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Volume 18 Issue 9 - June/July/August 2013

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  • Festival
  • August
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Marlene Smith

Marlene Smith acknowledges that she enlisted a number ofinvestors from her initial team for the new production of Cats thatshe undertook at the suggestion of her son Geoffrey, with whom shehas formed a new company, Nu Musical Theatricals. To direct, sheturned to Dave Campbell, who has mounted the show elsewhere inCanada. Interestingly, she sourced her choreographer and musicaldirector from the original Canadian production: Gino Berti, a memberof the initial Canadian cast, is charged with recreating Lynne’s WestEnd choreography, and Lona Davis, another member of the originalcast, serves as musical director. It was Davis who explained the show’sorchestration to me, noting that “due to space limitations we havea reduced eight-piece orchestra. The arrangements are based on anexisting ten-piece version [for which] Mark Camilleri has creatednew programming for the three keyboards that updates some of theoriginal sounds.” She adds that “the orchestra performs on a scaffoldupstage behind the set” and that “all the performers are miked.”A new Cats for a new generation? Perhaps, given that the setemploys the designs of Rose and Thistle, a Toronto-based companywhose digital technology attempts to add depth to the Panasonic’sshallow stage by projecting layers of holographic imagery. While sucheffects are welcome, even without them the old becomes new again asfresh faces enliven a show that has passed the test of time. The samecan be said of a number of other productions that grace our stagesthis summer — too many, in fact, to allow more than a mention here.Tommy, the acclaimed “rock opera” that began as a record album byThe Who in 1969, receives a new production at the Stratford Festivalunder the direction of Des MacAnuff, one of its originators, that openslate in July and continues until mid-October. Another all-Canadianproduction of an oldie but goodie that promises high-tech staging, theshow is sure to attract a new generation of theatregoers interested inexperiencing a milestone in the history of musical theatre.Reaching back even further, Anything Goes, in a touring productionby New York’s Roundabout Theatre that won the Tony Awardfor Best Revival in 2011, also arrives in July for a one-month run atthe Princess of Wales Theatre. Written in 1934 by the inimitable ColePorter, this frothy confection is perfect summer fare — and the secondmost-produced musical in the American theatre canon, right behindGuys and Dolls. If you haven’t seen it before, you’re in for a treat. Andif you have, well, as with all the other musicals available to you thissummer, it’s worth seeing again — especially in this rousing productionthat revels in the joy of staging the past. Who knows, you mighteven want to sing along. I’m sure you’ll know the songs.Based in Toronto, Robert Wallace writes abouttheatre and performance. He can be contacted atmusictheatre@thewholenote.com.Beat by Beat | BandstandAnd Now On SoloDidgeridoo...Jack Ma c QuarrieIn last month’s issue I referred to a number of concerts bysmall ensembles. Since then I had the pleasure of attending avery different program by small ensembles. In the most recent oftheir intimate offerings, the Naval Club of Toronto hosted a returnof members of the band of HMCS York. This band, one of severalreserve force bands in Toronto, has amassed quite a talented groupof musicians. Time was when the membership of such reserve bandsconstituted a mix of skilled amateur members along with one ortwo school music teachers. Today this band can boast that close to75 percent of their members hold degrees in music, including somedoctorates.The program opened with a duet for alto trombone and harpsichordby an early composer that I had not heard of, a predecessor of LeopoldMozart and Michael Haydn. The trombonist, Leading Seaman JamesChilton, holds a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia and isone of a few who are introducing this instrument to their audiences.Three hundred years ago the alto trombone, and its larger brotherthe tenor trombone, enjoyed significant status as solo instruments.However, the use of trombones as solo instruments declined for almost200 years. Beethoven didn’t use trombones in his symphonies untilhis Fifth, where they appear in the final movement.In the 20th century the tenor re-emerged as a solo instrument, butwith a few exceptions, the alto has languished to this day. It was greatto hear of its return. (On my return home after that performance, Irushed to play a CD of concertos for alto trombone and orchestra byLeopold Mozart and Michael Haydn.)The rest of the program consisted mostly of performances by variouscombinations of brass instruments. A trombone quartet chose lesserknown works by 20th century composers including American ArthurFracenpol and Briton Malcolm Arnold. A quintet brought us back tothe present with their version of When I’m 64.Other than one oboe solo, it was almost all brass. I said “almost”because L.S. Chilton suddenly digressed from his various sizes oftrombones to introduce an original composition, his Opus 1 forSolo Didgeridoo. The possibility of a naval musician in full uniform30 | June 7 – September 7, 2013 thewholenote.com

jack macquarrieLeading Seaman JamesChilton on the didgeridoo.performing on such an instrument in public was beyond my wildestillusions, but there he was. For those not familiar with the constructionor origins of the didgeridoo, it is a traditional instrument madeby Aboriginal craftsmen in Arnhem Land in Northern Australia. Whilethis was a factory-made instrument, the original native Australianinstruments are made from the trunks of eucalyptus trees, the coresof which have been hollowed out by termites. He hopes to get one ofthose “termite crafted originals” in the future. While I once had theopportunity to make sounds on a didgeridoo, I can’t say that I evercame close to playing anything resembling music on it.Traditionally, in concerts, navalbands always play their official “regimentalmarch” Heart of Oak. This time,as a bit of a spoof, all of the participatingmusicians treated us to a vocalrendition of that in four-part harmony.Since the concert at the Naval Clubhad such a significant trombonecomponent, this might be a good timeto recount a story of a special trombonein my life. Many years ago, havingplayed a tenor trombone for most ofmy life, I suddenly had the urge to trya bass trombone. So I visited a dealerto inquire about such an instrument.The price of the new Vincent Bachinstrument that I tried was beyond mybudget at the time and I left emptyhanded.That same evening, duringa rehearsal, a total stranger who hadbeen sitting behind the trombonesection leaned over and whisperedin my ear, “Do you know anyone who would like to buy a bass trombone?”I almost jumped out of my skin. When I asked for details, thegentleman handed me a piece of paper with his name “Tommy” andsuggested that I phone him.The next day I visited him. There it was; a genuine New York Bachbass trombone. For those not familiar with the Bach instruments,Vincent Bach was an Austrian trumpeter who moved to New Yorkshortly after the First World War and set up shop to make trumpetsand trombones. In later years he moved to Mount Vernon and subsequentlysold the business, whereupon the operation was moved toElkart, Indiana. Those early New York and Mount Vernon instrumentsare coveted by brass musicians for their craftsmanship and tonequality. The asking price was surprisingly low. Tommy explained thathe had suffered a stroke and could no longer play. He just wanted thehorn to have a good home. (Some time later he confessed that he hadan ulterior motive. Another individual in the same trombone section,who we’ll call Joe, had been hounding Tommy to buy the trombone.Tommy couldn’t stand Joe and wanted the instrument to be playedbeside him where Joe could eat his heart out.)Over the years I have wondered about the history of the instrument.There is still the name Harry Stevenson — bass trombonist forthe Toronto Symphony for many years — marked on the inside of thecase. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to learn a bit more aboutmy treasure. Tedd Waggoner, the Bach instrument specialist fromElkart, was giving a presentation on the evolution of the early Bachinstruments at Long and McQuade in Toronto. I took my instrumentto show to him. In this presentation he pointed out how Vincent Bachhad maintained meticulous records of every instrument producedwith all specifications, dates and names of customers. Waggoner hadbeen able to convince the current management to retain these individualrecord cards on all of the early instruments. Shortly after hisreturn to his office I received a copy of the card with all of the details.It was completed on April 22, 1941, and sold on January 16, 1945, to aColin Campbell in New York. How and when did it get from New Yorkto Harry Stevenson? Were there other owners? I feel like a genealogisttrying to trace the ancestry of my treasure. Are there any readerswho might shed some light? For the benefit of those who might wishto own such a horn, I already have a list of trombonists hoping to bementioned in my will. Finally on the topic of trombones, the SheratonCadwell orchestras are looking for one or two experienced tromboneplayers to join them. For details visit their website at sheratoncadwell.com.So much for some of the musical events in my life these past fewweeks. What is on the horizon for the summer months? Since therewill not be another issue of TheWholeNote until September, I set out todetermine what would be happening in the community music worldover the next three months. With a few exceptions, the communitybands in this part of the world served up a deafening silence as far asnews of their activities was concerned. With a dearth of informationat hand, I turned to band websites to see what they were reporting. Inone case, the band in question greeted me with the news of their nextgreat performance in October 2012. Another gave all sorts of detailabout their forthcoming trip in September 2010. A third gave a listof every performance in the past three years, but nothing about thefuture. Come on folks, tell us what you are doing.Here’s some of what we do know. Steffan Brunette and thesummertime-only Uxbridge Community Concert Band will beperforming their usual two concerts plus a ceremony with the localbranch of the Royal Canadian Legion. The Festival Wind Orchestra willfeature all movie music in their spring concert on June 22 at 2pm, atCrescent School. The Newmarket Citizens’ Band has a busy schedule,including the Veterans Day Ceremony at the Newmarket Cemetery(June 9 at 1:30pm), the Aurora Canada Day Parade (July 1 at 10am), theNewmarket Canada Day Fireworks Concert (Richardson Park, July 1 at7pm), the Orillia Aqua Theatre (August 4 at 6:30pm) and a ClaringtonOlder Adult Association concert (September 22 at 12 noon). TheConcert Band of Cobourg is offering a Coronation Concert Celebrationseries with performances in Toronto June 2, in Kingston June 9 and inCobourg June 15. As in previous years there will be a series of regularconcerts by several bands at the Orillia Aqua Theatre in CouchichingBeach Park and on the Unionville Millenium Bandstand.While it is definitely not a community band, there is a new smallensemble in Toronto that warrants some attention. Conductor SimonCapet is back in town with a new chamber orchestra with the verymusical name Euphonia. There will be two main differences in theirperformances. They will be performing in small, non-traditionalvenues and will not be wearing any kind of formal attire.Rather than viewing these small venue performances as an innovation,the members of Euphonia consider it a return to the past. AsCapet points out, public concerts in the days when these composerspresented their works were not in large austere concert halls. Theywere lively social gatherings in the taverns of their day, where themusicians were surrounded by their audiences as they enjoyedrefreshments and conversations along with the music. As in thoseearly days, the musicians will be in the centre of the room, not upsome distant stage remote from their audience. Tentatively, theseconcerts will be on the second Monday of every month, with theirnext concert, consisting of music of Mozart, C.P.E. Bach and Haydn, atthe Lula Lounge June 10 at 8pm.Turning to happenings in September, it seems appropriate to returnto naval matters. On the weekend of September 14 the Concert Bandof Cobourg, in their role as the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal MarinesAssociation (Ontario), will be travelling to Plattsburgh, New York. Forseveral years now the band, and a considerable group of friends, havemade an annual trek to participate in ceremonies commemorating theBattle of Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain. Yes, there was a naval battleon Lake Champlain with no fewer than 30 ships involved. It took placeon September 11, 1814, just before the signing of the Treaty of Ghent,and was the final battle of the War of 1812. I might just make the tripthere myself this year.Definition DepartmentThis month’s lesser known musical term is Antiphonal: referring tothe prohibition of cell phones in the concert hall.Jack MacQuarrie plays several brass instruments andhas performed in many community ensembles. He canbe contacted at bandstand@thewholenote.com.thewholenote.com June 7 – September 7, 2013 | 31

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