6 years ago

Volume 22 Issue 8 - May 2017

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • Arts
  • Musical
  • Jazz
  • Festival
  • Symphony
  • Theatre
  • Choir
  • Orchestra
  • Quartet
From science fact in "Integral Man: Music and the Movies," to science fiction in the editor's opener; from World Fiddle Day at the Aga Khan Museum to three Canadians at the Cliburn; from wanting to sashay across the 401 to Chamberfest in Montreal to exploring the Continuum of Jumblies Theatre's 20-year commitment to the Community Play (there's a pun in there somewhere!).


ON OUR COVER Amely Zhou One of the aims of World Fiddle Day Toronto, which takes place Saturday May 20 at the Aga Khan Museum, is to celebrate bowed string instruments of all musical traditions, not just the music made by the globally dominant violin family. In organology (the study of instruments) the Chinese erhu, (technically a bowed two-stringed spike lute) is a prominent, though quite distant, member of the extended violin family. And WFDT has chosen Amely Zhou, the young Canadian erhu soloist trained in both Chinese and Western music, to be that instrument’s flagbearer in this year’s workshops and evening feature concert. Zhou began her music studies at an early age in the city of Shenzhen, located in southeastern China near Hong Kong. She states in a 2015 interview that she “started learning erhu when I entered Shenzhen Art School in Grade 4…In my studies with my teacher Lei Zhang, I was constantly inspired by his music and by the sweet tone he could achieve from this simple-looking instrument. The soulfulness of the erhu still carries my feelings and emotions away, along with the vibrations of the strings.” After immigrating to Canada, in 2007 she joined the Toronto Chinese Orchestra, where she serves today as the bowed string section assistant principal. In 2010 she co-founded the Chinese-Western fusion band Spire for which she both performs and arranges music. While enrolled at York University she won the university’s 2013 Concerto Competition as the erhu soloist in the Red Plum Capriccio. Zhou graduated in 2015 from York with an Honours B.A. in Music, and that year was accepted into the prestigious Shanghai Conservatory of Music summer program with a full scholarship to continue her erhu studies. The high value she places on connecting with fellow musicians and audiences is among the most distinguishing features of her playing. As her biography on the Small World Music website notes, “Amely inspires others with her open-hearted and emotive playing. While challenging herself to the fullest, she premiered more than 30 new works by composers around the world.” Among the GTA’s most prominent younger generation erhu soloists, Zhou is passionate about promoting traditional Chinese music in Canada. On the other hand she also actively challenges her musical world by frequently collaborating with musicians representing musical expressions based in the Western vernacular, and further afield: Iran, India and Azerbaijan. One of her projects has been premiering contemporary works mixing erhu with other instruments. These include works by University of Toronto student composers Roydon Tse, Tse Yueng Ho, Chen Ke, Lin Yuting and Adrian Ling, as well as by senior composers Chan Ka Nin (Double Happiness) and Alice Ho (Four Seasons). In 2014 she commissioned and premiered Wind Chaser for erhu and piano by emerging Toronto composer Matthew Van Driel. In her 2015 interview Zhou shares an insight into a core musical value, one which extends beyond that of culture of origin, vocation and career. “My teacher Lei Zhang…not only taught me how to play erhu, but also how to be a good person. Music teaches a person patience and kindness. You will have to be able to inspire yourself before you can inspire others with your music.” Andrew Timar For more about World Fiddle Day Toronto see Andrew Timar’s regular World View column on page 32 in this issue. CBC Radio Two: The Living Legacy CBC’s Homegrown Composers Featured in 21C DAVID JAEGER Johannes Debus will take the podium at Koerner Hall on May 24 to launch the 2017 edition of the Royal Conservatory’s 21C Music Festival, along with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, the Elmer Iseler Singers and soloists. The program they will offer includes two works by 21C Festival artistic advisor, Brian Current, one of four composers featured during the festival who are former grand prize winners in one of the CBC/ Radio-Canada national competitions for young Canadian composers. Current, Chris Paul Harman, Ana Sokolović and Andrew Staniland all have premieres of major works during the festival. These four composers, who won the CBC competition when they were in their 20s, 30s or, in Harman’s case, teens, have all demonstrated the promise and the purpose of the composition competitions by developing into successful professionals, now among the nation’s leading mature composers. Andrew Staniland By way of background, the CBC/Radio-Canada National Radio Competition for Young Composers (1973-2003) was initiated by John Peter Lee Roberts, who was head of CBC Radio Music from 1965 to 1975. Roberts, who commissioned over 150 original Canadian compositions for broadcast during his tenure as head of music, saw the development of emerging composing talent in Canada as one way of fulfilling the objective, as defined by the Broadcasting Act, to “Encourage the development of Canadian expression by providing a wide range of programming that reflects Canadian attitudes, opinions, ideas and artistic creativity.” Clearly, the development of artistic creativity spoke to Roberts in a strong voice, and he grasped the need to develop the next generation of Canadian composers. He brought together his colleagues at Radio- Canada, as well as the Canada Council to help fund the competition in its first year, 1973, and then received additional support from several provincial arts councils the following year. When Roberts handed me the Young Composers project at the end of his time at Radio Music, in 1975, it was already the most important vehicle for young and emerging composers in Canada. The creation in 1978 of the national new music series Two New Hours provided a national network radio vehicle to share the unfolding story of the emergence of Canada’s musical future. And through the system of international program continues on page 84 8 | May 1, 2017 - June 7, 2017 May 1, 2017 - June 7, 2017 | 9

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