22In last month’s issue we mentioned the superb organization of the summertime-only Uxbridge Community Concert Band (UCCB). After their final concert of the season the local newspaper, Uxbridge Cosmos, published an editorial praising the band and its tireless director as assets to the community. To quote a few excerpts from Editor Conrad Boyce.

All of them sacrifice a summer evening each week , some of them coming from considerable distances for the sake of a couple of concerts at the end of a season. So it’s not just the opportunity to perform that attracts them to UCCB, and not just the need to keep up their playing and music-reading skills over the summer break. So what is it that makes the band get bigger every year, and brings many of its members back year after year – ? The clue came towards the end of Sunday’s concert, when both band and audience spontaneously rose for an ovation to the UCCB’s director Steffan Brunette.”

As the editor pointed out, Steffan is a school teacher who conducts music classes at school from September to June, and teachers are supposed to have summers to escape. “How can he get a real vacation if he has a rehearsal every week?” The answer to this and other questions is obvious: “His love of music tops all other priorities.”

Two significant band events in October show similar commitments to community involvement by a number of bands in their own and neighbouring communities. Both are, in a number of ways, commemorating anniversaries.

The first takes place in the Town of Ajax. There, the town will be commemorating the 70th anniversary of the first major naval battle of World War II. The Battle of the River Plate, off the coast of Argentina and Uruguay, saw three light cruisers of the Royal Navy, the Ajax, Achilles and Exeter, take on the much more powerful German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee. When the wartime shell-filling plant was built on farm land East of Toronto, the new small town was named after the British cruiser Ajax.

No fewer than five bands with differing affiliations will be performing at the parade and monument unveiling ceremony on Sunday, October 4. The Cobourg Concert Band, in their role as official band of the Royal Marines Association, will be joined by the band of Toronto’s Naval Reserve Division, HMCS York, the pipes and drums of Canadian Legion Oshawa Branch 34 and the Harwood Sea Cadet Corps. This cadet corps is named after Commodore Sir Henry Harwood, the commander of that British force at the Battle of the River Plate in 1939. At the site of the new memorial, visitors will be entertained by the Pickering Concert Band. For details of this event visit the Town of Ajax web site at www.townofajax.com.

23The second Anniversary event entitled More Tunes of Glory takes place at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall on Sunday, October 25. This 20th Annual Massed Military Band Spectacular, sponsored by the Royal Canadian Military Institute, will feature 11 massed military bands, and pipes and drums of the Toronto Garrison. On the anniversary side, this concert will include a salute to the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scottish poet Robbie Burns. Doors and military displays open at 12:30 pm, and the concert begins at 2:00 pm.

Bill Patton, formerly of the Lydian Wind Ensemble, informs us that the new Community Concert Band of Whitby is now prospering. After struggling to maintain a one-to-a-part ensemble, it was decided to form a completely new band. With the blessing of the remaining five charter members from 1998 it was decided to seek a new beginning. The activities of the Lydian Wind Ensemble were terminated in March 2008 with an officially registered name change. Bill then advertised for the formulation of a new community band, and on January 29 the first rehearsal with 20 members took place.

Their first concert in April, 2009 was performed by 24 members. They now have 36 members ready for the coming season. Of these, only 12 play or have played in another band. The rest are all people who played in high school or university and, after establishing themselves in business and family now have time to play again. The Community Concert Band of Whitby’s 2009 /2010 concert season begins with the return to rehearsals 7:30 to 9:30 pm Thursdays under the direction of conductor Stewart Anderson. They are still welcoming prospective members. Visit their web site www.communityconcertbandofwhitby.ca, or contact the secretary at patton62@sympatico.ca, 905-666-3169.

From Newmarket we have a message from Joe Mariconda about the start of new beginners band and orchestra for adults. Here’s his message: Did you play music in high school? Do you think about playing the instrument you have in your closet. If so bring your instrument out of the closet and join a concert band for adults. You must bring your own music stand and instrument. Tuesday’s class will focus on brasswind/woodwind instruments. Thursday’s class will focus on wind/string instruments. All sheets of music will be provided. For information phone 905-895-5193 or e-mail at joemariconda@gmail.com.

Definition Department

Some months ago, while attending a rehearsal, one member of our group asked the conductor how he was supposed to know the meaning of the many musical terms which he found on his music. When the conductor suggested that he might look at the bottom of the music folder he was using, the band member sheepishly found the information required.

However, to assist with those more obscure terms not found on most folders, we have decided to provide a new definition in each issue. This month’s musical term is Allaregretto: “When you are 16 measures into the piece and realize that you took too fast a tempo.” We invite submissions from readers.

Jack MacQuarrie plays several brass instruments, and has performed in many community ensembles. He can be contacted at: bandstand@thewholenote.com.

Last month I wrote about the general decline in jazz clubs, and the concert hall or festival stage having become almost the only way of seeing and hearing “name” performers.

It got me thinking about the early days of jazz in Canada when, in fact, there were no jazz clubs as we have come to know them. For much of the following historical information I am greatly indebted to Mark Miller and his richly informative book about the early development of jazz in Canada: Such Melodious Racket, a must-have if you’re interested in the history of the music.

Toronto has a wealth of theatre history and plays a role in bringing ragtime, which was a precursor to jazz, to Canadian audiences. Shea’s Victoria was built in 1910 at the southeast corner of Victoria and Richmond, and with 1,140 seats was considerably larger than the original Shea’s Theatre on lower Yonge St. In 1911 a group called  the Musical Spillers played a week there, sharing the bill with humourist Will Rogers. The Spillers had been touring the Pantages circuit, featuring “original ‘rag time’ music on six saxophones, three cornets, three trombones and six hundred dollars worth of xylophones.” In the same year, a saxophone ensemble called the Brown Brothers, sons of Canadian cornetist and bandmaster Allan W. Brown also played Shea’s with the Gertrude Hoffman Revue.

The next Shea’s Theatre stood from 1914-1956 on its new location, (a fire destroyed the previous theatre on Victoria Street), on Bay Street opposite old City Hall, until it was demolished in 1957 for new City Hall. Incidentally, the pipe organ was eventually relocated to Casa Loma. With 3,663 seats it was one of the largest vaudeville theatres in the world – one of the big four, including the Orpheum in Los Angeles, Loew’s State and the Palace in New York, and it attracted the best vaudeville acts. In late 1917 a group called the Verrnon Five, “expert exponents of the new music known as jazz,” appeared there, and the Toronto Globe reviewer wrote that they “succeeded at times in making a diabolical noise, thus justifying their claims to [being] a ‘Jazz’ company.”

It would be a major overstatement to call these events jazz concerts, but for thousands of people it was their first introduction to this new music. (The jazz concert as a formal occasion came to Toronto much later – at the Eaton Auditorium in October of 1945, a month before Charlie Parker’s first appearance at Massey Hall.) So, in a sense, we’ve gone full circle, from early “jazz” being presented in theatres to jazz being presented in concert halls. It has to be remembered, of course, that in those early days there were no jazz clubs in Toronto to go out of business!

Toronto the Good

When we talk about alcohol we think of prohibition and speakeasies in the U.S., but not everyone thinks of Canada – although Ontario, for example, introduced Prohibition measures from 1916 to 1927. There were exceptions however. Ontario’s wineries were exempted, and many breweries and distilleries remained open to serve the export market. It was also possible to ask your doctor for a prescription of rum or whisky – strictly for “medicinal” purposes, of course. This sort of legislation reminds me of the old joke: “Why did the Canadian cross the road?” “To get to the middle!”

Even when I arrived in Toronto in the mid-60s I can remember my amazement when I went to my first official liquor store (to this day a government monopoly) where there were no bottles on display. It was illegal to have even a glimpse of the liquid pleasures in store – and I had to fill in a form giving my name, address and what I wanted to purchase. It was a far cry from the Glasgow I had left; but that was then and thank goodness things have changed.

Footnote: In a conversation with Mark Miller before finishing this piece, he told me that he had unearthed some interesting information, after Such Melodious Racket had been published. At 14 King Street East, opposite the King Edward Hotel, in the years 1917-18 there was an establishment called the Cafe Royal that imported jazz bands from the United States!

24aSee  Hear

The partnership between jazz and visual arts has been a sometime feature of programming at the McMichael Gallery. On October 18, 2009 at 1:30 you can enjoy an afternoon of jazz with Tara Davidson, and on November 1st the featured artist will be Alberta-born Colleen Allen. They’re both outstanding reed players representative of the younger generation of established and highly creative players on the local and international scene. The Gallery is at 10365 Islington Ave., Kleinburg. 905-893-1121.

24bMeanwhile, the Jazz Vespers at Christ Church Deer Park, 1570 Yonge Street, continue and on Sunday, October 11, 2009, Joe Sealy (piano) and Paul Novotny (bass) will be featured, followed by the Dixie Demons on the 18th, and Tara Davidson and Mike Murley on the 25th.

Degrees of jazz

The University of Toronto continues its presentation of Small Jazz Ensembles on Wednesday evenings, at 7:30pm in Walter Hall in the Edward Johnson Building.

There’s no admission fee and you have a chance to hear the work of the next generation of musicians. Also, one of the clubs where young players have a chance to get their feet wet in the school of hard knocks and mix with established players is The Rex on Queen Street West, which continues to programme 19 bands per week, including top student ensembles.

There is music out there, so get out and hear some of it live.

Jim Galloway is a saxophonist, band leader and Artistic Director of the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival. He can be contacted at: jazznotes@thewholenote.com.

39stevewardThere might be a growing number of spots around town that serve polite jazz with your dinner, as inspired by Diana Krall’s, but not many rooms specifically cater to free, avant-garde, or experimental branches of the music. Thankfully for those who enjoy straying from the mainstream, trombonist-composer Steve Ward (www.myspace.com/stevewardtrombone) has been booking live music at the Tequila Bookworm at 512 Queen Street West.

Currently enrolled in the Jazz Performance Masters program at the University of Toronto, Ward maintains a busy schedule as a performer, composer and teacher. I emailed Ward some questions about booking the room.

How did the music policy at the Tequila Bookworm come to be?

I started booking jazz here last July, and originally I was booking one act a week. Eventually the owner and I agreed to expand the policy to three nights a week, and now four. The rent is extremely high on Queen St W so therefore it was hard to get any money out of Tequila for the bands, etc which is why we have pay-what-you-can shows.

What are musical characteristics you look for when booking?

Enthusiasm, sincerity, creativity. Artists looking to evolve creatively in a live setting, that aren’t looking for a brainless jobber.

What are the greatest strengths of the room itself?

Since I have no financial quota to fill I’m able to be adventurous with my programming. I’m interested in an environment where ideas are shared and challenged. Culture! The arts! It’s time.

What are some of the challenges of the room?

One of the biggest challenges is communicating with the audience. Since we’re playing for the tip jar it is important to be able to communicate with our audience and give them context of why we’re making the music that we are. Most times its types of music they have little knowledge of, so it’s time to educate!

Three acts you would recommend to readers for this month and why?

Tuesday September 8th: Lee Mason (from Amsterdam). Its always cool when a group from another part of the world wants to put on a show at a venue you book. Very interesting sounds. Shouldn’t be missed. www.myspace.com/leemason

Saturday September 12: Chris Cawthray Trio. Its going to be a CD release, & I’m proud that Chris decided to have it at Tequila. They groove hard.  www.chriscawthray.com

Friday September 25: MiMo. These guys are great!!! Nothing like processing sounds underwater in a big bucket. You got to see it to believe it.www.mimomusic.com, www.myspace.com/mimoonmyspace

Ward’s passion for this music is apparent not only in his playing but also in his booking. “I don’t get paid to do this, and I have no other help. My motivation is art, it’s what keeps me breathing. Please come support live music. ... Also we might be moving in the next couple of months so watch out on our website and Facebook for more info to come!!”

For all the news, including a possible change of location, visit: http://tequilabookworm.blogspot.com/


Looking to expand your own musical horizons but don’t know where to start? Below is a short list (by no means comprehensive) of commuity education organizations offering classes in a variety of world music traditions.


But first, some concert highlights for this month. The 8th Annual Small World Music Festival runs September 24 to October 4 at various venues, and features 23 artists from 20 countries, including Zakir Hussain with Béla Fleck and Edgar Meyer (September 29, part of the Grand Opening concert series at the RCM’s new Koerner Hall), Tasa, Bajofondo, Electric Gypsyland, Beyond the Pale, Omnesia Live, to name just a few. See our listings, or visit www.smallworldmusic.com for full details. The Klezmer Kids, from Winnipeg, perform September 12 at the Winchevsky Centre, 585 Cranbrooke Ave., followed by a workshop the next day. (www.winchevskycentre.org or call 416-789-5502); and KlezFactor, Toronto’s “alternative” klezmer band, performs at the Tranzac Club, September 29. Finally, Bernardo Padron and his band are at Hugh’s Room, October 1 (Venezuelan influenced jazz, with Alan Hetherington, Mark Duggan, Marylin Lerner and Andrew Downing).

Arabesque Academy

1 Gloucester Street, Suite 107



In addition to being one of the best places in the city to study the art of belly dance, (including an auditioned professional course), Arabesque Academy offers classes in Arabic instrumental music. At the time of writing, the fall schedule was not available, but check their website for updates. Music classes are offered by noted local Arabic musicians Dr. George Sawa, Bassam Bishara and Suleiman Warwar on a variety of traditional instruments including dumbek, Qanoon, Naye, Oud, Voice, Violin, Saz, as well as history and theory.

Clapping Land – songs, movement and rhythm for young children

Sophia Grigoriadis




“Through moving, singing and instrument play, music opens those crucial pathways for your child’s language and social development and physical coordination, giving opportunities for creative thinking and exploration.” Classes begin soon in the following age ranges: Newborn to 18 months; 18 months to 3 years; 3 to 5 years. Check the website for schedules and registration.

Gamelan Degung Sora Priangan

“Voice of the Spirit of the Ancestral Mountains”

Arraymusic studio, 60 Atlantic Ave. Suite 218 (rehearsal location)

atmar@istar.ca (Andrew Timar, contact)

Sora Priangan is the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan’s community group, directed by Andrew Timar. The instruments and repertoire are indigenous to the highland Sundanese people of West Java, Indonesia. Sora Priangan’s mission is to foster an understanding and appreciation of the gamelan degung music of West Java, and the unique repertoire commissioned by its parent group, the Evergreen Club. Membership is open to the public, and the group presents concerts and workshops. Rehearsals are Tuesdays 6-9 pm.

Kathak Dance

355 College St., second floor




In partnership with the Toronto Tabla Ensemble, Joanna de Souza offers classes in North Indian Kathak dance, from beginner to professional levels, in the Kensington Market area. For full schedule and registration, visit the website.

Koffler Centre of the Arts

Prosserman JCC’s Donald Gales Family Pavilion

4588 Bathurst St

416-638-1881 x4269



In addition to a number of music classes and workshops offered by the Koffler Centre, new this fall is the opening season of the Toronto Jewish Chorus, under the direction of Judy Adelman Gershon. Auditions to be held in the fall.

Miles Nadal JCC

750 Spadina Ave., at Bloor




In addition to a vast array of recreational and cultural activities, the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre offers a number of music classes, including a Community Choir, Women’s Chorus, and Klezmer Ensemble. See their website for schedules.

RCM Conservatory School

273 Bloor St. West


Back in their newly renovated old location, the Royal Conservatory offers a number of community classes in world music traditions, inbcluding Brazilian Samba, Celtic-Canadian Fiddling, Latin Jazz, Taiko Drumming, and a World Music Chorus. Visit their website, click on “brouse courses,” then “world music” for schedules and registration.

Samba Kidz

Drum Artz Studio, 27 Primrose Ave. (Dupont/Dufferin)





Run by Drum Artz Canada, the Samba Kidz fall 2009 session begins September 29, Tuesdays from 5:30-7:30pm. This multi-arts programme for kids aged 7-14 encompasses group-inspired world drumming, steel pan, dance and visual art projects culminating in performance opportunities throughout the city.

Samba Squad

Drum Artz Studio, 27 Primrose Ave. (Dupont/Dufferin)



Lead by Rick Lazar, Samba Squad offers workshops in Brazilian Samba (beginners welcome) most Sundays all year round from 11:30am to 1:30pm. No need to sign up in advance. Instruments are provided. Bring your own ear plugs and a tape recorder if you wish. Some “graduates” become members of Samba Squad itself.

Toronto Tabla Ensemble

43riteshdas355A College St. West



416-504-7082 x1

Ritesh Das offers classes in North Indian tabla drumming, from beginner to professional levels, in the Kensington Market area. See the website for full schedule and registration.

Worlds of Music Toronto



For years, Worlds of Music has been a wonderful source of world music classes and workshops in a wide variety of traditions. At time of writing, the fall schedule does not appear to be in place; but do check their website or call for details.


As I return to the keyboard after my summer hiatus it was suggested that the WholeNote columnists focus on the significant new developments which were anticipated for their beats in the coming weeks. In my case that meant what interesting musical happenings were on the horizon for September and perhaps into October. After a brief and very unscientific survey of the community bands and orchestras I came up cold. Not a single communiqué reached my mailbox to tell of an exciting musical event to herald the advent of the fall season. Similarly, telephone queries drew blanks.

27 bandstandThis doesn’t mean that our community groups are languishing in some sort of apathetic stupor. On the contrary, almost without exception they are busy planning for a new season. However, for most, that season does not include any significant performances until well into the autumn, when leaves on the trees have started to change colour. It’s the start of a new rehearsal season. That is the big event.

By now, most ensembles will have established their schedule of regular concerts and may have come up with a basic framework of the sort of repertoire. In the coming months they’ll undoubtedly add extra performances as they are invited to perform for a variety of functions. What is the process of selecting the repertoire? Does the music director perform that function in isolation or is it a committee decision? Are all members invited in on the process, or are they in the dark until the music appears in the concert folders? In music selection how does one strike a balance between appeal to audiences and appeal to band or orchestra members? We know of one community group where those decisions rest almost solely with the librarian. Who should decide? Why not establish a repertoire and programme committee for your group?

Yes concert performances are important, but for most members, rehearsals fulfill an important social function. Rehearsal night is an evening out to make music with like-minded friends. This brings up the matter of difficulty level. What difficulty level is appropriate for the majority of group members? Should a rehearsal be simply an entertaining evening out to make music with friends or a challenge to the musical abilities of the members?

Should every concert have a distinctive theme, or just consist of a balanced, pleasing musical experience? While I have participated in some “themed” concerts, many, in my estimation, have fallen flat with a jungle of disjointed works that don’t provide the audience with the sense of a pleasant integration.

Are guest performers desired? Certainly they are, if they enhance the quality and variety of the experience for both the audience and the band or orchestra members. To not have soloists would remove from concert programmes a vast array of wonderful music featuring instrumental and vocal soloists. On the other hand, what about visiting ensembles? It’s not uncommon for community ensembles to invite other groups to perform as guests. If this enhances the musical experience, that is fine. However, I know of more than one such occasion where the principal motive was to fill more seats with the families and friends of the visiting group. Musical merit was secondary.

On the subject of rehearsals, my personal preference is for rehearsals that provide both a performance challenge and some pleasant melodies to remain in my head as I wend my way home. I have some anecdotal memories of rehearsals in which I was involved covering the spectrum from excellent to appalling. Let’s start with two in the appalling category.

The first occurred many years ago in a community symphony orchestra. I arrived well in advance of the scheduled 8:00pm start time, set my music on the stand, warmed up and awaited the downbeat. The conductor, a string player, started by working with the string sections on some sections where they were having difficulty. I listened with my trombone on my lap as the string players were coached on bowing techniques etc. I played my very first note at 9:30pm. I never returned.

In another community symphony, I arrived well in advance of the scheduled downbeat only to find that the librarian had forgotten all of the low brass music at home. Rather that offer to rush home to retrieve the music, it  was suggested that I “come back next week.” I didn’t.

On the excellent side, I had the pleasure, for many years, of playing under the guidance of the late Clifford Poole. From Gilbert and Sullivan pit orchestras to the York Regional Symphony, Cliff was always considerate and sympathetic to the concerns of all of his orchestra members. Rehearsals began with sections requiring all orchestra members and ended with those components requiring only the strings. In that way every member played until there were no more notes for them to play. Rather than sit around listening to other sections labouring over difficult parts, these members were free to leave when they had nothing more to do.

Also on the excellent side is the young conductor Steffan Brunette and his Uxbridge Community Concert Band (UCCB). Unlike the vast majority of community groups we discuss here, this is a summertime-only ensemble. After their final concert on August 30, members folded their respective tents and went back to their regular fall and winter groups until next May. This conductor is the most organized of any I’ve had the pleasure to work with. At the first rehearsal of the season every member is given his or her music folder for the season. In addition to the music, the folder contains a sheet with the complete rehearsal and performance schedule, detailing which selections will be rehearsed each night. Also included is a sheet covering all information from rehearsal expectations, contact phone numbers to concert information and membership fees.

Earlier, mention was made of concert programmes with a theme. The UCCB has an interesting theme this year. “The Classical Connection” features works by Bach, Beethoven, Fauré and Mozart. In contrast, we have works by contemporary composers which, if not directly inspired by these, took some inspiration from the form. The Bach Toccata in D Minor is paired with Frank Erickson’s popular Toccata for Band, The Fauré Pavane is contrasted with Morton Gould’s Pavane, and other masters are similarly paired. It works well for both the performers and the audiences.

Please write to us: bandstand@thewholenote.com

It’s not as bad as it sounds. It is, of course, the start of a new season. Goodbye to the festival merry-go-round and hello to September Song.

It is interesting, albeit somewhat disheartening, to observe the downward spiral in Toronto – and you can substitute almost all the cities in North America that had a reputation for being “jazz” centres – since the glory days when there were touring bands and a circuit of clubs within driving distance which made it possible to go on the road with a group. There were places for musicians to hone their skills, and a recording industry in which the major labels at least paid lip service to leaders such as Horace Silver, “Cannonball” Aderley and Thelonious Monk, to name only a few. I can remember when The Cav-A-Bob, a club at the foot of Yonge Street, actually hired bands  for a month at a time – bands that included such great jazz players as “Doc” Cheatham, Vic Dickenson, Rudy Powell, Red Richards and Buddy Tate!

But the cutbacks kicked in, and a group which normally would have been a sextet became a quintet and the first musician to be left at home would invariably be the bass player, unless, of course, he happened to be the leader. Not much point in going to see the Mingus band if he wasn’t there! The economics of the business became tougher and eventually, instead of an organized group touring, individual artists would come to town and play with a  local rhythm section for a week, sometimes two weeks, until the week became maybe Thursday through Saturday.

Eventually all of those venues fell by the wayside and we are now in a situation where a week-long engagement in a club just does not exist in this city. Today, the concert hall or festival stage has become the only way of seeing and hearing “name” performers. It is a fact of life, and we have to accept it.

So what is in store for Toronto jazz audiences this fall? Quite a lot, as a matter of fact, given the above realities. One of the big events is the opening of Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music and on September their first jazz concert will feature the Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke & Lenny White Trio with Sophie Milman opening for the main attraction. This new venue is something the city has needed for a long time, a custom-designed performance space with a capacity of just over 1,000 seats. It is beautifully designed, and if the acoustics sound as good as the hall looks it will be a winner.

Located across the street from the Roy Thomson Hall, Quotes Bar & Grill will get underway on September 18 with a new season of Friday evening jazz from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. It’s the fourth year of presenting “Fridays at Five,” featuring the Canadian Jazz Quartet with a guest instrumentalist each week. Saxophone great Pat LaBarbera is the featured guest for the launch. This club has really caught on with fans who like their jazz straight ahead and swinging and it’s a great way to start the weekend.

Looking ahead a little farther, on Thursday September 24 Roy Thomson’s sister venue, Massey Hall, will present Ornette Coleman. His revolutionary musical ideas have been controversial and  his unorthodox manner of playing changed the way of listening to jazz for a lot of people. His primary instrument is the alto saxophone, although he is also a violinist and trumpeter and began his playing career on tenor sax in an R&B band in his native Texas. He has influenced almost all of today’s modern musicians and some of his compositions, such as Lonely Woman and Turnaround have become minor standards.

The Home Smith Bar at The Old Mill is becoming a little oasis of jazz in the West End of the city. Starting September 11, a jazz vocal series called Fridays to Sing About! will run every week from 7:30 to 10:30 pm. Carol McCartney kicks it off with John Sherwood on piano and Dave Young, bass. The following weeks will feature Melissa Stylianou and Heather Bambrick. Meanwhile, the Piano Masters Series will continue on Saturdays, with the cream of local pianists in solo, duo or trio settings. It is a piano player’s heaven because The Old Mill, showing an admirable commitment to their jazz policy, recently installed a new Yamaha C3 grand piano – and the musicians love it!

26AlexanderThe Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander’s career is well documented: Canada’s first black Member of Parliament, observer to the United Nations, a Companion of the Order of Canada and Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 1985 to 1991. But perhaps less publicized is his great love of jazz. The Jazz Performance and Education Centre, (JPEC) is presenting A Tribute Evening to Lincoln Alexander on October 1 in the Glenn Gould Studio, featuring some of our leading Canadian artists, including Archie Alleyne (drums), Peter Appleyard (vibes), Guido Basso (trumpet and flugelhorn), Russ Little (trombone), Joe Sealy (piano), and vocalists Arlene Duncan, Michael Dunstan, Molly Johnson and Jackie Richardson. Full details can be found at www.jazzcentre.ca. It is a fitting tribute to a great Canadian.

So you see, there is quite a lot of live jazz to hear in the coming weeks – and I’ve only mentioned a few of the venues in town.

It’s true: “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be,” but “Nevertheless,” “The Music Goes Round And Round,” and even although I can’t truly say “It’s All Right With Me,”“I Can Dream, Can’t I?” I hope “Autumn Leaves” you with a good feeling, and that you will enjoy some jazz listening in the coming weeks. Just make sure that some of it is live.

It doesn’t seem to matter how long I’ve been out of school – I always think of September as the beginning of the new year. This is certainly true for choirs across the province where choristers from Thunder Bay to Windsor are eagerly anticipating a new season of choral delights. While most of us have been enjoying a break, conductors and choral administrators everywhere have been busy planning the year and preparing for rehearsals. Repertoire has been selected, guest artists engaged, venues secured, contracts finalized, promotional materials created – and this is just part of it!

23_Jessie IselerIt seems fitting that on August 30, at the Toronto concert of the Ontario Youth Choir, Choirs Ontario presented the 2009 President’s Leadership Award to Jessie Iseler for her remarkable career with the Elmer Iseler Singers. Established in 2001 to commemorate Choirs Ontario’s 30th anniversary, the President’s Leadership Award recognizes choral musicians and supporters who have made an exceptional contribution to the promotion and advancement of choral music in their communities. There’s little doubt that Jessie is deserving of this honour.

Having dedicated most of her professional life to the choir as its manager, Jessie Iseler has been the driving administrative force behind its tremendous success. With their strong national and international artistic presence, an impressive list of television and radio appearances, and over 50 recordings to their credit, the Elmer Iseler Singers are widely regarded as one of Canada’s finest choral ensembles. This reputation is in no small part due to the dedication and sheer hard work of Jessie Iseler.

Through Jessie, and husband Elmer Iseler’s combined efforts, the choir set a model of performing, recording, commissioning and touring that inspired conductors throughout North America. Jessie’s dedication to the choir and to Canadian choral music inspired her to press for levels of funding for touring, commissioning and recording that were hitherto unknown by professional choirs in Canada. Together with artistic director Lydia Adams, the Elmer Iseler Singers continue to demonstrate artistic excellence while pursuing creative innovation. The choir recently completed a tour of Northern Ontario with several performances of the ground-breaking Cree opera Pimooteewin, by Tomson Highway and Melissa Hui.

The choir also has an impressive record of choral-educational initiatives. For over a decade, Jessie helped to administer the ensemble’s position as the professional Choir-In-Residence at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, through the Elmer Iseler Chair in Conducting.  The current success of the Get Music! project that sponsors numerous symposia and workshops linking youth and the industry of sound recording is another example of their visionary arts education. Over the years the choir has engaged countless young Canadian vocal professionals, and launched many successful vocal careers.

Jessie’s passionate advocacy for choral music, and profound commitment to the Elmer Iseler Singers, continues to be a source of inspiration to Canada’s choral community. Congratulations, Jessie!

The Elmer Iseler Singers have a concert on October 4: a programme called “Gibbons to Gospel,” with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. These two professional groups are off to an early start; for amateur choirs, it usually takes a little longer to get going. But as the fall progresses, the hard work and preparations of September will bear fruit, as many other Ontario choirs present their season-opening concerts. It won’t be long before voices in chorus are heard, in a wide variety of musical styles, throughout the province.


Fall Festivals

20LemelinAs urban concert seasons are just getting underway in the cities, three festivals in smaller centres offer opportunities to hear unusual repertoire and also musicians new to many of us. The earliest of these is the Prince Edward County Music Festival (Picton, September 17-19). Under the artistic direction of concert pianist, recording artist and University of Ottawa professor Stéphane Lemelin, the festival will present three evening and two daytime concerts. Distinguished Canadian composer and Bishop’s University professor Andrew Paul MacDonald, the festival’s Composer in Residence, will contribute one work to each of the three evening concert programmes, and will also perform on the guitar at the September 19 Saturday afternoon concert with clarinettist, James Campbell.

Only one day later in and near Owen Sound, the sixth annual Sweetwater Music Weekend (September 18, 19, 20) gets under way. The artistic director, Vancouver Symphony concert master Mark Fewer, has delegated responsibility for the Friday evening and Sunday afternoon concerts to the Banff Centre’s Barry Shiffman and the London Handel Players’ Adrian Butterfield, respectively. Each has come up with a programme that reflects his background and musical tastes, as does Fewer’s Saturday evening programme, which will feature a commissioned work by jazz man Phil Dwyer as well as arrangements of songs by Leonard Cohen and Edith Piaf.

By far the most ambitious of these three fall festivals is the seventh annual Colours of Music Festival (September 25-October 4), the creation of one remarkable man: Barrie lawyer and former politician Bruce Owen. Along with presenting this ten-day festival and a winter concert series, Owen also raised funds two years ago to purchase an excellent grand piano, a Shigeru Kawai. For this festival he has sagely chosen to put the piano in the foreground by selecting  the pianist-composer Heather Schmidt as his composer-in residence, and the Ames Piano Quartet as quartet-in-residence. At this year’s festival there’s also a singer-in-residence, soprano Suzie LeBlanc, who will appear in three concerts with repertoire ranging from Baroque, which is her specialty, to music by Schubert, Mozart and the little-known (except possibly to flutists), Gabriel Grovlez. Certainly the great strength of this festival is the quality of the programming and the calibre of the artists whom Owen brings in.

There is, of course, an abundance of additional information about these three festivals in our listings and on their websites.


22AinsworthThe academic year is a mere seven-and-a-half months long, which means the university concert seasons need to be among the first off the blocks. At McMaster University’s Convocation Hall, American pianist Justin Kolb will give a recital on September 25, performing works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Gann and Bond. On October 6, Russian-Canadian pianist Alexei Gulenco will perform works by Mozart, Liszt and Shostakovich, also at Convocation Hall. Gulenco, who has performed all over the world and in numerous piano competitions, teaches advanced students at the Hamilton Conservatory of Music.

One of the finest, if not the finest, recital halls in Toronto is in York University’s new Accolade East arts building, so going to a recital there is doubly rewarding, as you experience not only the performance but also the venue. On September 22 former TSO concertmaster, now York University professor, Jacques Israelievitch and his music department colleague pianist Christina Petrowska-Quilico will launch this season’s Faculty Concert Series with a programme of music by Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc and Pierné. On September 25, mezzo-soprano Susan Blackisande Sinsoulier will launch the Music at Midday noon-hour series in a recital of song repertoire by Fauré, Rachmaninoff, Mussorgsky, Canteloube and Cole Porter. Tenor Colin Ainsworth will perform Schubert’s well-loved song cycle Die schöne Müllerin on September 30. Ainsworth is a rising star in the vocal firmament, and if you have heard him you know why. His voice sounds comfortable in the tenor vocal tessitura, as if it is the middle, not the top of his range. He also brings a wonderful flair and sense of style that always leave you thinking you must hear him the next time he’s performing. I’m not the only one to have noticed the quality of his work: he has performed with Opera Atelier, and this season has performances scheduled with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Pacific Opera Victoria. and pianist Mél

Another accomplished young singer, baritone Jason Nedecky, along with veteran collaborative pianist Che Anne Loewen, will launch the new season’s Thursdays at Noon recital series at Walter Hall at the University of Toronto, in a programme called “Music and Poetry – Puzzles and Recipes.” You’ll understand why when you read the programme in our listings! Yet another singer, tenor Patrick Raftery, with pianist Sandra Horst, will open the Faculty Artist Series for this season on September 25, in a programme of arias and songs by Handel, Brahms, Liszt, Morowetz, Poulenc and Massenet. Returning to Thursdays at Noon, the second recital in the series, on Thursday, October 1, will be given by flutist Susan Hoeppner, with pianist Lydia Wong, performing a lovely programme of music by Carl Reinecke, Henri Büsser and Robert Muczynski. Also of great value to those interested in the art of singing are the voice performance classes. These are held every Monday at 12:10 in Walter Hall. There will also be a short recital by graduate student singers on Monday, October 5 at 6:30.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra

The TSO opens its 2009-2010 season on September 24 (repeat performance on September 26) with a tribute to the genius of Brahms. Peter Oundjian will conduct performances of Brahms’ Second Symphony and D Major Violin Concerto with soloist Joshua Bell. Also on the programme is Frenergy by Edmonton Symphony Orchestra composer-in-residence John Estacio, which Oundjian will also perform with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in December

Other Events

The Prater Orchestra, named after a park in central Vienna (oft frequented, we are told, by all the great Viennese composers of the classical period) was started recently by Azerbaijani-Canadians Roufat Amiraliev and Rena Amiralieva, and Iranian-Canadian Joseph Lerner. Its next concert will be on Friday, October 2, at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts (a story for another issue) The programme, conducted by Lerner, will include J S Bach’s Piano Concerto in D Minor, with soloist Amiralieva, a Moscow Conservatory graduate, and a new work by Lerner, Through the Colours, which is a tribute to and a lament for the many Iranians who stood up for political self-determination after the recent election in Iran.



The 2009-10 season is a very rich one, with much to please those who favour the tried and true and those curious about opera off the beaten path. Two events are certain to draw international attention to Toronto – the COC’s production of The Nightingale and Other Short Fables; and the North American premiere of Prima Donna, by Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright – but Toronto’s expanding number of smaller companies also have diverse treasures on offer. What follows is a small selection of some of the season’s highlights


The season begins on September 26 with the COC’s revival of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in an extended run to November 3. This will be the first presentation at the Four Seasons Centre of Susan Benson’s gorgeous, much lauded traditional production directed by Brian MacDonald. If you happen to have any friends who somehow have not yet visited the FSC, this is the perfect opportunity to invite them along.

The second COC offering is The Nightingale and Other Short Fables from October 17-November 5. For this production, director Robert Lepage links two short operas by Stravinsky, Le Rossignol (1914) and Renard (1916), with a miscellany of non-operatic pieces--the octet Ragtime (1916), Pribaoutki, a set of four nonsense songs (1914), the four lullabies that comprise the The Cat’s Cradle Songs (1917), Two Poems of Constantin Balmont (1911) and Four Russian Peasant Songs (1917). Lepage will be using the techniques of Southeast Asian puppetry in his staging, and the COC says the programme is aimed at an audience of all ages.

On October 25, Opera in Concert presents Rossini’s La Donna del lago (1819) based on the narrative poem by Sir Walter Scott. Alison d’Amato is the music director and the presentation will feature Virginia Hatfield, Amanda Jones, Paul Anthony Williamson, Graham Thomson and Gene Wu. At the end of the month, October 31-November 7, Opera Atelier presents a revival of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride (1779), last seen in 2003. The principals will be entirely new with Kresimir Spicer as Oreste, Thomas Macleay as Pylade and Peggy Kriha Dye as Iphigénie. Andrew Parrott conducts the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Marshall Pynkoski directs.

In November, Opera York, which has focused primarily on warhorses, takes a new course by presenting the Canadian premiere of And the Rat Laughed, an Israeli opera from 2005 by Ella Milch-Sheriff sung in Hebrew with English surtitles. The libretto is by Nava Semel based on her novel of the same title. Opera York presents the work in partnership with the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. It runs November 5-12 at the Richmond Hill Centre for Performing Arts.

In commemoration of the 250th anniversary of Joseph Haydn’s death, the University of Toronto Opera Division presents Haydn’s Il mondo della luna (1777). The comic story tells of the would-be astrologer Eccitico, who convinces the wealthy Buonafede that he has been transported to the moon. The opera runs November 5-8 conducted by Miah Im and directed by Michael Patrick Albano and Erik Thor. Also in November, Opera By Request, a company whose singers choose the repertory themselves, offers concert performances of Ponchielli’s once popular La Gioconda (1876) featuring Caroline Johnston in the title role with Melanie Hartshorn-Walton, Karen Bojti, Peter Whalen and Melchiorre Nicosia.

December begins with a new work commissioned by Toronto Masque Theatre, The Mummer’s Masque, written by composer/librettist Dean
Burry in celebration of the Newfoundland mummer tradition. The singers will include Laura Albino, Krisztina Szabó, John Kriter, Giles Tomkins and a children’s choir. The production runs December 3-6.

18LepageFebruary 17-21, Toronto Operetta Theatre revives its popular production of Canada’s own operetta, Leo, the Royal Cadet (1889) by Oscar Telgmann. The tuneful tale follows the lives of cadets at the Royal Military College in Kingston, their departure for the Zulu Wars in South Africa and their return home.

In March, the Royal Conservatory of Music will give Toronto audiences a rare chance to see Jules Massenet’s Cendrillon (1899) sung by members of the Glenn Gould School and accompanied by the Royal Conservatory Orchestra under the baton of Mario Bernardi. Performances run March 20-25. March will also brings us a world premiere from Queen of Puddings Music Theatre: Beauty Dissolves in a Brief Hour – A Triptych. The work comprises three chamber operas sung in three languages (Mandarin, English and French) commissioned from three different Canadian composers – Fuhong Shi, John Rea and Pierre Klanac – and scored for two sopranos and virtuoso accordion player Joseph Petric.

April begins with another world premiere, Giiwedin, by Catherine Magowan and Algonquin poet Spy Dénommé-Welch. This, the most ambitious project in the history of Native Earth Performing Arts, is written in Anishnawbe Mowin, French and English and tells the story of a 150-year old Aboriginal woman fighting for her land. It runs April 9-24.

May 1-30 the COC presents its first-ever production of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda (1835), written the same year as his Lucia di Lammermoor. It stars Serena Farnocchia, Alexandrina Pendatchanska, Eric Cutler and Patrick Carfizzi, and is conducted by Antony Walker with direction by Stephen Lawless.

The season ends with the North American premiere of Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna, as part of Luminato, running June 5-14. The opera was originally commissioned by the Met, but when Wainwright insisted that the libretto be in French, Met Artistic Director Peter Gelb abandoned the project. Thereupon it was swiftly picked up by Luminato along with the Melbourne International Arts Festival and the Manchester International Festival, where it had its world premiere in July this year. Also in June, Tapestry New Opera Works will present the world premiere of the staged “operatic oratorio” Dark Star by Andrew Staniland, a requiem about AIDS. Wayne Strongman conducts and Tom Diamond directs. This season, also look for Tryptych’s world premiere of Andrew Ager’s Frankenstein. Stay tuned for further developments!

Over the past several years Toronto’s new music season had been starting later and later, sometimes pushing into November. Thankfully, several ensembles have since seen the benefit of getting a jump start. As a result, we have a handful of companies launching exciting series this September. In fact, 2009/2010 looks so exciting for new music that it’s next to impossible to pick out the highlights. Caught between Tapestry’s 30th anniversary season, Soundstreams’ international powerhouse programming and Esprit Orchestra’s stellar selection of soloists and repertoire, I already feel like a kid in a candy shop! So, I’ll keep my selections within the next several weeks. Even here, it’s a challenging calendar for those intrigued by new sounds.

New Pärt

13Stratton The Toronto Philharmonia gives the season’s first big event on September 24 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Conductor Kerry Stratton has programmed a new-music-heavy opener with the Canadian premiere of Arvo Pärt’s Symphony No. 4.

As a young composer in the 1960s, Pärt wrote three symphonies that chronicled his struggle with the musical language of his day, a struggle that would eventually help create his world-renowned style of spiritual minimalism. The orchestral and instrumental pieces that followed tend to be brief. But now, 38 years after the Third Symphony Pärt offers his fourth, subtitled “Los Angeles” (perhaps in recognition of the orchestra that premiered the work this year.) Pärt explained in the programme notes that he is reaching out in this work to “all those imprisoned without rights in Russia.” For the composer, the symphony is meant as “carrier pigeon” that he hopes might reach faraway Siberia one day. Its sparse textures for strings, harp and percussion, slow pace and lengthy duration (37 minutes) make for a long, open and what has been described as an “extremely beautiful” journey.

Also on the programme is the world premiere of Artemis, a symphonic overture by Kevin Lau. This Toronto-based composer seems to be quickly making his mark. Since the completion of Lau’s first professional composition in 1999 he has received commissions from the Hamilton Philharmonic, the Mississauga Symphony, the Esprit Orchestra, the Cecilia String Quartet and the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, among others. Lau is currently completing doctoral studies at the University of Toronto while he continues to attract other projects, including a 2010 commission from Via Salzburg. In discussing his most recent work, Lau describes it as a musical portrait of the Greek goddess of wilderness, inspired by Gustav Holst’s symphonic suite The Planets.

For more information about the Toronto Philharmonia’s 2009/2010 season, visit www.torontophil.on.ca.

New Hall

On September 25 – what would have been Glenn Gould’s 77th birthday – the Royal Conservatory of Music will open the doors to Koerner Hall and its long-awaited inaugural concert season. A special feature of the evening will be the world premiere of R. Murray Schafer’s Spirits of the House. The work has been commissioned by philanthropist Michael Koerner to showcase the hall’s acoustics. The programme will feature Royal Conservatory's very own ARC Ensemble, as well as the Royal Conservatory Orchestra with celebrated pianist Anton Kuerti, all conducted by Jean-Philippe Tremblay. This evening is just the start to Koerner Hall’s Grand Opening Weekend. Full details may be found at www.rcmusic.ca.


14YongeDundasFor something completely different, head downtown to Yonge-Dundas Square on September 26 for the Toronto (new music) Marathon. This eight-hour endurance event, organized by Contact Contemporary Music, pulls together some of the best local performers and ensembles for a season-opening showcase of contemporary, experimental and improvisational music. This year’s marathon features music of Alan Bloor, Kyle Brenders, John Cage, Donnacha Dennehy, Philip Glass, Jim Harley, Brent Lee, Chad Martin, Stephen Montague, Jordan Nobles, Steven Reich, Ann Southam, Julia Wolfe and possibly even more, performed by Wallace Halladay, Jim Harley, JunctQin, Kyle Brender’s Large Ensemble, Rob McDonald, Christina Petrowska Quilico, Pholde, Quartetto Graphica, Allison Wiebe and the Contact Ensemble. The mix of established artists alongside emerging voices and new discoveries is bound to make this an exciting event. For more details, visit www.contactcontemporarymusic.ca.

Tapestry at 30

Running throughout much of the same weekend is Opera Briefs, the launch to Tapestry New Opera Work’s 30th Anniversary season. While every presentation of Opera Briefs yields great musical treats, this year’s crop of 5-minute operas will be especially intriguing as Tapestry will unveil the results of its first International Composer-Librettist Laboratory. Two composers and two writers from the UK will cross the pond to work with three returning LibLab alumni: composers Omar Daniel and Stephen Andrew Taylor, and writer Anna Chatterton. Add renowned playwright Judith Thompson to the mix and you have quite the team. Tapestry’s excellent New Works Studio Company will bring this ninth edition of Opera Briefs to life from September 25-27 in the intimacy of the Ernest Balmer Studio. For more information, visit www.tapestrynewopera.com

Nuit Blanche

Finally, starting at sundown on October 3, new music will resonate throughout Scotiabank Nuit Blanche – Toronto’s overwhelming, all-night contemporary art extravaganza.
Two projects will inhabit the Canadian Music Centre. Sky Harp: Ice Storm by Kingston-based Kristi Allik and Rob Mulder will occupy the CMC’s front garden. The Sky Harp series creates electronic soundscapes triggered by movements in the natural environment. For Ice Storm, video footage documents the effects of a 1998 disaster on Sky Harp’s star “performer” – a 90-year old elm tree. Recorded improvisations by dancer Holly Small, who interacts with the resulting soundscape, serve as a simultaneous artistic interpretation. Inside, Juliet Palmer and Josh Lacey’s Miasma offers a false haven from climate change. Overheard conversations reflect the unpredictability of our relationship to the elements. Is global warming a storm in a tea-cup? Can we divine the future in the dregs of a coffee cup? Music drifts in and out of the room, creating an alternately soothing and unsettling effect. Musicians perform within the installation at 10pm and midnight. Meanwhile, up the street at the the Telus Centre for Education and Performance, composer Brian Current directs the 12-hour installation In a large open space (Berlin 1994), based on a composition by James Tenney. The piece involves hundreds of singers and musicians positioned throughout the building, whose performances will envelop listeners in Tenney’s complex overtones. For full details, visit www.scotiabanknuitblanche.com.

2009/2010 is truly in with the new!

The Early Music scene isn’t called “early” for nothing; the season is barely under way, and already there are some very interesting presentations to tell you about.

Hildegard von Bingen and the Labyrinth

The ancient labyrinth has long been used as a pathway toward achieving a contemplative state. Music is an important accompaniment in the winding journey that one takes from circumference to centre and out again, providing a soundscape that can aid in shutting out the bustle of life. In recent times, composers such as John Burke have found the labyrinth an apt companion in their efforts to create music that touches the soul; and I well remember the haunting sounds of the traditional Japanese flute, the shakuhachi, helping me along as I walked a labyrinth, a decade ago.

But it is the exquisite music and poetry of the 12th-century mystic, abbess, philosopher, physician, scientist, Hildegard von Bingen, that will accompany you if you choose to walk the labyrinth on her feast day, September 17. Hildegard composed ecstatically soaring vocal lines to express her poetic visions, each composition of one melodic line designed for limited instrumental accompaniment which was not written down, but left to the performers to improvise. In the upcoming event, performers include soprano and Hildegard scholar Krystina Lewicki; Mike Franklin, woodwinds and voice; Ann-Marie Boudreau, voice, sitar, ngoni, harp; and others who contribute the sounds of diverse instruments. Walking the labyrinth is not mandatory but only for those moved to do so; otherwise, one can remain seated and enveloped in this exalted poetry and music.

The performance takes place inside the Church of the Holy Trinity behind the Eaton Centre, September 17 at 8pm, and is presented in collaboration with the Labyrinth Community Network of Toronto. The labyrinth itself is patterned on the medieval style of the one set into the floor of Chartres Cathedral, in the 13h century.

Primadonnas and The Colours of Music

10SuzieLeblancSoprano Suzie Leblanc is a completely delightful artist whose specialties range from baroque repertoire to lieder, to French mélodies and Acadian folk music, to modern music and improvisation. Her versatility made her a prime choice as the first Singer-in-Residence at Barrie’s Colours of Music Festival (as the Festival’s indefatigable artistic director, Bruce Owen, told me). In this role, her activities will include concert collaborations with several other Festival artists, as well as giving workshops to elementary and high school students in the area – something Owen is very enthusiastic about, as for many students these will be rare exposures to the joys of music-making.

The early music component of Leblanc’s performances in Barrie is a concert entitled “Primadonnas of the Renaissance,” in which she will be joined by the singers and musicians of The Toronto Consort. What could be more natural than to repeat this concert at the Toronto Consort’s own series? – and so, you can hear it in Barrie on October 1, and in Toronto on October 2 and 3.

And ah! the music is from the Italian Baroque, when opera was new; when a ground bass and a few colourful instrumental touches supporting a melody could express all the fire, all the tenderness, that any primadonna could hope for. Monteverdi, Castaldi, Frescobaldi, Strozzi and others will lead you into their world of love (requited and unrequited), laments, entreaties, smiles and tears.

An all-too-brief mention of several other upcoming performances:

September 3, 7pm: Toronto Music Garden presents “Bach at Dusk – with Claudia.” Cellist Winona Zelenka continues her annual exposé of Bach’s Solo Cello Suites in a performance of No. 4 in E flat, joined by dancer Claudia Moore.

September 13, 2:30pm: “Tartini meets Hagen”, virtuoso music of the 18th century for violin and lute, is presented by the newly-formed Beaches Baroque, with baroque violinist Genevieve Gilardeau and lutenist Lucas Harris.

September 23 to 27: In the first of their season’s concerts, Tafelmusik is joined by Montreal’s Arion Baroque Orchestra to present “Handel: Royal Fireworks,” a programme that also includes music by J.C. Bach and Rameau.

September 26, 8pm: Toronto Masque Theatre reprises “Purcell: Dido and Aeneas / Aeneas and Dido,” a double-bill of Purcell’s masterpiece and TMT’s commission by James Rolfe and Andre Alexis.

October 3, 7:30: Cantemus, a newly formed choir whose focus is secular choral music of the Renaissance, presents “Fairest Isle – A Celebration of Early English Choral Music,” with music by Gibbons, Byrd, Taverner, Purcell and others.

And don’t forget the 25th annual Early Music Fair held on September 12 from noon to 5pm at Montgomery’s Inn, where you can encounter all sorts of early music performances, instruments, books and enthusiasts throughout the afternoon.

For details of these and many other upcoming events, see The WholeNote’s daily listings.

Purcell and the Hart House Viols

12_HartHse viol photo christine guestOn October 30 and 31, The Toronto Consort will present a very special pair of concerts – very special, in that the music presented is an iconic oeuvre in the history of music (Purcell’s complete Fantasias for viols); and in that they will be performed on a unique set of instruments – the Hart House viols.

More will be said about the Purcell Fantasias in the next Early Music column. But for now, it’s worth noting that Toronto is very fortunate to be called home to the six instruments known as the “Hart House viols.” Ranging in dates from c.1598(!) to 1781, they have recently been re-appraised and restored fully to playing condition, and are now recognized as a collected treasure of great historical and artistic value.

It’s a bit of a mystery how they turned up in Vancouver in the late 1920s, housed neatly in a large wooden chest thought to be a dowry chest. Around 1930, the Massey Foundation presented them as a gift to Hart House, where they have resided ever since.

Their public appearances have been relatively few. Local musicians Leo Smith and Wolfgang Grunsky played them during their early residency, and Peggie Sampson’s Hart House Consort used them in performance during the 1970s and 80s; more recently Joëlle Morton secured the loan of two of the viols for one of her innovative Scaramella concerts. Now we have the chance to hear all of them in The Toronto Consort’s October offering  – incomparable Purcell played by Les Voix Humaines – a musical experience to look forward to indeed.

With this column I take over the early music beat from my colleague, Frank Nakashima, who has faithfully researched and reported the early music scene over the past eight and a half seasons. I will try to follow in his able footsteps and will very much enjoy chronicling the fascinating spectrum of early music performance.

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