p6_sharontempleTHEY’RE COMING TO Toronto from far and wide – hoping, that their performances in our city will be their best yet. Expectations are high, competition will be intense, and they’ll be under constant pressure to impress audiences here and around the world. And we all know how desperately these people crave attention and approval.

No, I’m not talking about the various artists of Luminato – performers of all description who will grace our stages from June 11 to 20. And I'm not talking about the jazz musicians who will take over the town during the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, from June 25 to July 4. I’m talking about world leaders attending the G20 Summit meeting, which takes place here on June 26 and 27.

Presidents, prime ministers and other heads of state will converge on our city, to do lunch, pose for photos, and possibly even have “frank discussions.” (That’s diplomatic language for fisticuffs.)And after a hard day of attempting to solve the world’s problems, I’m sure that they’d like nothing more than to hear some good music. If they pick up copies of The WholeNote in their travels (concierges at Toronto’s better hotels always have a supply), they’ll find that they’ve come to the right place.

What’s more, perhaps it would even have a beneficial effect on the Summit if the world’s leaders took in a performance or two while they were here. Borrowing an idea from Molière: “if everyone learned music, wouldn’t that be a means of bringing about harmony and of seeing universal peace in the world?”

Jazz is an excellent social lubricant – it puts everyone in a good mood. Perhaps a Saudi prince and a Chinese party official might strike an agreement while listening to Hilario Duran’s Band at Harbourfront on June 26. Or maybe Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin would be moved to ratify an important treaty by Harry Connick Jr.’s show at the Canon Theatre on June 27.

The Europeans, however, may be harder to please: they're in a bad mood these days. But if they were bused to Kitchener on June 26 to hear members of the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra play works by Mozart, Kuhlau and Telemann, they could work out all their Euro problems on the ride back to Toronto.

If all else fails – if the G20 Summit appears in danger of breaking up without success or accord – I suggest packing the world’s leaders off to the Sharon Temple, up Leslie Street, in York Region. This simple yet elegant building, built in the 1820s by a religious group called The Children of Peace, oozes with good will and serenity. And the added benefit of hearing a piano recital there (performed by Alexander Seredenko on June 27) could lead to the “universal peace” that Molière referred to.
After all, Molière wasn’t pulling our legs – was he?

Colin Eatock, Managing Editor

Every year, swallows return to San Juan de Capistrano. The event, which occurs punctually on March 19, is cause for local celebration, and has made the California town famous throughout the world.

Similarly, we in Southern Ontario have cause to celebrate the annual return of a special flock. For eight years, The WholeNote’s “canaries” – the choirs that populate our Canary Pages – have made an appearance in our May issue. But unlike Capistrano’s swallows, which depart every year on October 23, we’re pleased to say that most of our canaries make Toronto and environs their home year round, contributing to the musical life of our communities.

This year our Canary Pages contain more than 130 choirs. We’ve redesigned the layout, and we like the new look. In the directory, you’ll find a wealth of information about choirs of every description.

It’s fitting, we think, that we’ve chosen the month of May to publish our Canary Pages, as it’s an especially busy time for choirs. After honing their skills and polishing their repertoire during the dark days of winter, spring is the time of year when choirs are at their musical peak. Large and small, professional and amateur, you’ll find choirs, choruses, and vocal ensembles of every description in our listings. A quick tally reveals nearly 100 choral events happening this month.

With the Canary Pages as your guide, it’s easy to learn more about a choir you might be interested in joining – and with so many choral concerts happening this month, you’ll probably be able to hear that choir in concert some time in the next 30 days.

While there’s much to celebrate on the choral scene this month, we also have cause to mourn. Our Choral Scene columnist, Benjamin Stein, pays tribute to the late Deral Johnson, for two decades the driving force behind choral music at the University of Western Ontario, in London. Stein points out that Johnson educated several generations of singers and conductors, including some of the most active professionals in the province. (I too sang under “DJ” at Western – and I can personally attest to the fact that no student, however modestly endowed with talent, was beneath his concern or beyond his ability to instruct.)

Also on the subject of vocal music, Christopher Hoile, who writes our On Opera column, points out that there’s been a curious shift in the operatic calendar. While April has traditionally been the biggest month for opera in Toronto, May now wears the crown, with no less than ten staged and semi-staged operas on the boards this month.

What else does May have to offer? As you’ll have no doubt noticed, both early music and world music are represented in our cover story. David Perlman’s interview with Terry McKenna (lute), Bassam Bishara (oud) and Wen Zhao (pipa), sheds light on these related instruments, and the musicians who play them.

Last but not least, tucked away in Allan Pulker’s Classical & Beyond column is something that shouldn’t pass without comment: a free mini-concert at the Royal Conservatory on May 6, to which all WholeNote readers have been specially invited. We hope that many of our chamber-music enthusiasts take advantage of this opportunity to hear the Conservatory’s ARC Ensemble.

 

Colin Eatock, Managing Editor

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.

6_colin eatockColin Eatock, managing editor

March has blown in – and with it a full slate of concert events in and around Toronto. There are almost 500 concert listings in The WholeNote, which is not unusual for one of the busier months of the year. But what is unusual is the way the concerts are distributed throughout the month. (We notice things like this at The WholeNote office.)

The week of the 15th to the 19th is a little thin: that’s the week of the schools’ March Break, so I suppose it’s understandable that many groups have chosen not to perform at this time. But, as a result, the following weekend – March 26, 27 and 28 – constitutes a “perfect storm” of performances, with 76 concerts over three days.

For concert-goers, I suppose this is a good thing, although the sheer abundance of choices could be a tad overwhelming. But when things like this happen, as they occasionally do, I always wonder if concert presenters shouldn’t perhaps be a little more prudent in their scheduling – lest they find themselves up against too much competition. Still, if each and every one of these 76 concerts attracts a large and enthusiastic audience, there’s no harm done.

As well, two other aspects of the month’s offerings stand out as noteworthy. For one thing, March is the busiest month for University music departments. Students who have been preparing all year are ready to show the world what they can do, in campus concerts in around Toronto. As many of these events are either free, or open to the public for a modest ticket-price, March is a month of good musical value.

Also, this month’s WholeNote shows that the benefit concert is still very much a part of our musical life. In Ori Dagans column, on page 47, you can read about some remarkable efforts to raise money for Haiti that have taken place in the jazz community. And on the opposite page, you’ll see an advertisment for a particlarly impressive fundraising event. “Sing for Haiti,” on March 7 at Metropolitan United Church, brings together six of the top choirs in Toronto, plus CBC announcer Tom Allen and singer-songwriter Melanie Doane. Met United has a seating capacity of about 800 – so with tickets priced at $20, this concert could raise $16,000 for Doctors Without Borders and Free the Children. Given the desperate situation in Haiti, let’s hope that every ticket is sold.

In The WholeNote’s Listings Section, you’ll also find a benefit concert for University Settlement Music and Arts School on March 20, performed by soprano Anne Yardley, and mezzo Michelle Simmons, at St. George the Martyr Church. But this is just a prelude to a much bigger benefit concert the following month. On April 18, the piano duo team of Anagnoson and Kinton will appear at Glenn Gould Studio, to raise funds for University Settlement’s programme for families in need.

Last but not least, the Three Cantors will take to the stage at St. Anne’s Anglican on March 26 for a good cause. You can read more about this trio of singing Anglican clergymen, and their ongoing efforts to raise money for the Primates World Relief and Development Fund in Allan Pulker’s column on page 20.

March winds are chilly in this part of the world – but there’s plenty of music in the air, to help us all get through what’s left of
the winter.

Colin Eatock, Managing Editor

February is the shortest month of the year – but you wouldn’t know it from perusing The WholeNote. There are over 500 concert listings in this issue of the magazine.

And February is also the month of Valentine’s Day. This annual celebration, falling on the 14th of the month, can be credited as a source of musical, as well as amorous, inspiration. Unlike Christmas, Easter or even St. Cecilia’s Day, not much repertoire has been written specifically for the occasion. Yet although there are no “Valentine’s Day cantatas” (Are there?), musicians have come up with various ways to honour the day.

For instance, down at Roy Thomson Hall, soprano Karina Gauvin will sing a recital of love songs by Scarlatti, Chausson, Bizet, Ravel and Weill. And up at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, you can hear the Richmond Hill Philharmonic play a concert called “Dressed in Love”: a programme of classics, opera and jazz. Soprano Leslie Fagan is the guest vocalist.

A little further afield, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony is jumping the gun, with “Music of Love” on February 11, 12 and 13. They must be keeners – or maybe they all have something better do to on Valentine’s Day. On the 14th, the Guelph Symphony Orchesta offers “Music of Love and Romance,” with soprano Mary DuQuesnay. And  on the same day there’s also Orchestra London’s “Valentine’s Pops” show, featuring jazz, Broadway, light opera, and popular love songs. Soprano Sonja Gustafson will sing – it seems you can’t do a Valentine’s Day concert with a contralto – violinist Mary-Elizabeth Brown will perform, and the London Youth Symphony will also make an appearance.

As well, The WholeNote will mark the day, with a surprise on our website. Go to www.thewholenote.com on February 14, to see a special Valentine’s Day posting.

This year, however, there’s an added twist to the celebration of February 14: it’s also Chinese New Year. The City of Toronto is saluting the Year of the Tiger with a free New Year’s Celebration at Scarborough Civic Centre. And in the spirit of international diplomacy, Toronto’s New Music Concerts has decided to present a contemporary programme (works by Christos Hatzis, Chinary Ung, Chan Ka Nin, and Alice Ho) that pays homage to both special days.

Speaking of  contemporary music, I’d like to mention something you won’t find in this magazine – but rather on our website. The well-known broadcaster and contemporary-music expert Larry Lake has written an in-depth article on the foreign composers who are visiting Toronto this winter. Already, Zygmunt Krauze has been to town. (You can read about his concerts in Andrew Timar’s blogs, also on our website). Still to come are Krzysztof Penderecki, Osvaldo Golijov, Gerald Barry, Steve Reich and Jonathan Harvey. As Lake says, it’s “A Perfect Storm” of famous composers.

One of those composers, the Argentinean Osvaldo Golijov, is featured in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s New Creations Festival this year. His works can be heard at Roy Thomson Hall on February 25, 27 and March 3. Soundstreams also has a Golijov concert, on February 24, and there’s a Soundstreams “Salon 21” on February 22. Finally, Golijov will speak at the University of Toronto on February 26. For more details on these events, see the the Listings section. And for blogs on Golijov’s visit, keep an eye on our website, www.thewholenote.com.

 

6_colin eatockColin Eatock,

Managing Editor


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