James Campbell. Photo by Mark RashThe first-ever concert of the Festival of the Sound was held on August 5, 1979 in a Parry Sound school gymnasium under the direction of pianist Anton Kuerti. The summer of 1980 marked the first full-fledged festival under the FTOS name, with Kuerti as artistic director. In 1985, James Campbell began his tenure as the Festival’s second artistic director, a position he still holds today.

I caught up with Campbell in mid-May, via an exchange of emails.

WN: To jog your memory, last time we spoke (briefly) was Feb 4 last year after a New Music Concerts’ Land’s End Ensemble concert at Gallery 345 in Toronto where you played the Schoenberg Kammersymphonie Op.9 (Quintet version), with Lands End and Bob Aitken, flute. I said something about getting in touch with you about the 2018 Festival of the Sound, and you replied along the lines of “Great, but why don’t we wait for next year’s 40th anniversary version.” So here we are!

You said in your previous email that you were at Munich airport en route to Prague for a week of recording. Can you say more about that?

JC: We’ve just finished. It’s a recording with the Prague Philharmonic of Allan Gilliland’s Dreaming of the Masters, a work commissioned by the Edmonton Symphony for the orchestra and me in 2005. It has had quite a run; I even performed it twice with the Boston Pops in Symphony Hall, Boston. It is a cross-over work in the style of three great jazz clarinetists: Benny Goodman, Acker Bilk and Buddy de Franco. The CD will be released next April.

I notice you are using your indiana.edu email address, but I don’t know whether you are still mainly at the Jacobs School. I seem to have noticed your name cropping up at University of Toronto more frequently this past year or so (masterclasses, etc) but maybe it’s just that I have noticed more?

I have just left IU after 31 wonderful years, but please don’t say “retiring,” because I will still be very active playing, giving masterclasses worldwide, and being artistic director at Festival of the Sound. Carol and I are looking forward to spending a lot more time in Canada. And yes, you have seen my name at U of T more frequently; I have been a visiting artist there two to four times a year for the last few years, something I enjoy.

Everything else notwithstanding, I’d say that your 35-year role at Festival of the Sound is the one that most WholeNote readers associate you with. How big of a piece of the pie is it? 

It is one of the three “jobs” I have had for the last three decades: professor, performer and artistic director. FOTS takes a lot of energy and time, but has been a passion of mine.

“Recurring cast of characters” is a phrase that comes to mind when I look at the artists you’ve attracted to FOTS over the years, albeit always with interesting “first timers.” There must be something in the formula that works, for your audiences, and maybe more importantly for the musicians themselves.

This might be better explained in a conversation, but I’ll see what I can do here. I believe there is difference between a music festival and a music series. A series, by definition and necessity, hires pre-formed groups or packages. Although some festivals run this way and it works for them, the FOTS is what I like to think of as a creative festival. Musicians come together to share the stage with friends and colleagues they may not interact with during the winter months. I make up the programs in consultation with the musicians and the concerts are prepared on site. Musicians get to play works they may not get to tackle in a busy concert season and the audience hears programs that can be done only once, at FOTS. Most artists stay in Parry Sound for three to six days and during this time a sense of camaraderie develops, adding to the spontaneous music making and fun that is central (I think) to a summer festival.

The core artists (of which there are now many) are those who love this kind of interaction and risk-taking, and because many return on a regular basis (as you have noticed) feel a sense of belonging and ownership. This adds to the comfortable, relaxed atmosphere FOTS is proud to foster.

The cross-genre aspect of the festival is one of the things that stands out. How much of that comes from the fact that you yourself love crossing those lines as a musician? How much of the curating at this point comes from artists knowing what pushes your buttons, and how much is you doing the matchmaking? 

I do almost all the matchmaking but do consider every pitch thrown my way by artists. I also get a lot of ideas sent to me by agents and organizations worldwide. I enjoy gently pushing some artists out of their comfort zones, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Our audience understands this to be part of what we do and enjoys hearing musicians trying something new, which makes our stage a safe place for musicians to stretch a bit. I certainly appreciate it as a musician. Being allowed to make mistakes has helped me grow in so many different ways.

This is great, thank you! Last word to you?

If I may wax philosophical for a moment, then: I am sometimes asked why I have remained with FOTS for so long and have indeed had other informal “offers.” I could have climbed various administrative ladders in Canada but there has always been something very special about the relationship of classical chamber music and Parry Sound that I have never experienced in all my travels.

I am very grateful to Anton Kuerti for asking me to take over from him 35 years ago. He, and a wonderfully tenacious group of volunteers, did most of the heavy lifting. That tenacity remains strong to this day, making my job simply to keep an artistic focus that is worthy of the energy and passion of the local community.

When all is said and done, everything we do comes down to that moment when artist and listener are joined in a moment of communal focus on a timeless masterpiece and life is made better. As artistic director, feeling I may have helped that moment happen gives me a wonderful sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

It is all about building relationships: artist to artist, artist to board members, artist to audience members, audience members to each other, artists and audience members to the local community. These take time to build, but once established can last a long time. When I find musicians who connect with all these elements I try to help build those bonds. We have found that this connection has helped us through the inevitable ups and downs of our history. We are now the second largest economic generator in the community – the Island Queen is the first! 

Janet LopinskiThe clock is ticking down to the 18th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in October 2020, and the Fifth Canadian Chopin Piano Competition and Festival – August 23 to 29, 2019 at the Royal Conservatory of Music – offers an interesting stepping stone on one path to the Warsaw event. Presented by the Canadian Chopin Society, the Festival part of the event celebrates Chopin’s legacy with a series of concerts, workshops and performance classes, highlighted by a solo recital by Polish-Canadian pianist Krzysztof Jablonski, third-place laureate at the 11th Chopin Piano Competition in 1985.

But the cornerstone of the week is the Competition, divided into Junior and Senior sections. The top three Senior finishers will travel to Warsaw in the fall of 2020, guaranteed a spot in the 18th Chopin Piano Competition. Second-prize winner Tony Yike Yang, in the Fourth Canadian Competition (2014), became the youngest laureate (at age 16) in the history of the International Chopin Competition in 2015, winning the Fifth Prize. (By coincidence, Yang’s teacher, Vietnamese-Canadian DangThai Son, had finished first in the 1980 International Competition.) Now pursuing a dual degree in economics and piano performance through the Harvard University-New England Conservatory of Music Joint-Degree Program, Yang’s recent accolades include being awarded the Jury Discretionary Award at the 15th Van Cliburn International Competition in 2017, where (at 18) he was the youngest competitor.

To learn more about the Chopin Competition and Festival I corresponded with Janet Lopinski, senior director of academic programs at The Royal Conservatory, and founder and artistic director of the Canadian Chopin Society. She was appointed artistic director of the Canadian Chopin Competition in 2008. By 2010, the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth, a year that saw the presentation of the Competition Winners Concert in Koerner Hall, it was clear that there was an appetite for a permanent Chopin Society. With strong support of the Polish Canadian community, particularly the Maximilian Kolbe Foundation, the Canadian Chopin Society (CCS) was incorporated as a not-for-profit entity in 2012. Its mission: “to celebrate the legacy of Fryderyk Chopin by promoting his music while nurturing the development of young artists.”

A full-blown Festival and Competition such as this one is presented every five years, in preparation for the prestigious International Fryderyk Chopin Competition, Lopinski informed me. In the years between, the Society presents concerts, workshops, lectures and masterclasses, and provides performance and scholarship opportunities for young Canadian pianists. Lopinski herself has performed as soloist and collaborative pianist, and has presented lectures, workshops and masterclasses across North America.

The relationship between the CCS and the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Poland has evolved over the past decade, Lopinski said. Since 2000, the cost for the top prize winners’ travel to Poland has been covered. “We have also made it a point to include Polish pianists on our jury,” she added. As well, Lopinski was invited to participate in the first Chopin Competitions Conference, organized by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute. “The success of Tony Yike Yang certainly brought great visibility for the CCS,” she said.

At that 2015 conference there were 15 Chopin Competitions from around the world represented. Lopinski credits the Chopin Foundation of the USA with being both an inspiration and a model for the Canadian event. Other competitions whose winners may be accepted directly to the Warsaw Preliminary Round include those based in Darmstadt, Moscow, Beijing and Tokyo.

The Chopin Piano Competition is open to talented Canadian pianists up to age 29 who wish to further their performance skills and in particular, their playing of the works of Fryderyk Chopin. Application deadline was May 31, several days after our summer issue went to press. More information on the event and its participants can be found at canadianchopinsociety.com. The Senior competitors will participate in Preliminary, Semi Final, and Final rounds, performing selected works by Chopin, and will be adjudicated by a panel of respected Chopin experts. All competition stages are open to the public. Preliminary rounds will be held in Mazzoleni Hall; the finals will take place in Koerner Hall with the finalists performing Chopin Concertos with the Tokai String Quartet.

Krzysztof Jablonski chairs the jury comprised of U of T piano pedagogue Midori Koga, South African native Anton Nel (a familiar face at Glenn Gould School masterclasses), Irish pianist John O’Conor (another GGS faculty member and masterclass participant), and Juilliard faculty member Golda Vainberg-Tatz.

Mazzoleni Hall will also be the site of three special events: “Insights” – an evening with Alan Walker, author of the acclaimed biography, Fryderyk Chopin: Life and Times; “Conversations” – an evening with the competition jury, providing the opportunity to hear their thoughts on music-making, competitions, and careers in music; and “Portraits” – a glimpse into three stages of Chopin’s life through letters and music.

“Once the applications for the competition have been received, and the schedule finalized we will also be announcing additional masterclasses and performance showcases, to provide opportunities for pianists not entered in the competition to be a part of the Festival,” Lopinski said. “Please check our website (canadianchopinsociety.com) after June 10 for these updates,” she added.

I asked what she considered her proudest achievement as artistic director and she told me that founding the CCS and providing leadership for its development has “brought the opportunity to combine several things that are very important to me: my Polish heritage, my love for music, and my commitment to music education. . . Certainly witnessing the success of Tony Yike Yang at the International Competition in 2015, and observing his transition from student to young artist has been incredibly gratifying and inspiring.” 

Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote.

Gemma New. Photo by Anthony ChangOne of the best things to come out of this wretched humanity of ours, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde is always worth highlighting when spotted in concert announcements. A very good edition of Toronto Summer Music Festival is in the offing this year – check out our website for concert reports during summer – and will, on August 1, present the chamberized Das Lied at Koerner Hall in the Schoenberg/Riehn arrangement. Mezzo Rihab Chaieb and tenor Mario Bahg will sing. Conducting: the young, and already highly in demand across North America, Gemma New, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra’s music director.

I took an express bus to Hamilton recently to catch the last HPO mainstage concert of the season, a program of Vivier’s Orion and Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. New and HPO’s executive director Diana Weir took a substantial bit of time to address the audience in the FirstOntario Concert Hall and talk of all the civic partnerships developed around that particular concert. There was a small crowd of students on the balcony thanks to the HPO’s Adopt-a-School program, and representatives from mental health and the healthcare sector marking Canadian Mental Health Week. The HPO seemed extremely proud of its multiple connections to its city and the province, and eager to deepen and multiply them. What New tells me when I phone her the week after for an interview confirms this.

“Our audience is almost always full capacity,” she says on the phone from San Diego, where she was conducting that week. “What we’re doing in Hamilton seems to bring more and more for our budget every year, so we are actually growing as an organization. I think that we found a way to connect with the community and that’s one of the things that have helped the HPO grow.” Programming is of course crucial, she says, and also how that programming is delivered. “Being able to program concerts that can relate to those who know a ton about music and to those who are coming first time. Making sure that programs are well paced. Making sure the experience is great for musicians too and with enough rehearsal time. Planning a season and having a look at partnerships and community collaborations. Being able to talk about music! This is a skill that conductors are increasingly in need of, so we can advocate not only for our orchestra and musicians but also the program itself. And finally being very involved in education – especially with the schools not having so much funding these days for music education. It’s the orchestra’s job to bring young people to this art form and get them to feel welcome in the concert hall.”

New is also experimenting with the concert format at the HPO. Away from the main stage, Intimate & Immersive is a chamber music concert series with HPO musicians that takes the audience to less typical concert spaces and seats them next to and around the orchestra. “There’s always a part of the audience that wants something a little bit more relaxed and intimate and maybe even more involved than the traditional concert. They want to be able to move around and mingle and get to know the music in a more casual environment. That’s what we’ve been doing with the I & I. We wanted to create an ambience that’s more like a place you go to for a good drink and meet new people and a have good night out.” The audience also has a chance to talk to the musicians before, during and after, in time segments reserved for that. “Everyone sits very close together. The orchestra is in the middle, and the seats are all the way around the orchestra. We encourage everyone to move seats for the second half.” A visual artist is engaged every time to create the lights or video that fit the program. “Next to last time we also had smells and things that you can touch of different substances that evoked for the audience the idea of paradise,” says New. The last one this season, on May 23 at the Cotton Factory in Hamilton, was programmed around the beat and pulse, with an all-contemporary composer lineup.

I ask her about the stamina needed to conduct Mahler symphonies. “I run quite a lot. I find that helps. If I can run 40 minutes straight, that usually means I won’t lose my breath during a Mahler symphony,” she says.” And just rehearsing it as well. The amount of emotional drama that the piece provides and the excitement of it, the powerful sound that everyone is giving – it’s all very motivating, and I feel energized by it.” The Lied von der Erde at TSM will be the chamber version. Does her approach to conducting differ depending on whether she is before a chamber orchestra versus a big symphonic crowd? “Yes, I approach an orchestra in a way that will make most sense to them. For a small orchestra, like the one I conducted recently in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we were doing Beethoven’s Second Symphony and that’s a much smaller environment. You don’t need to give a big gesture, you can be more subtle. It really depends on what I’m hearing and what message I want to give. For the Mahler Fifth, it is a massive orchestra and the sound is so powerful and loud at places, but also other times it’s incredibly soft and close-knit and subtle. You have to show that gamut in your physical expression as a conductor.”

Of Das Lied von der Erde itself, which New covered during her tenure as an assistant conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, she says: “I fell in love with it. It was such a personal work for Mahler. It’s sad to think that he didn’t hear it in his lifetime.”

Are there any composers that she’d like to advocate for in her programming? “Claude Vivier,” she says. “He is a favourite. His music is so intense and clear. It’s really got something that moves many of us. I’d like to do more of his music in the future.” She’s also enjoyed playing pieces by Abigail Richardson-Schulte, the HPO’s resident composer: “Her compositions are positive energy!”

What about the standard rep? I have the impression, I tell her, that my home symphony, the TSO, never plays enough French music. “There could be practical reasons for that,” says New. “Ravel often needs six or eight percussionists. I find, especially with the regional orchestras when we plan our seasons, that that’s often a challenge. And the works are shorter. But Ravel is one of my favourite composers of all time. We’re doing Daphnis et Chloé in September, and just did Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and Nocturnes in March. Every time I plan the season I look at what HPO’s done since 2002 – I have that much information going back – and think that French music is something that we want to do more. Many orchestras do La mer, that one is probably the most popular, but what about Alborada del gracioso or La valse? I’d love to do La valse.”

We too would love to hear that, and we’ll be there when she does. Whether it’s with the TSO or the HPO, just a Presto tap away. 

Lydia Perović is an arts journalist in Toronto.

Charles Richard-Hamelin. Photo by Elizabeth DelageWN: In addition to your concert on July 19 at this year’s Toronto Summer Music Festival, you have the honour of mentoring Fellows of the TSM Academy. Why is mentoring so crucial?

CR-H: In my student years, I attended many summer programs which I now realize were as important to my education as my university studies. Especially the chamber music programs, since they feel very close to the professional world: you have to very quickly get along with other players and be ready to give up some of your preconceived notions and be open to learn from others. Experience is something that demands to be shared and passed on, and I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to do that at the TSM Academy.

What is the most important thing a mentor can do? Please tell us about a memorable experience you had as a student with a mentor.

Inspiration. A great mentor, over a very brief period of time, can make you love the music you’re playing to a point where you don’t want to stop working until you’ve done justice to it. I’ve had many encounters like this, but most notably was getting working with Máté Szűcs in Denmark (at the Thy Chamber Music Festival) who was the Berlin Philharmonic principal viola for many years. He was extremely inspiring in his musicianship and in how he was able to communicate that love for the music.

What is the first piece of music you fell in love with? What musicians inspired you in your student days?

It’s hard to find a single piece, but I remember being obsessed with Chopin’s Four Ballades as a teenager, especially Krystian Zimerman’s recording of them. I remember not having a single clue in how he was able to make the piano sound like this and in how music can be so emotional and powerful. Later, I became obsessed with Radu Lupu’s recordings, all of them. To this day, his interpretations are the golden standard for me: everything he does is considered, impeccably balanced, yet completely in the moment and free as a bird. I also heard him live a few times and I always left the hall transformed. A truly magical artist.

I’m looking forward to hearing the Brahms First Piano Quartet with you and members of the Dover Quartet. Have you played with them before?

I have not, but I’ve heard them live a couple years ago with André Laplante in the Schumann Piano Quintet in Montréal. I was very moved and impressed by them and I really look forward to working with them.

How has your approach to Chopin’s Andante spianato et grande polonaise brillante evolved over the years?

It is actually a relatively new addition to my repertoire! However, the musical language of the young Chopin, which I’m used to playing quite a lot (the two Concertos, the Rondo Op.16, etc) is very much there in this piece too. It is especially inspired music, with very memorable themes and melodies everywhere, even in all the transitions.

Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote.

La Monastère performing in St. Jax Anglican ChurchIt’s March 25, 2019 as I write this here at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts. That puts us right in the middle of Lent (the lead-up to Easter celebrations). We just struck St. Matthew’s Passion for Tafelmusik (which occurred on the same day as our meditative Compline service) and then headed straight into the University of Toronto’s student concerts. By the end of the week we’ll be onto Trio Arkel. And that’s just the sanctuary, one of ten available spaces in this large urban church.

Church. A place of faith. First and foremost, Trinity-St. Paul’s is that: a United Church, built 130 years ago for the gathering of a congregation of Christian worship. However, the intervening decades have seen this definition of its purpose adjust, with usage patterns and the will of the congregation, into something far more inclusive. Inclusive of different worship forms and inclusive of community in the broadest sense. On any given day you will see seniors exercising, children arriving for daycare, dance and music lessons, language classes and 12-step groups meeting, and professional arts organizations performing. It is a messy mélange of all the best things of community. And more and more T-SP (along with others) is serving as a model for faith buildings across Canada.

So, dear readers of The WholeNote magazine, why does this matter to you? Because the new models being built in these faith communities are providing new spaces for the arts and allowing for broad spectrum partnerships that could deepen our community’s relationship to the arts.

In 2013, Alan Brown of WolfBrown in the United States released a paper that talked about the increasing desire to create art rather than just witness it – to participate. He broke arts participation down into five “modalities”: inventive, interpretive, curatorial, observational and ambient (WolfBrown, A Fresh Look at Arts Participation, 2013). He argued that we deepen our relationship with the arts when we engage at all of these levels, acting as both practitioner and patron.

Our new hybrid faith-arts, community-centre spaces offer the opportunity to be inventive and observational in one venue, without the excessive costs of a full-scale theatre to hinder these explorations. The best centres create a dynamic in which audiences are allowed to feel a sense of ownership and the comfort of a home away from home. Unlike many large-scale recital halls, these are not “high art” places, even when the art being produced in them often is. The intimate scale of the work at Trinity-St. Paul’s, for example, can best be seen post-show in the lobby where artists pass through on the way to retrieve their things. There is a natural collapsing of distance, an ability to imagine oneself as being fully a part of the success of that venture, a part of a journey of art creation.

What We Know (and Don’t Know) About Canadian Arts Audiences

In a 2013 blog on the culturedays.ca website, titled What We Know (and Don’t Know) About Canadian Arts Audiences, Shannon Litzenberger quotes a National Endowment for the Arts (US) Periodic Survey of Public Participation in the Arts as saying “we are rapidly introducing new or blended forms … expanding beyond purpose-built arts facilities, moving into bookstores, community centres, schools, places of worship and especially the home.” These models aren’t particularly new; who hasn’t heard of the infamous Trinity Sessions by the Cowboy Junkies at Holy Trinity Anglican, after all? What is new, however, is that aging congregations, and the weight of often historical buildings, are putting the model of faith buildings as multi-disciplinary hubs under threat. Regeneration Works (a project of the National Trust for Canada and Faith & the Common Good) estimates that 9000 faith buildings will close in Canada in the next ten years. How many of these buildings currently house rehearsals, workshops or performances?

There is an opportunity here, to preserve these unique architectural spaces, creating new venues for the arts that can work in collaboration with community activation. Many models are being developed around Canada, but here are just a couple to consider.

After the congregation at Dominion-Chalmers United Church in Ottawa had shrunk to a point where it couldn’t maintain the building, Carleton University offered to purchase it. The new arts and education centre (yet to be named) will still house the faith community, but will also have Carleton University’s department of music, the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, Ottawa Children’s Theatre and other amateur and professional practitioners. This can only strengthen the learning environment and provide a built-in future audience. Carleton is invested in this concept of a hybrid culture, creating a more nuanced educational experience that will also involve adult learner lecture series. Check out more on the project at https://carleton.ca/dcuc.

Meanwhile, in Montreal, St. Jax Anglican Church has just announced a partnership with La Monastère as the resident circus company. La Monastère describes themselves as a cabaret circus, interested in creating fully immersive events in St. Jax’s sanctuary in which the seating has been removed to allow for large-scale public gatherings and events. With a bar, full lighting and sound system and the gorgeous architecture of the church, the venue is proving to be divine (excuse the pun) for La Monastère. The sense of height and daring inherent in the circus arts seems to be enhanced by the curved architectural features of this Anglican church, creating a experience that is both intimate and death-defying. The Anglican congregation continues to worship there and the team at St. Jax is looking to expand its mission by bringing more co-users into its community hub embrace. As they curate their own particular hub they are considering a gym (possibly circus-based), co-working and café spaces, as viable options that would enhance their mission.

While both of these models have favoured the church remaining resident, on the East Coast there are models in which arts groups have fully purchased the faith building, creating wholly new venues centred on the arts. These include the Highland Arts Theatre Centre in Sydney, Nova Scotia and the Indian River Music Festival, in Prince Edward Island. The Indian River Music Festival has expanded its programming to encompass the entire summer, with musicians of all different genres from across Canada, including, this summer, Polaris Prize winner, Jeremy Dutcher. As well, a sensitive glass addition to the historically designated site allows room for audiences to gather pre- and post-show, without damaging the historic structure.

Regeneration Works continues to work on models like these across the country, inspired by what has been created and looking to the future of hybrid faith-arts centres. In Winnipeg and Kingston, mighty Vancouver and tiny little whistle-stop Kingsbridge, communities are embracing these civic assets and asking them to reoccupy a place in the broader public life. If you’re interested in seeing more models that are being tested, head on over to www.faithcommongood.org/places_of_faith to learn more; or consider joining us for a workshop in Kingston on June 1 at the Spire of Sydenham, another fantastic “arts in a faith building” project. Also feel free to join us on social media, and keep an eye out for our upcoming survey of how faith buildings are serving the broader not-for-profit community. We look forward to hearing about co-use projects from all over Canada via this two-year study.

As I finish writing this, a toddler has just chased the resident cat down the hallway and Dancing with Parkinsons is setting up for their weekly therapy/dance class/community gathering. In the sanctuary, a few tourists have come off the street and asked to pray, and rather unusually,the space was available. Someone tunes the piano for tonight while they pray. I cannot help but feel that this is a glorious use for this old place of sanctuary.

Trinity St. Paul's resident catKendra Fry is the general manager of Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts and an associate of Regeneration Works: Places of Faith, a project of the National Trust for Canada and Faith & the Common Good. She is passionate about building places where communities can grow and thrive.

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