“New music in new places” is the name of a Canadian Music Centre initiative, now in its eighth year, to assist Canadian composers in “taking their music out of the concert hall and into the community where they work and live.” The CMC’s annual contribution to Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, Toronto’s annual all-night contemporary art festival, has been one of these events. This year, from 6:59pm October 1 till sunrise, it’s bells and more bells at Chalmers House (the CMC’s home on St. Joseph) “blended with electronic musical material and video projections in a continuous and evolving flow.” Titled “The “Crown of the Bell,” the installation is by Rose Bolton and video artist Marc de Guerre. Its companion piece, downstairs, by sound artist Barry Prophet is titled “Post Apocalyptic Belfry” and features glass lithophones, percussion, and electronics. For those of you getting October off to a flying start, it will be a great way to untune and retune your ears for what promises to be a chock-a-block new music month.

Gallery 345

“New music in new places” may well be the name of a CMC initiative, but it also describes a trend. Take Gallery 345 for example. South of Dundas Street W. at 345 Sorauren Avenue, five or six blocks west of where Dundas and College meet, this L-shaped gallery space is definitely “on the wrong side of the tracks” for a new music audience that traditionally gets nose bleeds north of St. Clair and fumbles for passports east of Parliament.

The place reminds me of the Music Gallery in some ways; even 30 people feels like a decent crowd, and you can cram a bunch more than that through the doors. It has the advantage of two decent pianos well maintained, a bright sound, and the cheerfully genre-blind, indefatigable curatorship of gallery owner Edward Epstein.

Even a partial list of concerts there gives you some idea: Saturday October 1 is AIM Toronto’s Interface Series with Sylvie Courvoisier, piano and composer, Marilyn Lerner, piano, and others. Wednesday October 5 it’s “The Art of the Piano Duo: Pieces of the Earth,” a CD release concert featuring original compositions and improvisations by John Kameel Farah and Attila Fias, pianos. “Improvisation unfolds over the evening” says their press release. Sounds like just the spot for it.

October 8 its “Trikonasana.” Friday October 14 it’s Arraymusic with “The Piano Music of Ann Southam” (mentioned in this month’s cover story). Saturday October 15 Toy Piano Composers Ensemble is there with “Avant-Guitars,” the 13 member Aventa Ensemble on Friday Oct 21; Jurij Konje on October 27; Vlada Mars on October 28; and the Tova Kardonne Octet on October 29.


18_newmusic_charleswuorinenArraymusic’s October 14 foray into Gallery 345 also provides a neat segue into New Music Concerts’ next big event. It was Arraymusic artistic director and gifted percussionist Rick Sacks who persuaded NMC’s Robert Aitken to take on the challenge of presenting Charles Wuorinen’s “Percussion Symphony for 24 Players,” the work that anchors NMC’s upcoming October 30 concert at the Betty Oliphant Theatre. The work includes two pianos and a celesta (think Sugar Plum Fairy) and an entire platoon of top-flight percussionists, so it’s not that often performed. Rarely enough, in fact that Charles Wuorinen himself is coming to town to direct. (He will, as others before him, be astonished by the depth of musical talent in this town.) If you are going, get there 45 minutes ahead for Aitken’s “Illuminating Introduction.” Aitken is as deeply into the music as his interviewees and it makes for fascinating listening. There’s also a new piece by Eric Morin on the programme, matching Joseph Petric on accordion with the Penderecki String Quartet — that’s three accordionists in two concerts this season already for NMC! And those of you who also take in the Women’s Musical Club concert on October 16 will have an all too rare opportunity — the chance to hear a new work (Chris Paul Harman’s Duo for flute and cello) performed twice in four days!


Betty Oliphant Theatre, 8pm Oct 30, will be the place to hear the drums go bang and the cymbals clang. But for the horns that blaze away, Koerner Hall, five hours earlier, is the place to be. MassBrass promises to be one of those Soundstreams initiatives that Lawrence Cherney is famous for — throwing together players who’d otherwise be more likely to cross paths in an airport, adding a conductor who responds to what he hears, and watching the sparks fly. Copland, Schafer, and works by André Ristic (world premiere), Gabrieli and more will be the ingredients. The Stockholm Chamber Brass, Simón Bolivar Brass Quintet, and True North Brass will provide the heat. And conductor David Fallis will stir the pot.

Esprit’s Stirred So Much

20_newmusic_shaunarolston_-_photo_courtesy_of_the_banff_centreSpeaking of Koerner Hall, Alex Pauk’s Esprit Orchestra was the first of the core new music presenters to move its whole season to Koerner. Having an extra 400 seats to sell was a daunting challenge, but with curiosity about the new hall high last season it was a good time to take the plunge. After all, without extra seats how do you take on the challenge of outreach? This year they are taking it a step further, switching from a Sunday night format to include three week nights, making reaching out to a school audience viable.

First of these week nights is Wednesday October 19 and it’s a stirring programme, as befits a band big enough to make some complex noise in a hall big enough to handle it. Douglas Schmidt’s new work on the programme “The Devil’s Sweat” caught my eye: “Carbon Concerto for carbon cello and orchestra” it says. Solo cellist Shauna Rolston’s carbon fibre cello is billed as “indestructible” so it sounds like she’s in for an unorthodox workout!

Over the past 15 or 16 years we’ve seen Toronto’s new music community taking a wider and wider detour around the 11 days (September 8–18) during which the Toronto International Film Festival is the biggest circus in town. Some sneak in ahead, like InterSection, this year’s fifth annual New Music Marathon, which runs noon till 10pm, Saturday September 3 at Yonge/Dundas Square. (We’ll be there!) But after that, with one notable exception, it’s mostly bits of this and that until New Music Concerts’ Opening Gala on September 25. After which it’s into October before some of the other local heavyweights like Soundstreams and Esprit kick into action.

The notable exception is Kitchener-Waterloo based presenter NUMUS Concerts, which rolls into town September 17 — the day before TIFF folds its tents — with a Glenn Gould Studio concert featuring the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra in a program of the film music of Philip Glass.

Founded in the mid-80s by composer Peter Hatch, NUMUS has become a catchword in Kitchener-Waterloo, where the organization is associated with contemporary music productions, occasionally on the wild side, like Jeremy Bell’s production — Nude Show — a few years ago. “The poster for that concert,” says current artistic director, composer Glenn Buhr, “showed composer Omar Daniel shirtless and hanging upside down from a trapeze pole while he manipulated some electronics. That was our all time best seller.”

18_buhr_option_2Toronto audiences may also remember their more recent “Battle of the Bands” concert last January at the Music Gallery. “I curated that show,” says Buhr, “and it featured my progressive jazz/blues ensemble the Ebony Tower Trio (Rich Brown, electric bass, Daniel Roy, drums, and myself on piano) doing battle with the Penderecki String Quartet. The idea was to contrast contemporary music with roots in old Europe alongside new music with roots in the blues and jazz traditions of North America. I think it’s still there on CBC’s Concerts on Demand.”

I joked with Buhr about invading Toronto during TIFF. The plan, I suggested, was a) crazy like a fox, b) just plain crazy, or c) a stroke of genius. But he refused to rise to the bait.

“NUMUS is a presenter as well as a producer,” he said, “so I’m always looking for projects to buy in to our season. I was approached by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra about the Philip Glass program. I was particularly interested in the new Piano Concerto adapted by Michael Riesman from Glass’s music for the film The Hours. Riesman has been playing those Philip Glass arpeggios for quite a while and has developed a formidable technique.”
“So my answer is neither. It’s pure accident. The MCO wanted to tour this material in preparation for a recording and was looking for a presenter. The fee was so reasonable that we decided to present them in Toronto and Guelph as well as Kitchener-Waterloo. The overlap with TIFF is serendipity; this was the only possible date for the MCO. I have no idea if TIFF will work in our favour or otherwise.”

20_sarah_slean_photo_by_ivan_otisThe September 17 concert will be the first of two NUMUS visits to the Glenn Gould Studio within this issue’s listings period. The second, October 6, will also ring bells for Toronto audiences. Titled “Song of the Earth,” it was presented August 10, 2010, at Walter Hall — one of Agnes Grossmann’s final programs as artistic director of Toronto Summer Music. It paired a new commission, Song of the Earth, by Buhr himself, with Mahler’s master work. “Yes. I vowed to repeat that program if I was given the opportunity,” says Buhr, “because I felt that it could be curated a bit differently — by ending with the contemporary work and beginning with the Mahler. Also, we’ve hired popular songstress Sarah Slean to sing, and also record my work. I’m more interested in contemporary singing styles than I am in European classical singing, and I’ve worked with Sarah before. She was soloist in my third symphony (a choral symphony). Her presence on stage, and also the Margaret Sweatman libretto — which alludes to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in 2010 — puts the Mahler masterpiece into a more contemporary context. The new work is still a ‘Song of the Earth,’ but it poetically underlines our more current concerns.” You can read more about NUMUS at www.numus.on.ca.

Other TIFF tamers

Though it’s fun to think of NUMUS as the only new music mouse brave enough to bell the TIFF cat, I don’t want to overstate the case. There is new music throughout the middle of the month, if you pick your spots. Sunday September 11, the Music Gallery’s Pop Avant series presents Esmerine with guest Muh-he-con. Music Toronto’s Thursday September 15 season opener (the Tokyo String Quartet with Markus Groh, piano) features a world premiere of a new work by Music Toronto’s composer advisor Jeff Ryan. And on September 18, Contact Contemporary Music presents “Walk on Water,” at Gallery 345, with Wallace Halladay, saxophone, Mary-Katherine Finch, cello, Ryan Scott, percussion and Allison Wiebe, piano.

Once the curtain falls on TIFF, the pace picks up: Friday September 23 Tapestry New Opera’s “Opera Briefs” gets under way at the Theatre Passe Muraille Main Space, with new works from their annual Composer-Librettist Lab. And the same day the Toronto Heliconian Club presents Emily, The Way You Are, a one-woman opera celebrating the life and work of Emily Carr, with music by Jana Skarecky and libretto by Di Brandt.

The following day, Sunday September 25, will see many of us back at the Glenn Gould for the opening gala concert of New Music Concerts’ 41st season — a concert titled “Secret of the Seven Stars” that will showcase not only NMC’s stellar players, but a numinous constellation of Canadian composers and works.

Friday September 30 and Saturday October 1 bring two concerts by AIM Toronto in their “Interface Series” at Gallery 345, featuring Sylvie Courvoisier, piano and composer.

To close, it would be remiss of me not to mention several out of town festivals that not only extend the summer well into September, but pay more attention to new music than one might expect. The Prince Edward County Music Festival, September 16 to 24, has Ana Sokolovic as composer-in-residence; and Barrie’s Colours of Music, September 23 to October 2, has the forward looking Ames Quartet on board, and several other notably adventurous programs on display.

David Perlman can be reached at publisher@thewholenote.com.

June is an important time of transition. This is true not only for the seasons (the 21st marks the summer solstice and a promise of consistently better weather) but also for the live music scene, where the closing concert season makes way for a flourishing of summer music festivals.

p16_inwiththenew_electronicaunplugged_.photo_by_colin_savageIt is also true for me: I am making a transition away from the music field to take up new challenges in the arena of arts and learning. This means that I will also be stepping away from writing this column, which has given me endless opportunity to explore how Toronto’s new music community has made its own remarkable transitions over time. The most noticeable of these is in the sheer range of appropriations, influences, inspirations and collaborations new music makers employ to create and showcase exciting new work.

We can look to a handful of this month’s concerts to see this notion at play.

One group that has been constantly pushing at the boundaries of what it means to be “new music” is CONTACT Contem-porary Music. Their multidisciplinary approach crosses between live and electronic, traditional and site specific, popular and avant-garde, audiovisual and interactive, in ways that many other ensembles would be too timid to try. If that weren’t enough, the content of each CONTACT show treads into touchy territory – from transexualism to transcendentalism, popular music to electro-eroticism, and just about everything in between. Ultimately, CONTACT seeks to unlock the power of artists, leveraged through music-based collaborations, to create situations that eliminate barriers, open new dialogues, find new perspectives and advance new understandings of current, contemporary challenges. It would be absentminded not to mention their “Electronica Unplugged” lunchtime concert on June 8 at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, which features original electronic works by David Bowie, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Gavin Bryars and Philip Glass arranged for the unique forces of the CONTACT ensemble. You can learn more at www.contactcontemproarymusic.ca

Another case in point is the deliriously eclectic Adventures of the Smoid, a creative concoction from the ever-adventurous percussionist/composer/artistic director Rick Sacks for the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan. Drawing on the growing popularity of visual story telling through comic books and graphic novels, Sacks inventively connects a diverse series of dots to link this world to the tradition of gamelan and Indonesian shadow puppetry. Sacks asks the Club to do double duty as musicians and puppeteers to tell a humorous tale about an astronaut’s adventures in space. Adventures of the Smoid is prefaced by a song cycle from iNSiDEaMiND, the wildly experimental turntable duo. New music crossover eclecticism doesn’t get much better than this. The boundaries are definitely pushed once again for these June 13 and 14 events at the Music Gallery.

Tapestry New Opera Works has long been exploring new paths to collaboration between composers, writers and musicians in the creation of the highest of musical forms: opera. Over the last quarter century and beyond, this hallmark company has expanded beyond its Canadian roots to provide a haven for an increasingly international network of creators to develop some of the most promising new work in the field. Tapestry’s season-closing New Opera Showcase will no doubt be another exhilarating adventure through a collection of shorter pieces in development, ranging from those by veteran creative partners to new collaborations. The inspirations range just as far, from Ancient Greek tragedies to modern-day Irish pub love stories, from Icelandic mythology to Canadian immigrant stories filtered through Old Testament morality tales. Be sure to visit www.tapestrynewopera.com to get full details for the June 14 and 15 performances at the Ernest Balmer Studio in the Distillery District.

These three events are just the tip of an iceberg of musical innovation at work in our local music community; I hope to find such radical minds and creative connections in my future work. Don’t miss your chance to catch such new sounds while they are still summer fresh! Be sure to get in with the new via The WholeNote concert listings here and online at www.thewholenote.com.

Jason van Eyk, The WholeNote’s longtime New Music beat writer is stepping down from this column and from his position as Ontario Regional Director of the Canadian Music Centre.

Contemporary music concerts are springing up in bunches this month, with a trio of themes each containing a quartet of events.

Quartet 1: Celebrations

19April’s sense of celebration flows into May, with a greater emphasis on new musical voices.

On May 15, the Esprit Orchestra will reach the peak of its five-day New Wave Composers Festival, exploring a range of musical inspirations from Bach’s A Musical Offering to the cosmic “music of the spheres” and the mythological Phoenix. This Koerner Hall concert also offers three other reasons to celebrate: it features the world premiere of composer Chris Paul Harman’s Coyote Soul for orchestra; it recognizes the 60th anniversary of the venerable Canadian League of Composers; and it trumpets the return of the Toronto Emerging Composer Award by announcing its first winner in five years. For more details about Esprit and its New Wave Composers Festival, visit www.espritorchestra.com and follow the links.

Array will celebrate in its own way on May 29 with its Young Composers’ Workshop Concert. [See “The ETCeteras” section of listings.] This afternoon event is the culmination of a month’s intensive work completed by a carefully selected foursome of emerging music creators. The resulting pieces will receive their world premiere in the very urban Array Space at 60 Atlantic Avenue. For more info, visit www.arraymusic.com.

The Toronto music community will come together on June 1 at Walter Hall to celebrate the 80th birthday of musical polymath Derek Holman. The concert will feature a variety of Holman’s music for choir, strings, clarinet, voice and pianos, in performances by the Talisker Players, Choir 21, Canadian Children’s Opera Company, pianists Bruce Ubukata and Stephen Ralls, and clarinetist Peter Stoll. A special treat will be the world premiere of Holman’s latest work for tenor and harp, featuring Lawrence Wiliford as soloist. Stay on after the concert for a big, belated birthday party!

Pushing into June, we’ll find the Penderecki String Quartet celebrating its 25th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the PSQ has commissioned seven new works from a cross-section of Canadian composers. We’ll get to hear some of the early results with world premieres from Michael Matthews and Norbert Palej during the Penderecki’s annual QuartetFest (co-produced with the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society) – an intensive string quartet training and performance program that runs June 1-7 at several locations throughout Kitchener-Waterloo. For more info about Quartetfest and this year’s invited ensembles, visit www.quartetfest.ca. To buy tickets, call 519-886-1673.

Quartet 2: Intersections

The connection of new music to other genres and art forms has been sprouting up more often in Toronto, with this month offering four interesting examples.

On May 3 and 4, the Talisker Players continue their explorations into words and music with their season-closing concert “Façade.” Alongside the title-bearing work by William Walton, and others by Harry Freedman and Alex Eddington, is a world premiere from Toronto’s Alexander Rapoport based on the poem “Jabberwocky.” Soprano Xin Wang and tenor James McLennan join the Taliskers in this program that explores how we look for coherence in words that sometimes hold no meaning. Visit www.taliskerplayers.ca.

The Music Gallery’s Emergents Series will explore a totally different type of intersection, that of genres and styles which collide. The Dupuis/Clark Duo combines harpsichord and electric bass to bridge the distance between four centuries of musical creation. The stretch between these two worlds is not as far as we think, if we conceive of a rock rhythm section as the modern baroque continuo. Sharing the program is GREX, a vocal ensemble that claims to defy easy description. Their set of Meredith Monk, Ned Rorem, R. Murray Schafer and traditional Georgian folk songs makes the claim clear. Visit www.musicgallery.org.

The Canadian Opera Company’s Chamber Music Series unites music and dance in a short, free concert of Beethoven and Golijov, on May 17. Toronto’s celebrated Tokai Quartet will perform the String Quartet Op.131 alongside Golijov’s bittersweet Tenebrae in its original version for soprano and clarinet. Jacqueline Woodley and Kornel Wolak join the Tokai’s as guest performers. Toronto-based dance maverick, Matjash Mrozewski, offers new choreography for four dancers to illuminate the music’s intentions.

Near the end of the month, on May 28, the Music Gallery presents “From Eye to Ear,” an exploration of visual influences in contemporary music, tracing a re-emerging movement towards non-conventional notation and graphic representation. New “scores” by the mercurial John Oswald and the more minimalist Chiyoko Szlavnics are works of art whether sounded or not. Live video will allow the audience to view each piece as it is performed by pianist Eve Egoyan and Quartetto Graphica. More Szlavnics scores, part of the Intimate Music exhibition on loan from the Canadian Music Centre, will be on display.

Quartet 3: Globalization

From Finland to Malaysia, Toronto regularly welcomes the global flow of contemporary music creation. This quartet of concerts demonstrates the range of international ideas on our local stages.

Paris-based Finnish composer, Kaija Saariaho, seems to be popping up everywhere in Toronto classical concert calendars. On May 6, a set of her solo works will appear at the Music Gallery, including her From the Grammar of Dreams for two female voices set to texts of Sylvia Plath, NoaNoa for flute and electronics, Sept Papillons for solo cello and Six Japanese Gardens for percussion and electronics. Singers Carla Huhtanen and Marion Newman, percussionist Aiyun Huang, cellist Rachel Mercer and flautist Camille Watts bring a powerhouse of talent to these demanding and beautiful works.

On May 8, New Music Concerts continues its exploration of music from the Far East in a concert titled “Malaysian Voices.” The program has been curated by Kee-Yong Chong, currently Malaysia’s leading composer. He is credited with a rare musical talent, expressing a highly innovative yet deeply spiritual style. The programming hinges on several pieces by Chong, including a new flute concerto for NMC Artistic Director Robert Aitken. The remaining works by Chow Jun Yi, Yii Kah Hoe, Tazul Izan Tajuddin and Neo Nai Wen will bring a mix of Canadian and world premieres to a portrait of new music from an underrepresented community. Visit www.newmusicconcerts.com.

A little further afield, but also on May 8, the Elora Festival Singers will demonstrate the diversity of voices that makes up the Canadian multicultural mosaic. Simply titled “Oh! Canada,” this program of recent works by Mark Sirrett, Gary Kulesha, Derek Holman and Leonard Enns will bring us some of the best voices in Canadian choral writing as performed by one of our leading choirs. For more information about this afternoon event, and to buy tickets, visit www.elorafestival.com.

Our global tour will end at Roy Thomson Hall on May 26, when the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performs Chinese composer Tan Dun’s Water Concerto and Paper Concerto. Both works reflect the composer’s ideas of an organic music, which embodies sounds of nature and the mind. He claims, “The environment is related to our lives, and spiritually, everything germinates from one seed of creativity.” Tan Dun made a great splash in Toronto with his appearance during the 2009 New Creations Festival. He returns to conduct the TSO in his own imaginative works for unconventional solo instruments. For more info and tickets, visit www.tso.ca.

This is a larger list than I normally offer, but May is a month of many new sounds. But there’s still plenty more music to be discovered, so be sure to get in with the new via The WholeNote concert listings here and online at www.thewholenote.com.

Jason van Eyk is the Ontario Regional Director of the Canadian Music Centre. He can be contacted at newmusic@thewholenote.com.

21_adamsherkinIt feels awkwardly “new age” to admit, but now that we’ve passed the spring equinox – the days becoming warmer, fresher and lighter – there is a sense of celebration in the air. But it’s not the type of unrestrained revelry we see during hotter summer months. Rather, it’s a bittersweet levity, balanced between an urge to discover what’s new and the impulse to commemorate and meditate on important influences and inspirations. As always, our makers of new music are attuned to these needs, as we can see in April’s offerings.

We open the month on a festive note with “Ping!” CMC-Ontario’s celebration of new music for young musicians, on April 5. While I may be biased, given my role with the CMC, I can think of no better way to usher in spring than brand new works created to showcase the talents of a new generation. “Ping!” will feature special guest, harpist Judy Loman, in an all-Canadian program alongside world premieres from composers Dean Burry, Jim Harley, Chris Paul Harman, and Jan Jarvlepp, performed by harpist Gina Min, cellists Gabby Hankins and Bridie McBride and the Earl Haig/Claude Watson Strings conducted by Alan Torok. This fête supports New Music for Young Musicians – a program to create music and opportunities which develop the talents of Canada’s young string players. For more visit the CMC online events calendar. For tickets, visit www.rcmusic.ca.

Spring also heralds the homecoming of a fresh new voice in composer/pianist Adam Sherkin, barely back from studies at the Royal College of Music in London, England. Following an illustrious series of overseas premieres and performances at the likes of London’s National Portrait Gallery, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Covent Garden and Royal Albert Hall, Sherkin has returned to Toronto with gusto, receiving premieres in prestigious places like the Luminato Festival, Nuit Blanche and Soundstreams’ Young Artists Overture Series. He closes his own self-crafted concert series on April 7 at the Jane Mallett Theatre in what he is calling a “debut recital.” The concert title – “As at First” – refers to a world premiere work that will close an ambitious program, ranging from Bach and Beethoven to Claude Vivier and Colin McPhee. Amongst the mix of classical lineage and modern origins are two “older” Sherkin works: 2008’s Sunderance, inspired by the words of Virginia Woolf, and 2009’s Daycurrents, which was written for the Haydn bicentenary. To learn more about Adam Sherkin, visit www.adamsherkin.com. To purchase tickets, visit www.stlc.com.

The bittersweet balance comes in reflecting on the loss, late last year, of composer, educator, innovator and great champion of Canadian music, Ann Southam. Southam is still very much present in the thoughts of many communities with which she shared her great enthusiasm, energy, optimism and bigheartedness. While we can expect numerous dedications to appear next season, there will be two upcoming opportunities to assemble and celebrate Southam’s music and the art it inspired, as well as to share in personal tributes that honour some of the many aspects of her rich life and legacy. The first of these falls on April 14 at the Music Gallery, when the Canadian Contemporary Music Workshop will dedicate their “Composers Orchestra” concert to Ann Southam. Southam was always very encouraging of the next generation of Canadian composers, but was quiet about her generosity towards them. She took great responsibility for the family lineage she inherited, and shared widely the advantages that it could afford, including the ability to act as a constant source of support for the CCMW over its 25 year history. This tribute will include a performance of Southam’s intricate Waves for string orchestra, conducted by Gary Kulesha, alongside world premieres by emerging composers Adam Scime, Chris Thornborrow, Paola Santillan and Rob Teehan, and music by Colin Eatock. For more information about CCMW, visit www.ccmw.ca.

A fuller remembrance of Ann Southam will take place on April 21 at the MacMillan Theatre, U of T Faculty of Music. It’s a fitting location, given Southam’s many collaborations with modern dance which took place on that stage. Billed as an intimate event for family, friends, colleagues, and admirers of this pioneering Canadian composer, the “Ann Southam Tribute” will provide an opportunity for various communities blessed by the benefits of her best qualities to come together and celebrate her music, her life and her legacy. While the artists involved have asked to remain uncredited – the event is to truly focus on Ann – the calibre of her creative collaborators, including pianists Eve Egoyan and Christina Petrowska Quilico, as well as dancers/choreographers Patricia Beatty and Rachel Browne, should speak to the expected tone and quality of this occasion.

22_normabeecroftWe’re extremely fortunate to have at least one pioneering Canadian woman composer still with us, the remarkable Norma Beecroft, who at age 77 (as of April 11) seems to be making up for lost time. On her 75th birthday in 2009, Beecroft marked the occasion with a new piece for flautist Robert Aitken and harpist Erica Goodman. We’ll have the pleasure of hearing another new work for flute, harp and percussion at the Music Gallery on April 17, during a celebratory concert spanning Beecroft’s career. These are just two small credits in an active life as a composer, producer, broadcaster and administrator. Beecroft’s illustrious career is well noted for award-winning contributions to music broadcasting and production, but more so as a pioneer of electronic music. Her musical aesthetic was first influenced by the music of Debussy, then later by her teachers Weinzweig, Petrassi and Maderna, and furthermore by the music of Stockhausen. As an administrator, Beecroft is well known as founder, with Robert Aitken, of New Music Concerts. For all her efforts, she has been honoured twice with the Canada Council’s Lynch-Staunton Award, an honorary doctorate from York University and an Honorary Membership from the Canadian Electroacoustic Community. After a lengthy hiatus, Beecroft is back in the business of composing. We should all eagerly await the results. To learn more about the tribute concert, visit www.musicgallery.org.

This is just a small sampling of the newly sprung spring. From New Music Concert’s AMP showcase, to Array’s innovative Electrique concert, and from Talisker’s ongoing celebration of words in music, to the TSO’s emphasis on the music of the remarkable Kaija Saariaho, there is plenty of other inspiration to be found. So be sure to get in with the new via The WholeNote concert listings here and online at www.thewholenote.com.

Jason van Eyk is the Ontario Regional Director of the Canadian Music Centre. He can be contacted at newmusic@thewholenote.com.

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