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Volume 19 Issue 8 - May 2014

  • Text
  • Choir
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Arts
  • Concerts
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Choral
  • Singers
  • Festival
Includes the 2014 Canary Pages directory of choirs.

Beat by Beat | Early

Beat by Beat | Early MusicThe Sound ThatJeanne BuiltDAVID PODGORSKIShortly after I finished university in Montreal, I got a job in theclassical department of a record store. Occasionally customerswould come in and ask me for the Toronto SymphonyOrchestra’s recordings of Beethoven conducted by Bruno Weil and Iwould direct them to an album that Weil had made with Tafelmusikearlier that year.Bruno Weil has never made an album with the Toronto Symphony,but to my customers at the record store, Tafelmusik and the TSOwere one and the same, and I never saw the point in correcting them.Throughout its 35-year history, Tafelmusik has gone from a groupof competent musicians representing early music in Canada to thebiggest and best-selling early music group in the country, as well as aninternationally renowned orchestra. If Montrealers think Tafelmusik isthe TSO, I can’t blame them, and I’m sure Weil and everyone else whohas ever appeared on a Tafelmusik album should consider the confusiona compliment.Tafelmusik’s success is due in a large part to the leadership ofJeanne Lamon and the direction she charted for the group when shetook it over in 1981. Tafelmusik’s guest artists are deeply impressedby the band’s near-military precision in following Lamon; in contrastto some early-music orchestras who function as oversize chambergroups, Lamon’s band is a disciplined unit with a clear sense of hierarchy.If you’re listening to Tafelmusik in concert or recorded, you’relistening to a sound Jeanne Lamon created.This month marks the end of an era for early music in Canada, asLamon will be performing her last concert series with Tafelmusikas concertmaster and artistic director. It’s still anyone’s guess as towhich direction the orchestra will go after Lamon departs, but this isToronto’s last chance to hear (officially, as I’m sure Lamon will returnto play) the work of an artist who has left a profound influence onclassical music in this country. The orchestra will be doing a mixedprogram of Lamon’s favourites, including Vivaldi, Handel, Rameau,and Bach, and members of Tafelmusik have composed a set of variationson Purcell dedicated to their boss, so I’m willing to bet thefinal concert will be an emotional evening. It all happens at TrinitySt-Paul’s Centre on May 8 to 11 and 14 (with an additional concert atGeorge Weston Recital Hall, May 13). I defy anyone looking forward toretiring this year to throw a better retirement party.Elixir: Given how often musicians improvise in jazz and rock music,it’s kind of disappointing that classical musicians don’t make anythingup very much. Obviously, when the music is written down for you,improvisation becomes superfluous, but making up a great soloremains one of the best ways for musicians to show off. This wasn’talways the case in classical music. Composers and musicians in theRenaissance used to jam over ground bass lines in much the sameway that rock musicians do today, and famous composers from Bachthrough to Liszt were raised in a tradition of improvisation that was afoundation for their fame as composers. In Bach’s case, his admirerspointed to the fact that he could improvise any counterpoint right upto a six-part fugue and Liszt’s claim to fame was the ability to instantlycompose endless and technically brilliant piano variations on anytheme selected at random by members of the audience at his concerts.One Toronto musician who is trying to revive the practice is lutenist(and fellow WholeNote columnist) Benjamin Stein. Stein has madeRenaissance “standard” tunes a special project of his for some timenow, and he’s finally trying out his experiment on the concertgoingpublic this month. Stein will be joined by the Elixir Baroque Ensemblein a concert of improvised and composed music featuring tunes byUccellini, Vivaldi, Byrd, Castaldi and Collard. Stein and Elixir will addto the mix by improvisingtheir own solos in the styleof each composer on everytune they play. This is a veryambitious project and itwill be exciting to see whathappens – it may even revivethe lost art of improvisationamong classical musiciansif Stein’s project gainsa following in the Torontomusic scene (althoughthat may be a few yearsaway). You can catch BenStein and Elixir Baroque atMetropolitan United Churchon May 10 at 7:30pm.The Toronto ContinuoCollective is back and theirlatest concert, “Psyche: The Immortal Soul,” is a musical explorationof the myth of Psyche and Cupid, told through the music of Frenchcomposer Jean-Baptiste Lully and his English contemporary MatthewLocke. The myth of Psyche is a story of love, duty and betrayal, andwas adapted by Molière from the Roman story by Apuleius. Lully inturn adapted Molière’s play into an opera, after which Locke adaptedLully’s opera into his own opera/ballet. The point being that by thetime Locke’s version rolled out, audiences would be fortunate torecognize anything from the original myth. The TCC is avoiding anyconfusion by playing only excerpts from Lully and Locke, and theywill be joined by Montreal sopranos Andréanne Brisson-Paquinand Ghislaine Deschambault, as well as local singers Luke Arnason(countertenor), Bud Roach (tenor) and David Roth (bass). They will bepresenting it at York University on May 8 at the McLean Performance15 THANNIVERSARYSEASONFEATURINGBen HeppnerDido & AeneasOliver JonesThe SkydiggersChoir of TrinityCollege Cambridgeand more…Campbellford, ON.toll-free: 1-877-883-5777WWW.WESTBEN.CAJeanne LamonSIAN-RICHARDS18 | May 1, 2014 – June 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

Studio in York’s Accolade Building at 7pm. It’s also a rare chance tohear any opera originally intended to be performed in English (Englishopera was basically a canonical no-man’s land from the beginning ofthe 18th century until Britten) so that reason alone should make thisconcert a must-see for opera buffs.Toronto Masque Theatre And speaking of Restoration-era Englishoperas, another Toronto group based on the English tradition ofmusic in the 17th century, the Toronto Masque Theatre, is venturingoutside the GTA to perform a classic English opera (thus depletingthe entire repertoire of English opera in the space of two concerts).TMT will be performing Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas as part ofthe Westben Arts Festival in Campbellford. Dido and Aeneas is basedon the founding myth of Britain in Roman mythology, Virgil’s Aeneid.It’s a short but tragic tale that remains, even after 300 years, a classicopera, and I sincerely hope it’s a hit in Campbellford. The performancesaren’t until July 5 and 6, but on May 23 at 7pm you can catchTMT artistic director Larry Beckwith in a discussion at Westben aboutthe operatic classic, featuring excerpts from their upcoming production.Campbellford is just up Highway 30 off the 401, before Quinte –if you’re interested in a weekend outside of the city (or if you live inthe Peterborough area and feel like a night out), be sure to check outthe talk, and to mark July 5 and 6 on your calendar.Finally, there’s one more Tafelmusik concert early next month that’sworth checking out. The orchestra and choir will be performing aspecial noon-hour program on June 1 that features members of theTafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute faculty. It happens at 12:30 inWalter Hall in the Edward Johnson building on the U of T campus. Noword on the program yet, but it’s a chance to hear Tafelmusik for free.Skip off work or take a long lunch and check it out.David Podgorski is a Toronto-based harpsichordist, music teacherand a founding member of Rezonance. He can be contacted at earlymusic@thewholenote.com.thewholenote.com May 1, 2014 – June 7, 2014 | 19

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