In With The NewWhen we attend any sort of concert, listening is automatically assumed. That’s what we go for — to listen. But the question can be asked — how do we listen? What happens to our attention while the musicians on stage are busily engaged in their performance? Do we watch their body movements, analyze the audience around us, listen to the thoughts inside the music, or wonder about what we’ll do after the concert? What do those sounds we are hearing have to do with the actual soundscape we are experiencing? How do we distinguish between hearing and listening?

One composer who has spent her lifetime creating and reflecting on the question of listening is Pauline Oliveros. She sought a balanced approach that includes both attention and awareness. Think of a circle with a dot in the middle. “Attention is narrow, pointed and selective — that’s the dot in the middle. Awareness is broad, diffuse and inclusive — that’s the circle. Both have a tunable range: attention can be honed to a finer and finer point. Awareness can be expanded until it seems all-inclusive.” [Pauline Oliveros “On Sonic Meditation” in Software for People, 1984, Smith Publications, p. 139]

It is a heightened and pure experience when suddenly attention and awareness meld together in concert. That is what comes to mind when I think of the music of Ann Southam, a pioneering soul who was passionately committed to creating music that opened up the listening ear, creating that wide expansive field of both inner and outer reality of which Oliveros speaks. Southam’s aesthetic was influenced by the minimalist ideas of drawing the listener’s attention to a gradual unfolding process of change, which allows space for the perception of subtle modulations and alterations in the music.

In Southam’s works written specifically for Toronto pianist Eve Egoyan, the elements of simplicity and mystery abound. On April 19 at a concert presented by Earwitness Productions at the Glenn Gould Studio, Egoyan will be launching her ninth solo disc, and her third of Southam’s compositions. The album, 5, will certainly raise interest internationally, as it features world premiere recordings of five posthumously discovered pieces composed by Southam. As a performer specializing in performing the works of contemporary composers, Egoyan’s repertoire covers a wide range, and this concert is no exception. Egoyan will be premiering Southam’s Returnings II which she describes as filling our ears with its magnetic pull, alongside the complexities of SKRYABIN in itself by Michael Finnissy. Works by composers Claude Vivier (Canada), Taylan Susam (Netherlands) and Piers Hellawell (Ireland) are also included in the program.

Another opportunity to hear an outstanding ambassador for contemporary concert music on the piano will be Continuum Contemporary Music’s presentation of UK pianist Philip Thomas in back to back concerts titled “Out of the Apartment,” on April 24 at Gallery 345, and “Correlation Street,” on April 25 at the Music Gallery. The first of these concerts will feature four specially commissioned works by Canadians Martin Arnold and Cassandra Miller and English composers Christopher Fox and Bryn Harrison.

Thomas is drawn to both freely improvised music as well as the experimental music of John Cage, and those working within a Cageian aesthetic such as Morton Feldman and Christian Wolff. He is known for designing concert programs that create connections between different composers, and when looking at the repertoire of the upcoming Continuum concert, one can definitely see his curatorial interests in action. In addition to the composers mentioned above, Thomas will be performing works by Canadians Michael Oesterle and Linda C. Smith.

Cage, of course, is renowned for 4’33” in which the pianist sits in silence on the stool, thus drawing the attention of the listener to the sounds in the room. As an aside, I made a fascinating discovery this past fall in one of the presentations made at The Future of Cage: Credo festival in October, 2012. Apparently, the premiere of that work took place in late August in an outdoor venue with the late summer tree-frog concert in full chorus. Thus Cage’s intention was not so much that we experience the coughs, shuffles and hums of the concert hall, as is the usual experience of hearing this work, but to bring attention and awareness to the rich soundscape in the natural environment and to include these sounds as part of what we consider to be music. I mention this because the act of creating this piece by Cage was a revolutionary step in expanding our conception of listening and one that continued to evolve in Oliveros’ work.

Yet another leading pianist in the interpretation of 20th-century music to visit Toronto this month will be Louise Bessette from Montreal. She will be performing works by fellow Montrealer Gilles Tremblay in New Music Concerts’ tribute to Tremblay on April 27. Bessette has cultivated an international career performing contemporary works from leading composers throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas, while releasing 20 recordings. She will perform two of Tremblay’s piano works from the 1950s among others.

Taking a leap beyond the solo pianist in concert, Soundstreams will be bringing together nine Canadian virtuoso pianists in “Piano Ecstasy,” its April 26 concert. These artists will perform in a wide range of styles: from Cage’s The Beatles to minimalist Steve Reich’s Six Pianos, as well as a newly commissioned work — Two Pieces for Three Pianos by Glenn Buhr. Cage and Reich come together again in TorQ Percussion Quartet’s concert “New Manoeuvers” for percussion and dance on May 3. Reich’s Mallet Quartet and Cage’s Third Construction will be complemented by new works from composers James Rolfe and Daniel Morphy.

April marks the end of the university school year and there is one noteworthy event: composer Cecilia Livingston presents her doctoral composition recital at the University of Toronto on April 14. Given the focus that composers such as Southam and Cage place on awareness as integral to the listening process, it is interesting that this young composer has titled her topic of compositional research “A Still Point: Music for Voices.”

And finally, the Canadian Opera Company will join with Queen of Puddings Music Theatre in presenting a new vocal work by Chris Paul Harman on April 30. Earlier this year, Queen of Puddings announced the closure of their company as of August 31, 2013. Their inventive way of staging chamber opera and music theatre works incorporated elements from physical theatre as well as placing the instrumentalists on stage. In reflecting back on their legacy, founding co-artistic directors Dáirine Ní Mheadhra and John Hess had this to say: “With Queen of Puddings, we’ve achieved what we set out to do, which was to commission and produce original Canadian opera to a high artistic standard, and to develop an international profile for this work.” Certainly one of their highlights was the launching of soprano Measha Brueggergosman in the 1999 production of Beatrice Chancy. For their swan song, Queen of Puddings will stage La selva de los relojes (The Forest of Clocks), Harman’s vocal work based on texts by Federico García Lorca. Lorca was a Spanish poet, dramatist and theatre director who died during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. It will be fascinating to see how Queen of Puddings stages what will most likely be an intensely dramatic work.

Additional concerts featuring contemporary piano music

April 13: Works by Hétu, Sherkin, Steven and Vivier. Canadian Music Centre.

April 23: “The Unruly Music of the Present.” Gallery 345.

April 27: Works by Gougeon, Morlock, Jaeger and Schafer. Canadian Music Centre.

May 3: Works by Mozetich, Kenins, Weinzweig, Behrens and Baker, performed by Mary Kenedi. Canadian Music Centre.

May 4: “Signposts.” Poetry and improvised music. Music by Gilliam and Ringas. Gallery 345. 

Wendalyn Bartley is a Toronto-based composer and electro-vocal sound artist. She can be contacted at

1806 In With The NewReflecting on the nature of time and how we ultimately have no choice but to surrender to its rhythms is an activity that eternally captures the human imagination. One of the great gifts of Japanese culture to our understanding of time is found in the principle of Wabi-sabi, which finds beauty in the imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. Things in a state of transience, of coming and going — such as a flower coming into bloom or decaying — demonstrate this ideal. Wabi-sabi honours the process of change and those effects that the passage of time creates. Awareness at this level requires a quiet mind and cultivated human behaviour, which, in the Japanese worldview, can be instilled through the appreciation and practice of the arts.

Since January of 2013, the city of Toronto has been enjoying Spotlight Japan, a four-month, city-wide, multidisciplinary celebration of classic and contemporary Japanese culture in theatre, dance, film, visual arts and of course, music. On March 5 at Koerner Hall, Soundstreams will be presenting their contribution to this “spotlight” in their concert “Fujii Percussion and Voices.” Since the act of listening to music offers a very refined way of experiencing movement through time, this concert will present an opportunity to be transported into a deeper engagement with these ideals of transience and impermanence.

The concert features the virtuosic Fujii Trio from Japan performing on five-octave marimbas, vibraphone, glockenspiel and a variety of other percussion instruments along with Canadian performers Ryan Scott on percussion, Gregory Oh on piano and the Toronto Children’s Chorus. Because writing for percussion instruments is central to the work of many Japanese composers, this concert offers an extraordinary opportunity to experience the subtle workings of instrumental colour by four of that country’s outstanding composers: Tōru Takemitsu, Akira Miyoshi, Maki Ishii and Yasuo Sueyoshi. The concert will include the Canadian premiere of Miyoshi’s Yamagara Diary featuring the Toronto Children’s Chorus and a rare instrument called the sanukite, as well as a newly commissioned work from Canadian Michael Oesterle.

The sanukite is a uniquely Japanese instrument made from black volcanic stones that originate from the Kagawa Prefecture area. Known locally as kankanishi or “cling-clang rocks,” they produce a unique ethereal tone when struck, which, in the words of Japanese drummer Masashi Tomikawa “reveal the spirit of time itself.”

Oesterle’s piece Carrousel references the spiral motion of time and is scored as a quartet for glockenspiel, vibraphone, marimba and piano. The three percussion instruments will surround the piano and function as a way of preparing the piano as they reflect back the piano’s gestures, creating a type of “blurred vision.” This is similar to how “as we pivot around the sun, all bodies acquire a natural rhythm or pulse, tuned to the return of sunshine and darkness, becoming captives of a solar carrousel.” The other Canadian work is Claude Vivier’s Pulau Dewata (Island of the Gods) for percussion ensemble of varying instrumentation dedicated to the people of Bali.

The ending of a legacy: In spite of the virtue of embracing impermanence, it is still an unfortunate turn of events that the immensely successful series run by the Canadian Music Centre — New Music in New Places — will be coming to an end. This nation-wide series has forever changed the landscape of how contemporary music is perceived and received in this country, and even though it is being terminated due to federal funding changes, it’s absolutely essential that this innovation of placing new music listening experiences within community venues be taken up in different ways in the future. This month offers three opportunities in southern Ontario to experience music in the places where people gather — from eateries, to breweries, to retail stores.

The first such event will happen March 1 at the Academy of Lions General Store featuring the Music in the Barns Chamber Ensemble performing works by Richard Reed Parry, Rose Bolton and Scott Godin. The venue is part café, part gallery and part fitness store. Post-concert events include a performance by baroque folk duo Tasseomancy, and a chance to party with DJ Adam Terejko.

Not in our concert listings but of interest, Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo residents can visit the Happy Traveller Bistro, 40 Garden St., Guelph, 519-265-0844, on March 8 to hear performances by the Kitchener-Waterloo Guelph New Music Collective. The Bistro offers a welcoming environment for local artists, musicians and community projects while serving up vegetarian and vegan food.

And on March 21 and 22 it’s off to the recently opened Junction Craft Brewery tap room and retail store for “Junction the Dry,” to hear music by Derek Johnson, Emilie LeBel, James Rolfe, Caitlin Smith and Healey Willan.

As these events demonstrate, New Music in New Places has made the experience part of our evolving consciousness.

1806 In With The New 2The emerging collectives: There’s much talk these days about “emerging artists.” It’s become a buzz phrase and even the arts councils have categories for such creatures. But beyond the labels, one characteristic I’m noticing amongst younger composers and musicians is the movement towards the creation of collectives. Not that this is necessarily a new strategy, but it’s a healthy sign of creating space not only for new voices and artistic visions, but also for new ways of collaborating. This form of partnership is another reflection of changes in the creative process that I spoke of in February’s column in the context of the upcoming New Creations Festival running March 2 to 9. More about that festival below, but first, here’s a look at opportunities to see what’s happening in three of these local collectives.

The Thin Edge New Music Collective is inspired by how new music can impact contemporary life. Their March 13 concert at the Canadian Music Centre will feature works using innovative instrumentation: melodica, thumb piano, toy piano, autoharp and auxiliary instruments alongside violin, piano and cello.

The second collective is Vox Novus that gathers together composers, musicians and music enthusiasts. In their March 10event at the Al Green Theatre, they will be presenting electroacoustic compositions from 60 Canadian composers with 60 one-minute dance works.

The Spectrum Music collective is a group of jazz-trained musicians and young contemporary classical composers. Their upcoming concert “What Is Toronto?” on April 5 will focus on intimate snapshots of the history, languages, people and places of the city. The concert will include a panel discussion on the subject of Toronto’s identity and history featuring local writers, politicians and thinkers.

Words and music: In their concert entitled “Time & Tide” on March 5 and 6, the Talisker Players will perform compositions by Canadians Walter Buczynski and Scott Good alongside readings of texts from various English authors. At Gallery 345 on March 14, the words of poets Roger Greenwald, Sheniz Janmohamed and Jacob Scheier will provide inspiration for the musical improvisations of Kousha Nakhaei on violin and Casey Sokol on piano.

Music in story is as old as humanity itself. At the Toronto Storytelling Festival, which runs from March 16 to 24, a composition I wrote eight years ago, The Handless Maiden, for soprano, storyteller, vocalizations and electroacoustics will be performed March 24. Another storytelling-focused concert will be happening at Kingston Road United Church on March 24. “The Storied Harp” will feature works by Marjan Mozetich (Songs of the Nymph) and Murray Schafer (The Crown of Ariadne).

Celebrating anniversaries: Since anniversaries are a way of marking time, there are a few important ones to note this month. Esprit Orchestra is presenting their 30th anniversary season finale concert March 28 with two newly commissioned works by Torontonian Erik Ross and Montrealer Denis Gougeon. These new works will serve to bring attention to Esprit’s ongoing tradition of presenting and commissioning Canadian music.As a special audience treat, the orchestra will also be presenting repeat performances of two audience favourites: Purple Haze and the theme from The Twilight Zone.

Two unique events complete the anniversary motif. Six different composers, all born in 1912/13, will be toasted in a fundraiser for New Music Concerts at Gallery 345 on April 6 to honour their 100th birthdays. Included are small works by Weinzweig, Pentland, Cage, Nancarrow, Brant and Lutoslawski. And to further celebrate the legendary Weinzweig, Soundstreams will be presenting a concert of his works March 11 at Walter Hall, followed by the unveiling of a plaque to be placed at Weinzweig’s family home.

The New Creations Festival: As mentioned above, I wrote at length about the Toronto Symphony’s New Creations Festival in February’s issue of The WholeNote, so I won’t repeat myself here, other than to say don’t miss out on this, and in particular the premiere on March 9of A Toronto Symphony: Concerto for Composer and City. The two other concerts in the festival are on March 2 and 7. Given that the Spectrum collective is also featuring Toronto’s sounds and places in their April 5 concert, our ears should be primed for engaging in new ways with the place in which we live. Who knows where this might lead as a follow-up to the ending of the New Music in New Places series?

Additional quick picks

Music Toronto. Discovery Series: Trio Fibonacci. Works by Radford, Onslow and Sokolović. Jane Mallett Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, March 14.

Toy Piano Composers. Threshold/Le Seuil. Works by Pearce, Thornborrow, Denburg, Tam, Correia and Ryan. Artword Artbar, Hamilton, March 21. Repeat performance March 23 in Toronto at the Heliconian Hall.

Canadian Sinfonietta. A Visit from Lviv. Works by Vasks, Paderewski, Royer, Pepa and Laniuk. Glenn Gould Studio, March 23.

Diana McIntosh. In Concert. Featuring a retrospective of works composed and performed by McIntosh. Heliconian Hall, April 4. 

Wendalyn Bartley is a Toronto-based composer and electro-vocal sound artist. She can be contacted at

For the adventurously minded, the act of music making can be all about paving the way for the future of music to unfold. If you were to think 50 years ahead or even 25, what would your prediction be for how music will be created, experienced and listened to?

new music photo - feb 2013This year’s New Creations Festival presented by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from March 2 to 9 will be an opportunity to catch a glimpse of what may be in store for the music lovers of 2050. When the TSO invited American composer and technology wizard Tod Machover to both curate the 2013 festival and compose a new work for it, Machover began dreaming big.

He started with the question — what does the city of Toronto sound like? He added to that question the vision of opening up the creative process to anyone who wanted to participate. This new symphonic work was to be a collaboration on a massive scale with the citizens of Toronto, resulting in something that could not have been done by any one individual. And with this mandate before him, Machover stepped onto the road of future music making where he envisions collaboration at the core of each piece, and professional musicians moving beyond teaching and mentoring people to the act of “making things with them.”

Read more: Musical Futures

christina petrowska quilico - 30 - by marco grazziniOur cover story bypasses all of December to focus on a January 21 event. So I thought I’d push the envelope a day further and start by calling your attention to an event happening on January 22! On that day, at Glenn Gould Studio, pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico launches a two-CD Centrediscs recording, Visions: Rhapsodies & Fantasias, consisting of composer Constantin Caravassilis’ books of rhapsodies and fantasias for solo piano. “Visions in sound, transcending lyricism to become a dramatic opera for the keyboard,” is how Petrowska Quilico describes the works, a description which sounds considerably less flowery and vague when one notes that composer Caravassilis, like Sibelius, Rimsky-Korsakov and, some would say, Mozart before him is a “synaesthete,” someone whose perception of sound is inextricably linked to colour and movement.

Petrowska Quilico, a visual artist in her own right, entered into the world of Caravassilis’ sound palette so completely that she rendered the works into nearly 100 paintings before committing them to disc. Some of these paintings will be projected at the concert, and displayed at a Canadian Music Centre-hosted reception in the lobby afterwards.

Read more: All Roads Lead To... ?

Of all the concerts I didn’t get out to last month the one I regret most missing was Continuum Contemporary Music’s October 22 program at the Music Gallery titled “Finding Voice.”

17-morell-mackenzie“Communication, as well as the historical lens, is at the core of a concert that presents two linked theatrical works by Dutch composer Martijn Voorvelt” read the always entertaining Continuum blurb. “[It is] based on the tangled up story of Sir Morell MacKenzie, inventor of the tracheotomy, and his treatment of the mute and dying German Emperor Friedrich III.”

Because Voorvelt is a self-taught composer, drawing at will on literature and theatre, I was looking forward to an evening of music that dipsy-doodles across the line between genres, using sound in ways that are more instinctual than intellectual. It was a quality that smacked me right between the eyes last year during Vingko Globokar’s visit last season, and I was looking forward to exploring it further: the connections between the innate musicality of voice and the inherent storytelling capacity of music.

Training the ear to listen to new music by invoking the nuances of spoken work — cadence, intonation, pitch, pace — seemed like a fine topic for a rainy day, and may well still be. But I will have to proceed without my prime example, and I’m sorry for it.

That being said, there’s no shortage of material this month for an exploration of the topic. For one thing, I could revisit our cover story’s Maniac Star/Royal Conservatory November 25 co-production of Brian Current’s Airline Icarus. (Current’s final comment on the challenge of educating the new music audience’s ear is certainly a propos). But let’s look for some other examples.

Nine days earlier, on November 16 and 17, in the selfsame venue, for example, the Royal Conservatory Opera School presents a double bill of Ned Rorem’s Three Sisters Who Are Not Sisters andJoseph Vézina’s Le Lauréat. In Rorem’s work, in particular, drama and music seem always shyly (or should that be slyly?) fascinated bedfellows, without ever quite figuring out what the attraction is. Three Sisters takes for its libretto a Gertrude Stein play of the same nameand it makes for an interesting match. Bernard Holland, in The New York Times, Oct 1, 1994, writes about the Stein/Rorem work, and makes the following interesting observation: “Stein’s little game of mock murder makes sense of a sort, but making sense is not its business. It is the arrangement of her simple declarative sentences that pleases. Mr. Rorem’s terse music and its skillful, imitative ensembles ... successfully explain a literary art in which form is everything and matter matters little. Every musical gesture Ned Rorem has ever made has something of the human voice behind it.”

“Musical gesture with the human voice behind it” is a good description of the thing I am trying to describe, and it can be found across the musical spectrum. An example: a November 8 noonhour recital at University of Guelph College of Arts titled Problems with Love.” It features a consummate musical raconteur, mezzo-soprano Patricia Green, wrapping her innate storytelling skills around “songs by Canadian composers, touching on poignant and funny sides of love.” And another example: a Sunday November 18 7:30pm presentation at the Arts and Letters Club by the Toronto Chapter of the American Harp Society titledA Score to Settle,” written by K. Gonzalez-Risso, and billed as “a musical monologue for solo harp” featuring harpist and comic actress Rita Costanzi.

In entirely different ways, these performances, informed by principles as different as comedy and cabaret, offer opportunities for the willing listener to explore how an understanding of the rituals and cadences of storytelling can inform musical choice, no matter how abstract, by composer and listener alike.

Choral common ground: If music theatre is the most dramatic example of the interplay between different modes of listening, then choral music is the most pervasive. Indeed choirs, more than almost any other presenters, are at the forefront of commissioning new work, of mixing repertoire across generations in the same programs, and putting experiencing a work of music ahead of judging it as good or bad. With an estimated 20,000 individuals participating in choirs in The WholeNote catchment area, this is no small fact, especially given that choristers, more so than concert band members, for example, tend also to be avid concert-goers. Not a bad way of educating people to broaden their understanding of what makes music music!

Nowhere will you see this more clearly illustrated this month than in the November 11 Soundstreams Canada presentation of the Latvian Radio Choir at Koerner Hall, in a program ranging from Rachmaninoff to Cage, to young Canadian composer Nic Gotham and more.

Or take as another example the November 17 Grand Philharmonic Chamber Singers’ “Made in Canada” concert with music ranging from a new commission by Patrick Murray to works by Healey Willan and Harry Somers. And check out the November 10 Cantabile Chamber Singers concert titled “Lux” and described as an “a capella concert on the themes of light, love and night featuring works by L. Silberberg, C. Livingston and B. J. Kim.”

17-henderson rw at pianoOr, finally, consider the November 3 University of Toronto Faculty of Music concert titled Choirs in Concert: When Music Sounds: Celebrating the 80th birthday of Ruth Watson Henderson.”

Henderson, one of Canada’s pre-eminent choral composers, talks about the links between text and music in a recent interview (on the Choral Canada website), with Dean Jobin-Bevans, president of Choirs Ontario.

“It is all about taking a text that I find inspiring and thinking about how it can be presented in a way that can express some important feelings and ideas to a large number of listeners” she says. “The most important thing for me when I am writing is the text; if I get a good text, then all of my ideas come from the text. I am not very good at putting things into words, I am much better at hearing things musically, and so when I cannot express myself when speaking with words, I find that I can express myself much better through music; by putting ideas down on paper and writing choral works.”

Follow the Bob! Regular readers of this column will know that I often pick a particular venue and catalogue what’s happening there as a way of providing a cross-section of what is happpening. It’s sometimes equally instructive, though, to follow an individual musician through a month’s worth of perambulation from one venue to another.

17-veronique-lacroix-photo-by-pierre-leveilleTake New Music Concerts’ Robert Aitken for example. The evening of November 11 will find him at the Music Gallery, albeit in the capacity of genial host rather than performer, for a New Music Concerts presentation of Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, Véronique Lacroix, conductor, in a program titled GENERATION 2012: ECM+.

Four days earlier, he features as flutist, along with musical chameleon, accordionist Joseph Macerollo, in a Canadian Music Centre/New Music Concerts event titled “Secret of the Seven Stars.” It’s a CD launch, featuring works by Hope Lee and David Eagle, and providing an early opportunity to check out the new and improved Chalmers House performing space, one which one hopes will join the array of fine little performance venues for cutting edge music.

And, going from little to large, Sunday November 18 Aitken will appear as flutist in Esprit Orchestra’s second Koerner Hall Concert of the season, titled “Exquisite Vibrations,” in a work titled Concerto for Flute and Orchestra by French composer Marc-André Dalbavie.

The universities: mind you, you can’t go wrong by familiarizing yourself with the key venues for new music either. Starting with the universities, I count no fewer than ten concerts at the University of Toronto this month that could be of interest to new music followers, most of them at Walter Hall: November 4 there is a concert, “In Memory of Gustav,” dedicated to the works and legacy of Gustav Ciamaga, composer, educator and electronic music pioneer; composer/teacher Norbert Palej shows up as a composer on November 5 (in another concert featuring accordionist Macerollo), and then on November 21 as conductor of the U of T Faculty of Music’s gamUT Ensemble ... and the list goes on, for U of T as for its Philosopher’s Walk neighbour to the north, the Royal Conservatory. Same goes for York and others.

Small venues: as for the smaller venues, check out the Music Gallery (November 10, 15, 17; December 1 and 7); Gallery 345 (November 4, 8, 10, 16, 18, 22, 23 and 27); the Tranzac (November 7, 8 and 9) for the 416 Toronto Creative Improvisers Festival; and the Wychwood Barns (November 10, 24 and December 1) for New Adventures in Sound Art (NAISA)’s 11th Annual SOUNDplay Series.

And make a special point of checking out the newest intimate space on the map, the Array Space at 155 Walnut St. On November 19 at 7pm, it’s a concert titled “Passport Duo,” featuring works by Hatzis, Wilson, Forsythe and O’Connor. And on November 26 it’s the 14th in a series of evenings of improvised music, with Array director Rick Sacks and a roster of always interesting guests.

Subversion: I started by talking about how spoken language potentially provides different, sometimes less daunting and even enriching access points to new music. It’s not the only tool in the shed, though. There’s also the thoroughly mixed program (such as that promised by Scaramella on December 1, in the Victoria College Chapel, which offers “animal-themed music, from baroque to the 21st century”). Or perhaps even more to the point, consider a November 9 offering from a collective, group of twenty-seven, called “The Subversion Project” which on this occasion, at Grace Church on-the-Hill, offers works by Beethoven, Prokofiev, Zorn and Buhr in a deliberate effort to enable listeners to hear the familiar anew, and to modulate the strange through the familiar.

Sounds like a fine idea, don’t you think? 

David Perlman has been writing this column for the past season (and a bit) and is willing to entertain the notion that it’s someone else’s turn. He can be reached at

Back to top