and willingness to take risks! Toronto, as well as Montreal and Vancouver, are the richer for what she is doing.

Now let’s look beyond the Greater Toronto Area, where, if you look at our listings, you’ll see there is no shortage of music. There are ten listings this month for the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society. If you have never been to one of their concerts, you really must, as the venue – a large (22- by 32-foot) living room that seats 85 in the home of Jan and Jean Narveson in Waterloo – is ideal for listening to chamber music. The society, which was founded in 1974, began presenting its concerts in local churches and other public venues, but in the 1980-81 season chose to present all its events in the “Music Room.” What struck me as I read the society’s listings this month was the variety: two string quartets, a piano trio, as string trio, a quartet of ancient Chinese instruments, two pianists, a guitarist and a saxophone, viola, piano trio.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra is also very active. Pushing the envelope of the pops concert tradition, it will present three concerts celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (two in Kitchener, one in Guelph), entitled “From the Rock,” acknowledging the Irish presence in Newfoundland, with guest soloist, accordionist Bernard Philip.

March is really the last full month of the academic year, and so is a busy time not only for student ensemble concerts and solo recitals but also for concerts and recitals by the professional musicians who are on faculty. This is as true at McMaster University and the University of Western Ontario as it is at the universities in Toronto, so you may want to look at their listings. Something that caught my utist’s eye was a performance of Howard Hanson’s Serenade for flute, Harp and Strings with the McMaster Chamber Orchestra – a wonderful work that’s not often enough performed, especially in its orchestrated version, although I have heard it with flute and piano.

page 20 Three CantorsIf you live in Toronto but don’t have the time or energy to break through the city’s force of gravity, all is not lost: music from beyond the GTA is coming to town, in the form of “The Three Cantors,” three singing Anglican clergymen and their organ- and piano-playing accompanist, from London, Ontario. For the last dozen or so years, they’ve been charming audiences all over the country – and in so doing have raised over $1 million for The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund. In other words, their audiences love them not only because their voices blend, but also (according to their website) because their concerts “are a tour-de-force of everything from beloved music of the church, contemporary anthems, spirituals, and new, original compositions, to folk songs and the best of Broadway.” They will be in Toronto at St. Anne’s Church on March 26.

Finally, this year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frédéric Chopin – in fact my Grove Dictionary indicates, with a question mark, that his birthday may have been March 1, so look for concerts featuring his music – there are quite a few!

Allan Pulker is a flautist and a founder of The WholeNote who currently serves as Chairman of The WholeNote’s board of directors. He can be contacted at classicalbeyond@thewholenote.com.


This year is the two hundredth anniversary of the births of both Frédéric Chopin and Robert Schumann – a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by music presenters. On February 4 Music Toronto will present soprano Susan Gilmour Bailey, pianist Michael Kim and actor Colin Fox in “The Schumann Letters,” chronicling the composer’s troubled life through readings and song. And just two days later, the bicentenary of both Schumann and Chopin will be celebrated by soprano Donna Bennett and pianist Brian Finley, in a programme presented by the Lindsay Concert Foundation.

P14aIn the last week of February there are several concerts featuring very accomplished women singers. The young but already well-regarded Canadian mezzo Wallis Giunta will perform with guitarist Jason Vieaux, in a Mooredale Sunday afternoon concert on February 21 – and again on February 24, with Amici Chamber Ensemble and American superstar soprano Dawn Upshaw. Upshaw will be performing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra the next evening, on February 25. Both the Amici and the TSO concert programmes will include music by the Argentinean composer Osvaldo Golijov. (In preparing this column I discovered the website, forum-network.org, which has interviews with both Upshaw and Golijov.)

Continuing with singers in the final week of February, in the afternoon of February 25 the Women’s Music Club presents a concert by soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian at Koerner Hall. Right next door, in Walter Hall at 12:10, soprano Monica Whicher will be performing music by the 20th-century English composer William Walton. On the same day at the same time but in Guelph, soprano Sarah Kramer will give a solo recital with pianist, Anna Ronai. On the last day of the month, mezzo and CBC Radio host Julie Nesrallah will give the 639th Sunday concert at Hart House. You might also want to get a ticket to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s March 3 concert, which will be a rare opportunity to hear Canadian soprano-in-exile extraordinaire Barbara Hannigan, in a programme that includes music by Golijov.

I was shocked when I read the last sentence of the following press release, sent to me early in January: “Violin/Piano duo returns to Toronto after eleven years to honour former patron: The international Violin/Piano Duo of Ariadne Daskalakis and Miri Yampolsky will give a concert at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto on March 6, 2010…to honour the memory of Susan Alberghini.”

There are, of course, two stories here. The first is Susan Alberghini, who was among the first people I met through The WholeNote (it was called Pulse, in those days), a person who really “got” what the magazine was all about, and encouraged us during times when it was easy to get discouraged. One of Kenneth Mills’ circle of devotees, and a supporter of his Star Scape Singers, she was an arts administrator, the co-founder of the Huntsville Festival of the Arts and, up to the time of her untimely death in January 2009, the executive director of the Guild of Canadian Film Composers. Personally I felt she tried in her life to bridge art and life, to bring beauty into her life and the lives of others and to infuse art with vitality.

The other story is the Daskalakis/Yampolsky recital on March 6. Originally scheduled by Alberghini for 2009, she passed away before the arrangements were put in place. Judging by Elissa Poole’s enthusiastic review of the duo’s last Toronto concert in February 1999, we can look forward to some very fine music-making on March 6.


P14bP14cThere are many, many more interesting concerts both in Toronto and in a good many other Southern Ontario centres in February. Indeed, I was particularly impressed by the “Beyond the GTA” listings, not just their quantity, but also their programming, sometimes very unusual and ambitious. For instance, there’s the “The Attar Project,” at the University of Western Ontario on February 26, and the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra’s February 13 programme, which includes the Fifth Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich.

Allan Pulker is a
flautist and a founder of The WholeNote who currently serves as Chairman of The WholeNote’s board of directors. He can be contacted at classicalbeyond@thewholenote.com.

This month’s column is all about singing!

Two names jump out at me because of their involvement in four different events. They are Shannon Mercer and Carla Huhtanen, both young sopranos already with a wealth of experience behind them – and, I suspect, brilliant careers ahead. Of Mercer, Toronto composer and organist Andrew Ager says, “She is a true artist for whom I have unbounded admiration. What I like most is her consistent commitment to delivering the meaning of the text with an instrument of great flexibility and beauty, always with an unusual intensity of expression.” As for Carla Huhtanen, Boris Zarankin, co-artistic director of the Off Centre Salon, had only to hear her once (at last year’s Soulpepper Cabaret Festival) to know that she met the exacting standards of his highly respected concert series.

The two sopranos appear together in Queen of Puddings’ November 12 performance of Swedish composer Karin Rehnqvist’s Puksånger-Lockrop, a category-defying composition described in Queen of Puddings’ press release as “a fearless, hair-raising, primal and exhilarating tour-de-force for two female singers and timpani inspired by Swedish folk music and herding calls.”

13a_huhtanen Huhtanen admires Queen of Puddings directors in general for their challenging repertoire choices, and says that this piece is challenging not only to the performers but also to the audience, in a way that engages rather than alienates the listener. Rehnqvist, she says, does this by using contrast as a musical development strategy, varying colours and textures, moving from passages that are almost hypnotic to gradual accelerations to traditional Swedish folk music techniques. These include the raucous and penetrating “kulning,” formerly used out of doors for herding cattle and communicating over long distances – Huhtanen calls it a “sung shout.”

On November 29 Huhtanen will join pianists Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin, mezzo Krisztina Szabó and baritone Jesse Clark in Toronto’s longest running Schubertiad (their 15th!) at Glenn Gould Studio. The programme for this concert is of particular interest because it was all composed in the last year of Schubert’s all too short life. While it will include well known masterpieces, such as Shepherd on the Rock, and the posthumously compiled song cycle Schwanengesang, it will also include less known lieder.

“While I really enjoy doing contemporary music, I also love to sing lieder,” commented Huhtanen, “which is like a yoga class for the voice. With Schubert it is all about telling a story, communicating the words, it all starts with the words, with simplicity. It is so simple and so intimate; it’s just being there with the pianist and the audience. It has also been almost a discovery, after not singing any German repertoire for some time, to experience how good it feels to come back to singing in German.” Zarankin also looks forward to working with Clark and Szabó – and with flutist Robert Aitken, who will perform Schubert’s very last song, “Tauben Post,” as a solo flute piece.

13b_mercer The third concert, on November 22, St. Cecilia’s Day (Cecilia being the patron saint of music) and also Benjamin Britten’s birthday, is called simply “Blessed Cecilia.” It’s the Aldeburgh Connection’s second Sunday concert of the season and will mark the 350th anniversary of the birth of Henry Purcell and the 96th of Benjamin Britten. The Aldeburgh Connection at this event, according to their website, will “seize the opportunity of celebrating the songs of two English masters,” and will “acknowledge the healing and sustaining power of music.” The soprano soloist in this concert will be Shannon Mercer, who will share the stage with tenor James McLean, and bass-baritone Giles Tomkins.

The fourth event is Toronto New Music Projects’ December 6 performance at the Music Gallery of Philippe Leroux’s “Voi(REX)” for six instruments, electronics and soprano. Carla Huhtanen, the soprano in this performance, describes the work as “difficult,” but also “fun and witty.” Leroux, who was associated for many years with Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM in Paris, is not yet well known in Canada, but his works are performed around the world.

The singers I’ve written about are of the rising generation of Canadian vocal artists whose talents are in demand, not just at home but abroad as well. In fact, at the time of writing, Mercer was in London rehearsing Eric Idle’s comic oratorio Not the Messiah – she performed in its world premiere in Toronto in 2007 – and Szabó was in Ireland performing in the Wexford Opera Festival.

They, of course, are the latest in a long line of internationally renowned Canadian singers, the first of whom was probably Emma Albani, whose career began around 1870 – eight years before the birth of the legendary Canadian tenor, Edward Johnson, who not only sang at New York’s Metropolitan Opera but later became its director. Since then many more Canadian singers have performed on opera and recital stages around the world.

Two of the greatest artists in our long tradition of vocal artistry were soprano Lois Marshall, and contralto Maureen Forrester. The two did a tour together in 1973, which will be commemorated by soprano Lorna MacDonald, and mezzo Kimberly Barber, in a special recital, “Celebrating Marshall and Forrester” on November 10 in the Maureen Forrester Recital Hall at Wilfrid Laurier University, where Barber is the co-ordinator of vocal studies, and on November 19 in Walter Hall at the University of Toronto, where MacDonald is the head of vocal studies. I see this not only as a tribute to two great singers of the past but also as a celebration of the singing tradition, to which these two great Canadians added so much.

I’m reminded of something one of our great Canadian singers, Richard Margison, said to me a dozen or more years ago: “I like The WholeNote because it covers the local scene, and that’s where we all start our careers.” How true! So keep in mind that great talent may be found even at small events in humble venues. By all means, do go and hear the great ones in our midst, but also get out and support a smaller event in a smaller venue as well. It’s rewarding to be able to say – as I can of bass Robert Pomakov, whom I heard sing in a gymnasium at University Settlement House 15 years ago – that you heard so-and-so before he/she was famous!

Allan Pulker is a flautist and a founder of The WholeNote who currently serves as Chairman of The WholeNote’s board of directors. He can be contacted at classicalbeyond@thewholenote.com.

 

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