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Volume 13 - Issue 9 - June 2008

Choral Sceneby Allan Pu

Choral Sceneby Allan Pu IkerIn this issue, instead of my usual Quodlibet and Choral Scenecolumns, we are publishing the text of a speech given by Tafelmusiks Ivars Taurins at the May 24 rally outside the CBC BroadcastCentre to advocate for arts-centred programming on Radio 2.In this text Taurins directly and succinctly addresses the philosophicalrationale for our national radio network to continue to buildits programming schedule around art music.From a purely practical angle, I might add, the CBC managementsthinking is about ten years behind the times. Remember theold days when the popular wisdom was that interest in classicalmusic was dying out? Today s realities reveal how dated that thinkingis: WholeNote s Listings, for example, could not exist in a climateof tepid interest in music. Our DISCoveries section revealsunprecedented activity in the domain of recorded music. Our musicalculture is dynamic, exciting and growing. It should be supported,promoted and shared nationally by the CBC.If you wish to know more about the restructuring of programmingat CBC Radio 2 and the efforts to stem the proposed changes,the website www.standonguardforcbcradio.ca has a wealth ofinformation. Also consult www.cbc.ca/radio2!Protest rallies were held in Toronto and Vancouver on May 24. TheToronto group assembled at 12:30 pm, got organized, and entered theCBC building. After singing "O Canada" in the Atrium, the rally groupgathered at nearby Simcoe Park for an afternoon of speeches by over30 conductors, critics, performers, students, music professors, a doctorand a music critic.Conductor Ivars Taurins' closing address:I'm here today because I have a passion forthe things I believe in. That passion runsdeeper than logic can rationalize or explain.Time and time again the old debate of therelevance of western European art and musicin our modern North American societyrears its head. What relevance does the "oldWorld" have on our "enlightened" modernsociety? The question of relevance has beenutilized by the CBC management in reevaluatingand restructuring its programming, notonly on radio but on television as well.I begin by asking the question: whatpossible relevance could the music of Bachand Mahler, and the paintings of Monet and other impressionists, havewith the strong traditional culture of Japan?I hope to explain: Japan has identified in its society and culture whatare known as "national treasures". These include not only examples ofarchitecture, sculpture, painting, calligraphy, pottery, textiles, but also"living national treasures", including actors, musicians, potters, woodblockprinters, paper makers, and textile designers.So why does a culture steeped in its traditions adopt French impressionism,or Mahler symphonies, or Bach cantatas. Why does Kyotohave the world's leading museum of western European costume? Whydoes Japan have some of the world's finest concert halls? What possiblerelevance do these foreign things have to Japanese culture?And what possible relevance could a symphony by Beethoven,Mozart or Tschaikovsky have to a child of the impoverished and crimeriddenslums of Venezuela? How is it that that country could have 216youth orchestras, and 176 children's orchestras and 400 more ensembles,orchestras and choirs with over 100 music schools involving300,000 youngsters, 90 % of whom are from the county's lowest economicclass, all studying classical music?The answer to both questions is that these seemingly disparatecultures have recognized and embraced the profound beauty, intellectualcomplexity, and transforming power of art and music, whether it comesf -At the rally: Signs of difficult times ahead. Protesters included choristers,divas, instrumentalists, music students from all over, devout listeners to theCBC 2 programs while commuting, and a host of celebrities.from their own culture or not. And culture has always embraced thecultivation of beauty and knowledge. The word culture comes from theLatin cultura stemming from co/ere, meaning "to cultivate". And Cultureneeds to be cultivated and nourished.It is not a commodity to be turned on and off like tap water at ourwhim~ it is a precious gift and legacy to be protected and tended if it isto grow and flourish. It is the measure of a civilization, of its worth andcontributions to future generations and civilizations.As John F Kennedy said "the life of the arts, far from being aninterruption or a distraction in the life of a nation, is very close to thecentre ofa nation's purpose, and is the test of the quality ofa nation'scivilization." He also said "I look forward to a nation that will not beafraid of grace and beauty . .. a nation that will reward achievement inthe arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft. .. If art isto nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free."Many ofus in North America have not had to fight tooth and nailfor our culture. Our art and culture have not been under attack or demolishedby ethnic, religious, or political strife. We take our culturallegacy for granted.Those nations that have had to literally rebuild their culture from therubble of war, or revolution or natural disaster have, I believe, a deeperrespect and understanding of their cultural heritage. They have tendedto it and brought it back to life in the true meaning of cultivation.The culture I have been speaking of, though, is all too often confusedor melded with another kind of culture, and that is the culture ofentertainment and consumerism. Lord Kinnoul paid compliments toGeorge Frideric Handel on "the noble entertainment" of his oratorio,Messiah. Handel is said to have remarked "My Lord, I should besorry if I only entertained them; I wished to make them better." Hispoint wasn't a matter of elitismor snobbery, but of the bettermentand enrichment of the intellect andsoul.And therein lies the rub: Artcan be entertaining, but entertainmentisn't necessarily art. Entertainmentis terrified oflosing you,and is willing to change itself inany way to be more to your taste.Art doesn't give a damn whetheryou 're interested in it or not, but itwill speak to you if you give it thetime and effort. Art challengesstandards of conduct and beauty. Itencourages thought. Entertainmentis only an affirmation of thesestandards, and encourages simpleacceptance.But the popular trend nowadaysis for instant gratification,instant information: Fast food,BOSLEYREAL ESTATEOOSLEY :l:EAL ESTATE LT[> .. t!EALTOP.PETER MAHONSales Representative416-322-8000pmahon@trebnet.comwww.petermahon.com30 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM J U NE 1 - JULY 7 2008

or to sit through and appreciate a classical symphony, or anything longerthan 3- minute bites.And the entertainment industry is jumping at the opportunity toexploit this, and to market art and culture under the auspices of entertainmentand consumerism and call it Culture. It will teach you Tudorhistory through bodice-ripper mini-series no better than a Harlequinnovel. It might as well teach us about Roman Britain by presenting themusical Camelot.And so our National Broadcasting System, which was created to bethe custodian of this country's art and culture, the nation's mouthpiecefor its artists through radio and television, has succumbed to the gods ofentertainment and commercialism. It judges art through ratings. It debatesthe relevance of Western art music in our North American society.It seems unwilling to admit, or has lost connection to, the globalrelevance of the pyramids, of the Taj Mahal, or the Parthenon ... of thesongs of Hildegard von Bingen, Monteverdi's Orfeo, Bach's GoldbergVariations, Mozart's Requiem, Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Stravinsky'sRite of Spring ... ofMichelangelo's Sistine Chapel, Da Vinci'sMona Lisa ... or of Shakespeare and Goethe.What possible relevance could these things have to the culturalfabric of Canada?They don't realize that these "global treasures" are part of who we aretoday. These treasures of culture are the benchmarks for our own effortsof artistic expression. They are willing to share the profundity and richnessof their beauty and wisdom with us and make us better people for it.So I stand here today with a challenge to you, Mssrs Lacroix andStursberg: I challenge you to look straight into the eyes of this country'sclassical artists and composers: I challenge you to look into thefaces of Ben Heppner, Gerald Findlay, Richard Margison, IsabelBayrakdarian, Measha Brueggergosman, Karina Gauvin, AdriannePieczonka, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Catherine Robbin, Nancy Argenta,Suzie LeBlanc, Michael Schade, Russell Braun, Teresa Stratas andMaureen Forrester .I'd like you to look at James Ehnes, Andrew Dawes and the OrfordQuartet, Eve Egoyan, Anton Kuerti, Robert Aiken, James Campbell,Angela Hewitt, Marc-Andre Hamelin, Louis Lortie, John Kimura Parker,and Jamie Parker, and Janina Fialkowska, to name just the tip of theiceberg.I'd like you both to look into the eyes of R. Murray Schafer,Eleanor Daley, Ruth Watson Henderson, Chan Ka Nin, James Rolfe,John Oliver, Alexina Louie, Marjan Mozetich, and all the other Canadiancomposers we are blessed with; ... and while we're at it let's addMario Bernardi, Bramwell Tovey, Simon Streatfield, Alain Trudel andYanni ck Nezet-Seguin to name just a few of the array of talentedorchestral and choral conductors this country has to offer; ... and thenI'd like you to take a deep look into the eyes of the spirits of LoisMarshall, John Vickers, Louis Quilico, Elmer Iseler, Sir Ernest Macmillan,John Weinzweig, Harry Somers, Harry Freedman, Srul IrvingGlick, Oscar Morawetz, Healey Willan and last but not least, GlennGould, to name just a few.And don't forget to look into the faces of the musicians, professionaland amateur, in countless chamber ensembles, orchestras, and choirsacross this country, or the thousands of students in our universities andconservatories, studying to be classical musicians, or the high schoolstudents and elementary school children learning to sing or play aninstrument.I challenge you today, Mr. Lacroix and Mr. Stursberg, to look intothe eyes of all these faces, alive and deceased, and tell them that whatthey have poured their life's passion into is of marginal interest to thiscountry, and that their artistry is not really relevant to culture ... at leastnot the culture of Canada.And then tell them to their faces that in place of the legacy of thehundreds of thousands of compositions of the world's composers ofartmusic past and present ... 7 centuries of repertoire ... you will instead bepromoting the 30,000 other "songs".Because that is what you are saying to all of us here and across thecountry by transforming the CBC- Canada's national treasure andcustodian and patron of the arts and culture on our airwaves- into aLas Vegas of mere glitzy facades of art and culture built on a foundationof slick commercialism and promoted by the entertainment industryyou wish to benefit from.We, gathered here today, will not let you do this to our CBC. Wewill not shrink away, or quiet down, or passively sit by, as you implementthese changes. We will be back again and again until we have aCBC that can truly be a national flagship to the world representing thewhole fabric of our finest art and culture.lvars Taurins is the Director of the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, PrincipalBaroque Conductor of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and Lecturerat the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. He served as master ofceremonies at the Toronto rally.ACROBAT Music 60ADI BRAUN 46ALL THE KING'S VOICES 31ASSOCIATES OF THE TSO 36ATMA 5BLUE BRJDGE FESTIVAL 18BRASS CONSPIRACY 36BROTT Music FESTIVAL 9CANADIAN Music COMPETITIONS 37CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY 27CANCLONE SERVICES 60CHRIST CHURCH DEER PARK JAZZVESPERS 28CITY OF TORONTOHlSTORJC MUSEUMS 20THE NEW CLASSICAL 96.3 FM 61CONTACT CONTEMPORARYMusic 39CONTINUUM CONTEMPORARYMusic 35CosMo Music 29ELORA FESTIVAL 9FESTIVAL DE LANAUDIERE 2FESTIVAL OF THE SOUND 19GALA STRJNG QUARTET IWHISKEY JACK 36GEORGE HEINL 23GRAND RIVER BAROQUE FESTIVAL 15HARKNETT MustCAL SERVICES 28HELICONIAN HALL 49JUBILATE SINGERS 34, 48LONG & MCQUADE 22MELODIC VOICES 38MIKROKOSMOS 5 IMONTREAL BAROQUE FESTIVAL 11Music AT PORT MILFORD 15Music AT SHARON 41 , 42, 43Music GALLERY 25Music MoNDA Ys 22Music ON THE HILL 33Music PAD 42index of advertisersMusic TORONTO 7NEW Musrc CONCERTS 26, 33No STRJNGS THEATRE PRODUCTIONS 46NORTH YORK CONCERT ORCHESTRA 47NORTHMINSTER UNITED CHURCH 48OPERA ATELIER 3OPERA BY REQUEST 27, 41ORPHEUS CHOIR 27OTTAWA INTERNATIONAL CHAMBERMusic FESTIVAL 64OUR LADY OF SORROWS CHURCH 48PASQUALE BROS. 49PAUL MEYER 37PETER MAHON 30PETRA KIM 39RCM COMMNNITY SCHOOL 47REALCARE SERVICES 51REMENYJ HOUSE OF Music 23ROEL OLAY I NVESTMENT ADVISOR 48ROSELYN BROWN 53SOUND POST 24SouNDAX1s 6, 32, 33, 34, 36, 47ST. 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