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Volume 21 Issue 4 - December 2015/January 2016

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  • December
  • Toronto
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What's a vinyl renaissance? What happens when Handel's Messiah runs afoul of the rumba rhythm setting on a (gasp!) Hammond organ? What work does Marc-Andre Hamelin say he would be content to have on every recital program he plays? What are Steve Wallace's favourite fifty Christmas recordings? Why is violinist Daniel Hope celebrating Yehudi Menuhin's 100th birthday at Koerner Hall January 28? Answers to all these questions (and a whole lot more) in the Dec/Jan issue of The WholeNote.

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an Ontario government agency un organisme du gouvernement de l’Ontario “The vinyl format has been important to Sonic Boom for 15 years now. It’s been within the last five years that we’ve experienced some real growth in the amount of people making vinyl their choice of format. We’ve seen a steady growth in new and used vinyl sales of about 30 percent year to year over the last several years.” Why are consumers buying more vinyl? “Buying and listening to music on vinyl is a more complete experience than buying and listening to music on MP3. Buying music on vinyl requires a trip to your local record store, a place of excitement and discovery. You have the opportunity to interact with other fans of music and are surrounded by the physical media and the beautiful art that’s included in a record. Taking that record home and putting it on your turntable provides an experience that the click Jacqueline Lai at Amoroso records with a valuable original Japanese pressing. of music cannot. There are many local bands and artists releasing music on vinyl. A few examples are Born Ruffians, Grounders, Fresh Snow, New Fries and Mimico, which all released new albums on vinyl this year.” Parkdale peeps should take note of a cool new place on Queen West called Parkdale Platters (, which opened in January of 2015. “When I was younger I always wanted to own a record shop but after years of working other jobs I lost sight of that prospect,” says Parkdale Platters owner Chris Gibson. “Then I began coming across lots of records and the thought of having a record store re-emerged.” Gibson notes that “In the past few years record buyers wanted records that previously were not as sought after – records that people already had or weren’t interested in. Also, people have a wider range of interests in genres. While selling records at a rather low price, we stock the store to be inclusive.” Kensington Market’s Paradise Bound ( sells both rare records and antique Japanese art. “Me and my highly personalized, knowledgeable service. Little shop – only ever me in there,” proprietor G. Coyote says. “I got into it because working for other men in corporate settings was choking my soul and I love vinyl. So, I bought a lot of records cheap over a few years and opened in 2000.” Like Paradise Bound on Facebook to save 15 percent off your next in-store purchase! Over in the Beaches, discover Discovery ( at 1140 Queen East in Leslieville. “I really thought it was just a lark but from day one it paid the bills,” says Jim Levitt, owner of Discovery. “We attempt to stock a wider variety of music...not just rock, jazz and blues but also C&W, classical, spoken word, comedy, easy listening ...etc., etc. We also list our entire LP selection on our website.” I wish I could do more than just mention others as well: there are literally scores of sources for vinyl in Toronto, all worth looking up. Kops Records now has three locations, two for She Said Boom! (separately owned) plus Vortex at Yonge and Eglinton, L’Atelier Grigorian in Yorkville, June Records in Little Italy, Grasshopper Records at Dundas and Ossington and Rotate This on Queen West. Star jazz singer Alex Pangman – just named Best Female Vocalist in the NOW Magazine Readers Poll – is a fellow vinyl collector. When “Canada’s Sweetheart of Swing” released what some view as her magnum opus 33 (2011), featuring songs that were famous in 1933, she was 33 years of age. Needless to say, she couldn’t resist releasing the album additionally in vinyl, at 33 1/3 RPM: “People that love vinyl get so excited when you have it! Like really excited…An LP is a beautiful thing! Records are objects you want to own and take the time to listen to carefully and read the liner notes. I feel that in the digital age, music is becoming invisible, and especially this music, it has a groove...(pauses)...literally!” she laughs in our over-the-phone interview. Her talent is itself a gift that’s difficult not to admire; those who know and love Alex’s music also know the obstacles she has overcome with her health. Born with cystic fibrosis, she is a two-time double lung transplant recipient and an organ donation advocate. It would make her holiday season to know that WholeNote readers are giving the gift of life: Speaking of gifts, another great idea: the Royal Conservatory’s music appreciation classes. From Music Theory 101 to Outside the Box Baroque, this is your chance to Meet the Mendelssohns and The Great Conductors. You can even learn How Jazz Works and much more with these courses which range in price from to 5. For more information or to register, call 416-408-2825 or visit musicappreciation. So, here’s wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season that’s full of music appreciation, be it by supporting live music, your local treasured vinyl shop, or hopefully a mix of both! Ori Dagan is a Toronto-based jazz musician, writer and educator who can be reached at ORI DAGAN Photo: Makoto Hirata Farah & Krucker Outstanding Sound Design/ Composition 2015 Dora nomination six extraordinary dancers excavate embodied memory PEGGY BAKER DANCE PROJECTS created by choreographer Peggy Baker music John Kameel Farah vocalography Fides Krucker dancers Ric Brown, Sarah Fregeau, Kate Holden, Sean Ling, Sahara Morimoto, Andrea Nann Jan 22-24 27- 31 Betty Oliphant Theatre Book early bird tickets by Dec 24 Promo code EARLY20 for tickets! (January 22-24 performances only) 1-800 838-3006 18 | December 1 2015 - February 7, 2016

Beat by Beat | On Opera Straddling The Old And The New CHRISTOPHER HOILE This December and January, there are far more operatic offerings than is usually the case. The largest-scale production will be the Canadian Opera Company’s revival of Wagner’s Siegfried beginning January 23, but that production is preceded by works of a wide variety of musical styles. FAWN: The first of these is the world premiere of l’homme et le ciel by much-in-demand composer Adam Scime playing on December 3 and 4 at The Music Gallery. It is produced by FAWN Chamber Creative, a company dedicated to bringing new, affordable Canadian chamber opera to Toronto. The libretto by Ian Koiter is based on the Greek text The Shepherd of Hermas from the second century. The story concerns a former slave named Hermas, once owned by a woman named Rhoda, who begins to fall in love with her when they meet again even though Hermas has married. Over a period of 20 days Hermas receives five visions in which Rhoda appears as his heavenly accuser and tells him to pray for forgiveness. In the fifth vision a messenger appears disguised as a shepherd who delivers ten ethical precepts on how to live a Christian life. In Koiter’s version the sacred is a mirror of the profane and Hermas comes to see that his visions derive from repressed sexual impulses. The 45-minute-long opera, written for a six-piece ensemble and live electronics, will be conducted by the composer. Baritone Alex Dobson sings Hermas, soprano Larissa Koniuk is Rhoda and soprano Adanya Dunn is The Messenger. Stage director Amanda Smith states: “This event will not only be for avid operagoers but for anyone with a hint of musical adventure and curiosity.” Against the Grain: Following this world premiere is a new look at one of the most inescapable musical features of the Christmas season – Handel’s Messiah. This is a revival of Against the Grain Theatre’s highly acclaimed production of the oratorio in 2013. What places this Messiah in the opera category is that it is fully staged, costumed, choreographed and artfully lit. The cast has memorized their parts to eliminate the need for music stands and choral folders and to allow AtG’s artistic director Joel Ivany and choreographer Jennifer Nichols to use movement to bring out the meaning of the the oratorio. As Ivany explained in correspondence: “What I’ve found by working on pieces that are not traditionally staged is a new form. It lives more in the world of ballet and contemporary dance. In dance, what you normally have is the mix of music with the movement of the body. The music enhances what the body is doing and, similarly, the movement by the dancers enhance the music.” Exposure to dance caused Ivany to ask: “What if we placed more specific movement in opera and song? Can gesture by a singer cause the same stirring as the movement of a dancer?” Of Messiah in particular, Ivany says, “This work is about peace and striving for good. For this production, I believe that having movement can help accomplish this by enhancing the music with the visual.” Since the movement and choreography in this production will differ significantly from that in 2013, AtG’s 2015 Messiah is essentially a new show. Ivany says that he and Nichols have striven to create more of a narrative this time. The notion is: “We’re all on a journey. We can pinpoint where it began, and we know that there are several stops along the way before we arrive at our final, unknown destination. AtG’s Messiah highlights, in a somewhat abstract way, some of those ‘stops’ along our life journey.” As for the soloists, they “do play specific roles, meaning they are each the same ‘person’ throughout the entire production. However, who that person is, is another question. I think they represent all of us – four different people, four different personalities and four different ranges of music and emotion.” Messiah will be the largest-scale production AtG has ever mounted, and this time the Corporation of Roy Thomson Hall and Massey Hall is partnering with AtG. Music director Topher Mokrzewski will conduct an 18-piece orchestra and a 16-member chorus. The soloists will be soprano Miriam Khalil, mezzo-soprano Andrea Ludwig, tenor Owen McCausland and bass-baritone Stephen Hegedus. AtG’s Messiah runs from December 16 to 19. TMT’s Mummers’ Masque: Opening just a day after Messiah, is another work that looks at an old tradition in a new way. This is The Mummers’ Masque by Dean Burry presented by Toronto Masque Theatre, December 17 to 19. TMT gave The Mummers’ Masque its world premiere in 2009 and is bringing it back because of its great success. Burry was born in Newfoundland, the one province in Canada where mummering, brought over by the province’s first English and Irish settlers, has remained a living folk tradition at Christmastime. In the piece Burry weaves together three different versions of mummering. The oldest is that of mummers’ plays with stock characters, as Burry informed me in conversation, rather like an English folk version of commedia dell’arte. The plays always feature a hero, often St. George, and a villain, usually called the Turkish Knight – a memory of when the Ottoman Empire had made great incursions into Europe. Sometimes there would be a Princess, but the character who always appeared was the quack Doctor. In the plays, either the Hero or the Knight is killed in battle and the Doctor, through various outrageous cures, brings the dead man back to life. Though the plays are comic, the theme of death and resurrection is what ties them to the winter solstice and to celebrations of Christmas and New Year. Mummering, or mumming, which derives from the German word for “disguise,” presently survives in Newfoundland as a form of “adult Halloween,” as Burry calls it, where people go from door-to-door in homemade costumes, usually cross-dressed, while playing instruments, singing and dancing. The people of the house give their strange Guillermo Silva-Marin General Director A toast to young love in old Heidelberg! The Student’s Drinking Song, Serenade and Golden Days, forever beguile, enchant and touch our hearts. Makes a Great Holiday Gift! by Sigmund Romberg Derek Bate, Conductor | Guillermo Silva-Marin, Stage Director Jennifer Taverner, Ernesto Ramírez, Stefan Fehr, Curtis Sullivan December 28, 31 at 8 pm December 27, January 2 & 3 at 3 pm 416-366-7723 | 1-800-708-6754 | December 1 2015 - February 7, 2016 | 19

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