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Volume 14 - Issue 8 - May 2009

BEAT BY BEAT: CHORAL

BEAT BY BEAT: CHORAL SCENEby mJ buellEMBRACING MUSICWould you like to swing on a star,carry moonbeams home in in a jar,and be be better off off than you are….“Embracing” is a word that can be be used two ways. Interesting how howeither way it it applies to to making music, and particularly to to choral singing.Choral music is is “embracing”: like a hug that is is big enough for as asmany as as many need one. Simple folk melodies and great majesticscores all invite us to to be “in the music” as as choristers or as as audience.This embrace can transcend all kinds potential barriers: age, gender,race, and other diverse but less visible socio-economic walls in in ourcomplicated lives.We are “embracing music”, when we sing with others. With ourbreathing unified, and often our hearts on our sleeves, we wrap acollective voice around a piece of of music and hold it it tight, and byextension, around one another. It’s an act of of love.Despite some obvious differences the little choristers from TimothyEaton Memorial Church Choir School in in the photo above remind meof of the ragamuffins who sing “Swingin’ on a Star” with Bing Crosbyin in the 1944 hit movie Going my Way (in which joining the choirprovides some underprivileged boys with a way to to stay out of of trouble).Certainly the current photo reflects the balance of of irrepressi-When I I first saw Going My Way at at about the age of of ten, I I wantedto to be one of of those rag-tag little boys so badly, singing with them.As it it happens that year our school started a choir. I I remember beingamazed that all sorts of of girls and boys who ordinarily avoided oneanother for various reasons, or treated each other badly, were somehowcharmed into leaving their differences at the door. I have subsequentlyI have seen subsequently and fallen in seen love and with fallen many in love other with music-related many other films. music-relatedare newer, films. less They sentimental, are newer, perhaps less sentimental, political, and perhaps musically political-Theymore ly and sophisticated, musically more but sophisticated, that one was part but of that a transformational one was part of a time transformationalchoral time singing when taught choral me singing about belonging.ble taught me about but belonging, engaged andwhenenergy the balance we want of irrepressible to see in children but engaged who sing. energy So we does want the to old see movie. inLook children a little who deeper sing. Look and you a little find deeper children into who the “belong”. old movie, Who and likely youalready find children understand who “belong”. that among Who those understand who are held that by among the shared those whomusic, are held there by the can shared be no music, “outsiders”. there can be no “outsiders”.There’s another more recent film, Les Choristes, (2004) set in inpost-wartime France that tackles a similar theme, with some beautifuloriginal music by Bruno Coulais.Belonging to to a choir can begin or resume at at any age.Feast your eyes and mind on the contents of of this year’s Canary Pages,and notice that there are choirs for every imaginable kind of person.For those “baby canaries” out there, like the cute blue ones in inour photo, there are auditioned and non-auditioned choirs, choirs forjust girls, just boys, choirs that combine music and drama, choirsthat sing sacred music, and choirs that do not. And for all the rest of ofus “grown up” canaries, from experienced professional singers withThe Timothy Eaton Memorial Church Choir School “Sing Out!” (May 8)solo careers through to people who have secretly always wanted tosing but never tried, there are choirs waiting to embrace newpeople.This is the best possible month to go and hear some of these choirsprovided you are not already too busy singing! A rough count ofour daily listings for May reveals that there are no fewer than 80concerts that include a choir (or choirs). There is one day in themonth upon which you will find no less than 12 choral performancesin our Toronto and our Beyond the GTA southern Ontariolistings.Some of these 80 are free. And virtually all of them offer discountsfor children, youth, and seniors. There are staged worksinvolving choirs. There are choirs performing with orchestras,choirs that sing unaccompanied. The music offered ranges from thesacred to the profane, and from the middle ages to the 21st century.Such a lot of singing!CIRCLE the Date! June 24, 2009Movies Embracing Music —A Choral Double FeatureTWO choral-themed movies, some fun live entertainment andaudience participation.WholeNote wants your suggestions!We’ll be choosing two suggestions which have a choral theme toshow at our first ever movie night. Send the name of your favouriteand a few details, to canary@thewholenote.com, or mail us.In June we’ll be announcing the titles, and we’ll be telling youhow to get tickets for yourself, or your group. Stay tuned!Here’s a little more about what we mean.A little while ago we began asking ourselves and other people abouttheir favourite “movies embracing music”. The idea was that somefilms actually address what music is, or does, in some way. A filmmight have a wonderful soundtrack, or be about a famous musician,and not accomplish this.OLD MONTREALIS CELEBRATINGPURCELL THIS JUNE.COME JOIN THE PARTY!TORONTO GLOBE & MAIL A SUMMERFESTIVAL THAT SPARKLESWITH CREATIVITY,QUIRKINESS AND FUN.MONTREAL GAZETTE AUTHENTIC INSPIRIT AND RESOUNDINGLYSUCCESSFUL IN MUSICALAND THEATRICAL EFFECT.1-866 845-7171 • 514 845-7171www.montrealbaroque.com10 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COMMAY 1 – JUNE 7 2009

Suggestions to date:Allan Pulker: The Singing Revolution. Thisfilm tells the story of how 20,000 Estonians’voices united in song to affirm their countryitsindependence and free it from five decadesof Soviet oppression. What a wonderfulstory and testimonial to the power of ordinarypeople and the power of music. Thisfilm has a very important message to Canadians,who feel so powerless in the face ofthe challenges of globalization and environmentaldegradation caused by forces muchgreater than any of us individually. Interestinglythe majority of us also see music as anactivity marginal to the demands of “reallife.” Perhaps it’s time we begin to reassessthe place of music in life and begin to lookfor ways to emulate the Estonian example.Peter and Verity Hobbs: Les Choristes.We saw “Les Choristes” at the 2004 TorontoInternational Film Festival and still look backon the film with pleasure. But, admittedly weare both “choral junkies”.This charming, funny and thoughtprovokingfilm takes place in post-warFrance. A new supervisor arrives at aboarding school for orphaned and difficultboys. He is full of enthusiasm and a love ofsinging. His participative and outreachingapproach immediately comes into conflictwith the stern disciplinary practices of thehead- master. The new teacher uses choralmusic to give the boys respect forthemselves and others, and the results areoutstanding and long-lasting. (Choraldiscipline wins again!)The film has many remarkable musicalmoments, especially when an outstandingyoung boy soprano is on screen. If you likechoral music, you’ll love this film.ALSO HIGH QUALITYUSED STEINWAYSAVAILABLEMAY 1 – JUNE 7 2009 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM11

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