The Ludwig of the title above is not a reference to Wittgenstein or van Beethoven. (Nor is it a reference to Ludwig Van Toronto, the online blog, once called Musical Toronto, that is an indispensable and entertaining part of the fabric of media and social media support for classical music in this town.)
When our listings editor John Sharpe came over to my desk a few days ago to say LUDWIG had reached the 40,000 mark, he was referring to the fact that he had just approved for publication the 40,000th entry to be processed in the listings database, code name LUDWIG, that has been, for nine years, the engine room of one of the key services that the The WholeNote provides for the music community in these parts. That’s not to say 40,000 is some kind of magic number in terms of the total number of listings we’ve published, in print and online, in our 24 seasons of documenting live music in our town – something around double that would probably be closer to the mark. But it ain’t nothin’ neither.
The acronym, by the way, stands for “Listings Utility Database (for) WholeNote Information Gathering” and we even, for a little while ran cute ads in the magazine (featuring grumpy pictures of Beethoven, of course) informing readers that if they wanted to access music by a specific genre or geographic zone they were interested in, or by keyword for that matter, they could go online and ASK LUDWIG. You can still do those things, of course, but on the website, if that’s what you’re trying to do, it now simply says JUST ASK.
“So what is that momentous 40,000th listing for?” I hear the regular followers of this Opener both asking. Well, it just happens to be a performance at 1pm on Sunday October 6, at Mazzoleni Concert Hall in the Royal Conservatory,titled “There’s a Lady on Stage”; hosted by pianist/vocalist David Ramsden accompanying not one but three accomplished “ladies” – namely vocalists Lori Yates, Tabby Johnson and Theresa Tova, with free tickets available starting Monday September 30. (The original Quiet Please! There’s a Lady on Stage, some may remember, was a project Ramsden launched in the 80s at the Cameron House (where the title of the show definitely made sense) with some of Canada’s most talented female vocalists.)
“Why are you telling us this?” my loyal readers both ask. No good reason except that it feels good to me that this milestone listing happens to be for a grassroots, free concert, in one of our more intimate halls, reflecting a commitment on behalf of that particular presenter to program creatively, and on our part, faithfully to record what’s actually happening in a live music scene where the work of people for whom music is serious fun is a more important criterion for inclusion in what we list than the “seriousness” by whatever criteria we define it, of the music itself.
Robert Harris, in his Rearview Mirror column in this issue, on page 76, is perhaps talking about something similar when he muses, hopefully, on a world of classical music “augmented by new consciousnesses, expanded to include elements of styles that already have their audiences, thereby liberating classical music from its depleting dependence on repertoire that, every year, departs further and further from the concerns of the modern world…”
May the next 40,000 listings in this magazine continue to evolve to reflect that change!
So another season (our 25th!) is off and running, so here’s wishing us all luck, and it’s great to have you back. And speaking of running, I should mention that Brian Chang our regular choral columnist and passionate advocate for community arts is doing some running of a different kind, as a parliamentary candidate for the federal riding of Toronto Centre. (Thank you Menaka Swaminathan for stepping into the breach in his absence.)
The question of support for funding for the arts is always a topic around election time at all levels of government, but too often as a kind of siloed separate thing, with support for culture and support for community concerns running the risk of becoming polarized opposites, and candidates or party score points for their support of one by pooh-poohing concerns for the other.
More to the point this time round, in my opinion, might be to support individuals running for office who recognize that most arts workers in our society are no less marginalized than many other workers – dealing with the same issues, especially in our cities – housing insecurity; a healthcare system with too many rotten planks in areas of greatest vulnerability. (Read Lydia Perović’s “Mysterious Barricades and Systemic Barriers” on page 40 in this issue for more on this.) Many of us are becoming increasingly unable to afford to participate as consumers in the industries, cultural and otherwise, that by our labours we help to build and maintain, or to dwell within the towns and cities where we ply our trades.
Maybe this time round, we should keep score of how many times our candidates (of all political stripes) talk about “the middle class”, and take away a point every time they do, for automatically assuming that that includes you and me. In each and every riding may the best mensch win.