This being the start of our sixteenth year (well, close enough) I thought it might be fun to start looking back ... waaaaaay back, to Volume 1 #2, fifteen Octobers ago (when we were still called Pulse.)

da_capo_4The issue had no cover photo, as you can see, just an A to Z (almost) of the Toronto music scene, made up of words and phrases in that issue. It’s all in one of those proudly illegible fonts that WordPerfect irresponsibly put in the hands of people, like us, with even less design sense than money! But I hope you can read it. It tells an interesting tale.

Of the 20 presenters named on the cover, 13 are still with us, by the same name. But

the fate of the other seven can’t be summed up in a single simple sentence.

Baroque by the Grange was actually Baroque Music Beside the Grange, as founder Alison Melville was quick to point out. First correction we ever had to run, that one was! Founder Melville is still going strong, though, with Ensemble Polaris and the wonderful “Bird Project,” among other things.

Ruth Morawetz’s Classical Cabaret is alas no longer with us. But Ruth certainly is!

Deer Park Concerts, along with Deer Park United Church, is no more, although its congregation is still intact, just a block north at Calvin Presbyterian. And its wonderful Rathgeb Casavant Organ has a new, and some say even sweeter, lease of life, at Holy Trinity Church downtown.

Livent? Don’t know what happened to Livent. But the North York Symphony, albeit under another name, still holds on, phoenix-like, to philharmonic life in the wonderful hall Drabinsky built.

We lost track of Richard Birney-Smith’s Te Deum Concerts sometime around 2002.

As for Youth Singers, I can only think we meant the Mendelssohn Youth Singers. They lost the battle a few years back. But the parent TMC continues to thrive, as anyone who attended the TSO’s wonderful season opening Mahler Symphony No. 2 last Thursday (Sept 23) will attest.

And as for the individuals named in Vol. 1 #2’s quirky abecedarius, there’s a similar mix of names and fortunes; those that are still with us, and those that though gone need not be forgotten.

Not only did Vol 1 #2 not have photo on the cover, it remains the only issue of the magazine ever published not to have a single photo anywhere. As I said at the outset: no design sense, and no money! A single “stat” was 12 bucks – as much as a classified ad!


But even if it lacked for photos, it had one thing we’ve found it hard to match in the intervening years, namely reader input. Under the heading “Hear Say: Our Readers Write” there were no fewer than six pithy letters. It was the early days of fax machines, don’t forget. Remember? Didn’t need a stamp, and the knife went in instantly! It was heady stuff.

“Loved the first issue of your ‘zine. Loathe the ‘Toronto’s music classical and new’ tagline,” snapped L.F. “To me classical means dead western european white men’s concert music. Don’t strangle a good idea with too narrow a focus.”

And E.Y. Hanley opined “If your ‘classical’ is wide enough to include medieval, how can your ‘new’ not include jazz?”

Rick Sharpe wanted an index of groups. Ben Scott wanted to know why Black Creek Library in North York had Pulse but City of Toronto libraries didn’t. And perhaps the most prophetic letter of all came from Chris R.

“Hope you’ll eventually make room for events outside Metro ... (Unless you bomb you will certainly outlast Metro, so you should be thinking about it.)”

I’ll be dipping back into the archives, as space permits, throughout this anniversary year. So get those letters rolling again if you like. The fax is always on!


David Perlman

62Right now I’m sitting thinking of giving James Stewart, the mind behind Integral House, a call.

“Hello James,”  I’ll say, “I’ve got a question about twin primes*, here, and I’m a bit out of my depth.”

“Might I ask which two?” he’ll maybe say, and I will reply, “Well, 149 and 151, actually. But they could be any two. I just need to know what to call them in relation to each other – senior/junior; elder/younger; good/evil; or what? And I want to know if there’s a name for a number, 150 in this case, that’s sandwiched between twin primes.”

I would obviously have to explain that my sudden interest in math is because this issue of the magazine (June 2010) is number 149, and the first issue of the new season will be number 151. And that sometime in between, The WholeNote will actually turn fifteen.  (That’s ten issues a year. Count ‘em.)

But I don’t think I will call Dr. James Drewry Stewart today.  All I’m doing today is trying to come up with a cute angle for this one story that is still delaying the departure of issue number 149 for the printer. I will save my phonecall for a much more interesting story waiting to be written, about the man behind Integral House, which is rapidly becoming one of the more interesting power points on the Southern Ontario’s musical landscape.

I was at Integral House a couple of years back, for a house concert launching that summer’s Toronto Summer Music Academy and Festival. But Vanessa Goymour, Manager of Jeunesses Musicales (Ontario), whose organization shares our enclave on the 5th floor of 720 Bathurst Street, was there just last week, for an event in support of Moshe Hammer’s “The Hammer Band” launched in 2006. “From violence to violins” is The Hammer Band motto, and they exist to do just that, providing instruments and instruction to youth who might not have access to either.

“First thing to get straight when you do talk to James Stewart” Vanessa advised, “is it’s INtegral  House, not InTEGral House. I made that mistake. It’s mathematical, I guess. But there’s a great musical story there, too.”
Indeed. But, as I said, it’s a story for another day. Right now the story is twins. Issue 149, the elder twin, looks much like its older siblings – after fourteen years and ten months of doing this, we’ve got some things figured out!

But I have a sneaking suspicion that by September, when 151, the younger twin, issues forth, more than a few things are going to be a bit different around here! (After all, we’ll have turned fifteen in the meanwhile, and we all know how different from fourteen fifteen can be.)

I won’t jinx things, though, by predicting. Don’t have time, anyway. Getting this magazine (twins and all) to bed is my prime imperative.

David Perlman, publisher

*Twin primes: A twin prime is a prime number that differs from another prime number by two. Some examples of twin prime pairs are (3, 5), (5, 7), (11, 13), (17, 19), (29, 31), (41, 43), and, skipping a few, (149,151). —Wikipedia

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”

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 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,

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


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.

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