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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 | Choral

Beat by Beat | Choral SceneWhat’s ThatWhistling Sound?BENJAMIN STEINThat whistling sound you heard this week might have been anentire city breathing a sigh as the last vestiges of this wretchedwinter – which lasted well into April – finally passed away andwe all unclenched our shoulders from around our ears. (On the otherhand it might have been the sound of more than 120 choirs flocking tothis month’s Canary Pages – see page 29 – something that has becomean annual rite of passage for choirs in this part of the world.)As usual, Toronto came in for lots of scorn from Canadians this yearfor not being tough enough to withstand winter conditions that otherparts of the country would consider mild, or at least normal.For these folk, I have five words: “Union Station at rush hour.”By the end of the winter, the Canadian military had recruitersstationed on the subway platform ready to enlist the winners of thetrench warfare that took place at Union every day. Nobody’s tougherthan Torontonians. Or meaner, after this winter; out-of-towners,you’re warned.This year’s spring concerts are likely to combine triumph and reliefin equal measure. There are many choices to be found in the listings;below are several.Spring-Themed Concerts: On May 4 the Etobicoke Youth Choirperforms their spring concert, entitled “Why We Sing.”On May 10 the Toronto Swedish Singers perform their “AnnualSpring Concert.” The evening includes a selection of Swedish andNordic music. I confess that this group is new to me – I hope to findthem in these pages in the future.Also on May 10, the Toronto Welsh Male Voice Choir performs their“Spring Gala Concert.”The Echo Women’s Choir performs “Singing! Here! Now!” onMay 11, with an eclectic program that includes folk music from China,the Balkans and Ukraine.On May 31 the St. Elizabeth Scola Cantorum Hungarian Choirperforms their spring concert, which includes Schubert’s Mass in Gand works by Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály.Festivals: Jewish Music Week in Toronto, May 18 to 25, is the brainchildof Aliza Spiro. In its fourth year, it is increasingly attracting theVoices Chamber Choirattention of Toronto audiences and the many Jewish musicians inthe city who welcome the opportunity to showcase their talents andartistic projects.There are many excellent solo performers and ensembles participatingin this festival. Choral ensembles include Lachan JewishChamber Choir, taking part in a free May 19 concert, “Vocals forVictoria Marathon,” at Nathan Phillips Square.The Lirit Singers, perform in “Music of Milton Barnes” on May 20.Barnes was a Jewish-Canadian composer whose approachablemusic, rooted in jazz and traditional Jewish sources, continues to beperformed by many performers and ensembles.More information about this event can be found atjewishmusicweek.com.SING! The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival: May 30 to June 1,is an intensiveweekend of a cappella vocal music. Taking place at the DistilleryHistoric District, it is a well-curated eclectic mix of choirs, smallervocal ensembles and soloists. Choirs performing during the weekendinclude the Cantemus Singers and Cawthra Park Chamber Choir, PaxChristi Chorale, That Choir and Hamilton Children’s Choir.On May 31, a number of these ensembles will take part in a concertdevoted to the music of R. Murray Shafer. Later on the afternoon of thesame day, several of the vocal ensembles and soloists from the festivalwill sing musical accompaniment to a selection of National FilmBoard of Canada short films. NFB shorts, most famously the worksof Norman McLaren, are renowned among film aficionados and havewon awards all over the world.More information about the festival schedule can be found atSingToronto.com.Women in Music: Preparing for an exam, one of my studentsremarked on the almost complete absence of female composers in therepertoire syllabus. Stumbling to explain why this might be the casewell into the 21st century, with the amount of historical resources nowavailable, I pondered uneasily the degree to which the educationalcanon in music often lags behind the initiative taken by performers.There is plenty of music available written by women, currently and24 | May 1, 2014 – June 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

from past centuries, and this should be reflected in student as well asconcert repertoire.On May 24 the Jubilate Singers present “Inspire! music by Canadianwomen.” The program includes works by familiar and establishedcomposers Eleanor Daley, Stephanie Martin, Suba Sankaran, andShelley Marwood, a musician currently pursuing a graduate degree incomposition who is beginning to fulfill commissions for ensemblesacross Canada.For an historical take on female composers, consider the VoicesChamber Choir’s “Go, Lovely Rose” on June 7. The concert includesworks by Hildegard von Bingen, Fanny Hensel, Imogen Holst, RuthWatson Henderson and others. Fanny Hensel was Felix Mendelssohn’ssister; Imogen Holst was the daughter of Gustav Holst. Both womenhad rich and varied musical careers; I’d encourage both choralaudiences and students interested in the subject to explore theircompositions.War and Struggle: 2014 is the centenary of the start of the FirstWorld War. Remembrance ceremonies will begin in earnest in thesummer, but several choirs have spring concerts with themes of battleand memory. Music was of tremendous importance in both worldwars – music to inspire, music to galvanize, to bolster, comfort andcommemorate. There is a rich legacy of compositions that choirs candraw upon.On May 10 the Peterborough Singers perform Maurice Duruflé’sRequiem and Welsh composer Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man: A Massfor Peace.On May 31 Barrie’s King Edward Choir performs “KEC Remembers:Songs of Love, Loss and Victory!” The concert includes songs, lettersand poetry that commemorate the lives of those lost 100 years ago inWorld War I.On June 7 Kingston’s North Lakeshore Mass Chorus performs “Tillthe Boys Come Home,” also a tribute to those who served.Finally, a shout-out to another Toronto ensemble that has slippedunder my radar in the past. On May 31 the French-themed Ensemblevocal Les voix du coeur performs “Quand on chante, on a toujours20 ans” (When you sing, you’re always 20 years old). The concert iscomprised of popular French songs from different parts of the world.The program is given at 2pm and 8pm.Benjamin Stein is a Toronto tenor and lutenist. He can be contactedat choralscene@thewholenote.com.Visit his website at benjaminstein.ca.PETER MAHONSales Representative416-322-8000pmahon@trebnet.comwww.petermahon.comT.416.546.6470 II E. info@mgsmarketing.camgsmarketing.cathewholenote.com May 1, 2014 – June 7, 2014 | 25

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