1901-cover“I’ve been walking around in a fog this week, trying to process Jeanne Lamon’s passing. Such a vital force in my life and the lives of so many others. I hope you’ve managed to celebrate her in this edition?” Larry Beckwith

Very few of our readers who became faithful followers of Tafelmusik during almost four decades under Jeanne Lamon’s musical direction, will be hearing about her all-too-sudden death here. The shock waves have spread, and, as Larry Beckwith says in his note, you are likely, like us, in a bit of a fog, trying to process her passing.

As for celebrating her in this edition, it all feels a bit too soon and sudden and sad and raw for that – a bit presumptuous even – at a time when those whose musical lives were most closely intertwined with hers, need most to speak, and are doing so.

We took this cover photo (hard hats all round!) for a September 2013 story in which Larry Beckwith, himself a long-time member of the Tafelmusik Choir, chatted with Jeanne about what lay ahead. What jumps out at me is how she is setting the tempo for what she sees ahead, looking with clear eyes not just to life for Jeanne after Tafelmusik, but life for Tafelmusik after Lamon. You can find it in our archive at kiosk.thewholenote.com (Vol. 19).

And tafelmusik.org/watch/video/allegro-concerto-2-violins-d-minor-bwv-1043 takes you to a moment of music from House of Dreams – music it took her particular kind of leadership to elicit from her brave and merry little band.

For now we mourn. Let the moments of celebratory remembering begin, so tears of joy can follow.

Leon Fleisher. Photo by Joanne SavioLeon Fleisher devoted his life to the piano, first as the foremost American pianist of his generation. The much-lauded collection of LPs he recorded in the 1950s and 60s was capped by a matchless collaboration with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra. Then, in 1965, he found it difficult to use the fingers of his right hand, a condition diagnosed as focal dystonia, restricting his repertoire to pieces written for the left hand. But his musical reach grew in other ways – conducting and teaching. 

Based in Baltimore at the Peabody Institute from 1959 on, he also taught at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia (1986-2011) and in Toronto, where he was one of the cornerstones of the Glenn Gould School, occupying the Ihnatowycz Chair in Piano. In his late 60s, Fleisher regained the use of his right hand with botox and rolfing treatments and resumed limited concertizing and recording (as detailed in the 2006 Oscar-nominated short film, Two Hands, available on YouTube). 

One measure of the man can be gleaned by the memorable masterclasses he gave during his frequent visits to Toronto (of which I was fortunate to audit 27, between November 2014 and April 2019). They were inspirational and memorable, strewn with anecdotes and words of wisdom. All in the service of bringing the notes on the page, the composer’s intentions, to the fore. “In our celebrity-based culture we are not the stars. We are indispensable, [we’re] needed to bring the music to life,” he said. “[But] the music is the star.” 

Fleisher always sat in the front row of Mazzoleni Hall, aisle seat on the left side, with the score on a music stand in front of him. When a student finished their presentation Fleisher stayed seated, silent for a long moment. He then asked the student if they had any concerns about what they had just played – anything that Fleisher might help with. I remember one student voicing  concern about his nerves prompting Fleisher  to illustrate a case of nerves by one of the greatest composer/pianists of the 20th century. 

Fleisher was five years old at the time and had been taking piano lessons for six months. His mother took him to hear Rachmaninoff at the War Memorial Concert Hall in San Francisco. After the concert, his mother dragged him backstage to meet the great musician, who suffered from nervous tension whenever he was onstage. Fleisher’s memory was clear: “He was very tall, short haircut, face lined like the map of Russia.” In a heavy Russian accent, Rachmaninoff asked Fleisher, “You, pianist?” A pause. “Bad business …” 

Fleisher’s conclusion: “There are bad nerves and good nerves. How much of what I want to do will I be able to communicate? That’s the good nerves.” 

At one masterclass I attended, on November 29, 2014, Fleisher was into the second piece of the morning masterclass when Brahms’ Piano Quartet in C Minor Op.60 triggered a recollection: “I had the pleasure once – and it really was a pleasure – of playing this with three guys named Jascha [Heifetz], Grisha [Piatigorsky] and William [Primrose].” What did he remember? That there was no piano in the green room in the hall in San Francisco, which upset Fleisher, prompting Piatigorsky to calm his nerves: “Leonski, warming up before the concert is like doing breathing exercises before dying.”

The next day after listening to Rebanks Fellow Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula play Beethoven’s penultimate piano sonata, Op.110, Fleisher mused: “It suddenly occurred to me that Beethoven has innumerable ways of expressing his final journey into heaven. I’m getting to that point myself,” he said. “How does one face the end of this life and the beginning of the next?”

When Fleisher was nine, the legendary pianist Artur Schnabel invited him to be his pupil, first in Lake Como, Italy, then in New York. “For ten years I studied with one of the great teachers of the 20th century – for two years after, I was absolutely lost until I discovered that everything he taught me was lodged in my cerebellum and it was just a matter of uncovering it,” he said. “One of the ways to do this is by singing the notes and the rhythm (and deciding whether the consonant is soft or hard). Singing gives you a much clearer idea of what you’re facing.” 

For 60 years Fleisher continued a musical legacy traceable directly back to Beethoven through Schnabel and Schnabel’s teacher Theodor Leschetizky who studied with Carl Czerny, Beethoven’s pupil.

Schnabel references were plentiful in Fleisher’s masterclasses, especially when discussing music  by Beethoven and Schubert. Looking back over my records, I see that on April 21, 2017, a student playing Brahms’ Intermezzos Nos. 4-6, Op.116 triggered Fleisher’s analytical instincts before he settled into a surprising Schnabel anecdote. “We work in two dimensions simultaneously: sound – loud and soft and everything in between – and time, which can be strict or with a degree of flexibility. I think time is the more difficult dimension to work in because the pulse can easily become mechanical sounding. A curious thing – Brahms’ music flows at a specific personal rate – it flows more like lava than water. And there’s a richness and a warmth to it.”

And then the anecdote: “My teacher, Schnabel, let it drop very casually one day in a lesson, that he had known Brahms. Brahms had a habit in Vienna on Sunday of going into the Vienna woods with a basket for a picnic. The little Schnabel went along one day. Brahms asked, ‘Are you hungry?’ before [commencing eating]. And after he asked, ‘Have you had enough?’ – and that was his conversation with Brahms.”

At that point, Fleisher got up and moved to the piano, accompanying the student in the upper octaves of Brahms’ fourth intermezzo, but with his left hand. It was truly inspirational. And with his singing, he coached a much better performance. “Good. That was a good sound. And now the memory of something so fragile – when a phrase is repeating it’s not necessarily an echo but a chance to do it more beautifully. It’s a memory, very fragile. If you do too much it will disappear – be very still.”

Another tack he took with a student was to ask “To what extent were you successful in doing what you tried to do?” – an opening gambit designed to encourage scrutinizing the score and elevating the student’s performance. He never missed a chance to make one of his favourite points: “Music is a horizontal activity that goes through all sorts of adventures – everything has to be part of the entire arc – it is filled with vertical events like beats in a bar – the danger is that it is filled with coffin nails.”

Fleisher’s pedagogy was filled with aphorisms. “Playing beautifully is not necessarily beautiful music.” Or “A metronome is a machine; it has nothing to do with music.” And “Romantic means playing long notes short and short notes long.” He always deferred to the score: “You are the actor; the music is the director.” And paradoxically (discussing Schubert’s Sonata D958): “In time you can build the structure with slight rhythmic distortions. Great art in a sense always involves healthy distortion.”

Other comments reflected Fleisher’s playful mind: he once described Beethoven’s markings in the fourth movement of his Sonata No.13 “Quasi una fantasia” as not just accents – “Beethoven has a habit of poking his elbow into your ribs.”

And his analytical prowess: “Of music’s three elements, rhythm is the most important. Harmony – because you can make thousands of harmonies with melody – is next. Melody is the least important.” And: “You’re made up of three people: Person A imagines how the piece should be before they play – their ideal, their goal; Person B actually performs it; Person C listens to Person B and if it’s not what A intended, C tells B who makes adjustments. This is a constant aspect of performance.”

And above all his delight in it all: To a student on February 11, 2018 after the first movement of Beethoven’s Sonata No.11, Op.22: “You leave me speechless … I don’t come here to be blown away but when I am, it’s a great pleasure.” A few minutes later, the student smiled as she played the second movement accompanied by Fleisher’s left hand at the top end of the piano.

To experience Fleisher’s inimitable approach, watch his March 31, 2004 masterclass on YouTube from Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, with the 17-year-old Yuja Wang playing Schubert’s Sonata No.19 D958 when she was a student at the Curtis Institute.

Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote.

Photo by Tannis TooheyErrol was an elegant battler of ALS – possibly the worst affliction a human being can have. The brain stays sharp while gradually losing control over the body. It’s a cautionary tale that, toward the end of life with everything else stripped away, we become more like our true nature than ever before. Errol loved music and he cherished friendship, and those who volunteered at the benefit concert for ALS research in St. Andrew’s church earlier this year [June 13, 2019] witnessed this firsthand. ~ Gary Corrin (principal librarian, TSO).

Ad for “Let’s Make a Fuss”Composer, educator, conductor, music librarian, studio and orchestra trombonist, pianist, Errol Gay was a consummate musician. In the course of his rich life he held positions at several universities, was a conductor and chorus master with the Canadian Opera Company, assistant musical director at the Charlottetown Festival, music advisor/conductor for the Hart House Orchestra (U of T), music director of Orchestra Toronto, co-conductor of the High Park Choirs of Toronto, co-conductor of the Canadian Children’s Opera Company Youth Chorus and a frequent guest conductor with leading orchestras in the USA and Canada, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He was the TSO’s associate music librarian for 24 years.

Gay as a child from May 2015 editionProfiled in The WholeNote’s We Are All Music’s Children in May 2015, Errol Gay shared a generous first-person account of his youth in British Columbia, with parents who loved music, actively supported it in their community, and encouraged it in their son.

More biographical details are included in First the Child, Then the Music – Paula Citron’s April 2015 feature about his wife, Ann Cooper Gay. Here’s a sample:Cooper Gay met him when he was assistant conductor on a COC North American tour of Cosí fan tutte (she sang 100 Despinas in two years). Cooper Gay was elected by the cast to get Errol Gay to slow down the tempi of his conducting. The singers secretly taped a performance, then Cooper Gay was to invite Errol Gay to a room party where he would hear the tape from the hallway. As they passed the door, he stopped and said, “That’s too fast!” The tempi problem was solved and a 40-year relationship began. …”

Errol Gay as a young conductorMarried to Ann Cooper Gay – opera singer, educator, conductor, and former artistic director (now retired) of the Canadian Children’s Opera Company – Errol Gay also leaves behind two daughters, four grandchildren, and a grieving music community that keenly shares this loss.

The back issues referenced can be found by visiting kiosk.thewholenote.com.


Mention Errol Gay’s name in a random roomful of music-loving people and affectionate smiles will erupt all around you – an echo of his own infectious grin and warm, generous nature, and a reflection of the way he valued friendship. The excerpts below are from a flood of memories – some from social media, some shared by Ann Cooper Gay and many offered directly to The WholeNote.

 

... My memories of Errol will be with me always. His passion for music and clarity and insight in pursuing it, wearing whichever of his countless hats, has left an irreplaceable impact on the musical life of Canada and beyond. Some people in our wonderful world take librarians for granted. I have never been of their number! As I conjure him now I see the quizzically raised eyebrows and hear his laugh! ...

~ Sir Andrew Davis, interim artistic director of the TSO, served as their music director from 1975 to 1988, when he was named conductor laureate. [In a letter to Ann Cooper Gay]

I think I knew Errol Gay longer than any other musician I've known in Toronto. We first met in 1968, in the claustrophobic pit of the Royal Alex, Errol playing trombone and me playing bassoon in the band for Anne of Green Gables, conducted by the late Fen Watkin. It was my first major gig in Toronto, and Errol was the best mentor I could imagine in negotiating the requirements of a union contract and the expectations and requirements of a pit band.

I saw less of Errol during my 20 years in the Toronto Consort, though we sometimes showed up on the same gig, including occasional concerts with the Hart House Orchestra, which Errol was conducting. I particularly remember a fine Mahler 4, with Errol conducting and Ann singing the solo in the last movement. I frequently loaned early instruments to Errol and Ann in their expanding work with children, especially the Canadian Opera Children's Chorus.

I retired from the Consort in 1992 and picked up my bassoon again, a few years later joining Orchestra Toronto. I was delighted when, in 2002, my old friend and mentor Errol Gay was appointed conductor, and we had the joy of playing together for the next eight years. Errol's tenure with Orchestra Toronto included performances of the full range of symphonic repertoire, spiced with some major rarities: Amy Beach's Symphony, the Khatchaturian violin concerto with Catherine Manoukian, the Miaskov bandura concerto, and Elizabeth Raum's Legend of Heimdall. I have particularly fond memories of playing the Richard Strauss first horn concerto with Errol's daughter Erin as soloist. Errol was also responsible for the transition of the orchestra from a local ensemble, the East York Symphony, to a major GTA group. This change also saw Orchestra Toronto installed as the resident orchestra of the (then) Toronto Centre for the Arts, in its superb George Weston Recital Hall. Errol was the driving force behind the establishment of Orchestra Toronto as the orchestra it is today; not a concert goes by without our feeling his influence.

~ David Klausner, professor emeritus of English and Medieval Studies, U of T; principal bassoon of Orchestra Toronto since 1998.

Errol came to the Toronto Symphony in 1982 as associate principal librarian and was the other finalist when I got my job here. I never felt a moment of resentment from him – he was a real gentleman that way. Rather, for 12 years I was the direct beneficiary of his considerable and varied musical abilities. Errol began as a trombonist and learned to play passable double bass from which he developed an uncanny knack for bowings. He was an accomplished pianist who could play jazz and could also reduce open scores at sight. He was a composer and arranger whose works were performed by the TSO and by the Canadian Children’s Opera Company Chorus. He knew voice types and opera roles inside out. He served as a conductor for the Canadian Opera Touring Company as well as for this orchestra, once stepping in at the last minute to conduct a Pops concert with the Chieftains. Errol also served as extra percussionist with the TSO – famously chastised by a concert reviewer for ‘reading a book’ during a performance. He was following the score.

~ Gary Corrin, principal librarian, Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Errol had so many musical gifts – conductor, composer, musician – but I also know he was passionate about words, their meaning and usage, and proper grammar, as am I. I remember phone conversations with you [Ann] while Errol commented in the background about various aspects of our English language. He was always very complimentary to me about my writing and I always breathed a little sigh of relief when we agreed about a certain grammatical ‘rule’ because I knew that he was a stickler. I also remember one phone conversation, can't remember what we were discussing, but I could hear him ask, "Is that Suzie?" and then, as you moved closer to him with phone in hand he began to play a beautiful piece on the piano, undoubtedly his own composition, just for me. What an honour! I will never forget that. Another memory I have is after a great performance of one of his children's operas, Laura's Cow, a title that always makes me smile. The audience and choristers had stepped outside of the darkened theatre into the sunlight of a radiant spring day. When you and Errol arrived you were immediately surrounded by children and adults alike, and there was such a lovely feeling of shared community and the simple love of music. I also remember the way you both looked at each other with that same shared love. A very special moment. I am so glad he is no longer suffering and I know his spirit lives on through the wonderful music he gifted to us as well as through his incredibly strong and loving family.

~ Suzanne Vanstone, senior communications manager, editorial at the Canadian Opera Company, now retired. [From a letter to Ann Cooper Gay]

36 years ago I had that absolute pleasure performing Howard Blake’s The Snowman with the Toronto Symphony. The conductor was maestro Errol Gay. This was my TSO debut at 12 years of age and Errol treated me like a son. He is no longer with us and we must all pay homage to the incredibly gifted musician he was … Errol – thanks for trusting a redneck treble to create with!

~ James Westman, baritone [from Facebook]

Errol taught me to listen.

I was lucky enough to serve as concertmaster in the early 90s with the Hart House Orchestra. Thanks to Errol, I learned how to hold a section together, how to tamp down ego, how to fall back into an ensemble and really let music emerge. His ferocious passion for everything we played was infectious. And it was ferocious. You could never lose focus, or you'd have Errol looming over you, just screaming at you for playing forte in a piano section. The beautiful thing was that all of us knew his ferocity came from love, and after rehearsal, we'd go for too many beers together, laughing about the hysterics of the rehearsal. His care for his students was absolute – and all of us were certainly his students, even if the orchestra wasn't technically a U of T class. I don't teach music now, but Errol's death has made me reflect upon how I steer my classes; being a professor maybe isn't that different from conducting. I'm not afraid to let unreserved passion for what matters lead the way. Errol blasted away any doubt about that. He was so important to my upbringing. I miss him terribly.

~ Levi McLaughlin, associate professor, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, North Carolina State University.

Errol Gay conducts Hart House OrchestraErrol was a talented and passionate musician, a great teacher, and a wonderful person. It was great to play for him in the Hart House Orchestra – he gave his all at every rehearsal and concert. He challenged and inspired us to rehearse and perform well together, conducting the orchestra in so many memorable and moving concerts over the years.

In addition to the concerts, a rehearsal that took place shortly after Pierre Elliott Trudeau had passed away stands out in memory. As the orchestra trickled into the Great Hall at Hart House, we saw Errol placing a single sheet of music on each stand. After we had settled into our chairs, Errol, silent until this point, raised his baton and said only this: "O Canada". What followed was the most passionately led and performed rendition of our national anthem that I have experienced.

Errol wasn't afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. His passion for music and the strength he drew from it was palpable – I am so glad to have had the privilege of knowing him.

~ Andrew Ogilvie, Hart House Orchestra violinist (1995-present)

My first meeting with Errol Gay occurred at Roy Thomson Hall when I was directing a project for the TSO. I remember Errol explaining (in his role then as TSO librarian) the mechanism of orchestral rentals; in opera if one used only a single selection, one was obligated to rent the entire score. I mention this anecdote because it set a pattern. From that time on, I never had an encounter with Errol where I didn’t learn something. His storehouse of knowledge and the generosity with which he shared it astounded me. Encouraged by his wife, the dynamic Ann Cooper Gay, Errol and I were commissioned to write an opera for the Canadian Children’s Opera Company: A Dickens of a Christmas (December 2005), and we went on to co-create Laura’s Cow: the Legend of Laura Secord (June 2012) and Alice in Wonderland (May 2015). In our working sessions (Errol composing at the piano, me fine-tuning the libretto at the dining room table), we often talked of non-musical subjects. His understanding of the world and his compassion for those who struggled in it were uplifting. Without effort or even consciousness, our working relationship bloomed into one of the most meaningful friendships of my life.

~ Michael Patrick Albano, librettist; associate professor and resident stage director at UofT Opera

The world has lost an incredible musician, composer, and a beautiful heart. Errol, along with Ann Cooper Gay, believed in me when I was an 11-year-old kid who liked playing the clarinet and singing. Actually, I didn't even know I liked singing until I met Ann (Mrs. Gay) in Grade 7 at Winona Drive Senior Public School. I had taken some piano lessons, but I had had no other musical training, apart from my elementary school band (itinerant) program...until one day when Ann told me (yes, told me) that I would be joining the High Park Girls' Choir, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I can't begin to imagine how my life would be now if it hadn't been for Ann and Errol's relentless encouragement, guidance and second-to-none musical education. Errol was an incredible composer and his beautiful melodies will never leave my mind.

~ Michele Jacot plays clarinet, flute and saxophone. A conductor and teacher, she is the artistic director of Toronto’s Wychwood Clarinet Choir [from Facebook].

As a conductor Errol was colourful, dramatic and passionate. His love of jazz and creative music would trickle into our warmups. I distinctly remember a game he would play where we would start on a major chord, and then he would voice lead with each part to create rich jazz harmonies. He didn’t treat us like children – he treated us like musicians. This changed my life; I realized at an early age that this was what I wanted to do.

When I work with groups of singers today, I do not aim for a perfect performance. It is more important that we feel something together as we sing. This feeling is not created by the conductor, but by the belief that everyone is truly involved in that moment, creating something. I learned this from Errol Gay, and a generation of musicians he taught did too.

~ Alex Samaras is a singer and educator in Toronto. At age ten he joined the High Park Boys’ Choir in its inaugural season and followed Ann and Errol to sing for the CCOC Youth Chorus through his high school years.

Errol Gay was a melting pot of knowledge and art, each element inextricable from the other. He was kind, caring and witty. He was the kind of person you could make nerdy jokes with and not only would he understand them, but he would answer with a pun. He displayed the same intellect in his music, writing beautiful pieces full of allusions that you would only notice if you had the same encyclopedic musical knowledge as he did – this was his way of winking at his listeners. You could trust him ‘not to write crap’ (inside joke).

I am so grateful to have known Errol from a very young age, and I could write a book about my memories and experiences with him. He very much helped form the person and musician I am today, and I will always cherish and pass on what I learned from him.

~ Kristina Bijelic is a singer and violinist who met Errol when she was a child in the High Park Choirs, and was later in the CCOC.

I'm both happy and very sad that Errol Gay died on Friday. I'm happy because his long battle with ALS is over. I'm sad because we have lost another local musical hero and a lovely person. … He always valued the music and the enjoyment of making it more than personal ambition or honours. He was as loving and supportive with his family as he was with colleagues, students, little choristers and friends. And he knew how to laugh.

Our loss is Heaven's gain.

~ John Terauds founder of the blog Musical Toronto (now Ludwig van Toronto); music critic for the Toronto Star (2005-2012); organist, choir director and music teacher.

Mstislav (“Slava”) Rostropovich and Seiji Ozawa: The Great Gathering, March 9, 1987. Photo from Toronto Symphony ArchiveI wonder whether you or one of your colleagues can help?” WholeNote reader Anita Kern wrote to me, on July 15 this year. “I had a copy made long ago of a tape of The Great Gathering. It was in 1987 – the Toronto Symphony and LOTS of major performers. The ‘fête’ for Homburger. Sadly, I can’t seem to find it now – possibly I gave it away to a music-teacher fan in Belgium!

Sadly, too, the TV station discarded its tape. Such an important concert!  It’s incomprehensible. I wonder whether you have a copy, or anyone you know.”

Ten days later, on July 25 came the announcement that Walter Homburger had died.

A great gathering it must have been indeed! It took place at Roy Thomson Hall on March 9 1987, to honour Homburger, musical impresario and administrator, on the occasion of his retirement, after 25 years, as managing director of the TSO. A typed list of the performers on the program, along with the TSO itself, speaks volumes: Ozawa, Yo-Yo Ma; Stern, Rampal, Zuckerman; Perahia; Forrester; Iseler, the Mendelssohns; Midori; Lortie; Slava.

Meanwhile I went digging back through our own archives for this: Walter Homburger in his own words, interviewed via an email exchange, in February 2004. (I forget what I asked to get the ball rolling.)

Walter Homburger receiving the Order of Canada 2010. Photo by Sean KilpatrickHomburger: I created the International Artists Concert Agency in 1947, presenting concerts and recitals by international and Canadian artists mainly in Massey Hall. Among the many greats were Artur Rubinstein, Fritz Kreisler, Vladimir Horowitz, Slava Rostropovich, Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Leontyne Price, Glenn Gould, etc. In 1945, I [had] discovered Glenn Gould at a Kiwanis Festival and managed his concert career for 20 years until his retirement from active concertizing. Among the other artists I managed were Victor Braun, Jan Rubeš, Louis Lortie, Donald Bell, Rohan de Saram, and Alfred Brendel on his first two North American tours. In 1987 I made a co-presentation arrangement with the TSO.

I became the manager of the National Ballet from 1951 (its inception) to 1955. In 1962, I became the managing director of the Toronto Symphony and managed that organization for 25 years until my retirement in 1987. Since 1993, I have managed the career of violinist James Ehnes worldwide, who had won the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto Career Development Competition. My next project is the presentation of an all-Beethoven recital on April 13 [2004] at the George Weston Recital Hall with James Ehnes and Louis Lortie playing the “Spring” and “Kreutzer” Sonatas for Violin and Piano as well as the “Les Adieux” Sonata for solo piano.

David Perlman: There are three areas I want to ask further about. First, regarding spotting Glenn Gould in 1945 at a Kiwanis festival; that would have made him 13 and you, at 21, not that much older! I read another account somewhere which said you “spotted” him performing the Beethoven 4th with the Toronto Symphony orchestra at age 14. My question is whether you played a part in getting him from Kiwanis to TSO in such short order. I’m also a bit in awe, in part that you recognized his artistry, but even more that, young as you were, you could see clearly your own role in nurturing it. Was piano your own instrument? And were music and the business of music already your milieu?

Second, I want to ask about your association with the TSO. You managed it for 25 years, up to 1987, and then came forward, along with Bob Rae, to provide helmsmanship again during the sticky transition of the past couple of years [early 2000s]. In what ways are the challenges ahead of them now most different from those during your time at the helm?

Third, the year you decided to “come out of retirement” and take on the management of James Ehnes, 1993, was also the year that you were involved, as an interviewee, in the film 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould. Does the coincidence have any particular significance or was it just one of those things?

WH: I don’t recall whether I was responsible for the 1946 TSO engagement for Glenn. However I presented him in a recital at the Eaton Auditorium – I believe in the fall of 1947. I have no musical training – but in my early teens I did get some piano lessons and was exposed to classical recordings, concerts, and opera on radio – such as from La Scala in Milan.

Like everyone I react favourably or otherwise to music or musicians whom I hear – so when I first heard Glenn it affected me deeply. At that time, I was thinking of establishing a company to present concerts in Toronto, and it occurred to me that if I wanted to present an artist in Toronto who was managed not by a New York agency – which was the norm in those days – I would have to trace the management. By the same token, I assumed that if Glenn was as wonderful as I thought, potential presenters throughout the world would soon find out where he was managed and contact me. Fortunately, this happened.

For as long as I can remember, it was always a balancing act to keep the TSO in financial shape every year. Perhaps it is more difficult today because the percentage of support from governments has not kept pace with the ever-increasing costs of operating a not-for-profit arts institution.

It was just a coincidence that the Glenn Gould film and the beginning of my management of James Ehnes happened around the same time. You are the first one who pointed it out to me!

DP: A couple more questions: I saw a list of photos autographed to you, now at the [US] National Archives: along with the classical greats Karel Ančerl, Marian Anderson, Leonard Bernstein, Maria Callas, Kathleen Ferrier, Tito Gobbi, Marilyn Horne, Vladimir Horowitz, Birgit Nilsson, Itzhak Perlman, Leontyne Price, Artur Rubinstein and Herbert von Karajan are also names like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Mahalia Jackson. Was jazz a particular love of yours along with classical? And you said earlier that “like everyone” you react favourably or otherwise to music or musicians. But not everyone can spot a winner. What is it that you hear in James Ehnes and Louis Lortie, for instance - the two artists you are presenting here in April - that made you say, “Yes, they are worth MY commitment.”?

WH: My philosophy was and is to present the best artists of the day whose performances would be enjoyed by a large audience - they could be classical or jazz as you can see. I just brought anyone who was considered tops. As far as Ehnes and Lortie are concerned, they are simply two of the finest classical artists this country has produced, and it is a unique opportunity to hear both of them play solo and combine their talents.

Anita Kern, by the way, found her copy of The Great Gathering and made me a copy of it (for research purposes only, of course). It sits on my desk, waiting for the right moment. I suspect what I will find, when I view it, is that it will be, triumphantly, as Walter Homburger himself was, all about the music.

David Perlman can be reached at publisher@thewholenote.com

Peter LongworthSometimes unexpected sad news sweeps through a community like a sharply drawn inbreath, collectively held while the news is absorbed, then individually released as, one by one, people respond to what they have heard. Such was the case at the end of June when news of the death of pianist Peter Longworth, at age 53, from kidney cancer was announced.

Among the first to respond, on June 29, was music writer Hye Won Cecilia Lee, in a post for the musical blog Ludwig van Toronto which not only gave details of his musical life and spoke to his role in the community, but also reposted from social media the responses of a range of individuals in the music community whose lives have been shaped by their interactions with Longworth, as collaborator, colleague, mentor, teacher and friend over the course of Longworth’s almost three decades of teaching at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music, and his active life as a musician, as soloist and as a chamber player.

It was one of that circle of musicians, pianist Richard Herriott, who called to tell me that Sunday October 7 at 4pm, in Mazzoleni Hall at the Royal Conservatory, there will be a concert for Peter Longworth, celebrating his life. This way, Herriott said, WholeNote readers who knew him, personally or through his music, would hear about the event in time to be there if they want to.

As Peter Longworth’s wife, violinist/violist Sheila Jaffé explained it to me, the event will consist mostly of music, “as the best way to express Peter’s effect on his community, and for the musicians who will be participating to expressing his effect on us.”

How many people will want to attend is impossible to gauge. Since Mazzoleni Hall seats only 237 people, an Eventbrite page has been set up where up to 200 people can “buy” a free ticket to be assured a chair. “I am not sure what the policy is on standing room yet,” Jaffé says, “but I would encourage people to come even if there is no more room. I intend to try to provide screens in the lobby in case there are too many people.”

The choice of Mazzoleni Hall is apt. “Peter performed in Mazzoleni Hall a great deal,” Jaffé says. “He spent most of his time at the Royal Conservatory, having worked there for so long. The hall is intimate and ideal for chamber music. Peter loved chamber music deeply. He and I shared that. I can speak for him with confidence about his love for it. We both loved nothing better than sharing the music we love with the people we love. At our wedding, we played music instead of dancing! So music is the best way to celebrate his life and mourn his untimely death.”

The nature of the event and the way it has come together speak to the place that Longworth occupied in his musical community — in his various capacities. “He was open, curious and eloquent as a person and as a pianist” Jaffé says. “His powerful drive as a musician attracted those who had the opportunity to work and perform with him and I think many of his collaborators would agree that he ‘carried’ the performance in a way that made his colleagues feel safe and free. As a teacher, he was attentive, curious, respectful, direct and ever learning. The way his career built itself over the years was a testament to his talents and nature. He led the way musically, unerringly — where a phrase goes, where the beat is, where a tune sits. Those who worked with him all know that. I think that with his passing, we are losing a great musical mind and heart. As a pianist and teacher, his colleagues and students depended on him greatly for guidance and inspiration. I think we will all feel his absence in our musical lives in the years to come, and realize what a large place he had in the community as a musical leader. His friends and family who are performing at the memorial will all be trying to communicate this and do justice to his musical expression in every way we can.

With limited time available, it will be impossible to let everyone play who wants to, she says, “so I tried to make a good enough selection without upsetting too many people. It is not easy and I hope no one will be insulted! Peter felt a great affinity for Brahms, so, safe to say, there will be Brahms on the program.”

Among the personal reflections compiled in the blog by Hye Won Cecilia Lee cited at the beginning of this piece of writing, violinist Mark Fewer wrote this:

“Peter Longworth was as great a friend as you could ever hope for. I was blessed to have known him for 31 years, during many of which he was indeed my best friend. He was like a brother and I loved him.

“We both arrived in Toronto in 1987 — he from Chicago and I from St. John’s. In December of that year (I was 15, he was 23) he was recommended to me as an ‘accompanist’ for an audition I was taking. He was a far better pianist than I was a violinist, and his presence at the piano helped me that day – and in days and years to come – to succeed. Six years later we joined forces with cellist Thomas Wiebe and formed the Duke Piano Trio, which stayed intact until Peter’s passing. We were three very different people from three very different backgrounds. But music brought us together, and over the years our friendships deepened to the point where we felt (and behaved!) like family.

“As a musician, he was a fully engaged human. Every ounce of his being went into the notes he played. In rehearsing together, he loved discovering things in the score and seeing how they would sound. Sharing that delight with audiences was his greatest desire. Chamber music may have been his first musical love, but he was also a formidable soloist, with credits that included performances with the Chicago Symphony, the Vancouver Symphony, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and countless others. The fact that he was best known as a collaborator is something I interpret symbolically as a reflection of his skills in friendship.

“If Peter experienced something he wished you to experience as well, he would say ‘I recommend it, highly.’ Thank you, my dear friend for sharing your immense gift with us. Our hearts are broken, but from what you gave, we are better for it. For those who want to hear you again, your Brahms recording will give us your voice that we know so well. I recommend it, highly.”

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