Edited by John Beckwith and Brian Cherney
• John Weinzweig, “The Dean of Canadian Composers” and stalwart champion of the arts, died in 2006 at the age of 93. Last year it was my privilege to be part of a distinguished team working on the latest addition to the annals of Canadian musicology, “Weinzweig: Essays on His Life and Music” edited by John Beckwith and Brian Cherney (Wilfrid Laurier University Press). You will find a full review in these pages in an upcoming issue, but I wanted to say a few words about the launch of this important volume which took place at a lavish event in the foyer of Koerner Hall on January 13.
With both editors and most of the more than a dozen contributors present, and soprano Mary Lou Fallis presiding over the festivities, the event was charged with emotion. We heard testimonials from Weinzweig’s sons Paul (who in a witty reminiscence modestly claimed his father’s infatuation with dissonance was a result of an excruciating piano performance he gave in the presence of his father’s peers as a youngster) and Daniel, who has been a moving force in keeping his father’s legacy in the public eye (including a new centenary initiative – contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details).
The highlight of the event was the audition of several Weinzweig compositions: selections from the 1989 piano cycle Micromotions performed by Cheryl Duvall, a 2010 graduate of the master’s program at the U of T Faculty of Music; and Divertimento No. 2 with Hugo Lee, an outstanding young oboist from Unionville High School for the Arts ably accompanied by the school’s string ensemble under the direction of editor Beckwith’s son Larry. The performances culminated with the mistress of ceremonies, Canada’s darling “Diva on a Moose” accompanied by Peter Tiefenbach, treating us to an updated staging of “Hello Rico” from Private Collection.
John Weinzweig was a vocal activist whose main concern was making the music of our time and place available without compromise. It bodes well for the future that a new generation is being exposed to, and embracing, this music of our recent past.
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