6If, as you read this opening sentence, you find your eyes gradually widening in alarm at the thought that this magazine has at its helm someone as prone to whimsical digression as this, you may derive some comfort, first, from the fact that my return to the WholeNote editorial foyer is temporary, and, second, from the fact that even such alarming roller-coaster syntactical rides as this sentence must eventually lose momentum and come to a stop, in order for me to turn my attention to the other four things I want to say as this sixteenth February of The WholeNote’s existence dawns, sullen in circumstance but radiant with hope.

First, for those who think talk is cheap, let me point out that the previous sentence, if purchased as a WholeNote classified ad, would have set me back $134.40 + $17.47 HST – a total of $151.87. That’s $24 for the basic ad (up to 20 words), and then $1.20 per word for the remaining 92. (Needless to say it would have been an appalling waste of money, especially since, unlike the always interesting actual classifieds on page 53, the paragraph contains no contact information, and neither asks nor offers anything.)

to attempt to distill the essence of this Opener’s crazy opening ramble into a succinct classified ad, it would definitely be in the HELP WANTED section and might read something like the following: INDEPENDENT music magazine desperately needing to be less ad hoc seeks managing editor for meaningful relationship. Job description and/or expressions of interest, publisher@thewholenote.com.

Now that’s more like it, wouldn’t you say? $24 for the first 20 words; plus $3.60 for the next three plus tax: If it works, it’ll be the best $31.19 we ever spent.

Third, for anyone seriously interested in inquiring about the job, responsibility for getting me to keep my cotton-pickin’ hands off this page is part of the job description, but it’s probably not as important as the ability to keep your head while all around you are losing theirs and blaming it on you. Or as important as having boatloads of curiosity about how print, web, and the new social media can be made to mesh in the little niche we occupy. “Clicks and mortar” you might call it, in the service of live local music.

Fourth, it would be remiss of me not to explain that the reason we are commencing the search for a managing editor at this particular time is because Colin Eatock, whose face and thoughts you might have been expecting to see here, has had an attack of common sense and extricated himself from the craziness of holding down both the managing editor’s and listings coordinator’s posts here at The WholeNote for nigh on two years. It is you, dear whole-hearted die-hards, who more than anyone else will be aware of the many ways in which we emerge from Colin’s two years of service-beyond-the-call-of-duty, in tidier shape, and better corporate health, than before. We are grateful and wish him well in restoring some balance to his multifaceted musical life.

—David Perlman, publisher@thewholenote.com

’TIS THE SEASON, they say, to be jolly. And, as the multitude of listings in this double issue of The WholeNote collectively make apparent, there are many musical ways to be jolly in December and January.

There’s the traditional choral approach, as choirs in and around Toronto present their annual Christmas concerts. Once again, the hills will ring with the glories of Handel’s Messiah – big performances, small performances, and of course the sing-along variety. (For a list of Messiah concerts in December, see blog entry entitled “The Trumpet Shall Sound,” on our website, www.thewholenote.com.)

But Handel’s perennial favourite is just the tip of the vocal iceberg. In December’s listings you’ll find everything from period performances of masterpieces by Monteverdi, Gabrieli and Praetorius to Broadway showtunes. And at what other time of the year would you get to join in singing with tenor Richard Margison and soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian? (December 18, Yorkminster Park Baptist Church.)

Some choirs are looking beyond the expected Christmas repertoire. This year, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale’s Indigo Christmas celebrates Kwanzaa on December 15; and several choirs will be singing Chanukah music.

Instrumental ensembles aren’t about to take a back seat to singers, and many orchestras have big concerts planned. Selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker – the orchestral “equivalent” of Messiah, in terms of popularity – aren’t hard to find. But there’s much more out there than dancing Sugarplum Fairies: look for a diverse array of seasonally themed concerts from just about every orchestra in Southern Ontario.

Jazz musicians also want to get in on the act, and have found ways of making the holiday season their own. Jim Galloway, one of our regular jazz writers, points to some Yuletide performances in his column.

There’s never quite been an operatic equivalent of Messiah or The Nutcracker: a work that’s so durable it can be reliably trucked out every Christmas. Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors perhaps comes closest to this mark – you can hear it on December 4 at the Church of St. Timothy. For those looking for a holiday family show, there’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Sony Centre, from December 17 to January 2. And of course New Year’s Day has its “official” operetta: Die Fledermaus will be staged by Toronto Operetta Theatre from December 28 to January 7.

This brings us to the new year. After a brief lull, Toronto’s musical life springs back to life in January. As usual, the TSO can be relied upon to warm up the month with a series of Mozart concerts from the 19th to the 30th. And at the end of the month, the Canadian Opera Company welcomes audiences to the Four Seasons Centre with Mozart’s Magic Flute. January is also the month for the University of Toronto’s annual New Music Festival (beginning on the 23rd) – which, as our contemporary-music columnist Jason Van Eyk points out, is becoming an increasingly prominent event in the city’s musical calendar.

Just as December will ring out 2010 in fine style, January looks like the beginning of a very musical 2011.

—Colin Eatock, managing editor

PIANISTS FIGURE prominently in this issue of The WholeNote. Stewart Goodyear, on our cover, has been delving deeply into Beethoven: this summer he played all 32 Beethoven sonatas at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival. This month, he’ll grace the stage of the Royal Conservatory’s Koerner Hall on November 28, with an all-Beethoven recital.

Allan Pulker’s column opens with a look at the Chinese Cultural Centre’s Toronto International Piano Competition, which has attracted contestants from 10 countries around the world, including Canada. One of the things that’s been curiously lacking in this city is a recurring event of this sort (there was an international Bach piano competiton here back in 1985, but it was not repeated), so we can only hope that this inaugural event will be the first of many. The competition runs from November 2-8.

As Pulker notes, many other pianists have found their way into this month’s listings. In addition to those mentioned in his column, I’ll point out that there are two “Art of the Piano” recitals at Gallery 345. Contemporary programmes will be given by Vlada Mars (November 12) and Vicki Chow (December 3). See our listings for full details.

Something else that leaps out of the 600-odd listings as particularly “Novemberesque” is the abundance of musical activity on university campuses throughout Southern Ontario. November is the month when music students take to the stage to present the programmes they’ve been working on since September – so in this month’s magazine, you’ll find extensive listings for the University of Toronto and York University in the “GTA” section. And in the “Beyond the GTA” listings, you’ll find concerts at the University of Western Ontario, the University of Waterloo, McMaster, Wilfrid Laurier, Guelph, Brock and Queen’s. Many of these concerts are free – and I’m sure the students would appreciate substantial and appreciative audiences for their efforts.

November can also be a dreary month. Fortunately, there’s a slew of musical-theatre productions by community groups out there: just the thing to chase away the pre-holiday blues. In the GTA, you’ll find such feel-good shows as Meet Me in St. Louis (opening November 4), Annie (also opening November 4), not one but two productions of Oliver! (opening November 13 and 18, respectively), and The Wizard of Oz (first performance on December 1). Further afield, look for My Fair Lady in Peterborough (opening November 5); White Christmas and A Christmas Carol in Cobourg (on November 11 and 27); and Alice in Wonderland in Barrie (November 19). It’s fast and easy to find them on our website, www.thewholenote.com, by searching for “music theatre.”

We come at last to Handel’s Messiah. There was a time when this perennial favourite was anchored securely in December, but these days it’s not uncommon to to hear the Hallelujah Chorus ring out in November. Check out our website on November 10 for a special feature on Messiah performances throughout the holiday season.

October has arrived with a burst of energy. The musical floodgates of Toronto and Southern Ontario have opened, and so there are close to 500 listings in this issue of The WholeNote. This is an annual occurrence – a predictable aspect of the seasonal nature of the music business. But it’s also a reflection of the depth of our musical life.

This depth is reflected, in varous ways, in this month’s magazine. Our two feature articles highlight what might be called the opposite ends (early and new) of the classical music spectrum: Opera Atelier, and composer John Beckwith. Yet both are uniquely products of this time and place.

Read more: October’s Energy

TO BEGIN, LET’S remind all those who think of Labour Day as the end of summer that the season officially continues until September 21. This little fact has musical, as well as meteorological, significance – because we at The WholeNote feel it’s our mission, at this time of the year, to remind our readers that we’re still in the midst of music festival season.

And September’s festivals are remarkably diverse. Here in Toronto, we have the Ashkenaz Festival of Jewish music and culture, and the Small World Music Festival. Both festivals feature world music: in one case, progamming is specialized, exploring Jewish musical culture in its breadth and depth; by contrast, the Small World Festival is deliberately eclectic, featuring everything from Cuban salsa to Somali hip-hop.

Outside the city, there’s even more festival activity. Chamber music is well represented by the Sweetwater Music Weekend in Owen Sound; the Prince Edward County Music Festival in Picton; and the Colours of Music Festival in Barrie. At Sweetwater, the featured guests will be the St. Lawrence String Quartet, who have just finished their big 20th anniversary season. The festival in Picton is run by pianist Stéphan Lemelin, who has assembled a group of fine chamber musicians. And Barrie’s Colours of Music has grown into an impressive festival, featuring not just chamber music but also choral and orchestral performances.

And for jazz aficionados there’s the Guelph Jazz Festival and the All-Canadian Jazz Festival in Port Hope. The Guelph festival is famous for an avant-garde approach, and this year is no exception. The Port Hope festival takes a proudly nationalistic stance, featuring many leading Canadian artists.

However, we’re also well aware that September marks the beginning of the “regular” concert season. So we’ve asked our columnists to take a long view of the next concert season, to identify highlights for the coming year. To make their selections, they’ve pored over brochures and perused websites – and it’s fair to say that in all cases they found themselves wishing they could mention more events than space permitted. One thing is clear: it’s going to be a bountiful year for all kinds of music in and around Toronto.

One last thing: in the musical world, it’s a custom to celebrate round-numbered anniversary years. Musical organizations take these opportunities to recall past glories, or simply to state, to quote a Sondheim song, “I’m still here.” (I’ve seen good times and bum times, I’ve seen them all / And my dear, I’m still here / Plush velvet sometimes / sometimes just pretzels and beer / But I’m here.”)

So, in this spirit, we at The WholeNote would like the world to know that our magazine is now 15 year old. From humble beginings, The WholeNote has grown to become Toronto’s and Ontario’s leading publication for classical, world, jazz and folk musics, with publication of 30,000 copies per issue and a website that’s visited 14,000 times a month. We’ve survived good times and bad times – and we’re still here.

Colin Eatock, managing editor

PS: If I may use this remaining space for a personal note, I’d like to congratulate John Beckwith on his upcoming New Music Concerts programme (September 19). I won’t call it a “tribute” concert, though: those are for composers who are either no longer with us or no longer active. Neither applies here.

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