8 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 9 - June 2012

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MUSICAL FRAMEWORKS: AN INTERVIEW WITH JACK DIAMOND continued from page 10You mentioned making people aware of a space in ways they hadn’tthought about before — what are some special details in the FourSeasons Centre that people might not be aware of?There are so many details in that building, there really are. The glassstaircase —when people are moving on it, is like an animated choreography.Then there’s the huge skylight —it’s not an indulgence. It bringsenough light into the hall so that it becomes transparent, because glassis not transparent during the day, and it lights the back of the hall. Wehave aisles where people can socialize—but for the top rows we have continentalseating, because an aisle inthe middle would be too steep. Withthe aisles along the walls, people canhold on safely. [And there’s]the sweepof the floor — the floor actually changeselevation around the corners to providegood sightlines.I enjoyed Valery Gergiev’s remarkwhen he first saw the open performingspace on the second floor, “They’vemade an auditorium out of the lobby— which is great!”When the chief architect fromSt. Petersburg was here to review the Mariinsky designs,we were sitting in a lunch-time concert there, andhe turned to me and said, “You know, the musichere is the backround. The real show is the citywhen you are sitting in the lobby.” I thought thatwas an interesting reversal, that while he was listeningto the music he was looking through the glassandseeing people in streetcars and automobiles andtrucks going by, and the clouds changing, and so on.I’m not so sure the performers would be happyabout that.It was interesting, though. (He laughs.)How is the Mariinsky different from the Four Seasons?It’s not different in the sense that it has same DNA, the same horseshoeplan, the same focus. But it’s in St. Petersburg and not Toronto.The context is hugely important for me, responding architecturally tothe principles of the tradition and not violating the continuity of thestreetscape. It’s very important not to disrupt the long and powerfulhistory, but to reinforce it.Was it a problem for you that the historic old Mariinsky Theatre isright beside your new opera house?No, on the contrary, that’s what I’m saying —the continuity is veryimportant, of the streetscape, the height, the scale, the materials ofthe surrounding buildings in St. Petersburg.Do you refer to them architecturally?I do, absolutely. (He shows me some designs for the new Mariinsky.)The colours, the masonry, the porticos, the columns, the vertical windows…all the elements are there, but with a contemporary expression.There wasn’t much space for landscaping in Toronto — will therebe more there?It is a huge site, a whole city block, and the opera house is the samesize, 2000 seats. But [unlike Toronto] all the production facilities forboth houses are there as well. I’ve done a master plan for the wholeprecinct. I’m changing the present square and making a new boulevardand bridge over the canal connecting to the Conservatoryand the oldMariinsky and the little concert hall that Valery has already done. Thisbecomes one of the premier performing arts districts in the world. (Hepoints to the drawings.) Here is a statue of Rachmaninoff, and that’sGlinka —they were both directors of this opera house. Russia has thisextraordinary heritage. I think Gergiev’s clear ambition is to rivalLincoln Center and the Southbank and all those.Russia has a great advantage — it has the music.It has the music and it has Gergiev. He’s amazing, an astonishing guy.When you were designing the Maison Symphonique did you workwith Kent Nagano [the music director of the Montreal Symphony] onthe design?I didn’t work with Nagano. It was a peculiarity of this design competition.They were terrified about us getting some advantage over ourcompetitors, so it was done without the orchestra.Was the situation different with Richard Bradshaw [the artisticdirector of the Canadian Opera Company at the time]?Very different. We were very close —he was great. But the strongestinput Richard had was regardingthe orchestra pit. The pitwas his focus, and correctly so.Of course that’s not surprising,since he was a conductor.And we really were much influencedby him on the designof the pit. The rest came fromthe acoustician and myself. Buthe was a good client in the sensethat he knew when to interveneand when not to intervene. WithoutRichard that building would neverhave got done.With your design?It wouldn’t have got done, period.In your recent book of sketchesand writings, you make it clear thatthe music itself is important to you.Absolutely. Next to architecturemusic is my love. In fact my thesisfor my bachelor degree was a concerthall design.I noticed a drawing of Tafelmusikperforming at Trinity-St. Paul’s inthe book. What kinds of concertswould I be most likely to see you at?At the top of my list are chamber music andchoral music, baroque music, the voice …I’ve come to almost enjoyNew Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg.Diamond with Valery Gergiev.Windscape at Luminato.Wagner, but I did it through Mahler, the wrong way around. Andit’s very hard to beat Bach, Handel and Mozart. Then, going earlier,Cherubini and Charpentier. People like Philip Glass intrigue me, andArvo Pärt, I think he’s fantastic. His Für Alina really gets to me. GoreckiI like a lot. His Symphony of Sorrowful Songs is amazing. There’s alot of good contemporary stuff, better now because it’s melodic. Thatperiod between Shostakovich and Glass left me cold, I have to say —theatonal crashing and banging.What projects are you working on right now?There’s the renovation of the whole Banff Centre. We’ve already accomplishedquite a bit, the master plan and two buildings. Now I’mworking on the old theatres and the art gallery.You’ve influenced the whole experience of going to a concert oropera in Canada — and around the world.Not enough, not enough. (He laughs.)What would you do next, if you could choose anything?Don’t get me started on that — there’s lots to be done …! Windscape is open from 11am to 11pm at David Pecaut Square duringLuminato, which runs from June 8 until June 17.The free concert programming on stage at David Pecaut Square islisted on the Luminato website:! Diamond Schmitt Architects have a detailed website:! Here are two books, one by Diamond and one about the work ofhis firm, Diamond Schmitt Architects:–Sketches from Here and there: Words and Watercolours by A. J.Diamond (Douglas & McIntyre)–Insight and On Site: The Architecture of Diamond and Schmitt (Douglas& McIntyre). This contains an extensive bibliography on Diamond.This interview has been edited and condensed.Pamela Margles is a Toronto-based journalist andfrequent contributor to The WholeNote.DIAMOnd SCHmiTT ARCHITECTS70 June 1 – July 7, 2012

July 17 - August 4, 2012Don’t miss three weeks jam-packed with worldclassclassical music in the heart of your city thissummer with the Toronto Summer Music Festival.Choose from the following events:Evening Concerts - Enjoy a summer evening in the city with outstandingclassical performances.Friday Late Nights - Bring your summer nights to life with innovativecabaret-style concerts starting at 10:00 pm.Mentors & Fellows Concerts - Share in a TSMF highlight as ouresteemed guests and Mentors share the stage with our Academy Fellowsin a concert experience like no other.Masterclasses - Sneak behind the scenes as our world-renownedAcademy Mentors share their secrets and techniques with TSMF Fellows.Outreach Concerts - Catch the TSMF Fellows as they bring the magicof a live performance to venues large and small.Festival artists include:André LaplanteGerald FinleyStephen RallsSeoul SpringFestival EnsembleBorodin String QuartetCraig RutenbergZukerman ChamberPlayersVienna Piano TrioGryphon TrioSharon WeiNational Youth Orchestraof CanadaScott St. JohnCecilia String QuartetThe Nash EnsembleOrder your tickets today!

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