7 years ago

Volume 18 Issue 1 - September 2012

  • Text
  • September
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • October
  • Gould
  • Sept
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Concerts
  • Symphony

had been set in motion

had been set in motion to stage Wagner’s Ring cycle of epic operas forthe opening. As if that were not enough, Draganic was also trying tostitch together the concert series, working from an 8x10 computer renderingof the space, since the building did not then exist. “I had no ideawhat the acoustics were,” she admits now.In anticipation that the design might unduly amplify the sound levels,she thought it prudent to introduce a baffle to muffle the effect. Onlyduring the first run-through did she realize how superbly the acousticshad been designed to carry, with equal clarity, the sound of a violinor the pounding of a taiko drum.“Having a program in harmony with the space, the clean architecturallines, it’s important not to put too much stuff in,” she explains. “It’s alsoabout creating an ethos aroundthe building, having a buildingbe part of the community.”While the introduction ofrush and standing room onlytickets now makes mainstageopera far more accessible tothe community, still, “operatickets can be prohibitivelyexpensive,” she notes. Stagingan opera is also equally andprohibitively expensive. Thedifficulties of fundraising arelegion. An opera easily costsupwards of million to stage,Nina Draganic withpianist Gord Sheard.“If you don’t risk,you don’t fail … but youdon’t have MAGIC”and a new work incurs not justthe commissioning fees for thecomposer and librettist, but alsofor workshops and rehearsals.In the meantime, how do younurture and engage both artistsand potential audiences?The lobby concert series is, atleast in part, the answer.In envisaging the concert seriesas a way of opening doors to those who might not be familiar withdifferent genres or might even be intimidated by them, Draganic isvery much aware of the need to juxtapose popular programs with challengingones and to dispel the notion, for example, that new musicis inaccessible.She remembers how Bradshaw used to say that even if there wereonly ten people in the audience but they were ten people who were fullyengaged, he would have considered that successful programming. Ofcourse, these days, people are more likely to be spilling onto the staircases,or actually being turned away at the door.The commitment to the series meant that a budget would have to becarved out of the COC’s operating expenses. The development team iskept on its toes to ensure that various programs are funded as a revolvingdoor of benefactors enter and leave the wings. As the concert series itselfhas evolved, different donors and sponsors have stepped into the breach.“It’s very much about creating a safe place for everybody,” says Draganic,“ not just for audiences to try out new things, but also for artiststo try out new art forms.” The result for audiences has been such raretreats as tenor Richard Margison playing guitar and crooning GordonLightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind,” or soprano Isabel Bayrakdarianturning to tango.In the beginning, Draganic scoured various music competitions,worked her connection with the Glenn Gould School, quizzed friendsand colleagues, and begged musicians to be a part of the series. She’sstill proud of the fact that of the first season’s 90 concerts, the youngestperformer was a six year old and the oldest, a 73 year old: “It’s justthat level of diversity.”Now in its seventh season, there’s still a dizzying level of diversity invocal, piano, jazz, chamber and world music, as well as dance. “I knowmore people now,” she says modestly of her gold-plated Rolodex, butthe pace she set herself is in no danger of slowing down.She confers endlessly with friends, colleagues and other programmers.And she’s a bloodhound for tracking down that sound she heardon the radio, or the tip that’s playing in one part of the city or another.So much so that she admits, guiltily, that she’s not at home as often asshe would like to be, for her teenagers. While there’s always the serendipitousfind (she discovered jazz pianist Chris Donnelly at the weddingof a staff member), these days, she’s more likely than not to be foundwading through a sea of submissions from eager hopefuls.As for accessibility, it’s inadvertently become the source of many afrustration. “There are so many opportunities for sonic disruptions,”she points out. Elevator bells that ping, high heels that reverberate onthe steps and babies in strollers are some sounds that carry even fromthe ground floor all the way tothe top. “It’s important to maintainrespectful quiet for theperformers,” Draganic says. Itsays a lot about how the space ismanaged that there are clustersof volunteers waiting to shepherdpeople and paraphernaliaaway from whirring elevators atevery performance.But it’s more than just quietshe affords, it’s the kind ofenvironment that brooks theimpossible. When RussellBraun proposed an 11-minutepiece for two pianos, the cost ofmaneuvering two baby grandsappeared daunting, but then,her ever-fertile mind wondered,“Which two pianists have I alwayswanted to play together?” Turns outthat Robi Botos and Hilario Durán hadalso always wanted to tickle the ivoriestogether — and were thrilled to be finallygiven the chance!It’s not as easy as it may seem to be. “Youneed to have a plan,” Draganic explains. Thisseason alone, juggling the schedules of 400 artists in 77 concerts is afeat in itself, as they vie for the space with the performance schedules,not just of the Canadian Opera but also of the National Ballet.But she also has a wish list, what she calls a “dreaming document.”It’s marrying that with the reality that ignites her passion. “You haveto be open to anything. If you don’t risk, you don’t fail ... but you don’thave magic.”What continues to keep the adrenalin flowing for Draganic? “It’san ever-changing feast,” she says. “There are so many opportunitiesfor collaboration.”She’s particularly proud of the new initiative begun by LawrenceWiliford after Bradshaw’s death that’s now become the Canadian ArtSong Project, which commissions Canadian composers to write forCanadian singers.While artists of the COC Ensemble Studio have been a mainstay ofthe concert series, music director Johannes Debus’ enthusiastic supportfor the series means that this season, artists of the COC Orchestrawill also be featured as well.If the opera hall continues to be the COC’s crown jewel, the concertseries in the lobby amphitheatre is a collection of little gems, and theoutreach effort has become a veritable crucible for new creation possibilities,not just in music but also in movement, and in devising newcultural vocabularies.It’s pretty telling of Draganic’s role that the man who gave her the jobsaw himself continuing to do it for himself. As it turns out, it’s hard toimagine that he would have done this part of it any better.Rebecca Chua is a Toronto-based journalistwho writes on culture and the arts.KAREN REEVES12 September 1 – October 7, 2012

2012-13seasonSEASON HIGHLIGHTSBerlin Philharmonic Wind Quintetreturns for a Monday Evening ConcertMenahem Pressler and Cecilia StringQuartet perform Brahms Piano QuintetMike Murley and David Liebmanperform with the U of T Jazz OrchestrasGryphon Trio and James Campbellperform Brahms Clarinet TrioShauna Rolston & Friends performDohnanyi, Brahms and Dvořák.Distinguished alumnus Victor Feldbrillconducts the UTSOMaster classes with acclaimed vocalistsStephanie Blythe, Edith Wiens, MichaelSchade, and Mary Lou Fallis.Major opera productions includeDonizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and Britten’sThe Turn of the Screw.Celebratory concert honouring pianopedagogue Marietta OrlovDaniel Taylor leads UofT’s newly-formedearly music vocal ensemble ScholaCantorum and Theatre of Early Music inconcertsThe New Music Festival highlights theworks of composer Steven Mackey.TicketsOn SaleTues, Sept 4Call the Weston FamilyBox Office at the RCM416-408-0208NEW student tickets for anyconcert *FlexiMIXPick any 4 or more concerts& save up to 20% ***Except for Opera Teas **On adult prices onlyVisit a complete list of events or todownload our season brochureSEASON OPENING CONCERTThe Tallis ScholarsThe renowned vocal ensemble from theU.K. makes its UofT debut in Miserere:Sorrows of the Virgin Mary, a program ofRenaissance music by Guerrero, Lobo,Allegri, White, Victoria and Praetorius.Wed, Sept 12, 20127:30 pm. Walter Hall. Tickets: ( seniors/ students)Call 416-408-0208The Faculty of Music gratefully acknowledges thegenerous support of our presenting sponsors.UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, FACULTY OF MUSIC, 80 QUEEN’S PARK. WWW.MUSIC.UTORONTO.CA

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)