7 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 3 - November 2005

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  • Toronto
  • November
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  • Theatre
  • December
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Quoolibet by Allan Pu

Quoolibet by Allan Pu Iker The art of Art of Time Regular readers know that I tend to react to the classical music "doom-and-gloomers" by citing the abundance of live concerts in WholeNote every month, and a seemingly endless stream of wonderful recorded music. But I'm not advocating complacency either. We need to be actively creating a strong future for the art over the course of our lives. A man who has taken on this challenge with enthusiasm and intelligence is Toronto pianist Andrew Burashko. Six years ago he founded his Art of Time Ensemble to breathe new life into an art form which he loves and which is in his blood, but which he felt was becoming dangerously left out of the cultural mainstream. "We need," he says, "to compel classical music back to the centre of artistic culture, breaking down the barriers between genres, revealing the vibrancy of classical music as a contemporary artistic expression." While he acknowledges that listening to classical music requires effort that not everyone is willing to make in our age of instant gratification, he feels that if it is performed well and from the heart it can be compelling. It has, he feels, become stigmatized by the conventions of the concert and recital hall, making it seem remote and unrelated. In large concert halls it loses both the intimacy and the theatricality that it had in the smaller halls that were used when much of it was composed. All this can work to alienate listeners. By way of illustration he told me about the performance Art of Time did a couple of years ago of Maurizio Kagel's "difficult" and "abstract" almost hour-long 1960s work, Variete . Kagel suggests in the score that vaudeville or circus acts can be staged with the music, at the performer's/producer's discretion. Taking his cue from this Andrew commissioned "acts" that would be performed with the music. The performance was in his words, a "humungous success," was nominated for five Dora awards, and to his delight and amazement, won a Dora for best music. "This is music, " he emphasized, "that is so incredibly difficult, that even I would find it dif- Back to Ad Index Andrew Burashko WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM ficult to sit through a performance! " With the element of theatre added, however, the music was able to shine through and come into its own. Art of Time's next show, That Crazy American Music, is coming up on November 4 & 5. "Art of Time is both a classical and a jazz ensemble, but it is not about crossing over" he says. "This show arose about two years ago; Anita Krause and I performed songs from the classical tradition in the first half of a show, and in the second Melissa Stylianou, a jazz singer, performed jazz standards with two jazz musicians. " About a month later he was asked to open for k.d.lang and was in a quandary about what to perform. He decided to commission some arrangements of "standards" for the instruments he had available, which included himself on piano, a classically trained cellist and jazzman, Phil Dwyer, on various woodwinds. "They went over like gangbusters," and that is where the idea for this November's concerts was born. He has commissioned eight different people, all but one from the world of pop music arranging, to do arrangements for it. The arrangers include Bruce Cassidy of Blood Sweat and Tears, session bass player, Tom Szezniak, Steve McKinnon, who has worked closely with Mark Jordan and Molly Johnson, Phil Dwyer, film composer, Jonathan Goldsmith, James Rolfe, the composer of Beatrice Chancey, violinist, Cameron Wilson ofJoe Trio and Montreal Jazz saxophonist, Cameron Wallace. He is delighted by what they have come up with: while leaving the melodies and harmonies intact, each has created a fresh new work of art that is sometimes dark and always interesting. The arrangers, too, are thrilled, having had the opportunity to be considerably more at liberty to let their own voices be heard than is possible in what they usually do. "What a treat for them to do anything they wanted! " In the end Andrew and Art of Time have a program of music that combines the accessibility of the pop world with the artistry and creativity of the classical world for the November concerts. "I really believe that classical music can appeal to a much wider audience," Burashko says. And he, for one, is helping blaze the trail. STRING QUARTETS Talking about string quartets is a bit like trying to talk about colour or the taste of wine - at best only a rough approximation of the experience, and certainly no substitute. If writing about quartets can, however, plant the idea that a string quartet concert is an experience worth seeking out, then it is not in vain. I would guess there are usually around one hundred string quartet concerts per season in and around Toronto. With eight in its current season, Music Toronto is probably the region's standard bearer, although the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society with five this season is not that far behind. Music Toronto's first quartet this season was the Tokyo String Quartet on October 20, the first of three 2005-06 Music Toronto performances. I attended that concert and found it fascinating to hear how different the quartet was when joined by each of the two guest artists. Music Toronto's next quartet concert will be the Miro Quartet on November 10. These young American winners of the 1998 Banff International String Quartet Competition, like the St. Lawrence String Quartet which won first prize in Banffin 1992, have a busy international touring schedule, are highly committed to teaching , and commission, perform and record new works. On the Mir6's November 10 program will be one contemporary work, a Canadian premiere performance of the Tinnitus Quartet (2005) by Native American composer, Brent Michael Davids, who is equally at home in the worlds of Western Classical Music and Native American Song. The other works on the program are Beethoven's Op. 18, No. 1 and Smetana's Quartet in e minor, which they will also perform November 9 at the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts. Then on November 11 they will perform all six quartets from Beethoven's opus 18 Miro Quartet for the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society. The New Zealand String Quartet makes the only Canadian appearance of its current North American tour at Music Toronto Nov 24. This quartet has been in residence at Banff, where its members got to know Zoltan Szekely, the student and colleague of both Bela Bart6k and Zoltan Kodaly, who lived at the Banff Centre from 1972 until his death in 2001. The quartet had the honour of being chosen by Szekely to give the premiere performance in 1999 in Banff of his only string quartet which he had composed about 62 years earlier. While this particular work is not on their November 24 program there will be performances, probably Canadian premieres, of Abhisheka by John Psathas and Three Transcriptions by Jack Body, both contemporary New Zealand composers. Another important string quartet, the Borodin String Quartet, will perform in Toronto on November 17, courtesy of Show One Productions. One of today's major quartets, the Borodin String Quartet was formed in 1945 by students from the Moscow Conservatoire, one of whom, 80-year old cellist Valentin Berlinsky still plays in the Quartet. While he is the only surviving founding member, violinist Andrei Abramenkov joined over 25 years ago, and Igor Naidin learned quartet playing from the Quartet's violist, Dmitri Shebalin, whom he eventually replaced. Having heard the Quartet last summer in Ottawa, I can vouch for its affinity with Russian repertoire, especially the quartets of Shostakovich, who personally supervised their study of each of them. You will never hear Shostakovich played like this again, except if you are I ucky enough to hear them again. Their connection with Shostakovich and his time is absolutely alive and authentic. While I feel this, for obvious reasons, is a concert not to miss, I recommend highly going to all three of these very different quartets (and the Takacs as well on December 8) to get a perspective on string quartets that can come only from hearing many performances. N OVEMBER 1 - D ECEMBE R 7 2005

KING OF INSTRUMENTS Throughout the concert season there are always noon-hour organ recitals at several churches: in Toronto at St. James' Cathedral and at Yorkminster Park Church and, until construction/renovation work began about two years ago, at St. Paul's Church on Bloor Street East; in Hamilton at Centenary United Church. In addition to these there are several very interesting concerts this month featuring the organ. One couple, William Wright, organist at Deer Park United Church and Patricia Wright, organist at Metropolitan United Church are responsible for two of these. On November 5 at Deer Park, the young British organist from Birmingham, Thomas Trotter will give a solo recital. According to one website that appeared when I typed in his name the critics are crazy about him: a reviewer of a concert he gave at London's Royal Festival Hall wrote " ... a performance of pyrotechnical wizardry where great contrasts provided episodes of exuberant colour. This was really enjoyable and fun stuff." Another wrote that he demystified the organ. At Metropolitan United Church November 18 there will be a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the church's Casavant organ, with performances by organists, Patricia Wright and Ryan Jackson and saxophonist, Daniel Rubinoff. The organ at Metropolitan will also be the featured instrument in an Esprit Orchestra performance of Henry Brant's lcefield on Thursday, December 1, a work postponed from last season because Brant will only allow it to be peformed on an organ with a full 64' stop. Organ concertos by Handel will be on programs of the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Orchestra (Jan Overduin, organ, Dec 7) and in Tafelmusik's concerts at Trinity-St. Paul's December 1-4 and at the George Weston Recital Hall on December 6. The conductor and organist at these Tafelrnusik concerts will be Richard Egarr, who has been described as "one of the most exciting and versatile musicians of his generation ... " In great demand as a soloist, chamber musician and conductor, he works regularly as a chamber partner with Andrew Manze, Jaap ter Linden and Catherine Bott, playing all types of historical keyboards and performing music from fifteenth century organ intabulations to the 20th century. His concerts with Tafelmusik here last year were a highlight of their season. Olivier Lairy Another prominent European organist will be performing this month. Olivier Latry, one of the three organists of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, will perform Francis Poulenc's Organ Concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on November 23 and 24. A prodigy, he became the organist at Meaux Cathedral at the age of nineteen and at age twenty-three won a competition for the appointment at Notre Dame. Mr. Latry will also give an organ recital at Roy Thomson Hall on November 24 at noon. Except for J.S. Bach's Fantaisie & Fuge in G minor, BWV 542 the program will be music by French composers. Renowned as an improviser, Mr. Latry will end the recital with an improvisation. The rededication of Grace Church on-the-Hill's 1925 threemanual Casavant organ will take place at 4:00 pm, Sunday, November 20 and will include an organ demonstration by Ron Jordan, a Choral Evensong featuring the Gentlemen & Boys Choir and the St. Cecilia Choir, a short organ recital featuring Ron Jordan and Douglas Schalin, and a reception. A large number of metal flue pipes have been replaced and many others have been regulated. Andrew Mead of Mead Music Services has made some strategic additions of solo reeds and pedal stops, so that the organ has some new colours, as well as more depth and richness. There is another organ in Toronto that needs a lot of work, the one in Convocation Hall on the campus of the University of Toronto. The question seems to be, where is the money to pay for it going to come from? Opera star and U ofT Faculty of Engineering graduate, Isabel Bayrakdarian, has stepped forward to help by giving a fundraising recital in Convocation Hall on Friday evening, November 25. • 200512006 David Hetherington, cello Patricia Parr, piano Joaquin Valdepefias, clarinet '"Masters of all they would play'" Globe and Mail FOUR FABULOUS FRIDAYS! November 4, March 3, April 21, May 12 SUPERB CHAMBER MUSIC! Mozart, Brahms, Czerny, Dvorak, Hetu (premiere), Morawetz and more E.>VV! 41 6--368-874-3 f O UR CONCERT SER I E S - REGULAR- 2, SENIORS- , STUDENTS· PLEASE NOTE THE REDUCED SUBSCRIPTION PRICE FOR SENIORS! GLENN GOULD STUDIO, 250 FRONT STREET WEST - 8:00PM \J ~~O'"S'e••NortoB~hiss~ O Presenting: True North Brass in concert ''Not your average brass ensemble!" Come see True North Brass live: N OVEM BER 1 - D ECEMBER 7 2005 Back to Ad Index WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE. COM 23

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