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Volume 19 Issue 9 - June/July/August 2014

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  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • August
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Piatigorsky.August: As mentioned earlier, the process of listening is of utmostimportance in fostering this deeper relationship with nature. Andone of most accomplished proponents of the importance of listeningis American composer Pauline Oliveros, who has evolved a uniqueapproach to not only music and performance, but also one that hasinfluenced literature, art, meditation, technology and healing. Shecalls this process “Deep Listening,” and describes it as “listening inevery possible way to everything possible to hear, no matter what oneis doing.” This requires a heightened consciousness of the world ofsound and the sound of the world, encompassing the sounds of dailylife, nature, one’s own thoughts, imagination and dreams.In one of my first personal encounters with her many years ago,she took a small group of us out into a forest to engage in this moreexpanded experience of listening. Not only did we listen to thesoundscape, but she introduced a simple vocal composition (SonicMeditations) during which we sang and intentionally directed oursounds to the trees around us. “They need to hear our sounds,” shesaid simply. This experience not only opened up a world of possibilitiesfor my own work with sound, but this paradigm establishes atemplate for how we can communicate nonverbally with all livingbeings. It creates a model for a co-existent and reciprocal relationship,using sound and its vibrations as a vehicle for connection. In a recentcorrespondence I had with her, I asked specifically about her processof attunement with the environment. She stated that “the connectionwith all things happens through listening. When I perform it ismy intent to listen inclusively to all that I can possibly hear. Inclusivelistening seems to be magnetic. I have had many experiences withbirds and insects gathering around me in outdoor concerts.”Her work also challenges traditional artistic values by subtly movingthe focus away from the artistic work as a separate entity and invitingeach of us to open up how we are perceiving all layers of any givensoundmaking or artistic experience. Her goal is to “balance out, andcome to a different understanding of what can be done.” These ideasare central to cultivating our relationship with nature and expandinghow we imagine sound as a significant ingredient of this connection.In August, Toronto audiences will have an opportunity to experienceher Deep Listening work. She will be delivering a keynote lectureat the Toronto International Electroacoustic Symposium on August 15and will be giving a solo performance on August 16. She will also bedoing an artist talk as part of the Sound Travels Intensive that beginson August 19. All these events are organized by New Adventures inSound Art (NAISA) and more details can be found on their website.QUICK PICKS! Toronto Music Garden concerts: Kahnekaronnion (The Waters):Original songs by the Akwesasne Women Singers and compositions byBarbara Croall, July 3.! Bach to the Future: Cello music by Bach, Piatti, Britten, and theworld premiere of a work by Michael Oesterle, August 28.! Soundscapades: An exploration of the diverse sounds, landscapesand people of the city of Toronto with TorQ Percussion, September 7.Wendalyn Bartley is a Toronto based composer and electrovocalsound artist. sounddreaming@gmail.comBeat by Beat | Classical & BeyondWelcome to the20th CenturyWhen I first opened up the Toronto Summer Music Festival’sbrochure several weeks ago, I was struck by the strength of the initialthree concerts running from July 22 to 24: the return of the EmersonString Quartet; the debut of the young pianist Beatrice Rana; and themusical marriage of the Orion String Quartet with Peter Serkin. Thefestival’s theme – The Modern Age – caught my eye next. “What anenticing idea,” I thought.The Emerson String QuartetPAUL ENNISAs TSO musical director Peter Oundjian observed in his recentConversations@The WholeNote with David Perlman, it’s a fascinatingtopic to contemplate. “The eruption of 20th-century musical language– romanticism, polytonal modernists, folk-influenced – opens up acompletely new world to so many different styles. I think it’s a veryinteresting period.”Three chamber music concerts explore this notion. The first,“Romanticism to Modernity” on July 25, positions Berg andSchoenberg as Romantics about to discard tonal roots, comparingthem to Frank Bridge and Richard Strauss. The second, August 1,includes polytonal non-modernists Prokofiev and Shostakovichwith folk-influenced Vaughan Williams. The third, August 7, takesanother folk-based composer, Dohnányi, and juxtaposes his Sextet forClarinet, Horn and Piano Quartet with Schoenberg’s arrangement ofMahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer and Schoenberg’s and Berg’s arrangementsof three waltzes by Johann Strauss. Stirring the pot, indeed.I had heard the Emerson, one of my favourite quartets, in KoernerHall’s opening season, as well as in earlier appearances presented byMusic Toronto. The inclusion of Beethoven’s Op. 95 “Serioso” quartetin their program brought back a summer music festival experiencetwo decades ago at Tanglewood, when the Emerson performed theprodigious feat of playing all five of Beethoven’s middle-period quartetsin one day. After 36 years, the group’s personnel changed in 2013with new cellist Paul Watkins. Word is he brings a warmth and senseof humour that may have been previously subsumed by the quartet’ssuperb technique and infallible drive. Britten’s second stringquartet inspired by Purcell (which was recently part of the Pavel HaasQuartet’s soulful WMCT concert) and Schubert’s essential “Death andthe Maiden” quartet, complete what looks to be a memorable beginningto music in the city this summer.I have been looking forward to hearing 20-year-old Beatrice Rana,who won the Audience Award at last year’s Van Cliburn Competition(where the judges placed her second), ever since reading Alex Baran’s18 | June 4, 2014 – Sept 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

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