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Volume 13 - Issue 6 - March 2008

A Choral Life

A Choral Life Q&Afeaturing Kristina BijelicCOMPILED AND EDITED BY MJ BUELLWhat was your first-ever choral experience?I can thank my grade 5 drama teacher, Ms. Eisen, for starting my choral, and eventually, my opera career. She introduced me to Ann CooperGay, the current artistic director of the Canadian Children's OperaCompany. I started off with Ann in the High Park Children's Choirs,which was conveniently up the street from my school. When Ann movedto the CCOC, I decided to go with her and try it out. Eight years later Ipat myself on my (at the time) 11-year-old back for deciding this. Theexperiences just keep getting better.Are you currently singing with a choir? How did you choose the choir?I am still with the CCOC in the Youth Chorus (for older teenagers). TheYC is for you if you' re taller than most of the other children in the PrincipalChorus and pianissimo is the only acceptable volume for you to singin order to ensure a " blend" of voices. Also, if you encounter large pilesof homework when you come home, or if you're in university.Where does your choral singing fit into other aspects of your life?There are basically two parts to my life: Life and Choir. My friends willactually say, "Hey Kristina, you wanna go out this weekend? Oh wait,let me guess, you have choir. " The CCOC has an extremely demandingschedule, but I would be lying if I said I didn 't love it. I am one of thosestrange people who likes being busy all the time, and choir became theperfect outlet. The Youth Chorus is slightly less demanding time-wise,but the demand on quality and discipline is the same. Choir has reallyhelped me achieve a balance in my life: it's both social and disciplined; italso forces me to manage my time outside of choir.What kind of concerts do you like to attend? How often?My family subscribes to the Canadian Opera Company and to OperaAtelier, and occasionally to the TSO. I also go to Tafelmusik concertsonce in a while. Of course, I also go to non-classical music concerts; Ican think of Feist and Paco Pefia off the top of my head. The Spice Girlswere my most recent indulgence.What qualities make you admire a choral conductor?I love Ann - as a conductor, as a musician, as a person. In teenagerlanguage, she rocks. She is an extremely knowledgeable and talentedmusician, firm but kind. Most importantly she genuinely cares aboutevery single person in the choir and in the organization. This is what Ithink makes a good conductor. She has raised my standards to the pointthat I will not accept anything less than what she demands both of myselfand of a conductor. Ann has made my choir experience what it is.CHG)IfSQllTaRIG)·, ·""" y ...,,., ,,.- .t) ,.2009 Ontario Youth ChoirConductor searchApplication deadline: 21June, 2008Submit letter of interest, cv & 3 references to:Conductor Search CommitteeChoirs Ontario, 330 Walmer Rd, Toronto ON MSR 2Y4Members of the CCOC!CYOC on tour in Austria. From left to right:Zebedee Serranilla, Liron Groisman, Peter Oundjian, LaraOundjian, Philip Jevtovic, Kristina Bijelic, Mathew Galloway,Gabrielle Blais-JonesDo you have an anecdote about touring?The CCOC toured in Austria and Hungary last summer. None of thechoristers spoke either German or Hungarian. In Budapest, we hadbilleting arrangements with the host choir, and we were broken up intopairs or small groups and stayed with families . My partner and I got awonderful woman named Sacci who was so kind and lovely. But she didnot speak English, and neither my partner nor I spoke Hungarian.Thankfully, it was eventually established that both Sacci and I knewenough Russian to get by, so we said nouns in Hungarian with the help ofour pocket dictionaries and verbs in Russian and no one went hungry.After a performance in which I had a solo Sacci hugged me so tightly,saying what I'm sure were very affectionate words in Hungarian. Sheeventually said "Oh, my beautiful girl!" in Russian, which I did understand,but sometimes, the way you say something is more important.As a person, these diverse experiences shape who I am; this goes withoutsaying. As a performer, I truly think that choir plays a vital part inshaping me. As a chorister, if the spotlight is not on you, you learn toblend in, you learn humility and conformity. Solo roles are when you canshine, and "do your own thing" . This creates a very well-balanced personwho is neither conceited nor terrified of performing. I have beenplaying violin since the age of 4 , and I feel the same way about orchestras.There is nothing more amazing than performing an incredible pieceof music as part of a large group of people: You feel the unity, the commonthread between so many people. It is this feeling that made medecide that performing was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.Future opera singer Kristina Bijelic is a grade 12 student at HumbersideCollegiate, hoping to attend U of T next year. She studies ballet at AtelierBallet and is preparing to sing Eurydice in Offenbach's "Orpheus in theUnderworld" with the CYOC in May.The CCOC production of "Dragon in the Rocks" by Marie Day andAlexander Rapopon stans March 7.May is the month for our CANARY PAGES -WholeNote's annual "yellow pages"guide to choirs of all kinds. ,.,.,. ..LLJ,~For information on how your choircan be included, please contact416-323-2232 ext. 26, or • • 416 923 rr44Submission deadline is Friday, April 11.52 WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE .COM M ARCH 1 - APRIL 7 2008

Authentic Beauty 2Practical Pleasure - Quentin Playfair, Luthierthe carving part of what I do is my most portable work. It's spring there,daffodils and all!BY MJ BUELLQuentin Playfair's Toronto career began with JO years' work at"Did J ever tell you about the time I came home from university for the George Heinl and Sons, before establishing his own business. He saysholidays, and J brought my bass to Quentin to fix a seam? He saw he learned a great deal from the other Heinl workers who werewhat poor condition my strings were in. Knowing I was a broke stu- "knowledgeable good guys. " Today his work is increasingly on build-! [---ll~ k dent, he called up my ing instruments, although his reputation for being "the guy you want· teacher to find out what to call" for repairs is not going to go away His work centres aroundf ·•,-· L -1. kind J would need and violins and violas, viols and the occasional "oddball thing. "''~ then called my pa'rents I seldom fix basses, simply because, for an instrument maker, space is/I and told them what exact- an issue. It's a pity about the basses, because bass people are some ofly they needed to get me the ~cest folks. I've seen. harps, a hurdy-gurdy o~ two-not for the meforChristmas ... He's chamcs-but when there s a crack, well... wood 1s wood.amazing like that. He There's that practical voice, combining history and geography, woodtreats every person the and tools. So willing to talk lovingly about the intricacies of the insame--ifthey have a struments he fixes and makes. But he does not romanticize.00 instrument or they A violin is a tool, not an art object-not that I don't treat them withare the C,?ncertmaster of respect-a tool for a musician. When you have a thing that was madethe TSO -A.L.Supposing you met this soft-spoken gentleman, Quentin Playfair, on ain 1600 for a musician in Mantua to play on, it's come an awfully long wayto be stuck in the collection of an investment banker, gushed about fortrans-Atlantic flight. And after chatting for a bit, you ask "What work rather the wrong reasons. It should be preserved for music-making. notdo you do?"I would probably shuffie a little and say I'm a woodworker. People go alltucked away with your original Apple certificates.gushy when I tell them I make and repair violins. They have a romanticizedconcept: something to do with sipping herbal tea and wearing sandals. It'seasier to avoid this than correct it.Quentin Playfair grew up in Cambridge, England. Music was part of acultural weave that included the renowned St. John's College Choirand the Cambridge Philharmonic Society. His mother, a member of thePhilharmonic Choir, later played viola in the orchestra. His grandmother,on his (doctor) father's side, was an eminent violinist. Quentinattended St. John's College School.I was not one of the boys in the ruffled collars. being groomed for the Collegechoir. But I remember at 6 or 7 having to sing "Sire the night is coldernow ... " in Good King Wenceslas, all the commotion when Elvis got calledup and was being sent to Germany, and being stunned by the Mendelssohnviolin concerto at about 8.Quentin played some classical guitar as a young person, but in factcame to his "woodworking, " and ultimately his place in the hearts ofperiod string players here, by way of reading history at university.My main areas of interest in history were the years of the 1600s and 1700s.and with that came an interest in Elizabethan music. During this time, Icame into a little money from my musical grandmother. I decided I'd like toplay the lute. There was no lute-maker in Cambridge, so this involved hourshanging around a workshop in Ely.I finished my degree realizing I was happier doing practical things- theone who got asked to put up a shelf, or fix the fridge. I came from a familyof doctors, lawyers, academics, an occasional musician: nobody I wasrelated to had actually made anything in years. I got interested in makinginstruments.My training began when I signed up for an evening class in Cambridge,taught by Juliet Barker, who trained in Mittenwald, Germany. It's a smallworld .... in March I'm going over there to teach an intensive course for herand spend some time with my English family. I' II take my scrolls with me-WorldSongs Vocal Camp for AdultsVillage music from around the world-+-July 23-27For people who love singing!!!!Featuring: Alan Gasser, Becca Whit/a,Greg Furlong, and Val Mindel2008 Summer Singing Retreaton Lake Simcoewww 416-588-9050, ex 2Quentin is quite clear that a period instrument doesn 1 have to be oldto make authentic music, and asserts that in its time, period music wasgenerally performed on fairly new instruments.It may be gorgeous, and have me drooling, but old, in 1700, meant aninstrument made around 1600. If you say "I'd like my setup in authenticbaroque style" (the birth of Monteverdi to death ofTelemann) that's 200years of instrument makers' exploring and shifting. So we will compromise:I will attempt to make something that will not surprise a player from1680 and you will PLAY like someone in Telemann's orchestra, orMonteverdi's. Just as importantly buy a good baroque bow and getsome lessons. More important than the instrument itself. the first step isan intellectual one, informing the right hand.Back to history:People don't seem to be taught history very thoughtfully ... there's aconductor in Ottawa who seems to believe that the folks of the l 7'hcentury ran around quoting limp-wristed sonnets at each other. It wasan unspeakably brutal time. In 1705, on the road to hear Buxtehude inLubeck, Bach would have passed many public gallows with unfortunatesleft hanging to rot.Back to the practical:I don't take commissions, and I won't take a deposit (barring somekind of totally esoteric specifics.) I think they scare people. If you askme to build something for you, when it's ready, you have it for twoweeks. If you like each other, it 's payment in full. If it's not a goodmatch, you hand it back with no hard feelings.And the present:I'm finishing the 'cello in the photograph, and brooding about what kindof violin to make next. I spend a lot of time in consultation, discussion,and argument, with people all over- by email, and by visiting.But personal contact is so important. ...Which is why you might meet him on that !rans-Atlantic flight.tlieBEACH SUMMER_ VOICE--- !%~ -July 17-21 Choral Week: Ensembles & Solos . $July 24-28 @perl!._ Week:_ Ensembles & Solos(l)ai{y Lessons anrf 'Masterc(asses, S11za{{ C(asses -;'.'.''Marjorie Spark.§,)Irtistic (J)irector416.893.8648mheitshu@sympa.tico.cawww.ma1joriesparksvoicestudio.comM ARCH 1 - APRIL 7 2008 WWW.THEWHO LENOTE,COM 53

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