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Volume 18 Issue 7 - April 2013

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  • April
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Arts
  • Choir
  • Symphony
  • Quartet
  • Concerts
  • Singers

Beat by Beat |

Beat by Beat | BandstandSearching forSigns of LifeJACK M a c Q U A R R I EBefore tackling the challenge of writingthis April column, I would normallylook out the window in anticipationof signs of spring and then settle down toreport on spring concerts and festivals onthe sunny horizon. However, even though mycalendar says that spring is now due, mothernature disagrees and has decided to hide anyindications that spring might be in the offing.Everything is covered with a white blanket.Unfortunately, several bands that we usually hearfrom are keeping their spring events hidden under ablanket of silence. In short, there is a dearth of newsfrom the community band world.Let’s have a look at what we have heardto date. For details of locations, timesand ticket prices see the listings section.The first event on our bandcalendar is the HannafordStreet Silver Band’s annualFestival of Brass on the weekendof April 5, 6 and 7 at theJane Mallett Theatre. The festivalbegins, as in previousyears, with “Rising Stars.” Thiswill feature finalists in HSSB’sannual Young Artists SoloCompetition at the Church ofthe Redeemer on Bloor St. inToronto. The winners of this competition then have the honour of performingtheir selected solos with the Hannaford Street Silver Band inthe final concert of the festival on Sunday afternoon.Rumour has it that Jacob Plachta, winner last year and the yearbefore, may well be on the scene again this year. Last year Plachta notonly won the competition, but did so performing his own compositionSonata for Trombone and Brass. Although we have no details intime for publication, I have heard that a number of members of theHannaford Youth Band have now been bitten by the composing bugand have several compositions in the works. Plachta has apparentlywritten a new work this year but we don’t have any details yet.On Saturday, after masterclasses in the morning, it’s the“Community Showcase” where brass ensembles from the GTA andbeyond compete for the annual Hannaford Cup. In past years therehave been participating groups from as far away as upstate New Yorkand Ottawa. On Sunday it will be guest conductor Alain Trudel onthe podium for the grand finale of the weekend featuring winnersof HSSB’s annual Young Artists Solo Competition and Festival SlowMelody contest performing with the HSSB. The show will concludewhen the Hannaford Youth Band joins in for a massed band finale.Of particular interest will be the North American premiere ofBreath of Souls by the young British composer Paul Lovatt-Cooper.Having not heard of this composer before, it was time for a littleresearch with the aid of such authorities as Google and associates.Coming from a Salvation Army family, he studied music atthe University of Salford. After a stint as a percussionist with therenowned Fairey Band he is now “composer in association” of theBlack Dyke Band. In recent years several of his compositions havebeen recorded by leading brass bands in Europe and the UK. His compositionThe Dark Side of the Moon was selected as the test piecefor the third section of the National Brass Band Championships ofGreat Britain 2008 regional contests. The same piece was selected asthe test piece for the third section of the 2008 Dutch National BrassBand Championships at Groningen. Breath of Souls was selected asthe test piece for the Championship Section of the 2011 National BrassBand Championships of Great Britain held at the Royal Albert Hall,London, in October. The following is a quote from a respected Britishsource: “Ever since a young composer called Paul Lovatt-Coopercame to prominence following the world premiere of Earth’s Furyat Symphony Hall in 2004, the banding world has increasingly takennotice of his unique blend of fresh, inventive and downright enjoyablemusic making.”On April 14 Wellington Winds, under the baton of Daniel Warren,will present “Jokes and Riddles,” a program of works by Strauss, Elgar,Ives, Rossini, Bach, Rauber and even P.D.Q. Bach. Guests will be theWW Brass Quintet. This will be at Knox Presbyterian Church inWaterloo. The program will be repeated April 21 in Kitchener.On April 17 at Byron United Church, London’s own PlumbingFactory Brass Band will present “Celebrating Canada — Our Homeand Native Land.” The program will open and close with two differentmarches both titled Bravura — a word which conjures upour national spirit of energy, pride and glory. Conductor HenryMeredith’s own salute to the Queen’s jubilee celebrationsis his fanfare version of God Save the Queen, basedon a 19th century harmonization with wordsdescribing “Our Native Land, Fair Canada.”Handel’s Coronation Anthem Zadok thePriest follows — it was performed 60years ago at our Queen’s coronationin 1953. Howard Cable’s The Banks ofNewfoundland is an arrangement ofseveral folk songs from our oldest,yet newest, province, and the floraand fauna of Canada is depictedby Laurendeau’s Land of theMaple and Grumble’s popularChanticleer Rag. Canada’sPaul Lovatt-Cooper.waterways are then portrayedby Clarke’s cornet solo TheMaid of the Mist (namedfor the famous Niagara Falls tour boat) plus a world premiere performanceof a composition commissioned by the Plumbing FactoryBrass Band. Called On the Thames, the work by PFBB cornetist KyleHutchinson reflects the river Thames in London, Ontario, and itsnamesake in London, England. In April, Canada’s cold winter shouldbe just a memory, so the band will be thinking of warm breezes whenit plays Bach’s Air from Suite No. 3, and looking forward to such summeractivities as weddings, jazz festivals and circuses. Representingthose summertime events are the rarely heard Sousa waltz song, I’veMade My Plans for the Summer, Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro overture,an arrangement of Dave Brubeck’s multimetric Blue Rondo a la Turk,in memory of the great jazz pianist who passed away last December,and Duble’s circus music, our second Bravura march for the evening.In its program titled “Fiesta,” the Milton Concert Band will beexploring the many exciting facets of Latin culture brought to life in28 | April 1 – May 7, 2013

classical and contemporary music, on April 20 in the Milton Centrefor the Arts.On April 21 at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, itwill be “Silk, Spice and the New World” for the Silverthorn SymphonicWinds, with conductor Andrew Chung, as they explore music from theancient Silk Road route. This program will celebrate the music of Asia,Europe and the Mediterranean. Camille Watts on flute and piccolo willbe their guest artist. Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts,Unlike most of the other community bands we have heard from,the Pickering Community Concert Band’s April 21 spring concert inAjax will not be a “themed concert.” Conductor Doug Manning hasselected quite a spectrum of works from Toronto arranger Eddie Graf’sarrangement of Clarinet a la Mode to the great British classic ManninVeen. Paul Schwarz will be their guest vocalist. One week later at theFlato Markham Theatre on April 28, Doug Manning will be at the helmof the Markham Concert Band with a themed concert. “The Best ofBroadway” will include selections from The Sound of Music, MammaMia, Jersey Boys and others.More on the trend to themed concerts: In a recent issue I madereference to a trend to program what I referred to as themed concerts.Proponents of the concept argue that a theme is a way to attractan audience. Opponents argue that a “slavish” adherence to a themecan place significant restrictions on suitable repertoire. Personally, Ihave mixed reactions. Some of the best concerts I have heard in recenttimes have been skillfully crafted on themes. On the other hand, someof the worst have resorted to second rate selections to adhere to thetheme. When I discussed the matter with one conductor, he admittedthat he had found himself restricted by programming to a theme andthen stated: “You end up servicing a concert with an arbitrary motif.”We would like to hear from readers, particularly band members. Whatare your thoughts?More on changing technologies: In the past, much of the informationwe received on band activities arrived by email. It was almostalways in the form of a straightforward press release from which itwas a simple matter to extract much of the information. Recently, wehave seen a significant change. Several of the submissions that wehave received lately have been difficult, if not impossible, to deal with.We now frequently receive PDF files of posters. It is not possible toextract information from these. We could print them and then type inwhat we read, but this can be very time consuming. Even worse is asimple email message suggesting that we visit one or more websites tohunt for information. One recent submission had suggestions to visitno fewer than ten different websites. There was really nothing to indicatewhat we might find if we did so.A different perspective: For someone like myself, steeped in themore traditional forms of music, it is interesting to hear the very differentroles assigned to different instruments in the more populargenres of the day. In a recent CBC Radio One program reviewing thelatest “Music Industry” awards, the reviewer, commenting on the performanceof one “contemporary” group, stated: “They even had atrumpet. It was a nice little touch to have a trumpet.” How would thatgo over in the band world?Jack MacQuarrie plays several brass instruments andhas performed in many community ensembles. He canbe contacted at by Beat | Music TheatreBreakthroughsRObert WALLACEActing up Stage Company is on a roll. Since its inaugurationin 2005, this small but visionary theatre has steadily attractedattention, its 2011/2012 season pulling an audience of over11,000 members, landing six Toronto Theatre Critics’ Awards andreceiving 11 Dora Award nominations, four of which it won for theacclaimed production of Caroline, or Change. As Mitchell Marcus,the company’s peripatetic artistic director puts it, “We were blessedwith a ... season where all of the elements magically came together.”Inevitably, the comment prompts him to ask, “Where do we gofrom here?”The answer, or the first half of it at least, was on view this pastFebruary and March at Toronto’s Factory Theatre. Do You Want WhatI Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata is a song cycle of ads from the onlineMichael Levinson.classified site set to music by Veda Hille and Bill Richardson that premieredat Vancouver’s PuSH Festival last year. Toronto critics laudedA Craigslist Cantata as much as they praised Ride the Cyclone, ActingUp’s import last season, finding the show “intoxicating, wildly creative,wonderfully witty and just downright fun.”For its second show this season, Acting Up Stage joins forces withthe Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company to co-produce Falsettos, anew production of the Tony and Drama Desk award-winning musical,whose book by James Lapine and music and lyrics by Lapine andWilliam Finn are widely considered a breakthrough in musical theatreform. Despite such regard, the show, last seen in Toronto 18years ago, is rarely produced, a fact that surprises Marcus. “Falsettosmight be my favourite musical ever, and I [am] shocked that it hasn’treceived a major revival anywhere in the world since its Broadway runin the early 90s.” Opening the show on April 23 for three weeks at theDaniels Spectrum, a new space in Regent Park, he hopes to ensureits success by hiring the Dora Award-winning team responsible forCaroline, or Change to stage the production. With Robert McQueen(director), Reza Jacobs (music director), and Tim French (choreographer)rehearsing a stellar cast, Marcus is betting on another winner.The show incorporates three plays written over a 15-year period,each staged separately off Broadway as one-acters before being integratedinto one long production that opened on Broadway in 1992.(Significantly, that two-act presentation, despite winning Tony Awardsfor Best Book and Best Score, failed to take home the Tony for BestMusical of the year, an irony that attests as much to the themes of thepiece as to its unusual form.Act One of Falsettos, titled “March of the Falsettos,” set in 1979, premieredas a one-act production Off Broadway in 1981, at a time whenthe libidinous experiments of the swinging 70s were shifting to moresombre reflection — or so popular wisdom holds. Nevertheless, thetone of the piece was upbeat, its bittersweet ending promising change.Act II, titled “Falsettoland” and set in 1981, “plays out in another key aslovers no longer ‘come and go’ but ‘live and die fortissimo,’” as FrankAdam April 1 – May 7, 2013 | 29

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