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Volume 18 Issue 3 - November 2012

  • Text
  • November
  • Toronto
  • December
  • Jazz
  • Arts
  • Theatre
  • Symphony
  • Orchestra
  • Choir
  • Concerts

That’s quite a starry

That’s quite a starry cast you’ve assembledfor Airline Icarus.It’s the A+ team in this city. Soprano Carla Huhtanen,mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó, baritone AlexanderDobson. There’s 22 professional artists in all. The concertmasteris Benjamin Bowman from the ballet orchestra, andthe musicians are all top players from the TSO, the COCand the National Ballet. I also have rising stars in tenorGraham Thompson and baritone Geoffrey Sirett. PianistClaudia Chan is opening the concert with the pianosolo of Sungods, which is an early version of the overtureof the opera.There is a very important technologycomponent in the work.Yes. The singers perform in front of videoscreens depicting a dreamlike airplane inflight. The screens change according to thepoint of view of the drama. Over the courseof the work, the plane becomes brighterand brighter and eventually vanishes.Airline Icarus certainly seems tohave a shelf life. You’ve already hadexcerpts performed in Toronto and NewYork, and that production in Italy.And I’m very grateful. It’s going to be featured at the FortWorth Opera’s New Frontiers Festival in 2013, and SoundstreamsCanada is planning a production in 2014. Theremay also be a tour of France.Your own company, Maniac Star, is a co-producer ofthe concert. Where did that unusual name come from?It’s the name of a bookstore café outside Kyoto, Japan, andit really caught my fancy.You’re about to fly off to an InternationalSociety for Contemporary Music conference inBelgium as a delegate of the Canadian Leagueof Composers. What has made you such apassionate advocate in the cause of New Music?The Canadian League of Composers really got galvanizedunder James Rolfe, and I’m part of its advocacy arm. I goto New Music conferences with a suitcase full of discsof Canadian composers. One of the big tragedies in thiscountry is that wonderful music is being written here andnobody knows about it. I want to get the word out. Weshould be proud to be Canadians. In 2001, I revised my1998 orchestral piece called This Isn’t Silence, which hasbecome my mantra. It speaks to my desire to improve thestatus of New Music. When the CBC dropped Two NewHours, contemporary composers were devastated. We lostour presence on the air. On the other hand, it’s an excitingtime to be a composer. We don’t have to wait for theCBC to pick up our concerts because there is YouTubeand SoundCloud. We can broadcast around the worldwith our smartphones.Why do you think that New Musichas such a small audience?Because people don’t understand the art form. You haveto walk them through it. The mistake they make is thinkingthat New Music is one big constant melody. Insteadthey should be listening for texture, or lots of melodies,and colour, which is the sound of the different instruments.They should understand that a composer thinksvery carefully about the timbre he gives to a French horn,for example. The more we can connect audiences to composers,the better.Paula Citron is a Toronto-based arts journalist.Her areas of special interest are dance, theatre,opera and arts commentary.10 thewholenote.com November 1 – December 7, 2012

BEHIND THE SCENESMooredale’sAnton KuertiBY REBECCA CHUAThere was anton kuerti, with his nimbus of unruly hair, inthe auditorium of Walter Hall on a balmy Sunday afternoonlooking for all the world like a latter-day Einstein. Except thiswas no theoretical physicist nor amateur musician but a manwho has been called one of the truly great pianists of this century,a pianist who has been lionized in practically every one ofthe almost 40 countries he has played and whose name is very nearlysynonymous with Beethoven’s great “Emperor” Concerto.Surrounded by theprincipal players ofthe Toronto SymphonyOrchestra as they deftlyperformed excerpts fromSchubert’s Octet andSpohr’s Nonet, he surveyedthe forest of handsthat shot up in answer tohis gently probing questionsand fielded a volleyof eager responses fromyoung children and theirfamilies. It was quite anintroduction to the firstconcert in Mooredale Concerts’Music & Truffles series, one specifically designed to acquaintfirst-timers with classical music.It is easy to forget, in taking a measure of the man — when that manis Anton Kuerti — that he is not simply a concert pianist par excellence.Impresario, talent scout, chief copywriter, principal website and ticketingstrategist, entrepreneur: these are just some of the hats he has addedto his repertoire after assuming the mantle of artistic director of MooredaleConcerts five years ago following the death of his wife, the cellistKristine Bogyo.The genesis of these concerts began in 1986 when their son Julianwas ten years old and Bogyo was looking for a youth orchestra wherethe young violinist could further hone his skills. Then, as now, notesKuerti dryly, “it’s very important and worthwhile to have as part ofmusic education (but) there’s a scarcity of chamber music opportunitiesfor outstanding young artists.”By the second year, the ten children Bogyo started with when shedecided to grow her own youth orchestra in the family’s living room,had trebled, prompting a move to Mooredale House. “Kristine had theknack for making young people love music and understand it,” Kuertisays, citing the letters parents and the young musicians themselves continueto write, even after they go on to professional careers.In the intervening years, the single orchestra has blossomed intothree. Clare Carberry, a fellow cellist, joined Bogyo 21 years ago andnow conducts the intermediate orchestra. Bill Rowson conducts boththe junior and senior orchestras while Kuerti himself leads the seniororchestra’s summer concert. Mooredale Concerts continues to provideopportunities and bursaries for those who need them.The youth orchestras have an enviable reputation not just among themusic teachers who entrust their young charges but among the youngmusicians themselves who, says Carberry, “experience the joy of performingbut also make friends as well.” Bogyo’s sister Esther, whoseown children have been a part of the orchestras, agrees: “It lets the kidssee each other as very cool and that it’s okay to love music.”continues on page 60MARTIN TOSOIANNovember 1 – December 7, 2012 thewholenote.com 11

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