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Volume 23 Issue 1 - September 2017

  • Text
  • September
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Orchestra
  • Musical
  • October
  • Recording
  • Composer
  • Symphony
  • Theatre
In this issue: a look at why musicians experience stage fright, and how to combat it; an inside look at the second Kensington Market Jazz Festival, which zeros in on one of Toronto’s true ‘music villages’; an in-depth interview with Elisa Citterio, new music director of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra; and The WholeNote’s guide to TIFF, with suggestions for the 20 most musical films at this year’s festival. These and other stories, in our September 2017 issue of the magazine!


RAPID FIRE: SUSAN COYNE, writer (Mozart in the Jungle) WN: Mozart or Wagner? SC: Mozart. Pinter or Stoppard? I want to say Pinter but I’ll say Stoppard. Caryl Churchill or Stoppard? Churchill. Shaw or Coward? Coward is underrated! Shakespeare’s tragedies or Shakespeare’s comedies? Impossible. And great playwrights intermingle comedy and drama. Ibsen, Chekhov and Shakespeare all knew a thing or two about dramedy. Female roles in Shakespeare vs. female roles in Restoration plays? Hmm…Rosalind and Portia are pretty good roles. Sometimes the women are on a par with men in Shakespeare, there just aren’t enough of them. Restoration roles are wonderful to play, but those plays are not as ambitious as Shakespeare’s plays. It’s really hard to do Restoration comedy – harder than Shakespeare. They can be arch, like Wilde. Three Sisters or The Seagull? Three Sisters. Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky? Dostoyevsky. La Traviata or Rigoletto? La Traviata. Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul? Next. Girls or Sex and the City? Girls. Broad City or Girls? Broad City. The last season of Girls was good. British TV or American TV? I’d say British TV…I just love the casting in British TV, which usually has an interesting range of real people, not glossy versions of people. Also, on British TV, the rest of the world exists. Writing the show is a collective process, not unlike playing in an orchestra. The producers get together to sketch out the whole season before each individual episode is written. Any newly introduced narrative thread needs to be resolved by the last episode. “If there is an orchestra strike at the beginning of the season, it would have to be resolved by the end. We knew Rodrigo would be starting a youth orchestra, and that Gloria and Thomas’ relationship would become important. We knew that they were all going to Venice and that Rodrigo was going to conduct a recluse opera singer. Then you figure out, in broad detail, what is going to happen in each episode. Then, you make sure that every main character has enough to do in each episode, and break it all down into finer and finer detail before you start to write an outline. Then you go and write it. And rewrite it, and rewrite it, and rewrite it. Some bits get taken from one episode to another episode. It’s a strange, organic process. There are bits of scenes that I’ve written in every episode, and a lot of the writers can say the same. Then you get rewritten yourself. You get your name on one of the episodes, but it’s probably a mishmash of your stuff and other people’s stuff. Finally, the showrunner looks at each episode and makes sure that it all feels like the same show and not like something written in different voices.” Coyne’s name appears in the credits of the “Creative Solutions for Creative Lives” episode, in which the former music director of the orchestra turned composer (Malcolm McDowell) discovers electronic music, and “Avventura Romantica,” in which the young protagonist Hailey (Lola Kirke) assembles a small orchestra and tries conducting herself – a piece composed for the show by NYC-based composer Missy Mazzoli. The storyline with Hailey stumbling into conducting then realizing that she really wants to do it, Coyne says, was an important one to tell, and will continue in Season 4. “In theatre, everybody has their own voice and everybody is their own artist, but what’s fascinating about the orchestras [is that] everyone there is highly trained as a soloist whose job upon joining the orchestra is to blend in. And I can see how that can be stressful; I can also see how making something bigger than yourself can be wonderful.” It’s additionally interesting, she says, if the musician grappling with these questions is a young woman, since the external and internal obstacles to the conducting profession in that case multiply. A repository of charisma and artistic madness in Season 1, the new music director Rodrigo (played by Gael García Bernal) has by now grown into a conflicted human being. Coyne says it’s a natural process: finding new layers to characters and surprising yourself is part of the job. The fun of it is to put the characters in challenging situations and see what they’re made of. “It’s true that the Rodrigo character is magical in some way, but we’re discovering that he has his own disappointments and yearnings, and is wondering what his true destiny is, and whether it’s enough just to be an artist. Some of this came from Gael who said at one point, ‘It’s time for this guy to grow up.’” Coyne played the piano as a child and while her university degrees are in history and theatre, music was always part of her life. Now, thanks to the show, she listens to classical music even more. “And I think there comes a time in your life when you need to be listening to more complex music and having more interesting conversations about it,” she says. She is most likely to be found listening to Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and choral music of all kinds. “My kids sang in a church choir and I loved all the masses they sang in – those things really thrill me.” She’d like to introduce more Romantics and modern music to her listening habits. Opera is always around. In How Are You?, a short film about an end of a marriage that she made with Martha Burns in 2008, an aria from Verdi’s La Forza del Destino is sung in an Annex living room by the protagonist’s operatic alter ego (look for the film, 18 minutes of hilarity, sadness and opera, on “Only opera can express certain things,” says Coyne. Why has classical music disappeared from the TV medium, and what are her thoughts? “I was going back looking at those Leonard Bernstein intro-to-music shows the other day…He was amazing. Shows like that don’t exist anymore,” she agrees. While a number of conductors have embraced different causes and are active in their societies – Dudamel, on whom the MITJ’s Rodrigo was loosely based, is one of them; Daniel Barenboim is another – the lucky connection of the Bernstein kind (between a public broadcaster and a great communicator whose goal is to make music education more widely accessible) doesn’t come easily. “The idea of art music being popular – somehow we’ve lost that thread. It’s perceived to be elitist, despite what every orchestra in the world is trying to do to fight that,” says Coyne. She likes the music segments that Robert Harris occasionally makes for CBC Radio One’s The Sunday Edition: “He does a great job of talking about music in a lively and approachable way,” she says. “That’s the goal with MITJ too. It tries to demystify classical music and take it into the world.” This is an uphill battle with so much else vying for our attention. “Once we do give over to something, we can pay attention, but there’s always the barrier – am I willing to give up anything for this. And those great works of art require you to give over. They are going to enlarge you, and they’ll ask for something in return. It’s the most rewarding kind of ‘giving over’.” Art, she would like to remind us, isn’t something over there; it’s next to you and it relates to every aspect of your life. Funding cuts in arts education in schools also aren’t helping the cause. “The only sports I can watch are the ones I’ve played: hockey and basketball. (My hockey team in high school was never in any danger of winning so there was never any pressure and we enjoyed it.) I will watch hockey because I’ve played it,” says Coyne. “I can imagine what it’s like to be in a game of hockey, and I get some of the fun of it. I think if you get kids the exposure to music at a young age, they’ll have a taste for it for life.” Coyne herself was introduced to Shakespeare (and Shelley and Keats) at the age of five by a kindly cottage neighbour who also happened to be a masterful pedagogue, the story of which she tells in her 2001 childhood memoir Kingfisher Days. “Music is enriching for all the reasons that the scientists and educators give us, of course, but primarily for the pleasure it gives.” Mozart in the Jungle returns on on December 8, 2017, and can be watched online at Lydia Perović is an arts journalist in Toronto. She can be reached at 18 | September 2017

KOERNER HALL IS: “ A beautiful space for music “ THE GLOBE AND MAIL Ensemble Made In Canada with Scott St. John SUNDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2017 2PM MAZZOLENI CONCERT HALL Free Culture Days Event (ticket required) This piano quartet is known for their “dramatic, nuanced, and, where appropriate, playful performances.” (The WholeNote) Angela Park (piano), Elissa Lee (violin), Sharon Wei (viola), and Rachel Mercer (cello) are joined by violin/violist Scott St. John in quintets by Mahler, Suk, and Dvorák. Generously supported by Dorothy Cohen Shoichet Gábor Takács-Nagy conducts the Royal Conservatory Orchestra FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2017 8PM PRELUDE RECITAL 6:45PM PRE-CONCERT TALK 7:15PM KOERNER HALL Tickets start at only Hungarian Maestro Gábor Takács-Nagy leads the Royal Conservatory Orchestra (RCO) in a program of works by Mendelsson, Liszt, and Tchaikovsky. Part of the Temerty Orchestral Program A Song for All Seasons SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2017 2PM MAZZOLENI CONCERT HALL Tickets: Soprano Erin Wall explores all four seasons in a myriad of languages and shares the afternoon with Glenn Gould School alumnus, tenor Asitha Tennekoon, known for “his silky, emotional presence on stage – both vocally and dramatically.” (The Globe and Mail) Generously supported by J. Hans Kluge Khachaturian Trio FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 8PM PRE-CONCERT TALK 7PM KOERNER HALL Tickets start at only Critics have praised this Armenian ensemble’s virtuoso performances, subtle sense of style, warm sound, and deep musicality. Armine Grigoryan (piano), Karen Shahgaldyan (violin), and Karen Kocharyan (cello) will perform works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Khachaturian, and Arno Babadjanian. Generously supported by David G. Broadhurst, The Armenian Community Centre and Hamazkayin Cultural Association Adi Braun: Moderne Frau SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2017 7:30PM TEMERTY THEATRE Tickets start at only Jazz vocalist Adi Braun, and her ensemble, present a program celebrating the spirit of the new and independent women that emerged during the Weimar Republic, which defined a new culture in Berlin. This is a CD launch concert of Ms. Braun’s newest disc, Adi Braun – Moderne Frau. Generously supported by Diana & Philip Weinstein Joaquin Valdepeñas Conducts FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2017 7:30PM MAZZOLENI CONCERT HALL Tickets: Toronto Symphony Orchestra Principal Clarinet and Royal Conservatory Orchestra Resident Conductor Joaquin Valdepeñas conducts Glenn Gould School students in a program of chamber works, including a Mozart serenade and Arnold Schoenberg: Chamber Symphony No. 1 in E Major, op. 9. TICKETS & ROYAL SUBSCRIPTIONS ON SALE NOW! 416.408.0208 273 BLOOR STREET WEST (BLOOR 237 BLOOR ST. & AVENUE STREET RD.) WEST TORONTO (BLOOR ST. & AVENUE RD.) TORONTO

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