p8Courage, strength and wonder: three little words that merely scratch the surface of Alex Pangman’s inspirational story. But before going into details concerning her health and heroism, here’s a prelude to her music.

Seated on her grandpa’s knee some 30 years ago, “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue” was the first jazz song Pangman recalls hearing. Today the five-foot four-inch turquoise-eyed singer is known as “Canada’s Sweetheart of Swing,” a title the Mississauga native has earned by remaining unflinchingly faithful to American popular music of the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

Read more: Alex Pangman: The Gift of Life

p7guynadinap61_elizabethshepherdThe WholeNote’s website, www.thewholenote.com, continues to develop a life of its own. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, we’re able to do things online that we can’t in print.
For instance, our Green Pages, which grace this magazine, offer an abundance of information on many of the best music festivals taking place this summer. You can read these pages on our website too: we have a “click through” version online, with live links; and in the “Directories” section of our website, we’ll be adding more Green Pages profiles as we receive them.

Another feature we’re currently building into our website is “WholeNote On the Road,” a series of online updates on the various movements of musicians in and around Toronto. We’re inviting them to let us know what they’ve been doing lately, and where they’ll be performing during June, July and August. This will allow readers to follow the schedules of some of our busiest performers this summer. Profiles will be posted throughout the summer – check our website for updates.

Click here for the "On The Road" Profiles

p9To some people, Winona Zelenka is the cellist who sits at the head of her section in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Perhaps to others, she’s the cellist whose performances of Bach’s cello suites have become annual events at Toronto’s Music Garden. These activities are all part of a delicate balancing act, combining her orchestral playing with her love of chamber and solo repertoire. And as far as she’s concerned, that’s as it should be.

“I think it’s essential for an orchestral string player to do other things: solo or chamber music,” observes the 43-year-old musician over lunch. “In an orchestra you don’t always hear yourself well enough, and things get out of place. If orchestral playing was all that I did, I don’t think my playing would be in great shape.” She pauses, and then adds, “It’s different for the winds and brass – maybe they’re just louder!”

Yet like all balancing acts, Zelenka’s musical life is never quite in perfect equilibrium: due to a mix of external forces and her own shifting interests, she’ll lean a little bit, sometimes in one direction, sometimes in another. Currently, she’s realigning her musical balance once again, thanks to some significant developments in her career.

Read more: A Delicate Balance: Winona Zelenka

pict0213The Bells of Old York in the tower of St. James’ Cathedral at the corner of King and Church Streets are very much part of Toronto’s increasingly rich musical environment.  On Sunday mornings, they ring out at 10:00 for an hour before the morning service, each bell turning full circle on a wheel, handled by a live person controlling it at the end of a very long rope – imagine Quasimodo!  The band of ringers does not ring a recognizable musical tune.  Instead, they ring methods or ring the changes, a centuries old skill developed in England in the 16th century which continues today in church towers there and around the world.

Read more: The Bells of St. James' Cathedral

p8The first couple of rows of the sanctuary floor at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church are rather busy for a Monday when none of its major musical tenants (Tafelmusik, Toronto Consort, Talisker Players), is rehearsing. I am sitting in the front row, firing questions at Bassam Bishara, Wen Zhao and Terry McKenna who are perched at stage edge, instruments in hand. WholeNote webmaster Bryson Winchester, doubling as videographer for the day, is one row behind me, taking notes on what it will take to immortalize my interviewing brilliance. And in the midst of it all, WholeNote cover photographer Air’leth Aodhfin is quietly going about his business, snapping photos.

“How about the pipa in the middle and the two gentlemen on either side,” suggests lutenist McKenna.

“For what it is worth, for the concert [Toronto Consort’s Lutefest, May 7 and 8] I think I will be staging it so that Bassam is in the middle, Terry is to his right and Wen is to his left.” (The voice comes from behind me, about four rows back. It’s Toronto Consort artistic director David Fallis, keeping a careful eye and ear on the proceedings.) “That way the oud, which is the instrument from which the other two descended, is in the middle, at the centre of the Silk Road, so to speak, with its offspring on either side – the lute to the west, the pipa to the east.”

Read more: Lute, Pipa, Oud - Silk Road Siblings
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