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Volume 12 - Issue 8 - May 2007

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I . 0 . Musical Diaryby

I . 0 . Musical Diaryby Colin EatockBusking experiment designed to fail?April 20, 2007: Now here's something interesting. Earlier thismonth, The Washington Post Magazine tried an experiment. A cleverjournalist talked the violin virtuoso Joshua Bell into busking infront of a Washington D.C. subway station, during the morningrush hour, just to see what would happen. Would busy bureaucrats,on their way to their offices, stop and listen for a minute? Wouldthey even notice that they were being serenaded by one of theworld's finest violinists?Sadly, the answers turned out to be no and no. Some peoplethrew coins in his direction (he made about ), but beyond that,few people seemed to care. A storm of internet chatter followed thislittle stunt, with some bloggers claiming the results were yet anotherproof that most people today are indifferent to talent and beauty.Now London's Independent newspaper has tried much thesame thing - persuading the renowned violinist Tasmin Little to playher Strad under a bridge near Waterloo Station. The results weren'tmuch different. "The well heeled, grey-haired clientele," noted thearticle, "are the most likely to turn away, lips pursed in snobbishdisapproval: busking, one may infer, is the equivalent to beggingand shouldn't be encouraged."April 25: 2007: Passing through the Bloor-Yonge subway station at4:30 pm, I pause to listen to a guitar-saxophone duo. At the conclusionof their jaunty rendition of "Ain't Misbehavin'," I take theopportunity to find out a little more about the local busking scene.I soon learn that the two young men, who call their bandThe Strip, are serious about their work, playing in subway stationsabout four days a week. They make money at it (although they declineto say exactly how much) - moreover, they also feel appreciatedby their transitory audience. "We thought that people would bekind of miserable on their way to work," guitarist Kevin Robinsonremarks, "but that's not the case. I appreciate it when people stop tolisten - but I don't get upset when they don't."There are other advantages to busking, as well: they selltheir CDs and distribute flyers about thbr upcoming engagements.And playing in subway stations is also a good way to try out theirown material on the public. "If people walk away humming one ofour songs," says Robinson, "that's a success."April 26, 2007: It's 11 :00 am, and the guitarist playing and singingSpanish songs in the Bloor-Yonge subway has attracted a smallcrowd around him. His name is Daniel Huezo, and he's originallyfrom El Salvador. He has no fewer than four CDs for sale - andthey're selling well. "I get gigs from playing in the subway," hetells me. Just don't call him a "busker," though. He prefers to describehimself as "a musician who performs in the TTC."Later in the day, I encounter a guitarist-singer-songwriternamed Ernest Osterhout in Spadina Station. When I ask him howbusiness is, he quips, "Considering that I have nothing to compare itto, it's pretty good!" And I also meet Nikolai Techtchenko, playinghis balalaika at York Mills Station. He's from Ukraine, and his Englishis a little weak - but he too has a CD for sale, and he plies mewith his business card.In short, by the end of the day, I've found nothing resemblingthe depressing image presented by The Washington Post andThe Independent. Musicians who play in the TTC seem to be anoptimistic, entrepreneurial bunch. Granted, they aren't internationalstars, used to making thousands of dollars a day - but they alsoaren't used to taking their audiences' willingness to listen for granted.Bloor-Yonge Station isn't Roy Thomson Hall, after all.In other words, perhaps Bell and Little simply lacked experiencein the art of busking (ifl may use the term) - and were, ineffect, unwitting guinea pigs in experiments designed to fail. Ormaybe they should just move to Toronto.**Colin Eatock is a Toronto-based composer and writer, who frequentlycontributes to The Globe and Mail and other publications.14 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COMVoxworks presents the first installment in their Dead Poets Society ,series, May 4 and 5 - British settings of the poe~ry of Robert Bridges.Innovative ProgrammingWhat struck me first about' the listings this issue was innovation inboth instrumentation and programming. Classics Organ Works onMay 12 wi\] reveal the potential of MIDI technology as applied to theorgan. The same evening organist/pianist, George Heldt, will performon both instruments at St. Mark's Church in Don Mills. A presenternew to me, Voxworks, will present music by British composers whoset the words of English poet Robert Bridges May 4 and 5. On May 6Off Centre brings us Spanish-influenced music by composers of variousnationalities. The same afternoon, Alicier Arts p~esents its verydifferent variation on the same theme.The bells - hand bells, that is - will be ringing at St. John's YorkMills (accompanied by fiddler Christopher Jaaskeliiinen) on May 6,and June 2 at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. The MississaugaSymphony's May 5 concert will be on a cowboy theme and Morricone'spowerful score from the film The Mission will be performed bythe York Symphony Orchestra on May 6. The TSO won't be left inanyone's dust either: June 1 and 2 they offer a "comic" oratorio, NOTthe Messiah, by Eric Idle, who, believe it or not, is TSO music directorPeter Otindjian's cousin! Art of Time Ensemble gives us songs ina wide variety of styles, in their Toronto Song Book concert on M~y1 O and 11. Bora Dugic, a player of the Serbian Shepherd's flute willperform at Glenn Gould Studio on May 13, presented by the Academyof Serbian Folk Dancing; and on May 14 the Rudolph familywill perform music for flute, viola and percussion.New PresentersI have already mentioned several new presenters. Several others caughtmy eye: Panda Eye Passion (May 6); Chinese Artists Society, doinga concert on May 13 with a re-incarnated Baroque Music Besidethe Grange; Li Delon - East Meets West (May 20); Mosaic Trio(May 24); Toronto Opera Ensemble (May 26); Etobicoke YouthStrings (May 28) and Melodic Voices Opera Ensemble (June 2).They are all in the concert listings.

Vocal RecitalsAmerican superstar soprano, DeborahVoigt, described as "a vocalpowerhouse with one of the world'smost thrilling voices," will makeher Toronto debut on May 8 at RoyThomson Hall.Another thrilling voice, that ofsoprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, willperform with Amici and friends,including her pianist husband SeroujKradjian, May 25 . And as thejoke goes, what's three times more__ (you fill in the blank) thanone diva? Why, three divas, ofcourse, and three (count 'em) -Deborah Voigt at RTH May 8Patricia O'Callaghan, Jean Stilwelland Theresa Tova - are on Tapestry's May 26-27 program. TheTalisker Players will bring us both innovfitive programming and greatsingers - mezzo Norine Burgess and tenor Colin Ainsworth - withpianist, Peter Longworth, on May 29.FestivalsWith the Open Ears Festival at the end of April, the festival season isalready off to a flying start, and I detect rather more thematic festivalsthan usual. The Deep Wireless Festival, which runs from May 1 to31, is covered elsewhere in this issue (see Some Thing New, page 22).The Organix Festival runs from May 5 to June 1, with an emphasison the organ in combination with other jnstruments - trumpet on May9, giano on May 23, percussion on May 30 and choir on June 1. Theirorgan and percussion event, by the way, would have fitted naturallyinto the Cool Drummings International Percussion Festival, anothercreation from the fertile curatorial mind of Lawrence Cherney, broughtto us from May 22 to 27. The ambitious LuminaTO Festival opens onJune 1 with Idle's NOT the Messiah, and The Book of Longing byLeonard Cohen and Philip Glass.Just two days later, on June 3, a new series of summer concerts,Music at Sh~ron, programmed by former Livent programmer, andcurrently Maclean' s Magazine writer, Stephen Cera, begins with JacquesIsraelievitch and friends performing a program of Frencltand Canadianmusic. See our Beyond the GTA listings for details.Never a dull moment! Read our listings carefully. There's LOTSmore there!7m7::{[A1}1 ;f ·.~Qlicf1:P1l!fllA . (~'l!UtW!l ···f ~1 1hl .· .. n'"Bringing J-fome Concer t Stanaara"~infoniaiorontoNURHAN ARMANMUSIC DIRECTORToronto ' sChamber OrchestraGrace Church on-the-Hill300 Lonsdale RoadSeason finale!ALINE KUTAN SopranoSaturday, May 5, 8 pm , , $12BRIAN CHERNEY IlluminationsBRITIEN Les illuminationsDVORAK Sextet, orchestral versionSubscribe to an exciting new seasonOct 26 SHAUNA ROlSTON CellistCOUPERIN Piece de ConcertTCHAIKOVSKY Andante cantabileBURGE One Sail & Fid,dleSuiteGRIEG Holberg SuiteNov 16 ANYA AlEIEYEV PianistDVORAK Piano Quintet in.A orchestral versionELGAR Suite from the Spanish LadyELGAR Introduction and AllegroDec 14 PHOEBE TSANG ViolinistHANDEL Sinfonia and Pifa from Messiah'HA YON Violin Concerto in CSCOTI GOOD Anguished GriefSIBELIUS Voces lntimaeFeb 1 KAREN OUZOUNIAN CellistSHOSTAKOVICH Chamber Symphony Op. 83BOCGHERINI Cello Concerto in B-flat majorBEETHOVEN Quartet op. 135 orchestral versionMar 7 PAOlO CIARDI ConductorMOZART Divertimento K 137MENDELSSOHN Sinfonia No. 12SOMERS Suite on Canadian Folk SongsVERDI SinfoniaApr4 HEATHER SCHMIDT PianistBACH Piano Concerto in f minorSCHMIDT Piano Concerto No. 3TCHAIKOVSKY Serenade()pening May 2007May 9 JUDY KANG ViolinistANDRE PREVOST HommageTARTINI Devil's TrillKREISLER Liebeslied & LiebesfreudDVORAK Serenade7 concerts for 9 ad, 9 sr, stwww.sinfoniatoronto.com 416 499 0403MAY 1 - )UNE 7 2007 WWW. THEWHOlENOTE.COM 15

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