7 years ago

Volume 12 - Issue 6 - March 2007

  • Text
  • Theatre
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  • April
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  • Symphony
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  • Choral
  • Violin

DISG rp\'- ~ \~EDITOR'S

DISG rp\'- ~ \~EDITOR'S CORNER by David OldsAs I write this column the JUNO nominations have recently been announcedand I notice that once again this year we have managed to covermost of the discs nominated in the four classical categories in thesepages. As for the omissions, in our defence I would mention that thosefew we did miss were never sent to us for review and I anticipate thatwe will be able to rectify this in our next issue. The thing that jumped outat me right away from the list was the resounding presence of both theCanadian Music Centre and Music Toronto. The CMC's Centrediscslabel received four nominations in the Composition of the Year category,with the fifth going to an independent CD also distributed by the CMC. Inthe Classical Album of the Year, solo or chamber category, both MusicToronto's original ensemble-in-residence, the St. Lawrence Quartet, andMT's current collaborators, the Gryphon Trio, received nominations:the St. Lawrence for its EMI recording of Shostakovich string quartetsand the Gryphon for its complete Mozart trios for Analekta. I fully expectthat the Gryphons will find themselves nominated again for theirown Shostakovich recording (as described in my column last month)come this time next year and it wouldn't surprise me to see their newestrelease, Christos Hatzis' Constantinople, short-listed in both theperformance and composition categories too. You can read HeidiMcKenzie's impressions of that CD in this edition of DISCoveries.It is another confluence of the CMC and MusicToronto which brings me to my first pick thismonth. Centrediscs has released a surprising- number of discs recently - so many that it_1 cffrc_v ]~ _vanseems hard to keep up with them. I was goingto say that the most recent is the disc I'm aboutto address, Jeffrey Ryan's "Quantum Mechanics"(CMCCD 12206), but I realize thatthere is already yet another Centredisc in hand,featuring music of Elizabeth Raum, that will have to wait until nextmonth for review. Ryan has been Music Toronto's composer-advisor forthe past 10 years, ever since manager Jennifer Taylor launched MT'sContemporary Classics series, and he is also currently the composer inresidence with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Ryan's disc openswith Bellatrix, or "Female Warrior", for solo violin, a track whichbegins with a war-like cry from Annalee Patipatanakoon of the GryphonTrio. This virtuosic and theatrical work utilises many vocalisations andbreath sounds in addition to its stringent technical demands. While primarilyaggressive in nature, Bellatrix also has moments of reflection andlyricism, all of which are captured admirably in this performance. TheCD presents diverse sides of Ryan, including an effective string arrangementof the haunting choral work ecce homo in which the Music TorontoChamber Society players are joined by the Penderecki String Quartetand bassist Dave Young, Stillpoint for flute, harp and violin with Patipatanakoon,Susan Hoeppner and Erica Goodman, and two works withpercussionist Beverley Johnston. Johnston is teamed with harpist Goodmanin the quietly dramatic Poison Wind, which draws parallels betweenthe fiercely hot Saharan wind known as a simoom and our own risinglevels of urban air pollution. She is also featured in Two-by-Four, achamber concerto for marimba and mixed ensemble. But the highlightfor me is the very successful Quantum Mechanics, a work first "read"by the Arditti String Quartet in Ottawa at the inaugural Strings of theFuture Festival in 1997 and since given concert performances by sixdifferent ensembles. It is recorded here by Scott St. John, Annalee Patipatanakoon,David Harding and Roman Borys, all long-time colleaguesof Ryan's from their association with Music Toronto. And Music Torontowill celebrate the release of this disc and the Gryphon's recent Shostakovichand Hatzis CDs at their March 6 concert at Jane Mallett Theatre.In closing I would note that Jeffrey Ryan served as an affiliate composerto the Toronto Symphony for two seasons and the TSO' s recentThe many faces ofthe very singularMARY Lou FALLISMary Lou Fallis issomeone who needsno introduction in Canadianclassical musicalcircles. She isperhaps best known asthe co-creator, withpianist/composer PeterTiefenbach, andplayer of the title rolein the "Primadonna"comic send-ups of operaand opera singers.As such she willbe performing theweek of February 26-March 3 in the WinnipegComedy showinterviewed by Allan PulkerMary Lou Fallis with "Prima Donna"co-creator Peter Tiefenbach.with some of Canada' s best stand-up comedians and will also be participatingin the CBC Radio show, The Debaters, debating the questionwhether opera has any relevance to today' s society - you'll haveto tune in, however, to find out which side she's on! RegularWholeNote readers will also know that she is the mother and firstteacher of Anna Madgett (December 2004) and that she keeps up hersight-reading by singing in the highly professional St. Thomas's AnglicanChurch Evensong Choir.There are other things she does that are much less known: shehas been a voice teacher for almost ten years at the University ofWestern Ontario; she has been a collaborator with a number ofprominent Canadian composers; and she is the co-producer and musicalintelligence behind the Bathroom Divas reality TV series onBravo Television.For a coloratura soprano who went through the University ofToronto's Faculty of Music, sang in the COC chorus, auditioned forthe Met, went down to New York and early on did a "Town Hall"debut concert, hers is an unusual career. "I was on my way to beinga coloratura soubrette ... and at some point around getting marriedand thinking about having children, I just realized that this wasn'twhat I wanted. It wasn't because I couldn't do it, but the fact wasthat I was a coloratura - not a dramatic diva who could sing thoseheavy, down-and-dirty roles that were of more interest to me. At thatpoint I began to develop an alternative reality , an alternative performancepersona who had done all the things that I would have liketo do but couldn't because of my voice type. So I pretended I was adiva with all this experience looking back on my career. Because Iknew enough about the operatic performance world, I could writegood comedy about it. "The rest, of course, is history, as she and creative and performancepartner, Peter Tiefenbach, have toured extensively with theshow which has been universally enthusiastically received.10 WWW. TH EWHOLEN OTE.COM M ARCH 1 - A PR IL 7 2007

With her co-judges on the "Bathroom Divas" set:L-R: Daniel Lichti, Mary Lou Fallis, Tom Diamond and Liz Upchurch.For the last two years, however, quite a different persona has come tothe fore, that of co-producer of the Bathroom Divas reality TV seriescurrently being shown on Bravo. "I was approached about doing thisand was initially wary because certain experiences had caused me todistrust television as a medium. No one in the production company hadever even seen an opera and I had been told by a lot of people to stayaway from it. On the other had, television is here to stay, and knowinghow to be on television and be interviewed is one of the skills that onehas to master as a person in the public world. So I met the producers,Paul McConvey and Mike Ward, liked them and discovered that theywere highly respected in the television world. I thought, ifl design areal process for the neophyte singers to go through that has integrity toit, the truth will come out. By doing this the show could do a lot ofgood for the operatic art and also for people who dream of being creativeat any point in their lives and really going after something."The show has been successful beyond their wildest dreams. Lastyear it was one of the most highly rated shows on Bravo, and in itssecond year the numbers are up. "People are attracted by substance,they're hungry for it, and that's what the show has. " John Doyle in theGlobe and Mail perhaps said it best: "It's about real people doing realwork."The idea is that from hundreds of auditions, six people are chosenby a panel of four experts to participate in a five-week long "operaboot camp," from which one participant is voted out by the panel eachweek until only one remains, who goes on to perform with a majorsymphony orchestra as a prize. "It's about really working and itshows that you can improve." What makes the show of universal interestis that it is really about character and a work-ethic, not aboutsinging: "It wasn't necessarily the best singer or the person who hadthe best voice that would win - it was not a singing contest per se." Itwas, therefore, perhaps not surprising that both years she was surprisedby the final outcome.She has also been surprised by some of the anecdotal feedback shehas received about it: "My students at Western get together and watchit over pizza and a bottle of wine and debate about the decisions of thepanel!" Some singers who have been "stuck" have seen their problemaddressed and have been able to use what they saw and heard to get"unstuck"; and the 10-year old daughter of a friend now knows thatshe wants to become an opera singer."In the first two episodes, which I had seen at the time of writing,you see a side of Mary Lou Fallis that she seldom shows outside ofBathroom Divas and her studio at Western - a very serious and perceptiveteacher. "I find that teaching is one of the most rewardingthings I do. Coming to it as I do , it is important not to overwhelm thestudent with how important you are and all the things you've done. ICONTINUES ON PAGE 12Women's Musical Club of TorontoAFTERNOON CONCERTMarch 15, 1.30 p.m.OCTAGONMayumi Seiler, violinBenjamin Bowman, violinRivka Golani, violaCarole Sirois, celloJoel Quarrington, bassJames Campbell, clarinetKenneth MacDonald, hornGeorge Zukerman, bassoonProgramme:Septet, Op. 20 - Ludwig van BeethovenOctet, Op. 166 - Franz SchubertWalter Hall, Edward Johnson Building80 Queen's ParkTickets 416-923-7052UPCOMING CONCERT:Marion Newman, mezzo-soprano, Gregory Oh, pianoProgramme to include the premiere of a new workby Barbara Croall, commissioned by the WMCT.April 26, 1.30 p.m.Subscribe to mu6ic in lhe_A./ternoonI /Oth--4nni11er6arlJ Sea6on2007-2008Thursday afternoons at 1.30 p.m.Six great concerts for the early-bird price of 5(Available to new subscribers May 1 - May 30th)With Pre-concert Lecture for Subscribers 12.15 p.m.St. Lawrence String QuartetOctober 18, 2007Anton Kuerti, piano, & Teng Li, violaNovember 15, 2007James Ehnes, violinStewart Goodyear, pianoDecember 6, 2007Karina Gauvin, sopranoMarie-Nicole Lemieux, contraltoMichael McMahon, pianoFebruary 7, 2008Shannon Mercer, soprano - March 6, 2008The Beaux Arts Trio -April 10, 2008Walter Hall, Edward Johnson BuildingFor more information or tosubscribe, call 416-923-7052www.wmct.on.caMARCH 1 - APRI L 7 2007 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE. COM 11

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