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Volume 18 Issue 3 - November 2012

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

poignant and funny sides

poignant and funny sides of love.” And another example: a SundayNovember 18 7:30pm presentation at the Arts and Letters Club bythe Toronto Chapter of the American Harp Society titled “A Score toSettle,” written by K. Gonzalez-Risso, and billed as “a musical monologuefor solo harp” featuring harpist and comic actress Rita Costanzi.In entirely different ways, these performances, informed by principlesas different as comedy and cabaret, offer opportunities for thewilling listener to explore how an understanding of the rituals andcadences of storytelling can inform musical choice, no matter howabstract, by composer and listener alike.Choral common ground: If music theatre is the most dramaticexample of the interplay between different modes of listening, thenchoral music is the most pervasive. Indeed choirs, more than almostany other presenters, are at the forefront of commissioning new work,of mixing repertoire across generations in the same programs, andputting experiencing a work of music ahead of judging it as good orbad. With an estimated 20,000 individuals participating in choirs inThe WholeNote catchment area, this is no small fact, especially giventhat choristers, more so than concert band members, for example,tend also to be avid concert-goers. Not a bad way of educating peopleto broaden theirunderstanding of whatmakes music music!Nowhere willyou see this moreclearly illustratedthis month than inthe November 11Soundstreams Canadapresentation of theLatvian Radio Choir atKoerner Hall, in a programranging fromRachmaninoff to Cage,to young Canadiancomposer Nic Gothamand more.Or take asanother example theRuth Watson Henderson.November 17 Grand Philharmonic Chamber Singers’ “Made in Canada”concert with music ranging from a new commission by PatrickMurray to works by Healey Willan and Harry Somers. And check outthe November 10 Cantabile Chamber Singers concert titled “Lux” anddescribed as an “a capella concert on the themes of light, love andnight featuring works by L. Silberberg, C. Livingston and B. J. Kim.”Or, finally, consider the November 3 University of Toronto Facultyof Music concert titled “Choirs in Concert: When Music Sounds:Celebrating the 80th birthday of Ruth Watson Henderson.”Henderson, one of Canada’s pre-eminent choral composers, talksabout the links between text and music in a recent interview (onthe Choral Canada website), with Dean Jobin-Bevans, president ofChoirs Ontario.“It is all about taking a text that I find inspiring and thinking abouthow it can be presented in a way that can express some importantfeelings and ideas to a large number of listeners” she says. “The mostimportant thing for me when I am writing is the text; if I get a goodtext, then all of my ideas come from the text. I am not very good atputting things into words, I am much better at hearing things musically,and so when I cannot express myself when speaking with words,I find that I can express myself much better through music; by puttingideas down on paper and writing choral works.”Follow the Bob! Regular readers of this column will know that Ioften pick a particular venue and catalogue what’s happening there asa way of providing a cross-section of what is happpening. It’s sometimesequally instructive, though, to follow an individual musicianthrough a month’s worth of perambulation from one venue to another.Take New Music Concerts’ Robert Aitken for example. The eveningof November 11 will find him at the Music Gallery, albeit in the capacityof genial host rather than performer, for a New Music Concertspresentation of Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, VéroniqueLacroix, conductor, in a program titled GENERATION 2012: ECM+.Four days earlier, he features as flutist, along with musical chameleon,accordionist Joseph Macerollo, in a Canadian Music Centre/New Music Concerts event titled “Secret of the Seven Stars.” It’s a CDlaunch, featuring works by Hope Lee and David Eagle, and providingan early opportunity to check out the new and improved ChalmersHouse performing space, one which one hopes will join the array offine little performance venues for cutting edge music.And, going from little tolarge, Sunday November 18VéroniqueLacroix.Aitken will appear as flutistin Esprit Orchestra’s secondKoerner Hall Concertof the season, titled“Exquisite Vibrations,” ina work titled Concerto forFlute and Orchestra byFrench composer Marc-André Dalbavie.The universities: mindyou, you can’t go wrongby familiarizing yourselfwith the key venuesfor new music either.Starting with the universities,I count nofewer than ten concertsat the University of Toronto thismonth that could be of interest to new music followers,most of them at Walter Hall: November 4there is a concert, “In Memory of Gustav,” dedicatedto the works and legacy of Gustav Ciamaga,composer, educator and electronic music pioneer;composer/teacher Norbert Palej shows up as a composeron November 5 (in another concert featuringaccordionist Macerollo), and then on November 21as conductor of the U of T Faculty of Music’s gamUTEnsemble ... and the list goes on, for U of T as forits Philosopher’s Walk neighbour to the north, theRoyal Conservatory. Same goes for York and others.Small venues: as for the smaller venues, check out the MusicGallery (November 10, 15, 17; December 1 and 7); Gallery 345(November 4, 8, 10, 16, 18, 22, 23 and 27); the Tranzac (November 7,8 and 9) for the 416 Toronto Creative Improvisers Festival; and theWychwood Barns on three consecutive Mondays (November 12, 19 and26) for New Adventures in Sound Art (NAISA)’s SOUNDplay, featuringlive video music performances.And make a special point of checking out the newest intimate spaceon the map, the Array Space at 155 Walnut St. On November 19 at 7pm,it’s a concert titled “Passport Duo,” featuring works by Hatzis, Wilson,Forsythe and O’Connor. And on November 26 it’s the 14th in a seriesof evenings of improvised music, with Array director Rick Sacks and aroster of always interesting guests.Subversion: I started by talking about how spoken language potentiallyprovides different, sometimes less daunting and even enrichingaccess points to new music. It’s not the only tool in the shed, though.There’s also the thoroughly mixed program (such as that promisedby Scaramella on December 1, in the Victoria College Chapel, whichoffers “animal-themed music, from baroque to the 21st century”).Or perhaps even more to the point, consider a November 9 offeringfrom a collective, group of twenty-seven, called “The SubversionProject” which on this occasion, at Grace Church on-the-Hill, offersworks by Beethoven, Prokofiev, Zorn and Buhr in a deliberate effort toenable listeners to hear the familiar anew, and to modulate the strangethrough the familiar.Sounds like a fine idea, don’t you think?David Perlman has been writing this column for the past season(and a bit) and is willing to entertain the notion that it’s someoneelse’s turn. He can be reached at publisher@thewholenote.com.18 thewholenote.com November 1 – December 7, 2012

Beat by Beat | Early MusicMasqued MagicSIMONE DESILETSNovember is a month when many concert series have their seasonopeners — a good chance for me to talk about some of myfavourite groups.Definitely in this category is Toronto Masque Theatre (TMT). Thiscompany is touched by magic — the magic of the masque, both ancientand contemporary, which they present inmyriad entertaining productions that fuse differentaspects of the performing arts; since2003 they’ve staged close to 25 criticallyacclaimed multimedia productions rangingin repertoire from the late Renaissance to themodern day.Their upcoming show, “Fairest Isle,” showcasesthe wealth and breadth of Purcell’sgenius with pieces drawn from his semioperas:The Fairy-Queen, Dido and Aeneas,King Arthur and The Indian Queen, alongwith music he composed for the Church andCourt. TMT’s press release promises that it willbe “an exhilarating combination of dance, theatre, orchestral musicSalvador Dali & Rhino:Scaramella’s first concertis all about animals.and song: a chance for audiences to glimpse the baroque splendour ofthe work Purcell created for London’s theatre of the time.”Henry Purcell is obviously dear to the heart of TMT. In an ambitiousfive-year program, they’ve produced all of Purcell’s majortheatre works, culminating in performances of, and a symposium on,King Arthur in 2009 to mark the 350th anniversary of the composer’sbirth. Artistic director Larry Beckwith comments enthusiastically:“Purcell’s music is full of genius, craft, warmth and humour. He wasso adept at supporting the meaning of the great — and sometimes notso great! — texts he worked with. The tunes are memorable and moving,the instrumental writing is first-rate, and the overall thrust of hiswork is lively and full of humanity.”There’s a real treat in store if you go to see them! Performances areon November 16 and 17 at the Al Green Theatre. Pre-show chats featuringBeckwith and special guests take place 45 minutes beforeeach show.A look at the package in which Scaramella’s 2012-2013 seasonis wrapped will give you an idea of the artistry, ingenuity and carepoured into each of their concerts. Go to the opening page of the brochureor the website, and you’re spun insideon the fronds of an exquisite spiral — actuallya photograph of a staircase inside the lighthousein Eckmuhl, Brittany (reminiscent ofthe scroll of a musical instrument, muses artisticdirector Joëlle Morton). Once landed,you’ll find your eye alighting on a set of particularlyattractive images, each of whichpoints in some way to the overall theme ofthis season: innovation and technology — atheme that takes on a variety of guises.A photo of Salvador Dali engaged in seriousdiscussion with a rhino gives some ideaof what’s in store for their first concert. It’sall about animals and the ways that have been found to depict theirsounds on musical instruments. As Morton says, “Our multi-talentedmusicians will be called upon to conjure cows, horses, ducks, frogs,geese, pigs, chickens, dogs, doves, frogs, bees, sheep, a stag, a snake,cicadas and cats.” They’ll do this in a multitude of pieces, from composerssuch as Biber, Bach, Handel and Copland to Elton John, GeorgeHarrison, Loudon Wainwright and traditional tunes. And who arethese multi-talented performers? They include Elyssa Lefurgey-SmithPHILLIPPE HALSMANNovember 1 – December 7, 2012 thewholenote.com 19

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