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Volume 16 Issue 5 - February 2011

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  • February
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
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Bader-Bound... and

Bader-Bound... and Then?Toronto Sinfonietta’s Fifth Annual Concerto CompetitionDavid PerlmanI.IT WAS A BIT COLD, I grant you – one of those crisp JanuarySundays that gets called “twenty below” because it’s windy.If you didn’t know better, you’d have thought the sign saying“Isabel Bader” must be for a hockey rink, what with all the minivansrolling up, full of kids and gear. And who else in Canadabut a hockey parent would sacrifice their day of rest like this, onthe coldest Sunday afternoon of the winter? Who else indeed?One of the dads of the seven musicians assembling for the hastilyscheduled photo shoot comes up to me. (My standard issue cherryredQuest Nature Tours Arctic expedition Gore-Tex windbreakermust make me look like I know what’s going on). “So whose brightidea was this one?” he asks. His shiveringson or daughter is huddling withthe other six young musicians, whileWholeNote photographer Air’leth Aodfhinexplains the shot we are lookingfor, and Toronto Sinfonietta musicdirector Matthew Jaskiewicz looks on.I explain to the dad that it was TheWholeNote publisher’s crazy idea (andthat the WholeNote publisher is me).“But not to worry,” I add. “We onlyneed instrument cases in the picturenot instruments, so you can throw thefiddle in the trunk if you like.” It onlytakes about five seconds for him to realizeI am joking, but the relief that we are not going to ask them topretend to be playing outdoors is palpable. I explain further that wewon’t be out there more than twenty minutes and then we’ll headover to the Royal Conservatory for a hot chocolate and a chat.True to my word, the whole shoot takes only 45 minutes(including a couple of “just in case” safe poses in front of somevines). Then we beat a retreat two short blocks west to the RoyalConservatory. First stop, the little basement cafeteria between theold building and the Cherry-red Gore-Tex windbreaker notwithstanding(see page 6), I am very glad we came in from the cold.But, I am also glad, for two reasons, that we made the detour toget the outside photo. For one thing, it calls attention to the IsabelBader Theatre itself – the venue to which, February 26, these sevenyoung musicians (and three others not pictured) will return for themain event of this story.Not many people in the music community realize just how convenientthe Isabel Bader Theatre is – less distance east of MuseumSubway Station than the Royal Ontario Museum’s own mainentrance is to the west. Filmfest patrons certainly know the venuewell, but it is not the largest pin on the musical map. New MusicConcerts has used it two or three times, most recently last Dec 10,for their Elliott Carter at 102 birthday celebration concert). It hasalso been a Luminato venue over the years. In 2007 it was the sceneof an“opera” titled The Passion of Winnie, presented by Musica Noir.The show was mostly memorable for the fuss when the Winnie ofthe title, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was denied entry to Canadafor the show, but also memorable for the work of mezzo ChantelleGrant in the title role. In the 2008 Luminato, the Bader was used forthe Gryphon Trio’s Colour... for the End of Time, an exploration ofMessiaen’s synaesthesia. The show was ideally suited to the Bader’sbetter than average capacities for enhanced sound and projection.Earlier the same year it was the venue for “teen sensation” jazz artistNikki Yanovsky’s Toronto debut, a Luminato/Toronto DowntownJazz co-presentation.The Bader is not a purpose-built acoustic music hall, that’s forsure, but according to some who have used it, it’s a hall you canhear well in, especially if the theatre’s acoustic bandshell is deployedfor the event.(My second reason for being glad we made the detour, I willsave for a bit later on.)II.THAWED, WE MADE our way from the interstitial cafeteria in thebasement to the cosy main floor lounge to the left of the old RCMbuilding’s main entrance. There, I chatted for half an hour or sowith Toronto Sinfonietta’s music director Matthew Jaskiewicz andthe “Bader-bound” seven.“There were five sections to thecompetition,” Matthew Jaskiewiczexplains, “strings, winds and piano,for ages 16-19, and strings and piano,under sixteen. Students choose theirown concerto and apply. Successfulapplicants are asked to audition infront of a jury of prominent membersof Toronto’s classical music communitywith piano (or second piano)accompaniment, and the winnersare invited to perform before anaudience accompanied by the TorontoSinfonietta. Generally speaking,section winners will each get toperform a movement of their chosen concerto with the full TorontoSinfonietta orchestra, while other finalists will perform solo works.There are not only fantastic performers on the programme, there arealso some tremendous challenging works.”This is Toronto Sinfonietta’s fifth such competition. “From mypoint of view, I get the best young musicians I could imagine. Thereis no other way of finding them. It’s lots of work, but the results forToronto Sinfonietta are splendid.” Jaskiewicz admits to worryinga bit about the possible negative impact of competitions on somestudents. “They may discourage those who don’t win. We saw someexcellent musicians among the ‘losers.’ I worry what happens tothem.”But he has no reservations about what this competition does forhim. “It makes me younger. It gives me an opportunity to work withabsolutely wonderful young people, to meet devoted and competentteachers, and to see how parents make sacrifices to support theirchildren. With so many people fighting for the growth of classicalmusic in Canada, I dare to hope... we will survive.” Listening to theseven speak, all of them so clear about loving what they do, all ofthem brimming with hope and confidence, it’s hard to disagree withhim.I arrange to get resumes from all of them, and leave them withJaskiewicz, deeply involved in discussing their upcoming rehearsals –planning for the real work at hand.III.IT’S A FUNNY THING about resumes. If you read in a resume that“Performer X only switched to violin after first completing cons-ON OUR COVER (left to right): Nicole Li, (violin), AnnaVertypolokh (piano), Annie Zhou (piano), Daniel Hass(cello), Leslie Ashworth (violin), Daniel Temnik (violin),and Lily Chapnik (clarinet). Three other competitionfinalists, Amadeusz Kazubowski-Houston and KaraSojung Park (piano) and Sarah Velasco (violin), missed thephoto shoot but will also perform at the concert, albeit asrecitalists, rather than as soloists with the orchestra.)8 thewholenote.comFebruary 1 - March 7, 2011photos air’leth aodhfin

ervatory grade 10 piano,” you maypossibly note the fact in passing.But if you read that Performer Xswitched to violin at age eight after10 piano, you stop and take notice.Reading these seven musician’sresumes I found myself stopping tonotice, over and over again.“I began learning to play pianolyafter, I began participating in concertsand competitions.”“I started piano at age four…played as a soloist with the CathedralBluffs Symphony at age tenand later in Carnegie Hall in NewYork, at ‘Assisi in the World’ international ionalmusicfestivalinItalyin Italy,and on CBC Radio One and Classical 96.3 FM.”“I began studying cello at the age of 4½, at the ages of eight,nine and ten, performed as solo cellist with the Ashdod ChamberOrchestra”.“I have performed several times as a soloist with the JVL SSPAOrchestra, and the Kindred Spirits Orchestra and as concertmasterof these orchestras.”“When I was 8 my grandmother thought that perhaps clarinetwould be a good instrument for me and taught me the fundamentalbasics. I loved it!” on stage at age 5… and was the Grand Prize winner of the CMCNational Finals in 2010.”“I began playing the violin when I was three years old, andbegan competing at an early age. I have won many competitions,the Canadian Music Competition in the Strings category.”“My long term goal is to attend Juilliard and become an internationallyacclaimed solo violinist.” “I have played in masterclasseswith various artists, including Leila Josefowicz, James Ehnes, AaronRosand, and Renaud Capuçon.”Equally interesting to observe from the resumes is the portraitthey paint of the intricately interwoven musical support system thatour community provides. There are the teachers, many of whosenames are familiar to readers of the WholeNote as the performerswho regularly grace our pages. There are the music schools andcolleges, astonishing in scope and variety. And there are the competitions,little and large in which, as one of the seven put it, “eitherplace, or you learn that the real spirit of competition is to show whatyou can do and how easily you can do it, and just have a good timeperforming the piece that you have worked on for such a long time.”Taken together, these are the cauldron in which the complex ingredientsof attitude, emotions, dazzling technique and sheer bloodydetermination needed to succeed in this milieu, are mixed andstirred. These are the traits that will need to kick in when labels like“prodigy” and “teen sensation” are no longer a draw.IV.HERE’S MY SECOND, rather more allegorical, reason for beingglad we did the Bader photo detour. On the path to honours athallowed conservatories, or triumphing at competitions withprizes of staggering magnitude, there are going to be all kinds ofunexpected detours. so you might as well get used to it. It’s calledpaying your dues. You shiver in the cold for what may, after all,turn out to be nothing more than a small photo and mere mentionin a local “rag.” You learn how, in an interview, to give moreinteresting answers than the questions you were asked. Don’t scoff atthe latter, by the way. As you will see, it’s a skill important enoughfor the soon-to-be biggest piano competition in the world to havechanged its rules and practices.continued on page 70February 1 - March 7, 2011 thewholenote.com 9

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