7 years ago

Volume 15 Issue 8 - May 2010

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  • Toronto
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Beat by Beat / In With

Beat by Beat / In With the NewJASON VAN EYKWith the wealth of choirs, opera companiesand vocal music presenters that have apenchant for new music, we’re never at aloss for performances of contemporary repertoire.But this month there’s a visibly larger interest inthe human voice, with several new-music presentersoffering programs from the traditional to theunusual. Accompanying these concerts, summitsgingexploration of themes concerning our place inthe world and the state of humanity.The Talisker Players, who are certainly nostrangers to vocal music, close their 10th anniversaryseason on May 11 and 12 with “Illuminations”– a title that refers to the mystic-the selected pieces. The Taliskersdepart from their usual chamberensemble format to present BenjaminBritten’s stunning Illuminations,based on the fantastical poetry ofRimbaud, for soprano and string orchestra.Rising talent William Rowsonconducts soprano Meredith Hall,who reaches beyond her renown inearly music circles to also performHarry Freedman’s Trois Poèmesde Jacques Prévert for soprano andstring quartet. (It’s a shame that wewon’t get to hear the Freedman inits original setting for soprano andstring orchestra; he withdrew that version in 1981and replaced it with the current setting.)Also joining the Talisker’s is the much-in-demandtenor Lawrence Wiliford. Credited for hisluminous projection, lyrical sensitivity and brilliantcoloratura, Wiliford will perform GeraldFinzi’s Dies Natalis for tenor and strings, and Toronto-basedAndrew Ager’s From the Rubáiyátfor tenor and string quartet. A generation olderbut still a contemporary of Britten’s, Finzi may beless known, but certainly no less talented whenit comes to lush writing, here inspired by metaphysicaltexts from Thomas Taherne. Ager’s richand expressive piece, based on words from Persianitieswith these British composers. It would havebeen lovely to hear the version for string trio andFrench horn, as it appears in the CentreStreamsonline audio service. Perhaps there is an opportunityto programme it with Britten’s Serenadefor Tenor, Horn and Strings in the future? Nonetheless,these two concerts at Trinity St. Paul’sCentre allow us to hear lush music in the capablehands of excellent performers. For more info For tickets call 416-978-8849 or e-mail few days later, we take a sharp turn towardsthe outer reaches of vocal exploration when a trifectaof adventurous vocalizers land at the MusicGallery and surrounding sites for the Voice Summit.Toronto’s Christine Duncan, Vancouver’s DBBoyko and New York City’s Shelley Hirsch showus why the world’s oldest and mostdemocratic instrument has retainedits power to create unbounded sonicexperiences that also collapse socialbarriers.At 8:00pm on May 16, Duncanand Boyko launch the Summitof Stall, a newly commissionedwork by Victoria-based composerrisonBaths and Swimming Pool.Stall, for voices and ambientsounds, explores the soundscapeand social boundaries of the publicwashroom. The work is intended toSoprano Meredith Hall.cajole, disturb and at the same timedemand restraint. Using a combination of absurdspoken word, humorous chant and a barrage ofcut-up text, Stall examines the more subtle aspectsof this particularly ubiquitous but often sociallyuncomfortable location.Duncan and Boyko have a history of collaborationand over the years have developed a mesmerizingmusical rapport that should make for acaptivating world premiere performance. Back inthe Gallery, the remarkably accomplished ShelleyHirsch will deliver a solo concert vocal improvisationsat 9:00pm. Her practice encompassesstory telling, staged performances, compositions,improvisations, collaborations (with a “who’s who”of contemporary music), installations and radioThose inspired by what they hear may want to attendHirsch’s free vocal improvisation workshopon May 17. For more details visit tickets call 416-204-1080 or’s 25th anniversary season closeson May 21 at the Music Gallery with “Wisdomof the Elders,” a concert that ambitiously seeks toask questions about the human race and its placein the world. A cornerstone of the programme isa newly commissioned work by Toronto composerJuliet Palmer. How it Happened for ensemble andnarrator re-examines an aboriginal creation mythin a setting of text taken from Thomas King’sGreen Grass, Running Water. Renowned actorand activist RH Thomson joins Continuum as18 THEWHOLENOTE.COMMay 1 - June 7, 2010

narrator for this world premiere.Two works by American proto-minimalist Tom Johnson draw ondiverse sociological inspirations. Narayana’s Cows uses the populationexplosion calculations of 14th-century Hindu mathematician Narayanaas cumulative musical building blocks. Tortue de Mer for basssaxophone transcribes sand-drawing games and story-telling practi-tanenreturns to Continuum to perform British composer Geoff Hannan’sWhere I Live is Shite/Where I Live is Posh, a politically satiricalwork that tackles the subject of contemporary population pressuresthat result in absurdity, irritation and unhappiness. The progamme isrounded out by a reprise of early-career Canadian composer AaronGervais’ Jackhammer Lullaby – a re-arrangement of his work Community-Normed,which was commissioned by Continuum in 2008. Inwriting about the piece, Gervais said “I’ve become increasingly interestedin presenting pieces in multiple versions and combinations.Why multiple versions? Because music today is multiple. Everyone isexposed to music from multiple cultures, from multiple time periodsand in multiple versions. Musically, Jackhammer Lullaby presents ahumorous musical setting of trying to fall asleep with constructiongoing on outside the window.” For more info visit tickets,visit month closesout with Urbanvessel’sremount ofits Dora-nominatedStitch from May26 to May 30 at theTheatre Centre. Thisproduction bringstogether the originalcreative team behindthe sold-out, critically acclaimed production that premiered duringthe 2008 Free Fall festival. Stitch is an a cappella opera created bycomposer-librettist duo Juliet Palmer and Anna Chatterton. As theydescribe it, the opera is “hemmed in by the language of sewing andunseen women who clothe us all.” Ruth Madoc-Jones directs a remarkablecast of vocalists: Christine Duncan, Patricia O’Callaghanand Neema Bickersteth. For more info, including details about theMay 29 gala performance and links to sneak-peek videos, visit For tickets, call 416-538-0988.Jason van Eyk is the Ontario Regional Director of the CanadianMusic Centre. He can be contacted at: Juliet Palmer.SUNDAY MAY 9ARUNANARAYANKALLEMISTRESS OFTHE SARANGISUNDAY MAY 16THEVOICESUMMITfeaturingSHELLEY HIRSCHat the Music Gallery+ DB BOYKO &CHRISTINE DUNCANMONDAY MAY 17VOCAL IMPROVWORKSHOPJUNE 9-15SUMMERCOURTYARDSERIESfeaturingWILLIAM BASINSKI,FROG EYES,GROUPER,JULIA KENT,POCAHAUNTEDBOYKO & DUNCANHIRSCHPOCAHAUNTEDWILLIAM BASINSKITHURSDAY JUNE 24COMPOSE YOURSELF!BECOME A MUSIC GALLERY MEMBER AND SAVEON TICKET PRICES! Email info@musicgallery.orgThe Music GalleryMay 1 - June 7, 2010 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM 19

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