2 years ago

Volume 25 Issue 7 - April 2020

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After some doubt that we would be allowed to go to press, in respect to wide-ranging Ontario business closures relating to COVID-19, The WholeNote magazine for April 2020 is now on press, and print distribution – modified to respect community-wide closures and the need for appropriate distancing – starts Monday March 30. Meanwhile the full magazine is right here, digitally, so if you value us PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK AS WIDELY AS YOU CAN. It's the safest way for us to reach the widest possible audience at this time!


CHORAL SCENE SHARON LOVETT Ruth Vellis meets Pierre Boulez, Glenn Gould Studio, CBC Building, November 24, 2002. The virus that went viral Last Sunday morning around this same time, Jack and I were walking through a largely deserted Kensington Market, and ran across Maggie Helwig, poet, novelist, social justice activist, and minister of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields Anglican Church at College and Bellevue (yes, the selfsame St. Stephen’s at which Ruth Vellis used to pick up her copy of The WholeNote during her concertgoing days). “Shouldn’t you be in church?” we teased. The answer was that the diocese had instructed the suspension of all church services, but – thankfully, from Maggie’s perspective – not the suspension of other aspects of her ministry, in this inner city parish where the worlds of the least and most afflicted in our society most starkly intersect. We talked about the strange time we are in. “We’ll never know for sure, whether or not all this was an overreaction or not,” I suggested. She nodded. “Unless, of course,” she said, “in spite of everything, it turns out to have been an under-reaction instead.” Whether it’s the virus or the way the virus has gone viral that is most to blame for the tidal wave of impacts sweeping our society, is at this point immaterial. Moving forward, all we can do to help is to continue to tally those impacts, and our community’s responses to them, as best we can, in all the media available to us, so that you, our readers, can figure out how best to help, to whatever extent you can. I discovered researching this piece that Ruth Vellis died on December 11, 2018 at the age of 102. I am certain she would have enjoyed choosing which of the concerts in this issue she would have gone to if she could. As, I am equally sure, will you. David Perlman can be reached at How They So Softly Rest BRIAN CHANG There’s never before been a time like this for the arts community. And we’re all in disarray. I’m feeling disconnected from my musical community, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the wider connected cultural family of the Toronto live classical music world. These are people and friends I spend hours with every week, and hundreds of hours with over the course of a season. They are faces I see and smile with, they are voices I sing with and feel comforted by. But like many of us across the arts community, we’re all separated from one another and the current season for the choir and most other arts organizations is totally up in the air. A month before you get the magazine in your hands, writers are usually hard at work combing through listings and reaching out into networks to build and develop stories about what matters to everyday people. More often than not, it isn’t an issue about finding something interesting to write about, but rather, how to focus on only a handful 16TH ANNUAL WHO’S WHO FIND OUT IN THE WHOLENOTE ONLINE all the time THE WHOLENOTE.COM/WHO All inquiries to THE CANARY PAGES Directory of Ontario Choirs PRINTED IN MAY Deadline to join: Tuesday April 7 BLUE PAGES 18 TH ANNUAL 16 TH ANNUAL 21 ST ANNUAL THE GREEN PAGES Guide to Summer Music in Ontario and Beyond PRINTED IN OUR SUMMER EDITION (June/ July/August) Deadline to join: Tuesday May 5 THE BLUE PAGES Directory of Music Makers PRINTED IN OCTOBER Deadline to inquire: Thursday Sept. 10 8 | April 2020

“Rests and silence are how musicians make music truly magical.” JAMES GOULDEN Considering Matthew Shepard premiered by Conspirare, February 2016 in Austin, Texas. of things in the musical chaos and glory that the region has to offer. It is heartbreaking to look at the pages of listings with close to 100 listings, knowing that none of them are coming to fruition. This has never happened before. We had so much to talk about this month too. I wanted to talk about Oakham House Choir’s Elijah. I wanted to talk about Considering Matthew Shepard with Pax Christi Chorale. I wanted to talk about preparing for Easter music. I wanted to talk about choral music and how much I love ensemble singing. Pax Christi’s David Bowser and I had even met and the interview is sitting on my phone, recorded, the two of us delving into the powerful story of a gay man beaten and left to die because he was different. We talked about how Craig Hella Johnson was so moved by this that he decided to put it into music and develop an oratorio over many years. We talked about how significant it was for a choir to pick up music like this and be challenged musically and spiritually by it. And we talked about the power of choral music to tell powerful stories like this that leave us changed as musicians and audiences. But we won’t get to hear Considering Matthew Shepard this season. And we may not hear any more concerts. In the Mendelssohn Choir, we were preparing an austere Healey Willan piece, written to commemorate service people who died in World War I, How They So Softly Rest. It hums in my head as a memory of the sounds of what would have been the signature performance that the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is known for, its annual “Sacred Music for a Sacred Space” concert, always performed on Good Friday. I can’t bring myself to take my sheet music out of my knapsack. Even though I have nowhere to go, it doesn’t seem right to take it and put it away. All our rehearsal halls and all our concert halls will be dark for the next little bit. And that’s okay. There’s an important adage in performance that goes something like this, “Anyone can make noise and hold notes, but rests and silence are how musicians make music truly magical.” Composers can write the loudest, most powerful, thick, heavily orchestrated chords, but they are often only powerful because of what precedes them or proceeds from them – a rest. And eventually, all music does come to silence. But this isn’t the end. The spine-tingling moments of anxious waiting between the old 20th-Century Fox fanfare and the Star Wars theme. The silence after the three iconic opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth. The great silence before the final two “Amens” of Handel’s Messiah. Silence is part of the great music we all love and rests mark so much of what we know in music. The world in isolation is no different. We’re on a grand pause right now. This isn’t the silence at the end of a song, it’s the dramatic silence before something wonderful. We have beautiful sounds ahead of us. We’ll see you back at rehearsal and in concerts soon enough. Follow Brian on Twitter @bfchang. Send info/media/tips to POSTPONED Considering Matthew Shepard The true story of an ordinary boy: an oratorio passion honouring Matt’s life, death and legacy Considering Matthew Shepard, by Craig Hella Johnson Pax Christi Chorale featuring Megan Miceli & Simone McIntosh, sopranos; Krisztina Szabó, mezzo-soprano; Lawrence Wiliford, tenor; Phillip Addis, baritone; and the Toronto Mozart Players SUNDAY, APRIL 26, 2020, 3:00 P.M. George Weston Recital Hall, Meridian Arts Centre (formerly Toronto Centre for the Arts) 5040 Yonge Street BUY TICKETS ONLINE AT PAXCHRISTICHORALE.ORG April 2020 | 9

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