4 years ago

Volume 22 Issue 7 - April 2017

  • Text
  • April
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Symphony
  • Arts
  • Theatre
  • Quartet
  • Orchestra
  • Choir
  • Musical
In this issue: Our podcast ramps up with interviews in March with fight director Jenny Parr, countertenor Daniel Taylor, and baritone Russell Braun; two views of composer John Beckwith at 90; how music’s connection to memory can assist with the care of patients with Alzheimer’s; musical celebrations in film and jazz, at National Canadian Film Day and Jazz Day; and a preview of Louis Riel, which opens this month at the COC. These and other stories, in our April 2017 issue of the magazine!


PODCASTING at THE WHOLENOTE Daniel Taylor: 17.03.22 luck with the editing” was almost “Good the first thing worldrenowned Canadian countertenor Daniel Taylor said to Bryson Winchester, WholeNote podcast recording technician, when we sat down for this particular conversation. And indeed, pinning the mercurial Taylor down to one topic of conversation is a tough task, as his innate musicality takes him deeper into teaching and music directing, along with an intensive concert and recording schedule remarkable for its range, both in terms of geography and repertoire. As it turned out, we managed to touch on several topics of interest. Recording: Taylor’s discography is astonishing - at last count he appears on more than 100 recordings in one capacity or another. But we started out talking about a fairly recent disc, one dear to his heart, I’d say, because it yokes so many different aspects of his musical persona to a single purpose. It’s a 2017 JUNO-nominated Sony release, titled 4000 Winter, and features an ensemble, under Taylor’s direction, called the Trinity Choir. As he explained: “The choir consists, first, of between 10 and 12 Canadian singers, primarily from Ontario and Quebec. Some are students at the University of Toronto, or graduates. We travelled to England, we did a concert tour. And joining us were members of the Tallis Scholars, the Gabrieli Consort and the Monteverdi Choir…three choirs with whom I’ve performed as a soloist, well, for the last 15 years – people I’ve met along the way with a certain way of listening to what I think is beauty. “…It was really experimental. All of our singers hadn’t worked together. The ten of mine had, in one way or another. And the British singers had worked together but not all in one group…I brought them together for a few days of rehearsal and then we started to record. I remember I was quite apprehensive because I just didn’t know if what I imagined could actually happen. Which in my mind was bringing together the sensitivity that some of our North American singers have to a different approach, but one that I thought could be complementary, from the British singers…So there it was, and they began, and I thought, that’s what I thought it could sound like. And it was so beautiful I just felt fortunate.” It’s when the conversation went from talking about this particular recording to about recording in general, that, as Taylor warned, “Good luck with the editing!” Topics Covered: Early operatic conducting practices; working as music director on the recent U of T Opera School production of Handel’s Imeneo, directed by Tim Albery, presented with both cast and and audience on the cavernous stage of the MacMillan Theatre; the relationship between opera performance and “historical performance practice”; musing about whether his singing career would have a “natural denouement” before going on to say “actually I’m finding now, what’s challenging is balancing when I’m conducting, when I’m singing and when I’m teaching. Because it is almost like three full-time jobs. So I have to have those different hats.” It’s interesting how often Handel comes up in the conversation. First professional opera experience; first time at the Met; first production in Canada. Interestingly, it was that production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare at the Met that led directly to one of the more enduring Bach-related threads in Taylor’s concert life - his uninterrupted 19-year association with conductor Greg Funfgeld and the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Bach Festival. “What’s interesting about the Bethlehem Bach Choir is it is very much a different sort of animal than we’d find in England with the smaller early music ensembles. The Bethlehem Bach Choir is really in that great tradition that Robert Shaw had with the Atlanta Symphony - those big big choruses. What’s inspiring about it is that there’s a sense of worship but also of community. There’s an earnest quality to what they do - and they’re so committed to it. It’s really moving.” To hear the full conversation with Daniel Taylor, or any of our other podcasts, search for “The WholeNote” in your favourite podcast app, or go to “ Spectacular … as fiery as Hell itself” – Toronto Star Photo of Peggy Kriha Dye by Bruce Zinger. APRIL 22-29, 2017 ELGIN THEATRE, 189 YONGE ST. MARC-ANTOINE CHARPENTIER Featuring: Peggy Kriha Dye, Colin Ainsworth Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra & Chamber Choir WWW.TICKETMASTER.CA or 1-855-622-ARTS (2787) Season Underwriter Season Presenting Sponsor Production Sponsor 10 | April 1, 2017 - May 7, 2017

Bach in Bethlehem, Verdi in Jerusalem DAVID PERLMAN According to Chaucer, April is the month that with its sweet showers “pierces March’s drought to the root,” causing all kinds of people, music lovers not excepted, to get a bit giddy and take themselves off on all manner of “sundry pilgrimages.” As a lifelong chronic agoraphobe who typically gets on airplanes only for trips revolving around grim duty of one kind or another, I was until last year, a steadfast exception to the Chaucerian rule. But 2016 was different. Not once but twice I noted my nearest exits, turned off all electronic devices and faithfully obeyed the fasten seatbelt sign as I took off into the wide blue yonder for the purpose of attending music festivals in other parts of the world. I am, therefore, now an expert on the subject of music festivals. So pay attention. Rule number one: Other than the ones that take place in your hometown and can therefore be ignored unless you have guests, there are only two types of festivals. One is the kind of festival that is sufficiently compelling in its own right that it causes you to journey some place you never have thought of visiting, even if you had heard of it. The other is a festival you never heard of but taking place somewhere so special in its own right that you feel compelled to go there at least once in your lifetime. And when you do, you discover that there’s a festival there that tickles your musical fancy, so you go to it because you are already there. There’s one of each kind in this story: the 2016 first annual Jerusalem Summer Opera Festival falls into the second category; the 110th Annual Bethlehem Bach Festival falls into the first. The Bethlehem Bach Festival takes place in Bethlehem, PA, nestled in the Lehigh Valley region of Southeastern Pennsylvania, this year on the weekends of May 12-13 and May 19-20. Colonized in the first half of the 18th century by Moravian settlers, Bethlehem became also, in the 1860s (across the river from the old town), the site of Lehigh University, a private school established by businessman Asa Packer. (The church that bears his name, on the Lehigh campus, remains the venue for the performance of the Bach Mass in B Minor that is the climax of each year’s festival.) And between the two halves of the town, along the riverbank is the looming rusting hulk of what was, from the 1880s till the 1990s, the steel mill from which Bethlehem Steel derived its name. Twelve years after the mill was built, in 1898, the Bethlehem Bach Choir came into being. Two years after that it gave the first ever complete North American performance of Bach’s B Minor Mass. Through that whole galvanic century, the choir and the festival have endured through thick and thin, because they bring to the music not just a consistently high standard of musicianship, but a precious intangible – the fact that the music is a living expression of community. I’ve written before about how my first awareness of the Bethlehem Bach Festival came about because of the non-stop procession of topflight Canadian soloists to the festival, especially since Greg Funfgeld took on conductorship of the choir in 1983. Countertenor Daniel Taylor, for example, returns for the 19th consecutive year, joined again this year by soprano Agnes Zsigovics (a protégée of Taylor’s at the University of Toronto, and surely a performer to watch) and by Benjamin Butterfield, also a frequent visitor but absent last year. The three US soloists are also regulars: soprano Rosa Lamoreaux, baritone William Sharp and Dashon Burton, bass. One of Funfgeld’s gifts as a conductor is his sense of balance and blend; another is his loyalty to his performers. Talk to the soloists and they will tell you that as much as anything, the opportunity to renew beloved musical relationships in a consistent context is one of the things that keeps them coming back. It’s been said that North America (at least from a colonial perspective) has too much geography and not enough history, while the problem in the Middle East is just the reverse. But if one thinks local rather than global, the distinction starts to blur. Walk from the Hotel Bethlehem (built in the 1920s with Bethlehem steel!) through the old Moravian Quarter, across the bridge past the hulk of the steel mill, where signs of civic landscaping and urban renewal are visibly starting to happen on the river edge, up the opposite hill to the Packer Church, and take your place in the audience. There will always be more than one generation of the same family in the choir that looks back at you. And the music, when it starts, will have a healing sound St. Thomas’s Anglican Church, 383 Huron St. Baroque Music by Candlelight for Holy Week A time for quiet reflection A period ensemble performs in a historic setting Monday, April 10 at 8 pm Pay what you can Sultan’s Pool, Jerusalem April 1, 2017 - May 7, 2017 | 11

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