Now in its 13th year and divided into six smaller series – vocal, chamber music, piano virtuoso, jazz, world music and dance – there are very few series in town that cover so many WholeNote areas of interest as the Canadian Opera Company’s remarkable Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. This month, for example, in addition to five concerts that jumped out at me, both Lydia Perović in her Art of Song column and Jazz Notes columnist Steve Wallace found noteworthy concerts in their respective beats. It struck me as an opportune moment to ask the series’ program manager Dorian Cox how the curatorial process works.

He told me that he programs each series in a slightly different way. The vocal series, for example, “is largely comprised of artists who are already involved with the COC (on the mainstage or part of our Ensemble Studio), whereas the world music and jazz series are largely comprised of artists who have approached me or whom I have sought out.” Overall, about a third of the performances are COC artists, a third are presented in collaboration with other institutions and the last third are independent artists.

Cox is always on the lookout for artists who he thinks might want to participate and whom he thinks his audience will appreciate. “It’s a 24/7 job in that way,” he says. “The wheels are always turning and I try to see as many concerts as possible, which can truthfully get a bit overwhelming when I already have 72 that I’m presenting this season.” He feels fortunate to be approached by many performers and connected to others through mutual contacts. And based on what his network is interested in, he finds social media to be a helpful tool.

“Remembering Kristallnacht” on November 8 was the first concert that caught my own eye this month. Cox told me that a meeting last January with the German Ambassador to Canada, Sabine Sparwasser (“a huge supporter of the COC”), led directly to it. “She was keen to present a concert and it was her idea to do something that would commemorate the 80th year since Kristallnacht – the wave of violent anti-Jewish pogroms which took place across Germany on November 9 and 10, 1938. Berlin-born pianist Constanze Beckmann (a recent RCM graduate from the studio of John Perry), joins her regular chamber music partner (Glenn Gould School faculty member, Lithuanian-born violinist Atis Bankas), to perform music by Edwin Geist, Joseph Koppel Sandler, Szymon Laks and other persecuted Jewish composers. With the support of the Consulate General of Germany in Toronto, the concert is also part of the Neuberger 2018 Holocaust Education Week.

Cox has a strong connection to “From the Diary of Virginia Woolf” (November 13) which is a major focus of this month’s Art of Song column. It’s the first project of Muse 9 Productions, the brainchild of stage director Anna Theodosakis and pianist Hyejin Kwon, both of whom he knows well. Kwon is a graduate of the COC Ensemble Studio and Theodosakis has been the director or assistant director of many projects at the COC. “This particular project was very engaging when I saw its premiere [in April].”

Sae Yoon ChonNovember 14’s “Piano Teatro” program features Glenn Gould School fourth-year B.Mus. student Sae Yoon Chon performing Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D Minor and Brahms’ Piano Sonata No.3 in F Minor. Chon recently won First Prize at the Dublin International Piano Competition and Cox calls him “a pianist who is on the rise in the international music scene.” (I was fortunate to hear Chon’s impressive playing of the Bach for Leon Fleisher in a masterclass on October 12, where Fleisher told Chon he was “filled with admiration for the way you play the piano, for the amount of finger control you have.”)

“Like the Glenn Gould School, the Schulich School of Music at McGill University is another powerhouse music school and another one of our educational institution partners,” Cox says. “November 20, their critically acclaimed cello professor, Matt Haimovitz will be travelling to Toronto with Uccello, an all-cello ensemble, to showcase the best of the best from their program.”

The Golden Violin Competition has been held every year at McGill since 2006. The 2017 winner of its $25,000 prize, Maïthéna Girault, performs on November 21 at noon. Her program had not been finalized by the time our November issue went to press; but programs for each week are posted on the COC website on the Friday before.

You can read why “Songs in the Key of Cree” (November 28) caught Steve Wallace’s attention in his Jazz Notes Quick Picks this month. As for Dorian Cox, it “is an example where I was connected to one artist through another. Ian Cusson a Canadian composer and pianist of Métis and French-Canadian descent, had worked with Tomson Highway, Patricia Cano and Marcus Ali on this project as a rehearsal pianist. Ian will be performing in a concert of his own compositions on March 5 and during those conversations I asked about his work with Tomson Highway. Ian connected me to Patricia and I was thrilled that everything fell into place from there!”

David Dias da SilvaClarinetist David Dias da Silva and pianist Olivier Hébert-Bouchard have been touring “Portraits and Fantasias” across Ontario and Quebec with the support of Jeunesses Musicales du Canada (JMC). “JMC is yet another one of our amazing partner organizations,” Cox said. “They help young professional musicians to develop their careers and are experts in coaching the artists to create cohesive and unique programs.” The November 29 concert has yet to be finalized but will include a portion of their touring program: Luigi Bassi’s Fantasia da concerto su motivi del Rigoletto; Debussy’s Première rhapsodie for B-flat clarinet and piano; Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, op.73: I. Zart und mit Ausdruck.

The Free Concert Series is justifiably popular. Seating and standing room are limited. Plan on arriving at least 30 minutes in advance.

Mandle Cheung conducts his orchestra.One of a Kind: Mandle Phil

“The very first piece of classical music I heard was Saint-Saëns’ Third Violin Concerto,” Mandle Cheung writes on his website. “I was 13, listening to a pocket-sized radio with earphones. I was born and raised in Hong Kong, and though my family wasn’t particularly musical, from that point, I was hooked on music ever since. “ After he moved to Canada in 1968, he stuck to a sensible major, computer science – but he managed to pick up some music courses along the way, eventually taking up conducting with Arthur Polson and leading the orchestra in Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto for their graduation concert. Later, he was invited to perform Arthur Benjamin’s Harmonica Concerto with the CBC Winnipeg Orchestra, Eric Wilde conducting.

That was his last musical activity for a few decades. He moved to Toronto in 1975, working for large corporations in software and networking. In 1987 he struck out on his own, which brought him business success. Then one day in 2015, “I woke up thinking that if I still dream of conducting, I better get researching.”

At 70, Mandle Cheung decided to pursue that longtime dream. And with his brand-new orchestra, comprised of almost 70 professional musicians based in the GTA, “All Awakens with Joy.” is finally happening. Mandle Cheung and the Mandle Philharmonic perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op.67 and Mahler’s Symphony No.4 in G Major. (Jennifer Taverner is the soprano soloist in the fourth movement of the Mahler.) November 9 at 8pm at the Glenn Gould Studio will see the dream fulfilled, fuelled by passion and hard-won through tireless rehearsal and meticulous study. Admission is by donation. Proceeds will go directly into a career development grant fund – grants will be awarded to promising early career musicians, to aid in professional development.

Gallery 345

There’s a cornucopia of concertizing at Gallery 345 this month. Here is a sample of the bounty. On November 1, fans of Gregory Millar’s chamber music get an opportunity to hear him as a soloist in the Gallery’s ongoing Art of the Piano series. His recital ranges from CPE Bach to Barbara Pentland, from Beethoven and Chopin to Brahms and Prokofiev. The Mexican-born Alejandro Vela continues the series on November 10 with a program of Gershwin, Granados and Chopin, anchored by Rhapsody in Blue and the Funeral March Sonata.

Cellist Noémie Raymond-Friset was recently named one of the 30 hot Canadian musicians under 30 by CBC Music. For her contribution to the Art of the Cello series on November 11, she will perform music by Schumann, Stravinsky, Poulenc and WholeNote contributor David Jaeger (Constable’s Clouds). Peter Klimo is the collaborative pianist. Pianist Jean-Luc Therrien teams up with violinist Jean-Samuel Bez for a program of music by Schubert, Fauré, Lili Boulanger, Enescu and Kreisler on November 22. And TSO assistant principal cello Winona Zelenka continues the Art of the Cello series – with the Gryphon’s Trio’s pianist, Jamie Parker – on December 1, with a fascinating program of Bach, Ligeti, Pärt, Crumb and Bjarnason.

Music Toronto

The long-running chamber-music series continues its 47th season with three auspicious concerts.

On November 15, Ensemble Made in Canada bring their ambitious Mosaïque project to the Jane Mallett stage. This recently commissioned suite of piano quartets by 14 Canadian composers, each inspired by a particular region of Canada, is currently on a nationwide tour of all ten provinces and three territories. After intermission, look for the Ensemble to bring out the subtleties of Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op.47.

Next, the whole world is the subject of pianist Louise Bessette’s November 27 recital. From John Adams’ China Gates to Percy Grainger’s In Dahomey, Bessette’s musical grand tour consists of 15 diverse selections.

Music Toronto stalwarts, the Gryphon Trio, celebrate their 25th anniversary season on December 6, with a variety of works – Mozart, Silvestrov, Pärt and others – before moving into Paul Frehner’s Bytown Waters (commissioned to celebrate the Trio’s milestone), and Brahms’ fully packed Piano Trio in C Major, Op.87

CLASSICAL & BEYOND QUICK PICKS

NOV 2 AND 3, 8PM: Pianist Charles-Richard Hamelin (recently named piano mentor at TSM 2019), is the soloist in Brahms’ dramatic Piano Concerto No.1 with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony led by Andrei Feher.

NOV 4, 6:30PM: Sheila Jaffé, violist in the COC Orchestra, puts on her violinist hat as she joins violinist Jeffrey Dyrda (who recently concluded three seasons as second violin of the Rolston String Quartet), Emmanuelle Beaulieu Bergeron (TSO associate principal cello) and Pocket Concerts co-director, violist Rory McLeod, in Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No.2, Op.13 and Garth Knox’s Satellites, one of the Kronos’ Quartet’s 50 for the Future commissions.

NOV 12, 8PM: The Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society presents two former members of the fondly remembered Cypress String Quartet, Cecily Ward, violin, and Ethan Filner, viola, and Aaron Schwebel (concertmaster of the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra and associate concertmaster of the COC Orchestra), performing works for two violins and viola by Dvořák, Prokofiev, Kodály and more.

NOV 15, 7:30PM: York University Faculty of Music presents Duo Forte – Christina Petrowska Quilico and Shoshana Tellner – in a program of danceable four-handed piano repertoire that includes Barber’s Souvenirs, Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, Arthur Benjamin’s Jamaican Rhumba, Kapustin’s jazzy Slow Waltz, Ravel’s brilliant La Valse and Piazzolla’s urgent Libertango.

NOV 16, 7:30PM: U of T Faculty of Music presents the New Orford String Quartet and guests performing two cornerstones of the chamber music repertoire: Brahms’ masterful Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op.34 and Mendelssohn’s dazzling Octet Op.20.

John Storgårds conducts the TSO in November. Photo by Marco BorggreveNOV 21, 8PM; NOV 23, 7:30PM; NOV 24, 8PM: Pianist Kirill Gerstein brings his improvisatory sensibility to Beethoven’s free-flowing Piano Concerto No.4 in G Major, Op.58 while John Storgårds conducts the TSO; the not-to-be-missed program also includes Ravel’s kinetic Boléro.

NOV 25, 2:30PM: Violinist Aisslinn Nosky returns to conduct the Niagara Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s essential Symphony No.3 “Eroica,” as well as taking the solo part in Haydn’s Violin Concerto in G Major.

NOV 30 AND DEC 1, 8PM: Stewart Goodyear, piano, Bénédicte Lauzière, violin, and John Helmers, cello, join conductor David Danzmayr and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto in C Major, Op.56, a rare opportunity to hear this underrated work for an unusual combination of soloists.

DEC 2, 3:15PM: Mooredale Concerts presents the aptly named Artistic Directors Trio in works by Schumann, Handel and more. Pianist Wonny Song is the artistic and executive director of Orford Music (Quebec) and Mooredale Concerts. Violinist Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu is artistic partner of the Da Camera Society (Los Angeles) and assistant director of the New Asia Chamber Music Society (New York City). Violist Wei-Yang Lin is artistic director of the New Asia Chamber Music Society. Intriguing.

Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote.

Gustavo Gimeno. credit Marco BorggreveThe Toronto Symphony Orchestra announced mid-September that Gustavo Gimeno will be its next music director, having signed a five-year contract beginning with the 2020/21 season.

Some of you may have heard the 42-year-old Valencia-born native of Spain make his début with the TSO last February, in a program that included the Dvořák Cello Concerto (with Johannes Moser), Ligeti’s Concert Românesc and Beethoven’s Symphony No.4. Reports from attendees were that his connection with the orchestra was palpable. Gimeno began his international conducting career while principal percussionist at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. As assistant to Mariss Jansons and protégé of the legendary Bernard Haitink and Claudio Abbado, he developed a musical foundation that led him to head the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and propelled his career onto the world stage.

“Maestro Gimeno has an ability to connect with people, onstage and off,” said TSO concertmaster Jonathan Crow. “He has a musical charisma and technical ability that is remarkable – he pulls you into the musical moment. Gustavo is absolutely the right match for the TSO, and we are looking forward to a truly unique partnership that will blend his musicianship with the amazing flexibility of our orchestra. Together, we will create something very special for music lovers in Toronto.”

Gimeno returns to conduct the TSO in the last pair of concerts of the current season, June 29 and 30, 2019. Mark your calendar.

And Meanwhile… Thirty-year-old Uzbekistan-born conductor Aziz Shokhakimov’s breakthrough was winning second prize in the 2010 Mahler International Conducting Competition. He makes his TSO debut October 13 and 14 in a program anchored by two pillars of the repertoire, Dvořák’s Symphony No.9 “From the New World” and Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. George Li, winner of the Silver Medal at the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition, is the piano soloist. I was fortunate to hear Latvian-born violinist Baibe Skride’s electrifying performance of Brahms’ Violin Concerto with the TSO in February 2016 and eagerly anticipated her return. On October 18 and 20, she will play Britten’s Violin Concerto, a masterful work from the composer’s mid-20s that has been coming into its own in recent years. Thomas Søndergård conducts a program that also features Debussy’s iconic La mer. Russian-born, UK-based 33-year-old violinist Alina Ibragimova continues the TSO’s lineup of classical greatness on October 24, 25, 27 and 28 with Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, a work that never fails to astound. Conductor Andrey Boreyko also leads the orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s Suite from The Sleeping Beauty.

Nocturnes in the City

Eighteen years ago, Nocturnes in the City started as a five-concert series at Prague Restaurant at Masaryktown in Scarborough. It was a great success from the beginning and five years later, the classical concerts were moved to downtown Toronto. Many Czech and Slovak artists have performed in last 17 years to mainly Czech-Canadian audiences: singers Eva Urbanová, Zdeněk Plech, Gustáv Beláček, Eva Blahová; pianists Antonín Kubálek, Karolina Kubálek, Jan Novotný, Boris Krajny and Martin Karlíček; violinists Ivan Ženatý and Bohuslav Matoušek; and famous quartets -- the Panocha, Zemlinsky, Pražák and Kocian.

This season, Nocturnes in the City marks the centenary of the birth of Czechoslovakia in 1918 with a special concert on October 28 when the prize-winning Zemlinsky Quartet with pianist Slávka Vernerová-Pěchočová present two Dvořák string quartets and the ever-popular Piano Quintet No.2, Op.81. One week earlier on October 21, the same pianist will give a solo recital of works by three Czech composing giants – Dvořák, Smetana and Janáček.

The Zemlinsky Quartet also take advantage of their presence in Ontario to perform all 14 of Dvořák’s string quartets, as well as his Cypresses and Op.81 Piano Quintet (with Vernerová-Pěchočová), under the auspices of the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society, October 18, 20, 22, 24, 25 and 27. Not to be missed. 

CLASSICAL & BEYOND QUICK PICKS

OCT 10, 12PM: The Rosebud String Quartet, led by COC principal violist Keith Hamm and COC associate concertmaster/National Ballet concertmaster Aaron Schwebel, gives a free noon-hour concert of music by Haydn and Beethoven at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.

OCT 10, 8PM: The Jeffrey Concerts (London) presents Canadian violinist supreme, James Ehnes, and his usual collaborative pianist, Andrew Armstrong in works by Beethoven, Brahms and Corigliano. The same program can be heard OCT 11 at 7:30PM in Kingston at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts and OCT 12 at 7:30PM in Niagara-on-the Lake presented by Bravo Niagara!

OCT 11, 12PM: Pianists Rosemarie Duval-Laplante and Jean-Michel Dube honour the artistic legacy of “the Quebecois Mozart,” Andre Mathieu, on the 50th anniversary of his death by performing a selection of works for two and four hands composed by Mathieu, his father Rodolphe and by some of the composers that inspired them in a free noon-hour concert at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.

OCT 18, 8PM: The St. Lawrence Quartet bring their infectious energy and consummate musicianship to the Jane Mallett Theatre in a wide-ranging program of Haydn, Golijov, Barber (Dover Beach with baritone Tyler Duncan) and Beethoven (Op.135). Music Toronto says it’s the only performance of this program anywhere!

OCT 28, 3:15PM: Mooredale Concerts present the legendary Dorian Wind Quintet in a program of works by Bach, Perle and Dvořák.

Danish Quartet. Photo by Caroline BittencourtNOV 3, 7:30PM: The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts presents the acclaimed Danish String Quartet playing Haydn, Abrahamsen and Beethoven (the indelible Op.59 No.1). The same program can be heard NOV 4 at 3PM, presented by the RCM in Koerner Hall.

Stephen HoughNOV 6, 7:30PM: A recital by Stephen Hough is always worthwhile. For this appearance at the Isabel Centre for the Performing Arts, the British polymath brings his intelligence and flawless technique to a program of Debussy, Liszt (The Mephisto Waltz) and Chopin’s Sonata No.2.

Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote.

Calidore String Quartet. Photo by Sophie ZhaiThe Calidore String Quartet (Jeffrey Myers and Ryan Meehan, violins, Jeremy Berry, viola, and Estelle Choi, cello) made a name for themselves in 2016 by winning the $100,000 Grand Prize in the inaugural M-Prize International Chamber Music Competition, the world’s largest chamber music prize. More recently, they were awarded the 2018 Avery Fisher Career Grant. During the upcoming season they will complete their three-year residency with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. They took time in August for an email Q&A in advance of their Mooredale Concerts recital of their “Music and Conflict” program in Walter Hall, on September 30.

WN: Please tell us about when and where the Calidore String Quartet began.

CSQ: We met at the Colburn School in Los Angeles where we were completing our music studies. Estelle and Jeff had been in a different quartet and we were looking to continue working together. Jeremy on viola was the next addition followed shortly by Ryan on second violin. The quartet officially formed in 2010.

How was your “Music and Conflict” program conceived?

Given the chaotic and uncertain world that we live in, we wanted to find guidance in the music that we spend our lives studying and performing. How did the great artists in our field take conflict and channel it creatively? How did they make their voice heard? Taking the Mendelssohn Op.80 as the anchor piece of the [new] album, we then began building the program by looking at composers who faced different challenges throughout their lives. This led to the addition of Prokofiev’s Second String Quartet, Janáček’s “Kreutzer,” and finally Golijov’s Tenebrae.

What is your approach for each of the four works on that program?

We tried to learn as much as we could about the circumstances each of the composers faced that led to them to write the works. Where were they in their lives, both physically and mentally? How did they resolve the cacophony around them?

In the Prokofiev, the composer was evacuated due to the Nazi invasion of Moscow, so this displacement must have left him feeling homesick and unsure of the future. Despite all of this he wrote a piece drawing on the folk music that surrounded him and produced a piece that evokes a sense of pride and an optimism for the days ahead. Prokofiev also conveys a wistfulness in the second movement, perhaps recalling better days.

While Prokofiev faced an external war, Janáček battled a personal struggle in his marriage. It is no wonder he felt that Leo Tolstoy’s novella, The Kreutzer Sonata, spoke to his own situation of being locked in a loveless marriage. In the novella, a husband becomes increasingly mad from jealousy. His pianist wife has begun learning Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” violin and piano sonata with a dashing violinist. He arrives home late at night to find the two of them conversing intimately. This drives the husband to kill his wife out of madness. In this piece, we become actors, playing all the different roles from the married couple to the new violinist and even including the husband’s growing insanity. This string quartet requires a playing style that is very physical and aggressive while also being able to sing with lyricism and tenderness. It is a visceral experience that Janáček has created, so it is important to highlight the physicality of the work.

From the brutality of the Janáček, we felt a sense of calm was needed to balance the tumultuous story of Tolstoy. Golijov’s Tenebrae acts as the fulcrum to the album. It takes the quiet serenity of the cosmos, and intersperses it with the chaos and conflict of the Middle East, drawn from the composer’s experiences closely tied to each. The experience of seeing the world as a tiny blue dot at the planetarium contrasted with the devastating violence in Israel and led Golijov to write this piece that brings light to a world often shrouded in darkness.

Finally, the Mendelssohn Op.80 string quartet closes the album. This work is a sharp contrast to all of his others and was written towards the end of the composer’s short life. Having lost his sister unexpectedly, Mendelssohn was swimming in grief, unable to write music from the sheer weight of the tragedy. In an attempt to elevate himself from the loss, he took to composing to channel the hurt, frustration and anger of the departure of his family member and dearest friend. The nostalgia of the slow movement evokes the tenderness of their relationship which launches the listener back to the turmoil of his mourning in the fourth and final movement. Even in his darkest days, Mendelssohn gave the world an outlet to help both himself and the audience to cope and rise above the difficulties of life.

How did your relationship with the Emerson Quartet come about? How important was it to your development as a quartet?

Our relationship with the Emerson Quartet first began when we first played for David Finckel in 2012 at the Aspen Music Festival and School. We simply approached him and asked if he would have any extra time to hear us. He graciously took time out of his busy schedule to coach us on our repertoire for a few upcoming competitions. We kept in contact over the next few years and as our time studying at the Colburn School came to an end we were looking for possible residency programs for which to apply. At this point David recommended us for an opportunity to work with the Emerson at Stony Brook University. We were incredibly fortunate to get to study with the Emerson String Quartet for the next two years.

The Emerson Quartet has played an instrumental role in the development of our quartet. Not only have they provided us with profound musical insight, but they have offered us advice on everything that makes the life in a string quartet work.

On The Horizon

Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The TSO’s post-Oundjian journey begins in earnest September 20 to 22 with interim artistic director Sir Andrew Davis conducting. The program brackets Jacques Hétu’s Variations concertantes with Berlioz’s rarely heard Fantasy on Shakespeare’s The Tempest from Lelio, or The Return to Life and his Symphonie fantastique, one of the cornerstones of the orchestral repertoire. The parade of guest conductors begins on September 26 and 29 with the TSO debut of Ukrainian conductor Kirill Karabits, the chief conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. The program includes Karabits’ countryman Valentin Silvestrov’s Serenade for String Orchestra, Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No.3, and charismatic Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti as the soloist in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No.2 with its lovely middle movement. The ever-popular Mahler Symphony No.5 is coupled with Ravel’s jazz-tinged Piano Concerto in G on October 3 and 4. Spanish pianist Javier Perianes is the soloist; artistic leader and chief conductor of the Trondheim Symfoniorkester, South Korean-native Han-Na Chang makes her TSO debut.

Han-Na ChangRoyal Conservatory (RCM): The Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble get the RCM-Koerner Hall regular season underway on October 3, with music by Nielsen, Françaix (his Octet for clarinet, bassoon, horn and string quintet) and Beethoven (his celebrated Septet for clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello and bass). Worth hearing alone for the distinctive timbre the unusual instrumentation produces. When Yannick Nézet-Séguin and his Orchestre Métropolitain made their exciting Koerner Hall debut in April 2015, they brought the cello phenom Stéphane Tétrault; for their return visit, October 5, to augment a program that includes Sibelius’ Symphony No.1 and Nicolas Gilbert’s Avril, it’s the well-established pianist Nicholas Angelich who will be the soloist in Rachmaninoff’s first work composed after leaving Russia for good, the Piano Concerto No.4.

Poulenc TrioMusic in the Afternoon. Francis Poulenc’s invigorating, amusing, noble and otherworldly Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano is the best-known example of music written for this unusual combination of instruments. No double reed player can resist its charms, so it’s no wonder that the Poulenc Trio (pianist Irina Kaplan Lande, bassoonist Bryan Young and oboist James Austin Smith) named themselves for its composer. They launch the 121st season of the Women’s Musical Club on October 4 in Walter Hall, with a modernist program of music by Schnittke, Viet Cuong, Shostakovich, Previn and their namesake (whose famous trio they will perform) should enliven the first afternoon of the new month.

Summer continues. It’s still summer for the Prince Edward County Chamber Music Festival. Artistic directors, the enterprising New Orford String Quartet, open this year’s edition on September 7 with Mozart’s “Dissonance” quartet along works by Burge and Ravel. André Laplante’s ambitious program on September 9 includes Schubert’s delightful Sonata in A Major D664 and a significant Liszt component: Three Sonetti del Petrarca, from Années de pèlerinage, deuxième année: Italie and his revolutionary masterpiece, the Sonata in B Minor. September 15 violinist Mark Fewer heads a jazz evening heavy on Ellington, with pianist David Braid and bassist Joseph Phillips. The next afternoon it’s Fewer with his classical pals doing a variety of chamber music headed by Dvořák’s Piano Quintet Op.81.

CLASSICAL & BEYOND QUICK PICKS

Jarred DunnSEP 20, 8PM: Brampton-native Jarred Dunn, a former assistant to, and collaborator with, the well-known author, pianist and teacher David Dubal, performs works by Szymanowski, Debussy, Górecki, Liszt and Chopin in his recital at Gallery 345.

SEP 23, 2PM & SEP 29, 2PM: Pocket Concerts launches their sixth season of chamber music in an intimate setting with Montreal-based violinist, Andrea Tyniec and Pocket Concerts co-director pianist Emily Rho in music by Beethoven, Sokolović and Debussy. In his Strings Attached column in our Summer 2016 issue, Terry Robbins praised Tyniec’s faultless technique and outstanding musicianship.

SEP 27, 7:30PM: Gallery 345 presents Payadora Tango Ensemble-member, Rebekah Wolkstein, performing music from Norway on the nine-string Hardanger fiddle. Tom King is the collaborative pianist.

OCT 2, 8PM: Marc-André Hamelin’s virtuoso program for Music Toronto’s new season continues his current examination of Samuel Feinberg with the Russian pianist-composer’s Sonata No.3, Op.3 and showcases old favourites like Alexis Weissenberg’s charming Six Arrangements of Songs Sung by Charles Trenet. Busoni’s arrangement of Bach’s famous Chaconne and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Cypresses bring out Hamelin’s astonishing technique, which of course also supports the Chopin Polonaise-Fantaisie and Scherzo No.4 that conclude the recital.

Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote.

Across Toronto, throughout Ontario and into the rest of Canada, wherever you travel, this summer promises music to suit the most discerning listener. What follows is meant to augment our Green Pages supplement, concentrating on the Toronto Summer Music Festival in particular and highlighting other noteworthy events beyond the GTA.

Toronto Summer Music

This year’s edition of the Toronto Summer Music Festival (TSM), July 12 to August 4, commemorates the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I by focusing on works written during, or inspired by, wartime. It’s an intriguing premise that makes for some thought-provoking programming. As artistic director and TSO concertmaster Jonathan Crow put it: “Some of the most beautiful, emotional and challenging music has been written during times of war and conflict as artists struggled to find meaning and give expression to the horrors gripping the world.”

Borodin QuartetBut the programming is not limited to such works; they become central to or merely part of a greater whole. For example, the Borodin Quartet’s two concerts that begin the festival do include Shostakovich’s intense String Quartet No.8 Op.110 (1960) dedicated “to the memory of the victims of fascism and war,” but overall spotlight Russian-themed compositions. So the Shostakovich is followed by Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No.1 Op.11, which contains the famous Andante Cantabile melody. The next evening, July 13 in Walter Hall, Russian pianist Lukas Geniušas joins the Borodins for Shostakovich’s justly popular Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op.57 written in 1940 as WWII was just beginning. Geniušas opens the program with Rachmaninoff’s 13 Preludes (1910) then moves to Prokofiev’s Sonata No.7 Op.83 (1942). When I interviewed Geniušas two years ago he called the Prokofiev one of the central pieces of 20th-century piano music: flawless in form and matchless in its violent brutality inspired by the outrage of WWII.

The overall arc of this year’s TSM ranges widely over the musical spectrum, encompassing a myriad of chamber music offerings, big band vocals, early music, gospel music, the pianism of Angela Cheng, lyric tenor Christoph Prégardien and a multi-disciplinary musical journey into the life of Francis Pegahmagabow, the renowned Ojibwe WWI sniper and decorated officer of the Canadian military. And of course, a series of concerts by art song and chamber music academy fellows is back, spotlighting a core element of TSM’s mandate in which musicians on the cusp of professional careers are mentored by, and perform with, seasoned artists.

There are many instances where the war theme yields a bounty of masterpieces. Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat (1918), in which a naive soldier sells his soul (and his violin) to the devil, is an indelible concoction filled with memorable tunes and asymmetrical rhythms. Performed in its full version with narrator and dancer, the July 19 Koerner Hall performance presents a rare opportunity to experience one of Stravinsky’s masterworks. And what does it tell us about the human spirit that Copland’s sunny Appalachian Spring, with its unfailing optimism, was written in the last year of WWII? TSM will present this enduringly popular work, in its original version for 13 chamber musicians, on the same program.

Messiaen wrote most of the Quartet for the End of Time after being captured as a French soldier during the German invasion of 1940. The premiere took place in an unheated space in Barrack 27, where the German officers of the camp sat shivering in the front row. “This is the music of one who expects paradise not only in a single awesome hereafter but also in the happenstance epiphanies of daily life,” Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker. “In the end, Messiaen’s apocalypse has little to do with history and catastrophe; instead, it records the rebirth of an ordinary soul in the grip of extraordinary emotion. Which is why the Quartet is as overpowering now as it was on that frigid night in 1941.” Take advantage of the opportunity to hear this spellbinding work when Jonathan Crow (violin), Julie Albers (cello), Miles Jaques (clarinet) and Natasha Paremski (piano) perform it in Koerner Hall at 10:30pm on July 19.

Crow and pianist Philip Chiu base their tribute to the great violinist, humanist and teacher Yehudi Menuhin (in Walter Hall on July 30) on concerts Menuhin performed at liberated concentration camps and military bases during WWII. The program, anchored by Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No.9 in A Major, Op.47 “Kreutzer,” includes works by Corelli, Ravel and Kreisler. More joyous music, in this case represented by Schubert’s ineffable “Trout” Quintet, seemingly apart from TSM’s war theme, is the feature of another Walter Hall recital, July 20. Taking advantage of the presence of art song mentors, tenor Christoph Prégardien and pianist Steven Philcox, the evening also includes Schubert’s song, Die Forelle, which is the basis for the theme-and-variations fourth movement of the quintet. Filling out the program are works by Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff (his unforgettable Vocalise) and Paul Ben-Haim (who fled the Nazi regime for Palestine).

Another unmissable highlight of TSM’s musical abundance includes the pairing of two recent American classics in a July 24 concert at Lula Lounge by the New Orford String Quartet: Steve Reich’s haunting Different Trains, which contrasts the composer’s nostalgic feelings for the trans-American railway trips he made as a child in the early 1940s with the horrific train rides that Jews were forced to make at the same time in Europe, and George Crumb’s searing response to the Vietnam War, Black Angels (1970), written for electric string quartet. The following day, July 25 at the Church of the Redeemer, Jonathan Crow’s soloist role in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is paired with Biber’s Battaglia (1673), a realistic instrumental depiction of war.

Beethoven’s Sonata No.31 in A-flat Major, Op.110 and Chopin’s Ballade No.1 in G Minor Op.23 are major pillars of the piano canon. Angela Cheng performs them July 31 at Walter Hall before being joined by her husband Alvin Chow for three contrasting French works for piano four-hands by Debussy, Milhaud and Ravel. Ravel put all his disillusionment with the horror of WWI into La Valse, which takes an elegant waltz and ultimately twists it into madness and mayhem. Brilliant.

The New Orford String Quartet and pianist Pedja Muzijevic’s program (July 27) mixes Debussy’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, written in the early days of WWI, and Beethoven’s “Serioso” String Quartet, which may have been influenced by Napoleon’s occupation of Vienna the year before it was written, with Elgar’s expansive Piano Quintet, completed just as WWI was ending.

Chiu, along with violinists Aaron Schwebel and Barry Schiffman, are among the musicians taking part in two more chamber music concerts, one (August 1) bearing the weighty title “War in the 20th Century” and the other (August 3) focusing on a cornerstone of string players’ repertoire, Brahms’ Sextet No.1 in B-flat Major, Op.18.

Apart from the mainstage events, there are reGENERATION concerts, in which TSM academy fellows and mentors perform together; and members of the academy also participate in lunchtime concerts. There are pay-what-you-can hour-long late afternoon performances by TSM artists and daytime chats that provide insight into the world of classical music. However much you decide to take in of TSM’s ambitious programming, you will be well-rewarded.

Stratford Summer Music

Founder and artistic producer John Miller’s 18 years at the helm of Stratford Summer Music come to an end this year (July 16 to August 26) with a festival filled with something for everyone, from Bach brunches to the Blind Boys of Alabama, and Tanya Tagaq interpreting the classic silent film Nanook of the North. My personal must-see list has Marc-André Hamelin and Jan Lisiecki at the top. Miller has been trying to book Hamelin since day one; he’s finally got him in a typical Hamelinesque program that mixes the well-known -- Schumann and Chopin -- with the lesser-known: Weissenberg and Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Be assured that Canada’s greatest pianist will charm and astound. Lisiecki, who has been on a stellar trajectory over most of his young career, makes his ninth appearance in Stratford (and Miller warns it may be his last for a while, since he’s in so much demand).

Montreal Chamber Music Festival

Getting an early start on summer, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival has several attractive concerts in mid-June. The Rolston String Quartet continues their Banff Competition grand tour pairing Shostakovich’s String Quartet No.7 (his shortest at 13 minutes) with Steve Reich’s powerful Different Trains (June 12). Later that night, the Rolstons and Andre Laplante perform Schumann’s iconic Piano Quintet Op.44. Amit Peled plays Bach and Bloch on Pablo Casals’ 1733 Matteo Gofriller cello (June 15). Four pianists (Alon Goldstein, David Jalbert, Steven Massicotte and Wonny Song) in various combinations play Mozart, Wilberg (his Fantasy on Themes from Bizet’s Carmen), Stravinsky’s Petroushka and more (June 15). The New York Philharmonic String Quartet (the principals of the famous orchestra) make their Canadian debut with a program of Haydn, Shostakovich and Borodin (June 16).

Festival of the Sound

The 39th edition of the Festival of the Sound is varied and extensive: from the world premiere of Sounding Thunder, Timothy Corlis and Armand Garnet Ruffo’s work honouring the renowned Ojibwe WWI sniper, Francis Pegahmagabow, to a series pairing Bach with Mozart, Debussy, Dvořák, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms; from concerts featuring the emerging pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin, to The Mosaïque Project, for which Ensemble Made in Canada commissioned 14 award-winning Canadian composers to each write a four-minute movement for piano quartet inspired by a particular province, territory or region, thus creating a unique musical quilt representing the diversity of Canada. The breadth and depth of this beloved festival on the shore of Georgian Bay continues to astonish.

Clear Lake Chamber Music Festival

Under the artistic direction of father-and-son pianists Alexander and Daniel Tselyakov, Manitoba’s first chamber music festival is a long weekend of well-chosen repertoire set in Riding Mountain National Park (July 26 to 29). This year’s highlights include Alexander Tselyakov performing Mozart’s “Elvira Madigan” Piano Concerto No.21 K467 arranged for piano and string quartet; an evening of masterworks by Bruch, Poulenc and Dohnányi with Alexander and strings; Mozart’s Piano Quartet No.2 K493 with Daniel Tselyakov; and a midday seriously fun concert complete with coffee and pastries. A unique festival.

Ottawa Chamberfest

Ottawa Chamberfest celebrates its 25th season July 26 to August 9 with a star-studded roster. Highlights include Marc-André Hamelin (July 27) extending his exploration of the piano music of Samuel Feinberg (and Chopin) as well as teaming up with the exceptional Danel Quatuor for Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet Op.57. Israel’s Ariel Quartet and Banff winners, the Rolston String Quartet, combine for Mendelssohn’s great Octet (July 30); Quatuor Danel (July 29) and the Rolstons (July 31) each give additional concerts. OSM concertmaster   Andrew Wan and rising-star pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin play Beethoven sonatas (August 5); the Gryphon Trio celebrates their own 25th anniversary with an evening of greatest hits and favourite stories (August 5); the masterful Pražák Quartet delves into their Czech heritage (August 7); and Angela Hewitt brightens her visit to her hometown with programs featuring Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier Book One (August 4) and Goldberg Variations (August 6).

Blythwood Winds - Terry Lim PhotographySummer Music in the Garden

An oasis of calm downtown by the lake, Harbourfront’s Music Garden is one of Toronto’s best kept secrets. And it’s free! Now is the time to spread the word. Here are some highlights. The Venuti String Quartet (violinists Rebekah Wolkstein and Drew Jurecka, violist Shannon Knights and cellist Lydia Munchinsky) performs Ravel’s breathtaking String Quartet June 28; The New Zealand String Quartet illuminates Beethoven’s String Quartet No.7, Op.59 No.1 as well as Stravinsky’s little-heard Concertino for String Quartet July 19; Blythwood Winds, a classic wind quintet, present a program spanning the last century, including Elliott Carter’s Wind Quintet, Abigail Richardson-Schulte’s nature-inspired Emerge and music from the score to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, July 20. Famous for their marimba-duo version of Ann Southam’s Glass Houses, Taktus (Greg Harrison and Jonny Smith) brings it all back home to Toronto on July 22. Playing violin, mandolin and the nine-string hardanger fiddle, Rebekah Wolkstein and Drew Jurecka perform music by Brahms, Bartók, Mozart and Grieg, along with folk music of Norway, August 16. 

Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote.

A protégé of legendary lyricist Oscar Hammerstein and student of serialist composer and electronic music trailblazer Milton Babbitt, Stephen Sondheim is equally famous as a lyricist and tunesmith. Midway through the first decade of the 21st century, American pianist Anthony de Mare acted on his lifelong immersion in Sondheim’s work and commissioned a wide net of composers from multiple genres to create their own “re-imaginings” of a favourite Sondheim song for solo piano. By the time the Liaisons project was completed in 2014, 36 composers (31 men and five women; 32 of whom were American-born) had contributed and de Mare’s love affair with Sondheim’s music had borne a bountiful harvest.

Drawn from 12 shows – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962) to Passion (1994) – Liaisons explores the sound world of the foremost creator of American musical theatre in the last half of the 20th century through the singular lenses of composers from Steve Reich to Gabriel Kahane. “Each of the composers is having a conversation with Mr. Sondheim,” de Mare told The New York Times, “with his material but also his influence, his musical wit and his craft.”

The lone Canadian contribution, Rodney Sharman’s Notes on “Beautiful,” written in the Valentine Studio, Leighton Arts Colony, Banff, Alberta, “is a transformation of the duet between mother and son, Beautiful, from Sunday in the Park with George, and dedicated to Anthony de Mare and the memory of my mother.” Sharman’s piece is one of 14 de Mare will be performing in Mazzoleni Hall on May 24 as part of the 21C Music Festival. A second concert, the following evening in Temerty Theatre, contains ten additional works concluding with a reprise of Reich’s Finishing the Hat.

Anthony de MareWN: How does it feel, as a lifelong fan of Stephen Sondheim’s music, to play a dozen or two of the Liaisons transcriptions in an evening?

AdM: It is always an exhilarating experience for me to perform these works, no matter how many are included on each program. And because I’m so enamoured with the entire canon of Sondheim’s work, there are just so many of his shows in addition to dozens and dozens of his songs that I love so much. He has often said that Sunday in the Park with George is the show “closest to his heart” and I would say that has [also] always been one of my favourites. And I would just add that for myself, the more I work and live with this material, the more I learn – it has become a body of work that I hold very close to my own heart and it is an honour to be able to share it with the world now.

The flexibility of the project allows me to create programs based on what each individual presenter desires coupled with my own instincts and choices. Some presenters have had me perform two to three concerts as a series covering a vast portion of the collection.

However, selecting the program content is very important to me, as is its shape. I actually consider the entire program (and its sequencing) to be its own “piece,” carefully assembled to guide the listener on a journey through these fascinating works. Each piece is very much a marriage between the composer’s individual style and Sondheim’s original material. Add to this the inclusion often of audio and video clips of the composers speaking about their relationship to Mr. Sondheim and his work, in addition to the short film of Sondheim himself speaking (extracted from the interviews that were part of the Liaisons premiere concerts at Symphony Space here in NYC). Audiences have often commented favourably on how satisfying the entire experience is for them.

What was the first Sondheim song you fell in love with? What did it mean to you?

The first Sondheim song I encountered was the iconic Send in the Clowns from A Little Night Music. The first recording I heard of it was Judy Collins’ classic version back when I was in high school in the 1970s. I was so enamored with the shape of the melody, the beautiful sequence of harmonies, the eloquent lyrics, and of course her gentle interpretation, which made it memorable.

What is the first Sondheim song you remember hearing? How old were you?

Along with Send in the Clowns, there was Comedy Tonight from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Shortly thereafter, I began listening over and over to the original cast recording of Company – the opening song of which became an immediate favourite, along with Another Hundred People. Again, this was around junior high and high school.

What prompted you to embark on such an ambitious project of commissioning piano re-imaginings of Sondheim songs? What was the genesis of the project?

This massive project was the culmination of a series of musical endeavours that I had created in years past. I have long been referred to as one of the leading exponents of contemporary music and my love of musical theatre has played a distinctive role in establishing myself as the “pioneer” of the speaking/singing pianist genre which I created in the late 1980s, commissioning a variety of composers to create specific theatrical works that I would perform solo at the piano. This in turn led to a large multimedia concert project I created titled “Playing with MySelf” – which involved a wide variety of contemporary works, video, projections, lighting, set design, costumes, etc. – which had a successful run here in NYC and abroad.

My love for Stephen Sondheim’s work dates back to my teenage years, having discovered such shows as A Little Night Music, Company, Follies and Pacific Overtures – which led to an obsessive immersion into his work, especially each time one of his new shows appeared on the theatre scene. I had always wondered what his amazing songs would sound like transcribed as legitimate piano works, much in the same vein as what pianists like Earl Wild had accomplished with Gershwin’s songs, and what Art Tatum did for so many his contemporaries. This tradition goes back as far as Franz Liszt, but no one had ever approached Sondheim’s work like this for the piano, so I thought it was about time.

In the late 1980s, I was invited to create a transcription of one of his songs [Children and Art from Sunday in the Park with George] to perform at a summer music festival and from there I decided I would like to possibly create about five or six more of these transcriptions. My performing and teaching career started to take off and got in the way of focusing on the project, so I had to shelve the idea for a while – actually a long while. Several composer friends and colleagues kept asking me throughout the 1990s (and into the new century) when I was planning to do it. Finally, in 2006, my good friend – Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec – and I sat down and he encouraged me to seriously pursue this. My idea at the time was to cast the net wide to a variety of composers from multiple genres (contemporary classical, jazz, theatre, film, opera, indie, pop, etc.) to create their own settings or “re-imaginings” of a favourite Sondheim song. With the help of a very talented and dedicated fund-raising producer named Rachel Colbert, the project was set afoot.

Stephen SondheimHow long did it take to complete the project from the time of the first commission? What was the first commission?

The first commissions were put forth in 2008/09. There were many composers commissioned all at once, but not the total amount that it ended up being. The first completed work to arrive was Ricky Ian Gordon’s setting of Every Day A Little Death from A Little Night Music. Following that, a few more trickled in (William Bolcom, David Rakowski, Jake Heggie) and then they started coming one after the other between 2009 and 2014.

What were your criteria for which composers you invited to participate in the project?

The project was originally going to be about 20 to 25 works, but the roster kept expanding as the composer genres expanded. Also, Steve would suggest more composers along the way who seemed perfect for the project and it gradually climbed up to 36 – “a nice round number” as the producer said – and this provided many options for presenters in addition to emphasizing the possibilities for flexible programming on my part.

I wanted to be sure from the beginning that each composer involved felt a true “connection” to Mr. Sondheim’s work and that they wrote well for the piano. Over the years, several composers continued to contact me asking to participate, but we were committed to keeping a balance within the genres.

Was it intentionally multi-generational?

Yes, definitely. We wanted to have a wide range in age, and the final roster encompassed composers ranging in age from their late 20s to their 80s.

Did you have any guidelines you asked the composers to follow?

The word re-imagining is key to this project. I presented each composer with five parameters when they started. First, they were free to choose any song they felt connected to. There was a wish list, but they didn’t need to adhere to that list per se. Second, they were asked to retain the original melodic material of the song. Third, to retain most of his original harmonies. Fourth, they were free to play with the structure, especially since they would now be creating an instrumental piece from an original song, which is where much of the re-imagining seems to have originated for many of them. And finally, I requested that they not “deconstruct the material,” although a few actually did.

Did any composer ask to transcribe a song that had already been chosen by another?

They were of course free to choose a song that had already been chosen. However, the situation occurred only a few times where they asked about a song that was already taken. Once they knew that, they each decided to choose a different one. Nearly all of them had so many favourites, it wasn’t very hard for them to choose another.

Which of the commissioned works surprised you the most?

Let me just say that each piece was a revelation and each was quite unique from all the rest. Therefore, all of them were actually wonderful surprises. There were those that chose to either add an audio track accompaniment, while others incorporated unexpected “bells ’n whistles.” In each case, the approach was usually indicative of their individual style of writing.

Sondheim is so well known for the quality of his lyrics, how did the composers deal with the absence of words in their transcriptions?

One of the core missions of the project from the start was to illustrate Sondheim’s genius as one of the great composers of the 20th/21st century.

Since Sondheim’s original musical material in each song is expanded by lyrics and narrative, the challenge for many of the composers was to capture and encapsulate the essence of the lyrics, the overall ambience/mood, the character singing it, and the core of its message through an instrumental setting of his brilliant musical material.

Some composers found this a mighty challenge – many commented that the songs were already “perfect.” Therefore, some went the route of direct transcription for piano, some more fantasia-like. Each again is unique to each composer’s individual style, active within the fabric of Sondheim’s original musical material.

Three examples: Steve Reich’s two-piano setting of Finishing the Hat – enhancing the original passionate melody with his own signature pulsing metre-shifts; David Rakowski’s ingenious setting of The Ladies Who Lunch – capturing the complete musical material combined with the pathos, sadness, humour and bitterness of the character who sings this song. Andy Akiho’s prepared piano setting of Into the Woods, where he animates the piano by orchestrating each character’s voice and personality using prepared piano techniques (dimes, poster tacks, credit cards) and exotic timbres in lieu of the text.

There are actually numerous more examples, too many to cite, especially since each piece accomplishes something unique in terms of the individual direction each composer chose to take.

What, if any, was Stephen Sondheim’s involvement with the project?

Steve was quite intrigued by the idea of the project from the start and also very humbled by the fact that so many of these “A-list” composers (as he referred to them) were so interested in setting his melodies at the piano. He has been extremely generous throughout the entire ten-year trajectory of this project, offering suggestions, commissioners, constructive ideas and a strong foundation of support. We would check in with him periodically to give him updates and he always provided a very enthusiastic “go ahead.” He seems to have a very deep respect for all of the compositions in the collection.

How eager would you be to participate in a project that examined the evolution of the musical elements of Sondheim’s songs the way Sondheim himself examined his lyrics with Finishing the Hat and Look, I Made a Hat?

Oh I would be very eager. Over the past several years, I often present workshops and classes for students and the public illustrating the connections of each re-imagined piece to its original song both from a musical standpoint as well as from a dramatic one. This has oftentimes also included exploring the composers’ process in creating and re-imagining the works – their challenges and their breakthroughs.

Anthony de Mare performs selections from Liaisons: Re-Imagining Sondheim as part of the 21C Music Festival in Mazzoleni Hall May 24 and Temerty Theatre on May 25.

Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote.

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