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Volume 13 - Issue 8 - May 2008

Includes the 2008 Canary Pages

Choral Sceneby Allan Pu

Choral Sceneby Allan Pu IkerEvisceration, CBC-styleAnother spring is here, another year has passed and another "CanaryPages," ( the sixth) has rolled off the press to reveal the abundance ofchoral music riches in our community. But, is all as well as it seems?Storm clouds are gathering on the horizon and moving our way. Irefer to the evisceration of art music programming on our nationalradio network, the CBC, and most especially in this context to theremoval of Howard Dyck's "Choral Concert" programme from theairwaves.There has been lots of fretting and complaining and even a rally infront of the CBC Broadcast Centre attended by a number of leadersof the musical community. There will be another rally at the CBCBroadcast Centre on Saturday, May 24 beginning at l :00 to supportthe maintenance of classically-oriented programming on Radio Two.I certainly plan to be there and hope many of you will also. I hope,however, that this event is not seen only as a protest. The protest, inmy opinion, is dead as a means of effecting change and simply evokesimages of marginalized people venting their frustrations. It's a rallyaffirming music and everything else that is beautiful and good aboutCanada. I think that what would make this event most powerful is ifeveryone there sang together. Choral music is a powerful mediumthat can bring people together, participants and listeners alike. Whatis needed is unity in the face of actions that are proving quite divisive.Serendipitously, speaking of the power of choral music, a film called"The Singing Revolution" is being shown at the Carlton Cinemas inToronto from Friday, April 25 to Friday, May 1. This film tells thestory of how 20,000 Estonians' voices united in song united theircountry to declare its independence and free it from five decades ofSoviet oppression. The run will be extended if there is sufficientdemand, so let's hope it continues long enough for word to get out. Ifyou want to find out more, visit singingrevolution.com ortorontoscreenshots. com/2008/04/06/the-singing-revolution!.These websites convey , strikingly, the social power of music,something we should, in my opinion, be more aware of. Quite rightlywe view music as an interior, personal experience, but what this filmdemonstrates is also its power to unite and inspire peoplecollectively. What a wonderful story and testimonial to the power ofordinary people and the power of music . I'm not equating what'sgoing on at the CBC to Soviet-style oppression, but we are feeling thethreat of our cultural identity being undermined and feeling as ifthere's not much we can do about it. Perhaps recent developments inour national radio network are a good thing insofar as they canprompt us to reassess the place of music in life and stage our ownsinging revolution, uniting this country by the power of music andinspiring our countrymen to stand up for full-strength artisticprogramming on our national radio network. So come out on May 24and bring your voice!Meanwhile, on a brighter note, our sixth annual "Canary Pages",following page 36 in the listings, profiles over 150 choralorganizations, and bears witness to the vitality of the art of choralsinging in our community. If you're not already singing in a choir,here is your golden opportunity to play the field, go out and hear thechoirs that interest you and then audition for the one that you reallywant to be part of. Inspiring as it is to hear choral singing, it is evenmore inspiring and energizing actually to sing in a choir.Has the singing revolution already begun? There are sixty-nine choralevents in Section l of our listings (the GTA), and twenty-six inSection 2 (Beyond) . Each and every one of these events isextraordinary in the sense that innumerable "person" -hours havegone intopreparing them:from selecting,learning andrehearsing themusic, topromoting,publicizing andstaging them. Theprograms have allbeen carefullythought out withconsiderablecreativity andimagination.Some are oldneglected works,like Handel 'sJoshua which theOrpheus Choir isperforming onMay 11 , and theunjustifiablyCBC Radio 2 rally: noted conductorLydia Adams speaks outalmost-forgotten music of Anglo-Irish composer, Ernest Moeran,which is on the Elmer lseler Singers' May 30 program. Some are byvisitors like the Mystere des voix Bulgares, which is performing onMay 13. Some celebrate the emerging musical tradition of Canadaand the United States, like the Exultate Chamber Singers' concert onMay 23. Others will inspire us with the singing traditions of othercultures, like the Toronto Jewish Folk Choir's program of Yiddishmusic on June l, and the Jubilate Singers and North 44 ChamberChoir's programs of African-inspired music on June 7. Some choirsare bringing to us acknowledged masterpieces, which remain alwaysnew, whether you are hearingthem for the first or the fiftiethtime: the Toronto MendelssohnChoir, for example, isperforming Haydn's Creation onMay 2, and Tafelmusik is doing aseries of performances ofMozart's Requiem beginning onMay 7. There are children'schoirs , youth choirs, women'schoirs, men's choirs and mixedchoirs, ethnic choirs and eclecticchoirs, big and small choirs,amateur and professional,secular and sacred, but all withone thing in common: acommitment to producing musicwith the voice and, I am sure, anawareness of the positive energywhich this activity can bring intoour lives. Choral music is trulyone of the great achievements ofBOSLEYREAL ESTATEBOS LEY UAL ! 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civilization. May we all seek and find ways to support and nurture itto continue to thrive. At the very least, we could all go out to hearone choral concert listed in this issue of the magazine.A footnote: lest it seem my lament about Choral Concert is atempest in a teapot, the following open letter from the conductor ofthe embattled CBC Radio Orchestra, Alain Trudel, tells an equallytroubling tale.An Open Letter - April I st, 2008Dear members of my orchestra, colleagues, and music loversacross the country, over the past few days I have received yourmany communications concerning the untimely demise of theCBC Radio Orchestra (CRO). I want to thank you so much foryour concern and love for the Orchestra. I am very moved to seehow many people understand the importance of the CRO(celebrating it's 70th anniversary this season) for Canadians ofall musical backgrounds.The musicians, and myself are, of course, devastated by the lossof our mandate from the CBC, which first gave us life. In thistime of shock and obvious distress, I think it is important toarticulate, as clearly as possible, the value that our Orchestrabrings to music lovers from everywhere in our country and tothe CBC itself. In order to move forward, we need to grasp whatit stands for and its place in our cultural life.At this moment the CRO is one of the top orchestras in thecountry; an orchestra, which we as Canadians have spent sevendecades building. This Orchestra is a musical jewel and a culturallandmark.Being the only Radio Orchestra in the Americas, the CRO is theONE music ensemble that sets the Canadian music scene apart.By its existence, its mission and its work, it helps defineCanada's uniqueness.Throughout it's history the CRO has called upon composers andperformers of all cultural backgrounds from across our country,proving that music is alive in our country, even when othermatters may cause despair or discouragement.Through liveperformance and national broadcast exposure the CRO givesexposure to Canadian soloists and composers, sending a messageof hope to all young Canadian creators and to musicians of allmusical backgrounds. It shows that their voices will be heard andcelebrated.Throughout my tenure, I have insisted that we develop projectsfrom all musical genres, including jazz, world, pop and Canadiannative music. In 2007, we started the Great Canadian SongBook, which commissioned a diverse roster of composers tocreate "art song" settings of works from Joni Mitchell to NeilYoung, from Buffy Ste-Marie to Serge Fiori and MichelRivard.The CRO has developed creative projects around musicfrom Asia and the Middle-East; around jazz improvisers as wellas traditional orchestral repertoire as well as collaborating withthe rapper K-os. During the last season, we commissioned 18works over seven concerts. Through the CBC Radio Orchestra,the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is not only seen as aprogrammer but also as an active partner in Canadian art-making.TRUDEL CONTINUES ON PAGE 28m~infqnia10fOfiLONURHAN ARMANMUSIC DIRECTORToro nto' sChRmber Orc h Ai:.frMToronto s /Jestconcert vulue!2008-2009 Masterpiece Series~I , ·1111'.a1 ~ Jr~:t~t? Feb 6 ~1f., GLORIOUS ,t, BAROQUE rjl: CONCERTI i],'}t.c , • .'"' ~r1 lfilml.{ ~Ocl 17ANGELA PARKPianistMozart , ElgarTchaikovskyNov 14Violinist~Schubert, SarasateDvorakDec 12DARKO BRLEKC/arinetistMozart, Grieg, MendelssohnApr 3Mar 6DENISEDJOKICCellistMoy 8ALEXANDRE DACOSTAViolinistKreisler encores, Mozart, DvorakDARRETT ZUSKO PianistJONATHAN CEGYS Bassist7 concert series 9 adult, 9 senior, student/Gen-Yes! (lo 29)Grace Church on-the-Hill 300 Lonsdale Rood416.499.0403 Buy on line and save per seal www .sinfonioloronlo.comMAY 1 - J UNE 7 2008 WWW.THEWHOLENO TE.COM 1 7

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