Volume 1, Issue 4 - December 1995 / January 1996Sometimes the way I can tell that things are going well around here is by noticing how small, in the overall scheme of things, the things I am fretting about actually are. Like two days ago when I found myself agonizing about whether it would be more accurate, on the cover, to describe this two-month issue as “combined” or “double.” “Double,” I told myself, is how I think we have usually done it. But with the concert scene being significantly put on hold in the latter part of December, for Festivus or whatever you choose to call it, and the first couple of weeks of January significantly dedicated to recovery, there isn’t double the amount of activity. “Combined” would be more accurate. I went searching for answers in our “rear view mirror” – the complete 23-year flip-through archive of this publication on our website – to see what we’ve done in the past, all the way back to Vol 1 No 4 in December 1995. (Click on Previous Issues under the “About” tab.)

The results: “double” takes the prize by a long way, with “nothing in particular” a respectable second (as in the cover of Vol 1 No 4 illustrated here). “Combined” is almost nowhere to be found, except this time last year. (Things must have been going well for even longer than I thought!)

There were three other things that I particularly noticed, as I flipped my way through the archive.

First was how often the subjects of the covers of past Dec/Jan issues, especially the early ones, still crop up in our current coverage: Tafelmusik’s Ivars Taurins in his “Herr Handel” Massey Hall “Sing-Along Messiah” outfit (Vol 2); Val Kuinka, who will be stage-directing Highlands Opera Studio’s production of Andrew Balfour’s new opera Mishaabooz’s Realm this December (Vol 3); the Toronto Children’s Chorus (Vol 5) and mezzo Krisztina Szabó (Vol 7) who will appear together in the TCC’s concert “The Fire Within” December 16 at Roy Thomson Hall; Barbara Hannigan (Vol 6), just here in November for a Koerner art song recital, who dropped into her hometown in December 1999, fresh off her Lincoln Center debut, to see in Y2K as the Merry Widow for Toronto Operetta Theatre, whose New Year’s Day-straddling productions of light opera and operettas are a time-honoured fixture of the holiday season … The list goes on. 

Second, amusingly, was noticing the different ways the cover copy on these various issues riffs on the contrast, performance-wise, between December and January: “The Holiday Season and Its (Not-So) Flip Side”; “December Glitter, January Gold”; “To the Holidays and Beyond!”; and (my favourite), “Mid-Season Blip.”

Third, and this is for you, whomever you may be: in analyzing the pattern of when we did and didn’t make an effort on the cover to call attention to the fact that it was a double issue, it seems that the years we made an extra effort (like the words DOUBLE ISSUE in 30-point type around a medallion of two-headed Janus) were right after years when we had made no effort at all. And that is because those were the years when you phoned me up to complain that it was already January 8 and your January WholeNote had still not arrived.

It won’t this year either!

The Rear View Mirror: The context for the headline on Vol 1 No 4, pictured here (still one of my favourites), is that it coincided with a time when funders of the arts (in particular the Ontario Arts Council) were reeling under the impact of the politics of the time. The “Common Sense Revolution” it was called. This year, for the first time in many years, we are seeing significant increases in funding to the OAC (increases that are being passed along). If it’s a sign that the value of the contribution that artists make to the wellbeing of Ontario, economically and in every other way, has been recognized, it’s a welcome sign indeed.


Sometimes it’s something in the water. Sometimes it’s something in the air. Sometimes you just scratch your head and say “weird, eh?”

The case of John Blow

Not exactly a household word in musical circles, John Blow (who it is reasonable to assume was born sometime not too long before his baptismal date of 23 February 1649, was an English Baroque composer and organist whose most enduring musical claim to fame was that he was a teacher of Henry Purcell, who was born on September 10, 1659. Purcell, in contrast to Blow was, right up until the beginning of the 20th century, if not a household name, the most widely recognized English-born composer. (Blow’s other claim to fame, I suppose, is that he outlived Purcell, who died in 1695, by 13 years.)

Purcell’s name has certainly featured regularly in this magazine over the 22 years and a bit we have been in business. But as of the end of January 2002, Blow’s name, to the best of my knowledge, had never appeared in our listings or anywhere else in the magazine.

And then all of a sudden, there he was! Twice. In both cases in the context of concerts featuring the music of Blow and Purcell. Two concerts titled, roughly, “Music of John Blow and Henry Purcell.” Same date (March 2, 2002), same time, and within one block of each other, on Bloor St. W., at Trinity-St.Paul’s and Church of the Redeemer respectively.

Weird, eh?

Sometimes coincidences like these can be easily explained by significant anniversary dates. Take the case of Glenn Gould, for example, who was born in September 25, 1932; all years ending in a two or a seven tend to become an occasion for heightened remembrance of Gould’s contribution to music and art. This month, for instance, Gould would have turned 85. Two of our writers this issue, David Jaeger and Paul Ennis, both take note of occurrences relating to this anniversary – one well worth commemorating, in my humble opinion, especially when (according to a recent (and admittedly entirely random and unscientific) survey, an alarming number of students currently enrolled in the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory cannot name the musical instrument that Glenn Gould played.

Miller’s Tales

Nowhere near as seismically weird as the case of John Blow, but interesting nonetheless, is the following:

A month ago I received an enthusiastic message from Stuart Broomer, a longtime regular reviewer of jazz recordings for this magazine, asking if we had seen a copy of Mark Miller’s latest book. (With at least a dozen books to his name and countless articles, Miller is very likely Canada’s leading jazz writer, photographer and journalist. Safe to say, he is at this moment in time probably better known than drummer Claude Ranger, the subject of this latest book (although I am sure Miller would be only too happy if his book helped to redress that fact.) Broomer’s cogent review of Miller’s book appears in this issue.

Meanwhile, independent of the above development, contributor Ori Dagan submitted a story for the issue on the second annual Kensington Market Jazz Festival, headed up with a short quote from, you guessed it, none other than Mark Miller, taken not from one of Miller’s books but, this being the century we live in, from a recent Facebook post by Miller, musing on the implications, mostly positive, of this year’s TD Toronto Jazz Festival’s decision to refocus its operations on a single neighbourhood, in this case the once-and-(perhaps)-future Village of Yorkville.

At risk of stealing Dagan’s thunder, the Miller quote seized on for the KMJF story bears repeating. Musing on how festivals, driven by commercial imperatives, find themselves drifting further and further away, musically, from why they started in the first place, Miller says “I’ve always thought that if the “jazz festival” model no longer works the way it once did, then change the model — not the music.”

Changing the Model

In the arts, it’s not only festivals that find themselves driven by commercial imperatives further and further from their roots, philosophically and geographically. As people with means flee the suburbs for gentrified city cores, property values and rents skyrocket and the working urban poor (most musicians and cultural workers I know among them) find ourselves struggling to hang on in the neighbourhoods where up till now we have managed to both live and work. Sadly, vibrant urban culture is, almost by definition, a noisy messy thing, requiring constant negotiation between those who need to make noise and those who expect the same right to peace and quiet in the downtown as they enjoyed in the suburbs they have forsaken.

Readers have seen me railing in this space against those seeking or inhabiting public office indulging in the rhetoric of phrases like “making Toronto into a real music city.” As I have said before, and will doubtless say again, the problem is that if one buys into that formula one is rejecting the idea that we already are a real music city. We do not need more mega-sized venues and spectacles, all driven by what Mark Miller calls “commercial imperatives” and all taking place in ring-fenced isolation from our neighbourhoods.

So, as you get back into the post-summer humdrum of urban living, do your bit! Scour our listings for the small stuff as well as the large. Support your local small-scale nodes of music and culture and art, as well as the large. Make music where you live, and continue to fight for the right to live where you make music.

To the betterment of all.


The Sombrero Galaxy wikipedia025xA short while ago, relatively speaking, I dreamed I was a scientist having a sleepless night: tossing and turning while endlessly trying to calculate exactly how fast I would have to drive towards a red traffic light in order for the Doppler effect to make it appear green. 

For solace in his sleepless state, the scientist I was dreaming I was got out of bed and went to his telescope to observe the night sky with all its twinklingly verifiable pinpricks of fact. Instead he observed, in an indescribable rush of mingled horror and delight that the Sombrero Galaxy (M104) was no longer receding from our solar system at its usual rate of approximately 1020 km/sec but instead appeared to be standing still.

After what seemed like an eternity (and probably was), it became clear to the scientist I was dreaming I was, that in defiance of all the known laws of physics and mechanics, Galaxy M104 (aka Sombrero) was making like a “bad hombre” and blue-shifting back towards us at a considerable rate of knots.

After another eternity, and at precisely the right moment, not too far but not too close, Sombrero stopped blue-streaking and tipped its hat towards us in the sky, revealing the black hole, right at the crown of its hat, that was its source of motive power. And from that source of power Sombrero spoke:

“Good evening,” Sombrero said. The scientist I was dreaming I was politely said “Good evening” in reply. But frankly, I wasn’t so sure about that.

“I have come to tell you,” Sombrero said, “that it’s come to the point where, to use the current lingo, your galaxy either needs to ship up or to shape out.”

I ask what’s that supposed to mean. “Well either there is something in your galaxy that is uniquely of value to the universe, or there isn’t. And the good news is that, based on our investigations so far, you do have that something. But the bad news is that it is starting to look as though we might just be able to extract that something without having to haul all your viral baggage along with it. In which case, as the saying goes, it’s lights out for you.” 

“What is that something?” our scientist asked, on behalf of all known living things, and held his breath.

“It’s called Bach,” Sombrero said.

 And right at that moment (or as it is sometimes translated, just in time) all the birds started to sing and we awoke.

And it was evening and it was morning, the sixth day.

The Thing about Bucket Lists

The thing I am realizing about bucket lists is that if you forget to take the list out of the bucket before the winter sets in, it gets frozen in the bucket, and you have to wait for the spring to start crossing things off it (assuming it hasn’t become so soggy that it’s completely unreadable).

My musical bucket list has on it taking in another complete Beethoven string quartet cycle, as I explain in the story Total Immersion a little further into this issue.

It also has on it a visit to the Aga Khan Museum in North York, maybe timed to coincide with World Fiddle Day. See On Our Cover for what that’s about.

The list also has on it in big letters the word SING! (although I can’t remember if that’s about taking in the Sing! A Vocal Arts Festival or about actually using this year’s Canary Pages to find a choir that will have me.)

It also has on it arranging a one-off performance night for myself, titled David Perlman and Friends at which I sell my as-yet-unrecorded CD to both of my friends. (But that one may take a while.)

And Some Housekeeping

Performers and presenters take note: after this May issue, we suspend our monthly cycle for the summer. The next issue covers June, July and August. For presenters with summer listings, that means getting your summer listings in to us as fast as possible, if you want to see them in print. (And making sure you send them anyway if you miss the print deadline because we are committed to updating them online right through the summer.)

For performers and presenters not active during the summer make sure you get your 2017/18 listings in before you go incommunicado while you are crossing a year’s worth of things off your bucket list! 

We’re planning exciting things in terms of expanded listings coverage online for the coming season. And we’ll be working with the listings we have before we go chasing the ones we don’t.

Back in our naïve youth as a magazine we used to handcuff ourselves by proclaiming one or another month of the year as [some particular genre] month. As in “April is Opera Month”; or “March is New Music Month.”

One problem was, of course, that we failed to inform the hundreds of presenters putting on concerts every month far enough in advance so that they could change their plans to fit with our executive orders.

Another was that, with every passing year, our tidy little rolodex of genres has eroded as rapidly as the memories of those among us who still know what a rolodex is.

But of all the “this month is” edicts and proclamations, the one that still feels intuitively right to me is the next one coming up after this one: thanks to the presence in our upcoming May edition of our 15th annual Choral Canary Pages, there is still an argument to be made for saying that “May is Choral Month” in The WholeNote.

It’s not because all our stories in the May issue will have choral themes. It’s because our Canary Pages are not primarily designed to give audiences information about what choral performances are coming up, but to give you and me as much information as possible about what choirs are out there to join, so that we can give ourselves an opportunity to breathe in loud and joyful unison, voicing common hopes and feelings with other people on a regular basis. In a world that conspires in every imaginable way to have us twittering away in querulous, frightened or acrimonious solitude, more than ever, making music together affirms our common humanity.

More than a decade ago I explained in this very spot that the reason we had called it the Canary Pages was drawn from the dark days of coal mining, where caged canaries were strategically deployed in the tunnels to alert miners to the presence of poisonous gases. “As long as the canary is singing, you’re O.K.,” the theory went. “But if the canary croaks, metaphorically anyway, hold your breath and run.”

Aside from some surly Hamiltonian (since moved to Sarnia, I believe) who blasted us for holding up cruelty to animals as something laudable, it’s an image that stands up rather well I think. We can, to a significant extent, gauge the extent to which our arts environment is becoming toxic by whether community-based, collective music-making remain stable because those participating in them are able to remain within those communities.

The erosion from the urban landscape of local venues to listen to live music is getting some attention these days, which is good. But the displacement of the people who work in those spaces, musicians and non-musicians alike, because they can no longer afford to live in the communities they work in, tells us even more about the fragile musical health of our cities.


Springing Sweetly into Summer: It takes a fair bit to make me smile during the dog days of the March magazine production cycle. Nowhere is the pain of the fact that February is three days shorter than some months more sharply felt than right now - the last 48 hours before going to press.

But one smile got wrung out of me earlier today, while giving our annual “Orange Pages” summer music education special section (it starts on page 58) a quick last look before press time.

It’s not a section that lays claim to being comprehensive. February would need 280 days for that to happen. It’s more like a geologist’s rock sample - a rough crystal refracting the light of just how much opportunity there is out there for music lovers wanting, in the words of the little intro to this year’s section, “to engage in summer music making … when the restraints of our regular schedules have been lifted.”

I’ll confess that reading the section itself is always a bit of a bitter-sweet thing for me. No matter when in the year we publish it, it always feels as though it’s either too early or too late - either “How on earth do you expect me to plan that far ahead?” or “I wish I had known about that months ago!”

But however practical or wistful the read-through, I always come away from skimming through the 35-or-so profiles in it with a sense of vicarious pleasure. And on this occasion, with a sweetly accidental moment of amusement.

All the entries in the section are structured in a similar way, offering an anecdotal description in the provider’s own words of what the opportunity is all about, preceded by nuts-and-bolts information about the what, where and when of it all, and for whom it’s intended.

It was one of those “who it’s for” descriptors that did it! (I won’t tell you which profile it was in - you’ll have to find it yourself.) “All ages 10 to 90!” it said.

Maybe it’s just that my funny bone is tingling from too-long days of leaning on my elbows during this all-too-short production cycle, or just that, as all regular readers of this Opener will both know by now, my sense of humour is a bit aslant at the best of times!  But I read “All ages 10 to 90!” and the picture jumped immediately to my mind of one particular columnist reading it and sputtering in indignation “What the hell do you mean I’m too old for that!?”

Slight as this little story may be, it speaks to a good kind of complexity, in my view of the world we live in. Namely this: that almost anything one says, especially in fun,  can be taken differently than one intended. “All ages, 10 to 90” is clearly intended as a way of speaking playfully to the broad inclusiveness of the offering.  It takes a darkly perverse view of things to interpret it as a deliberately ageist attempt to exclude nonagenarians from the joys of campfire life. (Hmm maybe there’s a charter challenge there somewhere. Any nine-year-olds with awesome finger-pickin’ chops want to join in?)

It’s a bit of a stretch to argue that the above anecdote serves as a reminder of how endless (and sometimes painfully rewarding) the process is of reinventing our language and re-examining our assumptions, musical and political.

Happily (if not necessarily comfortably), this sesquicentennial year offers the opportunity for the same kind of soul-searching on a much grander and more fundamental scale.  

Tiptoeing the Sesquicentennial Party Line: The Toronto Consort’s “Kanatha/Canada: First Encounters” (February 3 and 4 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre) got February off to a flying start for me. It was an early, and welcome, indication that the 2017  sesquicentennial arts bandwagon will have room, alongside the enthusiastic flag-wavers, for those who choose to look at 1867 critically, as a relatively recent milestone in a much longer, and not unequivocally celebratory, journey.

As an idea for a concert program, “Kanatha/Canada” had its roots, in the fall of 2013, in the work that constitutes the entire second half of the concert, composer John Beckwith’s Wendake/Huronia, a roughly 30-minute work, in six movements, reflecting on Wendat culture from pre-European contact to the present day and ending with a prayer for reconciliation between the two cultures.

As Beckwith himself described it in an article in The WholeNote in summer 2015, “late in 2013, John French, director of the Brookside Music Association in Midland, invited [me] to compose a piece to be performed in July 2015, marking the 400th anniversary of the voyage of Samuel de Champlain and a few fellow adventurers from France to the ‘Mer douce’ or ‘Fresh-water sea’—today’s Lake Huron. I said yes.”

In its original form the work was performed by a chamber choir drawn from local choirs, a pair of First Nations drummers, Shirley Hay and Marilyn George, an alto soloist (Laura Pudwell) and a narrator (Theodore Baerg), accompanied by the Toronto Consort. It toured Georgian Bay communities including Midland, Parry Sound (as part of the Festival of the Sound), Barrie, Meaford and others.

In the February 3 and 4 version, performed to a packed Trinity-St. Paul’s, almost the same forces were assembled. The most notable change was that the role of narrator/singer was taken by Georges Sioui, described in the concert program as a “Huron-Wendat … polyglot, poet, essayist, songwriter and world-renowned speaker on the history, philosophy, spirituality and education of Aboriginal peoples.” Sioui had played a seminal role in the gestation of the project; this performance brought his voice into the foreground.

Composer Beckwith had found Sioui as a resource early on; in fact, the fifth movement in the work, Lamentation 1642, “an angry lament” was based on a paper Sioui had given in 1992 on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage, recalling the life-patterns of Wendats in the years 992, 1492, and 1642 [the sesquicentennial of Columbus’ “discovery” of North America].  “His picture of the state of Huronia a century and a half after Columbus affected me deeply,” Beckwith writes. “When I interviewed Sioui in Ottawa, he generously gave me permission to set this ‘lament’ as my fifth panel.” Sioui also advised Beckwith not to end there. “He thought the angry lament should be followed by more optimistic sentiments, reflecting today’s efforts towards reconciliation.”

The work traverses aeons: a prologue suggesting “pre-contact” evinced by percussion imitating the sound of snowshoes while individual voices shout out, as in a roll call, the names of various Wendat clans; a second movement, set in a European-sounding contrapuntal choral style, revolving around a “poetic epigraph written by a fan” at the front of the second edition (1632) of Champlain’s published account of his travels; third and fourth panels evoking, respectively, canoeing and the Wendat “Feast of Souls”; second last, Sioui’s “angry lament”; and finally a movement titled To the Future based on an intensely moving recent poem of Sioui’s (2013), written in English but spoken here in French, in which the narrator dandles his infant nephew and asks the baby boy’s understanding for referring to child as “grandfather” because in so doing the narrator is transported to a childhood in which an optimistic future could more readily be seen.

Most interesting (in the context of this particular essay) has been watching the development of the Toronto Consort’s role (with artistic director David Fallis at the helm) in the evolution of the piece from its origins at the 2015 Brookside Festival till now. It’s not hard to see why an ensemble specializing in authentic performance of early music would have been the logical musical choice for a project examining a 400-year old moment in time. But without Fallis’ fierce curatorial intelligence, their role could have remained a kind of period window-dressing.

In this February’s concert, Beckwith’s half-hour long Wendake/Huronia has morphed from being a stand-alone work into the second half of a fully articulated concert program. The first half, anchored  by First Nations drummers Shirley Hay and Marilyn George and by vocal artist Jeremy Dutcher (who was interviewed here by Sara Constant last month), is built around the 1701 “Great Peace” of Montreal in which in the words of historian Gilles Havard: “In the heat of the summer of 1701 hundreds of Native people paddled their birchbark canoes down the Ottawa River … [an] impressive flotilla made up of delegations from many nations of the Great Lakes region … and from other directions … In total about 1,300 Native delegates, representing 39 nations, would gather in the little colonial town … to participate in a general peace conference.”

As with Wendake/Huronia, the treatment of the “Great Peace” story is nuanced and layered, enriched by singer/drummers Hay and George’s deep-rooted knowledge of First Nations lore and Dutcher’s ongoing explorations “part composition, part musical ethnography and part linguistic reclamation” of his Wolostoq Maliseet (Saint John river basin) heritage. As a whole, the program immerses the audience in the ongoing complexities of contact between Canada’s Indigenous and Settler peoples. It is all the more powerful for the way it animates the Consort’s usual repertoire, which is all too often at risk of being seen as nothing more than a sentimental rendering of artfully encased museum pieces from a bygone age.

There was nothing sentimental about this particular exercise in time travel. A healthy reminder as the coming months of Sesquicentennial-themed offerings come to a boil.

Interlude: The night of July 4, 1975, I slept on the floor of the Greyhound bus station in State College, Pennsylvania. The night before I had slept on a Boeing 707 en route between what was then called Jan Smuts Airport and JFK in New York. My arrival at JFK was carefully timed: it was the first day of the US Bicentennial Year, and I was in possession of a $200, unlimited-travel, two-month bus pass, effective July 4, 1975, that I was about to make good use of.  (I was seven weeks away from arriving in Toronto to stay.) There’s something to be said for ’centennial bandwagons.

The night of July 5 1975 I was back on the floor of the State College bus station again, having spent July 5 waiting fruitlessly, on the steps of the Altoona Town Hall, for a local bus that, according to Greyhound bus dispatch, would take me to Jamestown, PA. But when it arrived it was going to Johnstown, PA. So took the only other bus coming through, and slunk back to State College again.

Time travellers take note: There were worse places to be than the Altoona Town Hall steps, on July 5 1975. The Phillies and Pirates both won (against the Mets and Cubs respectively) having both lost the previous day - the Phillies in a heartbreaker. So the alarmingly large town drunk who spent much of the day keeping me company on the steps, transistor radio to his ear, was in a good mood. ….

Now, where was I? Ah yes, the State College, Pennsylvania bus station. That is where this story is headed next.

2206-Opener.jpgTafelmusik at the Crossroads: Even for an ensemble accustomed to packing their bags and moving from one thing to another really quickly, Tafelmusik is in the middle of a three-month stretch requiring remarkable agility.

Consider the fact that, by the time you read this, within the month of February alone (28 days), the organization will have: announced the appointment of a new music director; presented 12 local performances of four different programs at five different venues; held a very effective invite-only season launch concert at an off-the-beaten-track venue (patching in their new music director Elisa Citterio by video); and launched a US tour that will take one of their most successful all-memorized thematic programs, Alison Mackay’s “Bach’s Circle of Creation” on a 12-day, eight-city US tour.

The tour will be mostly by bus. And it will take them, among other places, to (drum roll please!) State College, Pennsylvania, where at 7.30pm on March 2, the second stop of the tour, they will perform the “Circle of Creation” program in the Schwab Auditorium at Penn State University. Maybe I’ll go see that one, for old times’ sake. Although I am quite possibly getting too old to intentionally sleep in bus stations.

Elisa Citterio: Of all the headspinning details hinted in the previous description of Tafel on the move, the one with likely the most significant long-term implications is the hiring of Citterio as music director. Attesting to the care taken in finding someone to replace the irreplaceable Lamon, we as audience, and the players, have had several opportunities (November 2015, and February and September 2016) to get to know her as violinist and conductor.  Her 2016/17 September season-opening Koerner Hall appearance was fascinating. In a program that included, among other things, Handel’s Water Music, Bach’s Orchestral Suite No.4 in D and excerpts from Rameau’s Les indes galantes it was clear from the get-go that there was some very intense musical conversation going on between the conductor and the orchestra. She led from the first violin, as is the orchestra’s custom, and so intent was she on maintaining the connection with the players, turned three-quarters away from the audience, that from the back of the house, there were moments of almost feeling excluded. “Wait till she realizes that that bunch of smart cookies [the players] can read her back as easily as they can read her face! She’s going to be something really special” my concert companion remarked.

I, for one, can’t wait.

We get one more chance to hear and see Citterio at work this season (early May) and then in September it’s “chocks away!” as a newly minted Tafelmusik takes flight.

Alison Mackay:  Running a close second to Citterio’s appointment as significant Tafelmusik news has to be the seemingly inexhaustible flow of thematic programs from the mind of longtime Tafel bassist Alison Mackay. Her latest, “Visions and Voyages: Canada 1663-1763” will be over by the time you read this. (I’m off to see it as soon as I finish this piece!) Like the Toronto Consort’s “Kanatha/Canada” discussed earlier, it places the sesquicentennial theme in the context of a much earlier timeline. I’ll be surprised if it’s any less rigorous  in its framing of the issues than its Consort counterpart.

As mentioned, an earlier Mackay program “Bach’s Circle of Creation” hits the road for a US tour February 28. And, no surprise, there’s a new one in the works for the 2017/18 season. Titled “Safe Haven,” it “explores the musical ideas of baroque Europe’s refugee artists ... portraying the influence of migration on the musical life of Europe and exploring how the movement of refugees changed and enriched the economy and culture of major cities.

Mackay’s programs increasingly demonstrate a committed and almost uncanny knack to to tap into history truthfully so that an audience comes away, by analogy, with a clearer understanding of issues of our time. (“Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffeehouse” last spring was a perfect case in point.) 

Coda: The Time-Traveller’s Toothbrush

“The only thing I really need to do before a concert is to brush my teeth. I cannot sing with dirty teeth. … But otherwise, a little warmup, some nice clothes, a bit of lipstick … I’m good to go.”

The speaker is alto powerhouse Laura Pudwell, longtime Toronto Consort member, quoted in the program for “Kanatha/Canada” discussed earlier. As for this ink-stained wretch, though, hopping around from topic to topic, all the while pretending at cohesion, the counterpart of the Pudwell pre-performance toothbrush is of course a catchy headline. Trust me.

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

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