Our olympic coverage got off to a good start last month, with WholeNote publisher David Perlman’s personal musings on the subject. Now the Winter Olympics are over – but it seems they were an inspiration to some of our columnists this month. Three of our regular writers have referred to the Vancouver games, in various ways. Lest anyone think this represents some kind of intentional “theme” in this issue of The WholeNote, rest assured that nothing could be further from the truth. Our writers make no attempts to coordinate their columns – in fact, we’ve never even had them all in same room at the same time.
Similarly, I’m sure there was no co-ordinated attempt, by various musical presenters around town, to transform the spring into a season of festivals. Yet that’s what seems to have happened.
First out of the gate is the Hannaford Street Silver Band’s 7th annual “Festival of Brass,” from April 9 to 11, at the St. Lawrence Centre. This three-day event features youth and community bands from Canada and the USA, competing for the highly coveted Hannaford Cup. And the following week, from April 14 to 22, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra mounts a Sibelius Festival: five concerts featuring all seven of this composer’s symphonies, conducted by Thomas Dausgaard. Soundstreams also gets into a festive spirit, with the return of “Cool Drummings” from April 27 to 29. This year’s featured guest is American composer Steve Reich, with Nexus percussion ensemble playing a full programme of his music.
The Toronto Silent Film Festival isn’t a musical event per se, but from April 11 to 15, there will be screenings of such films as The Black Pirate and The Adventures of Prince Achmed, with live music by various local musicians, including organists William O’Meara and Andrei Streliaev. Speaking of organists, the Organix Festival opens on May 3, with a fundraising concert. (The festival runs for all of May, so most of the listings will be in next month’s magazine.) Also beginning in May, the Classical Music Consort presents Handel @ St. James, a week of (mostly) free concerts at St. James’s Cathedral.
Easter falls in April this year, and in Benjamin Stein’s choral column, you’ll find information on Easter music from April 2 to 4. But there’s another commemoration happening this month, just a few days later. From April 7 to 11, Tafelmusik anticipates the 40th anniversary of Earth Day with “Forces of Nature,” a planet-themed audio-visual programme.
As well, April is usually a busy time for opera, and this year is no exception. There are plenty of big productions on the boards: the COC’s Flying Dutchman and Maria Stuarda, Opera Atelier’s Marriage of Figaro and Opera Hamilton’s La Bohème.
But one smaller show that has especially caught our eye – and is featured on the front cover of the magazine this month – is Giiwedin (“North Wind”) by composer/librettist Spy Dénommé-Welch and composer Catherine Magowan. The production, staged at Theatre Passe Muraille, from April 8 to 24, is a collaboration between two companies that specialize in the work of native peoples: An Indie(n) Rights Reserve and Native Earth Performing Arts. Appearing in the leading role of Noodin-Kwe, a 150-year-old native woman fighting for her land in Northern Ontario, is mezzo-soprano Marion Newman (herself of native ancestry). It looks like a unique operatic experience.