62_stjamescathedralOnce you get over the shock or excitement of thinking this striking photo is of cabinet ministers preparing an arts lynching, look more closely. What they actually are is bell ringers, three quarters of the way up the steeple of St. James’ Cathedral at King and Church.

But if, for you as for me, the idea of Cathedral bells and ropes conjures the image of a mad carillonneur, Quasimodo-like, single-handedly making the whole cathedral sound like a giant glockenspiel, well again you may be disappointed. (He’s locked further up in the tower.)

Pictured here are the change ringers of St. James’, ringing the Bells of Old York. Sue White explains:

“The steeple in St. James’ housed the only set of 12 bells in North America from 1997 until Trinity Church on Wall Street in New York installed a ring of 12 about three years ago. We know that the tower here had been designed originally for change-ringing bells in 1874 but legend has it that the original bells were sunk in the St. Lawrence on their way to Toronto and have yet to be found.

“Our band of enthusiastic ringers is still trying to master the complicated art of change ringing. The bonus of bell ringing is that, once you have learned how to handle a bell, a ringer is welcome in over 5,500 towers world-wide (mostly in England, but also Australia, the U.S. and the eight towers across Canada). You will be invited to, as they say, hang on and have a ring!

“Meantime, everyone is welcome to visit us in the tower. We will be taking part in Doors Open Toronto on Saturday May 29 from 10 am. So come and visit us. Apart from the fact that we love to show people how beautiful the bells are and how glorious they sound, we are always looking for apprentices to learn this ancient art. For more information please contact: Judith Hunt, secretary, at judithhunt@rogers.com.”

Now to my point: for the full version of this story, click here.

It’s a strange feeling for me, as a 20th century print junkie, to see our website’s autonomous story-telling capacities starting to come into its own. (This month, in addition to Sue White’s “Bells of Old York”, the website contains a remembrance of esteemed choral educator Deral Johnson by Jenny Crober, one of many choral conductors on the local scene who stand in Johnson’s debt. Regular blogger Cathy Riches took in the launch of Koerner Hall’s 2010/11 season – lots to report there!)

I know some readers are going to bash us for not putting it all in print. (And believe me it’s sometimes a tough choice.) But we are not cutting back. It’s just that, if we rely solely on the magazine, we will never be able to tell all the stories out there waiting to be told. The way I am coming round to seeing things, timely use of www.thewholenote.com is one good medium for keeping you informed of all the interesting things we happen upon between monthly magazines.

As I said, I am a print junkie. But I’m open to suggestion. How about you?

—David Perlman, publisher@thewholenote.com

Webspinning is something we are all doing more of these days – in more ways than one – as our lives and livelihoods get swallowed up by that mother of all webs, the internet.

 

Of course the best way to spin a web, as any spider can tell you, is to begin from a solid platform of one kind or another, and spin out single threads one at a time. At first these threads are almost invisible, but eventually they become something tangible and strong.

 

The “solid platform” idea is not one that is universally appreciated these days, in the lemming-like rush of many magazines to abandon print. Not so here at The WholeNote. More than ever it is important to offerpeople the incentive to get out and about, whether it be to pick up a copy of a favourite magazine, or to sit in a room, small or large, with real people, listening to live music.

 

That being said, we too are diligently spinning away! Here are just some of the threads we’ve spun off from our print magazine to the internet this month. (This content is all available online, at www.thewholenote.com.)

 

We have two more “beat” columns on our website. The first is a discussion by our regular music-theatre writer, Terry Robbins, about the advance of “canned” or electronically generated music in Broadway musicals, and its implications for singers, instrumental musicians and show producers. The second is a timely commentary by Jack MacQuarrie, who usually writes about community bands, on national anthems – in particular, on the complex history of O Canada.

 

One thread at a time, a constant quiet shuttle, connections between our print magazine and our website continue to grow. For example, this month, in our book-review column, “Book Shelf,” you’ll find two reviews, and a third that begins in the magazine but is continued online. Similarly, you’ll find more CD reviews in our online version of “DISCoveries” than you’ll find in print.

 

We hope our own web spinning will encourage curious readers to visit our website, where you’ll find more and different content, and better tools with which to search and enjoy that content.

 

 

Let me explain. Sunday, Colin Eatock my editor said “What’s the title of your piece for this month?” (The table of contents had to go to the printer early, you see.)  So I told him.

And now here I am, two days later, hoist with my own petard, wondering what the hell I was thinking of.

Maybe I was planning to write about the fact that up until the year of my birth, 1952, the Olympics offered medals for much more than sport. Canadian composer John Weinzweig, in fact, won a silver medal for composing at the 1948 London  Games.  I kid you not. But Martin Knelman at the Toronto Star scooped me on the Weinzweig story, almost two weeks ago. (He makes a habit of this sort of thing. Just ask the folks at the COC.)

It would have been a good story too. I would have started by musing on the irony that artists got booted from the Olympics in ‘52 because, the IOC said, the good ones were all professional, and therefore in violation of the Games’ principles of amateurism.  And I would have finished by muttering darkly at how in Vancouver 2010  we couldn’t think of anyone better to light the torch symbolizing all that is good in amateur sport than an individual whose own career epitomizes the extent to which in North America professional, mercenary sport reigns supreme.

Or maybe I was thinking that I could find something interesting to say about the relationship between music and sport.  And there probably is something worth exploring in that. “Compare and contrast the relationship of music and the Olympics to the relationships between a) music and supermarket shopping, b) music and winning lottery tickets, c) music and cellphones, d) music and academy award acceptance speeches … .”

Maybe I was just going to say something about wishing for the good old days of the CBC. Or wonder out loud why a song called “Both Sides Now” has three verses.  Or why anyone would come up with an arrangement of “O Canada” for an occasion like this that would prevent the crowd from singing along.

Maybe I was intending to write about Measha Brueggergosman’s stirring rendition of the Olympic anthem. But I must confess that I swooned so deeply when k.d. lang began singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah that I did not resurface until the flags were flying, so I’d be lying if I said I was really there for that moment.

Or maybe I thought there was something profound to be said about the role of music in figure skating. After all, figure skating is dancing on ice, right? And dancers … . Well, never mind.

I have my athletic trophy somewhere (unless my mother finally threw it away). It was the cup I won in grade one in the Northcliff Primary School sports day.  First prize for … fanfare if you please … the under six musical chairs race. You know how it works, right? Twenty people traipse in a circle round nineteen chairs till the music stops. Then everyone races for a seat. The person left standing gets eliminated, another chair gets taken away, and so it continues until it’s just me and Philip Rogoff left, circling the one remaining chair. Waiting for the moment when the music stops, so we can go for gold.

And now? I’m sitting round waiting for the “going for gold” to stop, so I can get back to the music.

Guess I’ve got an an even worse than usual case of the Toronto end-of-February-tell-me-please-what-is-my-destiny blues.

And only music can cure that.

Those of you whose curiosity was piqued by our December wrap-around cover with its little forest of pins will I hope be equally intrigued by the invitation (at the foot of page 62 in this month’s magazine) to visit our website and take a look at our “world of The Whole-Note” website map.

Just click on the banner ad above, drum your fingers for a few minutes while the map loads – this is, after all, a work in progress – and then, behold! A forest of red pins will sprout before your eyes, multitudinous and thickly clustered as the poppies in the lapels of last Remembrance Day’s TSO audience at Roy Thomson Hall.

Each red pin on the map, dear reader, signifies a place where you can pick up a copy of the WholeNote, free of charge. And that’s only the beginning! Look carefully and you will see other colours starting to sprout too, amidst the red – signifying the fact, that, in the words of the old song, summer is already a-coming in! Pins are already in place (with more being added every day) for 2010’s summer festivals and music camps.

Where music is concerned, it is never too early in the year to start planning your summer!  So whether you use our interactive online map as a starting point, or go directly to our online Education and Festival directories, you will be certain to find, at www.thewholenote.com, something to warm the cockles of your dreaming heart – sweet solace for the the winter’s darkest days!

(For more information about how to join our various print and online directories, contact Karen Ages in our membership department at members@thewholenote.com. To find out how to “put yourself on our map” contact Patrick Slimmon in our circulation department at patrick@thewholenote.com).

27b_aitkenClosely guarded secrets lead to thrills and, alas, spills. In this case, the Canada Council’s announcement that Robert Aitken is the recipient of this year’s $50,000 Walter Carsen Prize came too late in October for us to give the news its due in this issue of the magazine!

 I did get in a forty-five minute phone interview with Bob (keeping him from the task at hand - packing his bags for a whirlwind three weeks in Manila, then China). But the fruits of that interview will have to wait for another occasion.

 I am glad therefore that we can offer you, here on our website, a repeat of Pamela Margles’ wide-ranging December 2008 interview with the multifaceted Mr Aitken, to bridge the gap.

 That interview offers all kinds of clues as to why in announcing this year’s Carsen the committee described him as “a masterly force in the world of contemporary Canadian music, demonstrating for over half a century a tireless commitment to its development, performance and promotion in every corner of the globe.” “As a flutist, composer, interpreter and teacher,” they said, “he is a distinguished innovator and continues to exert a strong influence on upcoming generations.”

 The eight-year old Walter Carsen Prize is awarded annually on a fouryear cycle (dance, theatre, dance, music), so this is only the second time that music has come into the spotlight. R. Murray Schafer was the winner, the last time around. Kudos to the Council for setting the bar as high this time round.  Future recipients will find themselves in distinguished company.

 

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