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Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020

  • Text
  • Ensemble
  • Classical
  • Concerts
  • Singers
  • Choral
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • Musical
  • September
  • Choir
Choral Scene: Uncharted territory: three choirs finding paths forward; Music Theatre: Loose Tea on the boil with Alaina Viau’s Dead Reckoning; In with the New: what happens to soundart when climate change meets COVID-19; Call to action: diversity, accountability, and reform in post-secondary jazz studies; 9th Annual TIFF Tips: a filmfest like no other; Remembering: Leon Fleisher; DISCoveries: a NY state of mind; 25th anniversary stroll-through; and more. Online in flip through here, and on stands commencing Tues SEP 1.


MUSIC AND FILM 9th ANNUAL TIFF TIPS PAUL ENNIS The Disciple COURTESY OF TIFF In this year like no other, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has adapted to the pandemic’s parameters by making most red carpet events virtual and scaling back on how films will be presented. TIFF’s 45th edition – running from September 10 to 20 – offers both digital and in-person screenings, using TIFF Bell Lightbox and the Isabel Bader Theatre at reduced capacity to conform to measures provided by the City of Toronto and Public Health Ontario, ensuring that there will be a modicum of lineups. As well as driveins at CityView and Ontario Place, there will be an open air cinema at Ontario Place. A sophisticated, secure digital platform, called Bell Digital Cinema, will house most of the 50-plus films selected for TIFF 2020 enabling Festival-goers to watch Festival films at home on their television screens. Given The WholeNote’s early deadline, TIFF’s schedule and program notes were unavailable, so the current guide is based on a film’s subject matter, a filmmaker’s track record and gleanings from across the Internet. The Disciple “A finely crafted labour of love set in the world of Indian traditional music… The Disciple is a refined yet uncompromising portrait of a young artist’s journey, his dreams and his loneliness, featuring some extraordinary musical performances.” (New York Film Festival). Classical musicians prominent in the film include lead actor Aditya Modak, Arun Dravid and Deepika Bhide Bhagwat. In an interview on the website, director Chaitanya Tamhane said he was drawn to the stories and anecdotes about musicians of the past, their secret knowledge and ancient wisdom. “The more I studied, listened, and attended concerts, the more I was enticed, and I realized Indian classical music is not as simple as the perception goes – how its practitioners act and behave, for instance. “The lead character is a young vocalist, raised and introduced to music by his father. He has grown up on stories of the past, these secrets, modern-day myths and masters, purist concepts of music, and how one should live their life in accordance with them.” For research, Tamhane travelled to cities with a vibrant Hindustani music culture: Delhi, ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata, Benaras, Pune, Ahmedabad. “I needed to form genuine friendships and build a rapport so they opened up and let me understand their inner world, and that took time. What you will see in the film is an amalgamation of insights I gained over two years.” No Ordinary Man For decades, the life of American jazz musician Billy Tipton was framed as the story of an ambitious woman passing as a man in pursuit of a career in music. In Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt’s documentary, No Ordinary Man, Tipton’s story is reimagined and performed by trans artists as they collectively paint a portrait of an unlikely hero. Working with Tipton’s adopted son Billy Jr., the filmmakers delve into Tipton’s Billy Tipton complicated and contested legacy: how do you tell the story of someone who was hiding in plain sight yet desperate to be seen? According to Diane Midddlebrook’s book, Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton (quoted in the April 2013 issue of Allegro, the magazine of the NYC musicians’ union AFM Local 802), Tipton did not make a serious effort to become a recording star. He mainly earned his living COURTESY OF TIFF 10 | September 2020

EPHRAIM ASILI DAVID LEE The Inheritance playing dance music of the kind popularized by small jazz ensembles in the 1930s and 1940s. At his best, he sounded like Benny Goodman’s piano player Teddy Wilson. He studied Wilson’s recordings until he could imitate Wilson’s style, and later, when he had a small group of his own, adopted the Goodman quartet’s Flying Home as a theme song. “At the peak of Tipton’s career, every successful small-time musician was to some extent a skilled impersonator. Tipton’s trio often performed Exactly Like You, made famous by Louis Armstrong. Tipton caught the multiple meanings of this clever title early in her career as a musician and improvised on it for the rest of her life, in undetected drag. Playing a sequence of roles historically reserved for the ‘opposite sex,’ Tipton demonstrated by her accomplishment that gender, unlike sex, is in large part a performance: she was the actor, he was the role. And if her first act of cross-dressing was a brilliant, problem-solving prank, she quickly found that being taken for a man provided access to almost everything she wanted – music, travel, the love of adventurous and caretaking women.” The Inheritance TIFF Wavelengths programmer Andréa Picard previews The Inheritance: “Ingeniously structured from visual and sonic counterpoint, Ephraim Asili’s much-anticipated feature debut The Inheritance is an eye-popping, jazz-infused, shape-shifter – part fiction, part documentary – fully attuned to this political and cultural moment. Shot on Super 16mm in vibrant primary colours, The Inheritance riffs off Godard’s La Chinoise in palette, structure and playful didacticism David Byrne’s American Utopia as it inventively weaves together the history of the MOVE liberation movement, the Black Arts Movement and the filmmaker’s formative experiences in a Black Marxist collective. New York-based Asili, who is also a DJ, teacher and avid record collector, imbues his film with an iconography of Black artists and freedom fighters via vintage photos, books and records. An audio collage of field recordings, onscreen free jazz performances, spoken word, archival sounds and the whirring of a recording Bolex collapses time and space in a trippy and moving way. Features musical excerpts by Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra, Max Roach and Oscar Brown Jr.” David Byrne’s American Utopia, Underplayed and Bandar Band TIFF2020 opens with Spike Lee’s film, David Byrne’s American Utopia, which documents the former Talking Heads frontman’s brilliant, timely 2019 Broadway show, based on his recent album and tour of the same name. Among the many rave reviews of the Broadway show was David Rooney’s in The Hollywood Reporter. Rooney wrote that the “sheer jubilation being transmitted by the crew of 11 prodigiously talented and hard-working musicians, backup singers and dancers of diverse ages and ethnicities, not to mention the dynamic staging, seems to demand a new kind of sensory intake. “Hatched out of Byrne’s seventh solo studio album but anthologizing material from across his output stretching back to his days as the art-rock guru frontman of Talking Heads… It’s a sensational concert by any measure, but also a highly sophisticated extension of much of what Byrne has been doing over an eclectic and influential career spanning almost five decades.” While you’re waiting... Who said “At the age when most kids are practising their scales on the piano, I was learning to play the Button Boogie.”? (Vol 5 no 8, page 45) Vol. 1 no. 1 Vol. 2 no. 6 Vol. 3 no. 9 Vol. 4 no. 8 Vol. 5 no. 8 BROWSE 25 YEARS AT KIOSK.THEWHOLENOTE.COM September 2020 | 21 September 2020 | 11

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