3 years ago

Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020

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  • Composer
  • Orchestra
  • Concerts
  • Symphony
  • Musicians
  • Artists
  • Musical
  • Toronto
  • August
  • Jazz
July/August issue is now available in flipthrough HERE, bringing to a close 25 seasons of doing what we do (and plan to continue doing), and on stands early in the week of July 5. Not the usual bucolic parade of music in the summer sun, but lots, we hope, to pass the time: links to online and virtual music; a full slate of record reviews; plenty new in the Listening Room; and a full slate of stories – the future of opera, the plight of small venues, the challenge facing orchestras, the barriers to resumption of choral life, the challenges of isolation for real-time music; the steps some festivals are taking to keep the spirit and substance of what they do alive. And intersecting with all of it, responses to the urgent call for anti-racist action and systemic change.

“Exquisite Corpse”

“Exquisite Corpse” and Other Coping Strategies continued from page 7 One of the contributors to our Community Voices feature in our previous issue (Tricia Baldwin from the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in Kingston) made an astute remark: that COVID-19 “has brought forward the tipping point, [and is] hastening the creation of new structures to support the creation and production of the arts in a different way.” It’s happening everywhere I look, although “structures” is perhaps too solid a word to describe some of the improvised storm shelters and advance bases springing up: for people wishing for a “new normal” that sounds and behaves more like the old one; and for those of us hoping that the built-in inequities of the old normal never return. For example, I chatted briefly with Mervon Mehta, executive director, performing arts at the Royal Conservatory in late June. It was right after the RCM made the brave (or foolhardy, depending how the winds blow) announcement of a full season commencing at the beginning of October. Much of what was on his mind had to do with really nitty gritty concerns: How many can we accommodate in our three halls at one-third capacity? How do we get them in and out? Who among our visiting artists will agree to do a 70-minute performance without an intermission at 3pm and repeat it at 8, instead of the one performance they were contracted to do? Things like that. But at the same time he freely admits that the new plan, detailed as it is, may have to go right out of the window if the same dispensations being offered to places of worship, for example, are not extended to the performing arts. Or if the hoped-for stages of recovery don’t pan out and even places of worship are locked down again. Another example: the Show One Productions/Starvox staging of the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit now under way at the former Toronto Star building at One Yonge Street. It started first as a “drive through”, thereby capturing the attention of media that would likely not have given the exhibit a second thought. And now it enters a second stage with agreed start time walk-through admission where you must stay within a projected moving circle of space as you move through it. What parts of this, I wonder, have applicability beyond this particular exhibit? Even if only in helping control bottleneck ingress and egress at the larger venues that are Show One’s more usual stomping grounds, and which are themselves in peril if they do not solve these very problems. Meanwhile for smaller venues without organized “arts” credentials, like our city’s jazz clubs, it’s a different matter. In Mainly Clubs, Mostly Jazz, Colin Story interviews owner/management at three music venues (The Rex, Burdock, and The Emmet Ray), which, unlike major institutions do not have the benefit of time, major financial resources, and systemic endorsement to stay afloat. Paradoxically, in the longer haul “it is small venues, rather than large, that will have the greater capacity to provide space to diverse programming.” Full Circle Back to the conversation with Ben Finley that sparked this train of thought. Finley is a double bassist, improviser, composer and educator, with deep roots in Campellford’s Westben Festival, where 2020 was to be the third iteration of Westben’s Performer-Composer Residency (P-CR), with Finley at the helm. In previous years, 11 successful applicants travelled to Westben, some from far afield, for a face-to-face residency, timed to coincide with the performance/ audience/showcase opportunities afforded by the festival itself. This year? No festival. No international travel. So, logically, one would think, no composer residency? Wrong. Instead of whittling the applicants down to the usual dozen or so, Finley invited all 90 applicants to this year’s program to join a month-long digital residency (all of June) instead. More than 60 accepted and were assigned to 13 ensembles based on intersecting, rather than similar interests. “So here we are all of a sudden,” Finley says, “having to cross multigeographical and communication borders, with groups of participants, covering seven different time zones, having to develop innovative and satisfying collaborative strategies for distanced music making.” Crucially, he says, these approaches and strategies didn’t just try to replicate the in-person musical experience but rather to dive into what web-grounded meaningful connections would look like. “It has afforded diverse intergenerational musical practitioners a place to create,” he says. “It’s as though they have been enabled instead to come up with their own temporary musical institution – an exciting new development and something that may not have been possible in person. This unexpected adventure comes to its close July 5 to July 11, with 13 premiere performances, in Westben’s new digital venue (, of 15-minute multimedia pieces. All the creative intersections this first Westben digital P-CR has actually provoked in participants will be on display. But that’s just one step on the way. “We are not in an ordinary time,” Finley says. “COVID has rippled a tremendous impact. And now that ripple is intersecting with a tide – of people coming together to imagine, organize, and participate in an anti-racist and decolonized world. And we need creative and adaptive musical institutions to do this. This global residency has been an (imperfect) experiment in that.” What a difference a year makes! Westben Performer-Composer Residency, 2019, Campbellford. WESTBEN 30 | July and August 2020

2020 GREEN PAGES 16th Annual Summer Music Guide Welcome to The WholeNote’s 16th annual Green Pages guide to summer music! To state the obvious, it is not "business as usual" this summer due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, we invited summer music festivals, the usual way, to let you know what they're up to and how they are adapting to the times. Fifteen responded, some to say they have cancelled outright, others to say they are offering live-streamed and other online events they hope you’ll tune in to, and still others to say “Like many of you, we don’t know what is coming next yet, but please stay tuned.” So have a look at the 15 profiles presented here and on our website at, to stay connected to the music you love and the creative artists and individuals who are pivoting to other platforms in these unusual times. Wishing you all a happy and healthy summer! 2020 GREEN PAGES TEAM PROJECT MANAGER: Karen Ages PROJECT EDITOR: Danial Jazaeri LAYOUT & DESIGN: Susan Sinclair WEBSITE: Kevin King For more information about the Green Pages or other WholeNote directories, please contact Karen at Summer 2020 | 31

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