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Volume 24 Issue 6 - March 2019

  • Text
  • Composer
  • Song
  • Reviews
  • Piano
  • Performance
  • News
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  • Choral
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  • March
  • Music
Something Old, Something New! The Ide(a)s of March are Upon Us! Rob Harris's Rear View Mirror looks forward to a tonal revival; Tafelmusik expands their chronological envelope in two directions, Esprit makes wave after wave; Pax Christi's new oratorio by Barbara Croall catches the attention of our choral and new music columnists; and summer music education is our special focus, right when warm days are once again possible to imagine. All this and more in our March 2019 edition, available in flipthrough here, and on the stands starting Thursday Feb 28.

social climate. As

social climate. As artists, I feel it is our responsibility to share powerful and moving stories that both examine and reflect the darkest corners of humanity.” Talking about the prolific movements of hatred and racism currently being spread not only south of the border, but also here and around the world, Wilson passionately believes that shows such as Parade “serve as cautionary tales, inviting those both brave and conscious enough to challenge systemic intolerance, and to promote both discourse and change.” As well, he says, “the poignancy of presenting this disturbingly topical musical at the Miles Nadal JCC further punctuates the Leo Frank, the subject of Parade importance of the work.” As Wilson said to me about Parade, it is important to keep works like this alive in the repertoire to “continue to promote discourse and awareness of difficult and important issues.” Toronto’s Musical Stage Company is a great champion of works of this type, with last season’s Toronto premiere of Fun Home based on Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical graphic novel dealing with issues of gender identity and family dysfunction; and coming up in April, Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt’s Next to Normal, which explores issues of mental health and the impact of a bipolar parent on her family. The Lightning Thief Even on the lighter side of music theatre these days, serious issues of identity and social belonging find their place. In Soulpepper’s world premiere in February of Sarah Wilson and Mike Ross’ new musical Rose (based on Gertrude Stein’s children’s book The World Is Round), a brightly coloured symbolic and lighthearted world is anchored on a nine-year-old girl’s desperate need to understand “who, what, where and why” she is; and the power of those questions makes her journey a profound one for the audience. In the upcoming visit to the Ed Mirvish Theatre (March 19 to 24) of the Off Broadway musical The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical based on Rick Riordan’s hugely successful series of books for the 10- to 12-year-old set, our hero, Percy, suffers from ADHD (as Riordan’s son did) and an awful home situation at the beginning of the story, but then discovers his true heritage as a son of the Greek god Poseidon (and his own innate strength of character) through his escape to Camp Half-Blood and the meeting of other sons and daughters of the gods as he helps to retrieve Zeus’ lightning bolt. Even Alice in Wonderland, the National Ballet of Canada’s returning hit ballet (March 7 to 17), based on Lewis Carroll’s classic story, can be looked at through a serious lens, though this production is famed more for its wonderfully colourful set, costume and projection designs, and the exuberant physical choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, all of which have been acclaimed both here and abroad as creating an “exhilarating spectacle.” In short, there is no shortage of rich music theatre this season, whether your taste leans more to the socially serious or fantastically escapist, or to all of the combinations in between. Toronto Dance Theatre's Persefony Songs MUSIC THEATRE QUICK PICKS !! MAR 3, 3PM: Perchance to Dream. Toronto Operetta Theatre. TOT’s first production of a musical by famous English composer Ivor Novello (Keep the Home Fires Burning). and one of his greatest hits. The original ran in London from 1945 to 1948. !! MAR 5 TO 9: Persefony Songs. Toronto Dance Theatre. Fleck Dance Theatre at Harbourfront Centre. Christopher House’s reimagining of his early piece based on The Odyssey. !! MAR 6 TO 10: Kiss of the Spider Woman. Toronto’s (former) Don Jail. Eclipse Theatre’s debut site-responsive production starring Tracey Michailidis and Kawa Ada. !! MAR 17, 3PM: Bijan and Manijeh: A Love Story. Aga Khan Museum. Experience the art of Naqqali (ancient Persian dramatic storytelling involving music, dance, painted scrolls, role playing, gesture, verse, prose and improvisation). !! MAR 20 TO 25: If/Then. George Ignatieff Theatre. Trinity College Dramatic Society production of this moving story (by the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning creators Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt of Next to Normal) explores what might have been as the story follows one woman, but two possible paths which her life might have taken. Brian Yorkey is also co-writer of the book of Sting’s The Last Ship. !! MAR 23, 7:30PM: The Erik Bruhn Prize Competition. Four Seasons Centre. Balletomanes’ chance to spot future stars of the ballet stage as they perform pieces of both classical and new choreography. Hosted by principal dancer Harrison James with National Ballet of Canada Corps de ballet members Jeannine Haller and Siphesihle November representing the company. Dancers from American Ballet Theatre, The Hamburg Ballet and The Royal Danish Ballet will also compete. Jennifer Parr is a Toronto-based director, dramaturge, fight director, and acting coach, brought up from a young age on a rich mix of musicals, Shakespeare, and new Canadian plays. 2018-2019: The Colours of Early Music NIGHT GAMES MAY 3 & 4 at 8pm | MAY 5 at 3:30pm Tickets on sale now at TorontoConsort.org 30 | March 2019 thewholenote.com

Beat by Beat | Choral Scene Giving Life to an Odawa Oratorio BRIAN CHANG Nashke miziwe bi-bepeshaabang ishpiming giizhigong. Look everywhere how streaks of light appear above in the sky in the heavens. Miziwe… Everywhere… -Barbara Croall On March 31, Pax Christi Chorale premieres Barbara Croall’s Ojibwe Odawa oratorio, Miziwe…(Everywhere…). As far as the creative team knows, this is the first time that the choral tradition of oratorio and the language of Ojibwe Odawa will have been united, as Pax Christi, under artistic director David Bowser, bring to life to the stories, musical evocations and spirit that Barbara Croall embodies in her new oratorio. Croall is Odawa First Nations from Manitoulin Island. Her music education includes degrees and diplomas from the Musikhochschule (Munich), the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto. Croall’s extensive repertoire includes many settings of music for solo vocal, ensemble vocal, chamber, orchestral, theatre, film and more. “I think the complete picture [of Croall’s depth] is really important,” says Bowser in an interview with The WholeNote. “It’s no small task to write a full oratorio for choir, orchestra, and soloists. The quality of the music is exceptional.” The entire oratorio will be performed in Odawa. “It will have surtitles in English and French,” continues Bowser. “The story is one that involves characters who are animals, wind, sun, different elements and creatures.” The choir evokes different aspects and elements of the world through Croall’s composition. “I always aim for a connectivity between the human and nonhuman aspects of life as intertwined,” explains Barbara Croall in a written project description of Miziwe… given to The WholeNote. In it she describes the work’s “expansive use of vocal and instrumental techniques and expressive/meaningful breathing in various ways [to] extend beyond merely human notions of sound, to include sounds that we hear in nature.” Some of those sounds include one of Croall’s signature instruments, the pipigwan, a traditional cedar, wooden flute. Bowser is particularly enamoured with the timbre of the flute, a depth of sound not easily matched in similar instruments. Miziwe… includes Croall on the pipigwan as well as a vocalist. Oratorio as an art form requires a a major assembly of musical forces including vocalists and instrumentalists, and Pax Christi Chorale – an advanced 100-voice ensemble, particularly known for its focus on oratorios – fits the bill. Joining them will be mezzosoprano Krisztina Szabó, baritone Justin Welsh, singer and dancer Rod Nettagog and the Toronto Mozart Players, particularly known for its annual Toronto Mozart Master Class Series, which for 2018/2019 featured soprano Nathalie Paulin and first prizewinner Jennifer Routhier, and of which Bowser is also the artistic director. What unifies this particular oratorio is the essence of shared spirit. These are not sacred or religious texts or stories, though. “I Barbara Croall never use ceremonial or sacred material in my music,” writes Croall. “Most often, the basis of a piece of music I create will be a song of my own – often influenced or inspired by sounds I hear in my time spent outdoors within nature in remote areas … this reflects my own personal need to feel interconnected with the rhythms and flow of life within nature.” The oratorio evokes and shares in the message Croall has composed, focusing on the “manidoo” – “the spirit essence, mystery, spiritual energy and life force, … “a continuity of life of all forms that can be known as ‘spirit’.” Bowser treasures the composition he’s been entrusted and the larger context it both comes from and participates in. “Barbara wanted to create something that was more unifying and more uplifting and hopeful. And the common element is the sense of spirit that we all thewholenote.com March 2019 | 31

Volumes 21-24 (2015-2018)

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

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