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Volume 24 Issue 4 - December 2018 / January 2019

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • December
  • January
  • Jazz
  • Symphony
  • Arts
  • Theatre
  • Faculty
  • Musical
  • Performing
When is a trumpet like a motorcycle in a dressage event? How many Brunhilde's does it take to change an Elektra? Just two of the many questions you've been dying to ask, to which you will find answers in a 24th annual combined December/January issue – in which our 11 beat columnists sift through what's on offer in the upcoming holiday month, and what they're already circling in their calendars for 2019. Oh, and features too: a klezmer violinist breathing new life into a very old film; two New Music festivals in January, 200 metres apart; a Music & Health story on the restorative powers of a grassroots exercise in collective music-making; even a good reason to go to Winnipeg in the dead of winter. All this and more in Vol 24 No 4, now available in flipthrough format here.

Hopefully, the

Hopefully, the groundwork has been laid for that to change in the Gustavo Gimeno era. People clearly wish the symphony well and are excited and curious about the new music director. The TSO has already had to add an extra concert for Gimeno’s season-ending appearance with the orchestra this coming June, which is a good sign. Single ticket sales, which have eclipsed subscriptions as a source of TSO box office revenue, are also on the upswing. Another positive indicator. A financial plan for stability seems to be within the TSO’s reach, finally. And the current TSO board, led by chair Cathy Beck, extending her family’s long-standing dedication to the Toronto Symphony, looks set to provide a level of continuity to the organization as well. But the biggest challenge to the Toronto Symphony remains to be addressed. When I spoke to Gary Hanson at the beginning of his tenure as interim president and CEO of the TSO, we talked about the upcoming challenge of replacing Oundjian as music director of the organization. Hanson reminded me that the question that the symphony needed to answer was not who the new conductor would be, but what. In other words, what kind of an organization did the TSO want to become? That used to be a relatively simple question for symphony orchestras in a secure, musical world. It isn’t anymore. Playing the classics beautifully isn’t enough. Or maybe it is. But what about attracting new audiences, reflecting the cultural diversity of the city in which the orchestra is housed, educating people about music, reaching out to other musical communities? It’s not at all obvious where an orchestra should be directing its attention these days. Gimeno is young, which is good, and consequently brings few musical expectations with him, which is also good. But it was clear when his appointment was announced in September that he has no idea yet what kind of a place Toronto is, having spent literally no more than a few days in the city up to that point as a guest conductor. But he’ll have two full years to figure that out, along with Matthew Loden, himself just a few months into his tenure. And more power to them all! We need the TSO to be strong, and it hasn’t been able to be especially so in the last few years. Musicians, and orchestral musicians especially, are notoriously grumpy and dark about life, but music is not. Music is optimistic, bright, life-fulfilling. It is the path that its music creates for it that can give the TSO the hints it needs to secure its future. And we’ll all be the better for it. Robert Harris is a writer and broadcaster on music in all its forms. He is the former classical music critic of the Globe and Mail and the author of the Stratford Lectures and Song of a Nation: The Untold Story of O Canada. ONE READER’S RESPONSE A Jewish Defence of Wagner’s Ring Charles Heller The November 2018 issue of The WholeNote ran an article by Robert Harris (“Wagner in the Age of #MeToo”), claiming that the #MeToo movement should stir us to consider Wagner’s Ring as being unacceptable to modern audiences because of its antisemitic message. As a Jewish Wagnerian, here is my response. A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Gottfried Wagner, who, with his penetrating gaze and aquiline nose, conjured up the aura of his great-great-grandfather. He said emphatically: Wagner’s music is great art, the composer and his family were monsters, and we must respect the wishes of those who do not want to hear it publically performed in Israel, a country he loved. He was also of the opinion that future generations of Israelis, no longer traumatized by first-hand experience of the Shoah, will be able to accept Wagner performances. These views are supported by Israeli music-lovers today. Richard Wagner said a lot of contradictory and inflammatory things, but when it came to composing music he knew what he was doing. The idea that antisemitism is at the heart of the Ring is preposterous. Mime and Alberich are not Jews, they are dwarves, and they were dwarves when the story was composed in medieval Iceland, where no Jew was ever seen. But people certainly imagined they saw Jewish gestures in Wagner’s dwarves - Mahler complained of one particular performance that it was a ”caricature of a caricature”. But that didn’t stop the Jew Mahler, or his colleague the Jew Schoenberg, from regarding Wagner’s scores as central to Western music. The Ring is not about an evil Jew, it is about what it takes to be oneself and overcome obstacles – overbearing parents (the gods), irrational fears (the giants), brash egotism (the runes on Wotan’s spear) and whatever else is clogging your subconscious mind. If it were really true that the Ring is an antisemitic diatribe, and that art is to be judged on the morality of the artist, then why stop with Wagner? We still are left with the music of Chopin (who accused Jews of destroying Polish music) and the poetry of T. S. Eliot (who accused Jews of destroying Western culture). Dickens hated Jews too, and don’t get me started on The Merchant of Venice or Caryl Churchill’s play Seven Jewish Children, which despite being intended as an attack on Jews was performed in Toronto with the financial support of the City a few years ago. Jews have lived with antisemitic garbage for 2000 years, much of it encouraged by the Church and the State. To claim that the Ring is antisemitic is a perversion of what the Ring and what antisemitism are all about. Antisemitism is alive and well today, both in the twisted minds of far-right thugs in the USA and in farleft politics in the UK and Canada. In the age of #MeToo we must certainly refuse to work with peddlers of hatred and harassment. But Richard Wagner is long dead and his work endures. Charles Heller is an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Synagogue Music, published by the Cantors Assembly, New York and is the author of What to Listen For in Jewish Music. His new book Shul-Going will be published in 2019 100 | December 2018 - January 2019 thewholenote.com

TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY MUSIC FESTIVAL JAN 16-20/ 2019/ TORONTO 8 CONCERTS / 5 DAYS / 21+ PREMIERES! TODAY’S MOST FEARLESS MUSICIANS BRING US FRESH NEW SOUNDS AND IDEAS TICKETS START AT ONLY ! FESTIVAL PASSES: 9/9 416.408.0208 rcmusic.com/performance #21Cmusic #KoernerHall TERRY RILEY STEWART GOODYEAR TANIA MILLER TORONTO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CONTINUUM ESPRIT ORCHESTRA NICOLE JOSHI UNSUK CHIN DINUK WIJERATNE DANNY KOO GLENN GOULD SCHOOL NEW MUSIC ENSEMBLE ANNA HÖSTMAN Sō PERCUSSION WESLEY SHEN EMILIE LEBEL Stewart Goodyear Sō Percussion Terry Riley KOERNER HALL 10 th ANNIVERSARY 2018.19 Concert Season THE 21C MUSIC FESTIVAL IS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF MICHAEL AND SONJA KOERNER Nicole Joshi ´ www.facebook/koernerhall Twitter: @the_rcm Anna Höstman

Volumes 21-24 (2015-2018)

Volume 24 Issue 8 - May 2019
Volume 24 Issue 7 - April 2019
Volume 24 Issue 6 - March 2019
Volume 24 Issue 5 - February 2019
Volume 24 Issue 4 - December 2018 / January 2019
Volume 24 Issue 3 - November 2018
Volume 24 Issue 2 - October 2018
Volume 24 Issue 1 - September 2018
Volume 23 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2018
Volume 23 Issue 8 - May 2018
Volume 23 Issue 7 - April 2018
Volume 23 Issue 6 - March 2018
Volume 23 Issue 4 - December 2017 / January 2018
Volume 23 Issue 3 - November 2017
Volume 23 Issue 2 - October 2017
Volume 23 Issue 1 - September 2017
Volume 22 Issue 9 - Summer 2017
Volume 22 Issue 8 - May 2017
Volume 22 Issue 7 - April 2017
Volume 22 Issue 6 - March 2017
Volume 22 Issue 5 - February 2017
Volume 22 Issue 4 - December 2016/January 2017
Volume 22 Issue 2 - October 2016
Volume 22 Issue 1 - September 2016
Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016
Volume 21 Issue 8 - May 2016
Volume 21 Issue 6 - March 2016
Volume 21 Issue 5 - February 2016
Volume 21 Issue 4 - December 2015/January 2016
Volume 21 Issue 3 - November 2015
Volume 21 Issue 2 - October 2015
Volume 21 Issue 1 - September 2015

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)