8 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 3 - November 2004

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sations with Maryem

sations with Maryem Tollar helped divert the piece from its lesser path of a twenty minute stand-and-sing for trio and mezzo, was not available for the work's second incarnation (in Ottawa in 2002). Patricia O' Callaghan (in the cover photo with Maryem) entered the picture, and again the work took a decisive turn. "Trish's match with Maryem is different from Jean's" Hatzis says. "Jean's voice was very strorig, operatic, which made for one kind of struggle. Trish, with her jazz and cabaret background brings a different drama and a sense of improvisation that have equivalencies in Maryem at the other end of the spectrum." And while Jacques Collin is still part of the current creative team, the version of the work Nov -10-13 bears even more strongly the visual imprint of another Lepage Ex Machina associate, Lionel Arnould. ''I'd say he has spent 1400 hours creating what you will see," Roman says. "It has been an extraordinary collaboration." THE ROAD FROM "vision of convergence" to a production that Hatz concedes is now "close to all there" has been a tough one. "The learning was enormous" Christos says. "I had worked on collaborative projects before but here it involved people from other disciplines that neither the Gryphon Trio nor I had much previous experience with. The main challenge to the collaborative aspect of Constantinople was contributors got engaged in their work. And even though I am not a director or a multimedia artist, a great deal of the music of Constantinople was created with specific references in mind, the same references that exist already in the music." "My problem with a lot of multimedia works that I happen to see is that the various aspects of the production at best simply coexist, with no coherent (and minute) correspondences between music, visuals and theatre. This conceptual and theatrical overgeneralization was artistically unappealing to me." He was hoping, he says, "for a work which was theatrically so tight, that you could 'see the sound and hear the image'. Where all the layers at play, whether within the music or outside of it, said essentially the same thing and said it in a way that the statement would not be complete in the absence of any of the contributing components." It was a tall order, given the fact that the music was already complete in itself, and had been presented twice in a concert fonnat before the introduction of the other components. "It meant that a very close reading of the music was essential in the other components in order to achieve this theatrical audio-visual convergence. In the early workshops of Constantinople this convergence did not seem to take place. Some contributors were more interested in their own ideas about what they heard in the music than in the ones that were already embedded in the music and were clearly referenced musically." Some also had difficulty with the rather pronounced religious content of the work and wanted to "contain" it in ways that made them more comfortable artistically and spiritually. "That created friction in the initial stages. It was not so much a question of control by anyone, but a concern on my part about how potentially contradictory statements about what Roman Borys agrees. "It's hard to pull together the right group of people for something like this. Christos' music has no trouble attracting artists. He is a passionate man and his music speaks straight to the heart. We had to wade through all kinds of proposals, from the simple to the grandiose. As producer I had to learn to weigh not just the extent of a person's attraction to the work, but whether the attraction was based on seeing the same ' things in it. Shared vision and going thorugh the process is what results in something cohesive in its end state. Because make no mistake a lot of shared tedious, hard hours sitting around making notes goes into something like this." At one critical moment in the theatrical development process. Christos admits, "I completely abdicated from my role as the creative/conceptual centre of the work, finding no way to reconcile the differences of viewpoints and how these would amalgamate into a powerful, affecting work of art." Instead he sat down and wrote an essay "where the music was explained frame-by-frame as to what I had in mind when I wrote it. I basically left the team to find its own way to (or, sometimes, around) the music. Roman Bory's tenacity and continuous belief in the original ideas behind Constantinople are largely responsible for the final result (which I did not see until the premiere at Banff, having decided not to impose my views on anyone, and therefore staying away from the workshops in Quebec City last spring)." "What I saw at Banff was so close to my original concept of the piece that I was quite astonished." *** As the Gryphon Trio sit down Nov 14 to regale Associates of the TSO with (my guess) "Dance of the Dictators" Christos Hatzis will be sitting down with some new associates of his own to apply some of the lessons learned from this great adventure. "I am ready to embark on another ambitious project, my multimedia, multigenre opera Antig­ Group in New York City and Tapestry New Opera Works in Toronto. Before embarking on any music, I am meeting potential directors, librettists and we are discussing the concept of the piece in great detail until we are all certain that there is meeting of minds." "What did I learn from all this? First, that there are deeper forces at play in any group relationships and that sometimes relinquishing artistic control is not necessarily courting artistic disaster; that for a group of multidisciplinary artists to work effectively together, they need to see eye-ro-eye from the outset at a deeper level than simply creative process; and that the various components of a collaborative project must be created in tandem not sequentially, so that a directorial idea can change the music, a musical idea can change the script and so forth. The group of creative contributors must be in place before the project begins in order to function with one (collective, but one) mind." "All that being, said, Constantinople was probably created as it should be, as a self-referential work where the concepts it advocates and the way it came together are in fact the same path experienced in different ways. For me personally, Constantinople has been the most direct way I have ever employed as a composer to address my listeners. My music has changed significantly in essence and sound since that work." In terms of the sense of theatre that informs much of Hatzis' passionate creation, Constantinople is no more (or less) about that historical city as it is about present day Toronto with its multiple faces and its multiple histories. "So what is Antigone to you?" I ask. "Two brothers" he says. "One a patriot, one a terrorist; a sister who must choose between the law of the state and the law of the blood; a dictatore who must be able to speak in all the tongues, all the musical tongues of the multicultural market place; a city where the people of the city are the true hero ... . " the fact that I developed the overall concept and the music the piece was all about could confuse the audience." one which is being currently developed by the Music Theatre The journey is begun. long before other key creative 10 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM NOVEMBER 1 - DECEMBER 7 2004

SNAP Shots #1: Talisker Players' Mary McGeer E-mail ituerview conduaed by David Perlman WholeNote: Please say: who you are; what you 're working on riglu now; and what you 'LI be doing in the Longer term. I am Mary McGeer, violist and co-director (along with violinist Valerie Sylvester) of Talisker Players. I'm also a freelance player, with a variety of orchestras and smaller ensembles, and a teacher and coach. But Talisker Players takes the largest single chunk of my time. In a nutshell, Talisker Players is a group of instrumentalists who work with voices. There are two sides to it: the choral music orchestra, which accompanies choirs; and the chamber music series, presenting vocal chamber music concerts at Trinity St-Paul's. The choral music orchestra came first. It's simply an ensemble, led by Valerie as concertmaster, that's hired by choirs who m:ed an orchestra. It changes in size depending on the needs of whatever choir we're working with at the time -· we've done concerts with as few as 4 players, and the next day with 40 or 50 players! And we play baroque instruments as requested, as well as modern. The chamber music series started because we wanted fo explore the realm of music for solo voice with small ensemble. There is an amazing amount of wonderful repertoire, and it's hardly ever f Mary McGeer and Valerie Sylvester, co-directors of Talisker Players also includes readings from some very unusual medieval texts, read by actor Ross Manson. On the choral orchestra side, we're performing with several choirs this month - Messiah season fast approaches! With both sides of Talisker Players, we get very busy at this time of year. In the next several weeks, some of us will be playing both electric and baroque instruments, as well as our usual. REGARDING THE LONGER TERM: this is a very special season for us: It is the tenth anniversary of the choral music orchestra and the fifth anniversary of the chamber music series. When we started, we never expected to have come so far - so I guess we'll just have to see where the next ten years take us! performed. And since the choral Where do you fall on the classical/ music orchestra includes all instru- post-classical spectrum, personally ments, we have a huge amount of flexibility in the combinations we can put together. We've had a lot cert is built around a theme, and includes carefully chosen readings, which turn the whole thing into a theatrical experience. RIGHT ow, we're getting ready and classical (though we've cerfor the first concert of this year's chamber music series on N ovem- and as a group? Between the two sides of Talisker Players_ the orchestra and the of fun with this series - each conchamber music series - we end up covering a vast time-period and stylistic range of repertoire. With the choral music orchestra, we tend to be doing mostly baroque tainly done all the big romantic works, and a few premieres as ber 3rd. It's titled 'A Medieval well). With the chamber music Tapestry', and the theme is prose and poetry from the Middle Ages, for our modern ears. The concert N11\·1"111K, - 6icrM111K 7-2604 co - f series, it's mostly contemporary music, especially Canadian - in acr our : · : u:pc: o m i n : g c : o n::rtonNo- coNT1Nu E s =!11111111111111111111111111

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