3 years ago

Volume 26 Issue 2 - October 2020

  • Text
  • Classical
  • Artists
  • Choral
  • Concerts
  • Performances
  • Choir
  • Jazz
  • Musical
  • Toronto
  • October
Following the Goldberg trail from Gould to Lang Lang; Measha Brueggergosman and Edwin Huizinga on face to face collaboration in strange times; diggings into dance as FFDN keeps live alive; "Classical unicorn?" - Luke Welch reflects on life as a Black classical pianist; Debashis Sinha's adventures in sound art; choral lessons from Skagit Valley; and the 21st annual WholeNote Blue Pages (part 1 of 3) in print and online. Here now. And, yes, still in print, with distribution starting Thursday October 1.

unparalleled power. They

unparalleled power. They were both composers of revolution. They lived in revolutionary times and in their own way they revolutionized the music of their times. I also wanted to include the future by juxtaposing them with a contemporary Toronto composer with a growing oeuvre and reputation. Saman Shahi’s When we fall… is also a talented composer’s reaction to adversity and anguish.” — SINFONIA TORONTO on October 18, with a second performance added that evening at 8pm to accommodate current ticket holders. This concert is now at capacity and a livestream exclusively for ticket holders is currently being offered. Sinfonia Toronto: Also a positive development for the RCM, Koerner Hall’s well-developed livestream capabilities make it an ideal venue for renters hoping to expand their live audience attendance as the season progresses. Sinfonia Toronto and its celebrated music director/ founder, Nurhan Arman, for example, have factored Koerner into their plans for three of their seven concerts as they nimbly pivot around the pandemic. At current attendance limits, all seven of their 2020/21 concerts have sold out. (The other four will be at the Glenn Gould Studio.) They now offer two means of attending virtually. Tickets for watching a livestream of a concert are .95; for , a visual record of a concert will be available up to four weeks after the concert takes place. On October 25 at 3:30pm in Koerner Hall, Arman conducts his chamber orchestra in Shostakovich’s remarkable Chamber Symphony in C Minor Op.110a, Arman’s own orchestral version of Beethoven’s “Harp” String Quartet No.10, Op.74a and Toronto composer Saman Shahi’s (b.1987) poignant When we fall… in which Shahi’s fascination for the music of Radiohead is apparent. The program, which juxtaposes two masterpieces by two towering composers, is a tribute to frontline workers and health-care providers. “It was difficult to decide how to begin a new season after months of tragic loss of life around the world,” Arman said. “But it seemed to be a natural choice to program two great composers like Beethoven and Shostakovich, whose music expresses their humanity with Nurhan Arman Sae Yoon Chon, a student at the RCM Glenn Gould School, is the new recipient of the Ihnatowycz Piano Prize. Across the pond: After a standout recital program in June, London’s historic Wigmore Hall is back with an astonishing new autumn series of 100 concerts livestreamed from September 13 to December 22. Over 200 artists are participating, of whom more than two-thirds are UK born or based. Soloists, duos, trios, quartets and larger ensembles will take part, making for a variety of works. Most concerts will be in front of an audience of 56 people representing ten percent of capacity, with the ability to move to 112 seats as the season progresses. To give you an idea of the Ema Nikolovska. scope and quality of the enterprise, the following artists appearing at Wigmore in the next five weeks have performed in Toronto in the recent past at Music Toronto, Koerner Hall, Walter Hall or Roy Thomson Hall: Danny Driver (October 1); Sir András Schiff (October 2); Beatrice Rana (October 8); rising star, Canadian mezzo-soprano Ema Nikolovska (October 10); Ingrid Fliter (October 12); the Schumann Quartet (October 16); Francesco Piemontesi (October 19); Jonathan Plowright (October 22); Pavel Kolesnikov (October 26); Pavel Haas Quartet (October 27); and Paul Lewis (November 2). Reconnect with any or all of them through Wigmore Hall’s free livestreaming or archived videos. The many pleasures of the entire, talent-laden lineup are yours to discover at Hope@Home. Violinist Daniel Hope spent from March 25 to May 3 performing chamber concerts online from his living room in Berlin with guests including pianist Christoph Israel, theatre director Robert Wilson, Matthias Goerne, Simon Rattle and many more. Produced by Franco-German cultural TV channel Arte, you can read more about it in my column in the May/ June WholeNote. Hope took the show on the road in the summer – many Hope@Home on Tour concerts can be seen on YouTube – and now Deutsche Grammophon has released Hope@Home the album, a selection of 21 pieces from the series of livestream events which attracted a combined audience of 2.5M viewers. Every track is live, one take only. As Hope says, “There were no patches or editing, no second takes. Sometimes life doesn’t allow for second takes. This was my world for six magical and highly unusual weeks.” A number of the spring concerts are still available on YouTube. Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote. KAUPO KIKKAS 20 | October 2020

Reflections Life as a “Classical Unicorn” LUKE WELCH From an early age, I was quick to realize that there were not (m)any other young Black pianists who were learning how to play classical music – at least that I had ever met. I was around seven years old at elementary school when I was first introduced to the instrument; at that point I was already able to play some of the choir music and other popular tunes that the school’s music teacher, Mr. Gibson, had taught us. After receiving significant encouragement from Mr. Gibson and others who had heard me play for fun, my parents decided to purchase a piano and enroll me in piano lessons. At the time, none of us had any idea or preference of what style of music I would – or should – learn in these lessons. Fast forward a couple of decades and nothing has changed, really. No growth of the sport, no catering to a wider audience. So which is the chicken and which the egg? i.e. Is there a lack of interest in classical music within the Black community because it is so underrepresented at the highest levels/”misunderstood music”/etc., or is the lack of representation yet another form of systemic discouragement towards some groups of society? I was first introduced to classical music in my earliest piano lessons, and have always loved everything the genre has to offer – a seemingly endless expanse of amazing music spanning hundreds of years, providing those who choose to play it a parallel range of technical, musical and ideological challenges. My appreciation fully blossomed after my first classical recital at the Polish Consulate in Toronto, and has never diminished. No matter how many hours of practice, there will always be more work to do and new heights to reach. Delving into the diverse works of J.S. Bach and Domenico Scarlatti could by themselves cost a lifetime of exploration, let alone engaging into the oeuvres of Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms and beyond. As “musically gifted” as I was told I was when I was young, there were so many other pianists who seemed to be light years ahead of what I thought I could ever achieve. My goal became to improve and become the best version of my musical self that I could be While I was committed to my own improvements, and those my piano teachers laid out for me, I was often met with equal confusion, resentment, discouragement, and sometimes straight-up disdain from others around me: I don’t “look” the part of a classical musician, nor do I talk as such (whatever that means). I can also “talk the talk”, as many of my colleagues tend to do seemingly at all times; however, I don’t feel it is necessary to prove my credentials in every discussion. I have also often been told - especially during my time living abroad – to perhaps switch my musical focus to something “more in my lane”, such as jazz music. I have even been stopped from entering a concert venue in which I was the performer until I was able to convince the unidentified individual (thankfully not the concert promoter!) to actually look at the advertising poster to confirm that I should even be allowed inside the building. In another instance I was questioned, while at a music store looking for recordings of pieces I was intending to prepare and perform, as to whether the music I sought was actually for me. Once I stated that I, too, am a classically trained musician, the look of shock was followed by the comment, “Wow, you definitely can’t judge a book by its cover!” The amount of restraint it took to not lose my temper in that moment took every fibre of my being. I remember discussing the situation with my father shortly afterwards, and was even more disheartened to hear his sincere, yet candidly matter-of-fact response: “Well, son, get used to it.” Unfortunately, he was 100 percent correct. During all of my academic years, from elementary school through university, I did not encounter a single other Black pianist: not only in my own schools, but also in competitions, professional performances, piano masterclasses, or any other musical environment. It was not something I dwelt on at the time. I was so preoccupied with building my own career and completing my education that I didn’t have the time to be as cognizant as I probably should have been. I only tended to notice the imbalance when people would bring it up to me in conversation as they were meeting me for the first time at my own performances. Once the proverbial light bulb finally went off in my head, I realized the stakes were going to be much higher than simply accomplishing great feats at the instrument and making a name for myself. I also came to understand and appreciate that I represented a community within an already marginalized community: a Black classical musician (see: unicorn) immersed in a fraternity already pigeon-holed as being on the fringes of mainstream. Not only was it – and still is – of paramount importance to be at my best on stage, but it was imperative to remain aware that the lights, camera and attention would not necessarily stop for me just because the performance was over. I do not care to theorize whether, or how, my ethnicity impacts my career opportunities. Not only would viewing all of my experiences through this coloured lens prove to be exhausting, but it would also be disingenuous to accuse others of racial bias in every instance. That being said, there is no doubt these systemic racial disparities continue to exist – as evidenced by the significant lack of diversity throughout academic and practical classical institutions. It is exceptionally difficult to prove such theories, and one cannot accuse others of these biases directly without being labelled as confrontational, potentially jeopardizing future opportunities. I instead use these inherent challenges as a means to overcome. I believe that quality will always succeed. So as long as I continue to prepare well, push myself to be a better musician tomorrow than I am today, maintain a respectful attitude, and appreciate the incredible support from everyone around me and those who have contributed to my career, the rest will take care of itself. I make no secret – diving even deeper into the seemingly infinite pool of classical music, travelling the world, seeing new places, ASHLEY MARDUS October 2020 | 21

Copied successfully!

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)