2 years ago

Volume 26 Issue 5 - February 2021

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • Recordings
  • Musicians
  • Pianist
  • Composer
  • Quartet
  • Musical
  • Jazz
  • Recording
  • February
So, How Much Ground WOULD a ground hog hog? community arts and the Dominion Foundries end run; the vagaries of the concert hall livestreaming ban; hymns to freedom; postsecondary auditions do the COVID shuffle; and reflections on some of the ways the music somehow keeps on being made - PLUS 81 (count them!) recordings we've been listening to. Also a page 2 ask of you. Available in flipthrough format here and in print February 10.

Emilie LeBel’s Haareis

Emilie LeBel’s Haareis auf Morschem Holz (hair ice on rotten wood) is included in the TSO’s On Demand program “Beethoven Septet.” (available Feb 12 – Mar 4). Toronto Symphony Orchestra Other local presenters are maintaining their footprints on our collective calendar. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra ( has two on demand concerts available in the coming weeks, both recorded before the recent tightening of regulations. The first of the concerts already “in the can” – available February 12 to March 4 and featuring 17 members of the TSO – is anchored by Beethoven’s Septet Op.20, one of his most popular works. Scored for a wholly original combination of instruments – violin, viola, cello, double bass, clarinet, horn and bassoon – Beethoven had high hopes of creating a template for a new chamber music form, but the piece was so well-liked that other composers were too intimidated by its success to compete. Beethoven’s Septet is truly one of a kind. The program also includes the only completed movement from Schubert’s String Trio in B-flat Major D471 and Emilie LeBel’s woodwind quintet, Haareis auf Morschem Holz (hair ice on rotten wood), arranged à la Ludwig van B, for septet. Concertmaster Jonathan Crow is both soloist and leader in Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons in a concert available March 12 to April 11. Crow will also lead the TSO in two contemporary works – “Coqueteos” from Gabriela Lena Frank’s melodic Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout and Sri Lanka-born Canadian composer and lyrical master Dinuk Wijeratne’s poetic, JUNO Award-winning “A letter from the After-life” from Two Pop Songs on Antique Poems. So far so good, but speaking before a January 22 Jonathan Crow livestream concert/webinar for more than a thousand TSO supporters and subscribers, TSO CEO Matthew Loden said that the latest regulations, if left unchanged, will significantly impact on what else they have been planning. Music Toronto Music Toronto’s free, online, virtual concert series – featuring several artists who were scheduled to appear in their now-cancelled 2020/21 season – continues February 18 at 7:30 (available until 6pm, February 20) with the St. Lawrence String Quartet performing Beethoven string quartets: Op.18, No.4 and Op.74 “Harp.” Recorded on January 12, 2021 for the Noe Valley Ministry concert series in California, this concert was adapted by the SLSQ for Music Toronto. On March 16 at 7:30 – one show only – pianist Vadym Kholodenko has prepared a treat for Music Toronto’s audience. The winner of the 2013 Cliburn Competition’s program (recorded in January 2020 for Jaques Samuel Pianos London) includes Schubert’s Sonata in A Major, Op.120 D664, Kaija Saariaho’s Ballade, a selection of preludes by Scriabin and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata No.2. Wrapping up the series on April 15 at 7:30 (available until 6pm April 17), the Castalian String Quartet has prepared Haydn’s Quartet in C, Op.76 “Emperor” and Brahms’ Quartet in A Minor, Op.51 No.2 for Music Toronto. Founded in 2011 and based in London, UK the Castalian was a finalist in the 2016 Banff Competition won by the Rolston String Quartet. Two years later, they were named the winner of the first Merito String Quartet Award/Valentin Erben Prize which includes €20,000 for professional development, along with a further €25,000 towards sound recordings and a commission. The award came as a complete surprise to the quartet since there was no application process or competition for it; instead, a secret jury assembled a shortlist of five quartets which were then observed in at least two concerts during the course of a year, always without the musicians’ knowledge. Award co-founder Erben, well-known as the founding cellist of the eminent Alban Berg Quartet, observed: “The human warmth and aura radiated by these four young people played a key role [in winning the Prize]. They are never just putting on a show – the music is always close to their heart. You can feel their intense passion for playing in a quartet.” Kindred Spirits Orchestra Finally, COVID-19 regulatory whiplash permitting, on February 27 at 8pm, the Kindred Spirits Orchestra (, under the direction of Kristian Alexander, is planning to present two pillars of Russian modernism: Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No.1, which Alexander describes as “a perfect virtuosic balance of romantic passion, tradition and form,” with versatile cellist Amahl Arulanandam, best-known for the duo VC2, making his KSO debut; and Scriabin’s Symphony No.2, “a lush and brooding work” according to Alexander. Subject to regulatory issues resolving themselves, the concert will be livestreamed from the SMSV Cultural Centre in Markham and will include an onstage discussion with Arulanandam and KSO associate conductor, Michael Berec. Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote. 12 | February 2021

Singing the Way to Freedom JACK BUELL In May 2019 The WholeNote had a call from Lauris DaCosta, on behalf of The Hymn to Freedom Project, asking if we’d give permission for our Feb 2013 cover, featuring Jackie Richardson and Joe Sealy, to appear in a music video project featuring Oscar Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom. (That particular WholeNote cover was for a story by Ori Dagan called Africville Revisited). We were delighted to be asked, and sent the cover along. DaCosta explained that for many years in the United States, Lift Every Voice and Sing has been the American “Black national anthem.” But Black history is Canadian history too, and she believed we should have a Canadian anthem for that, because getting people to sing together is a very good way of getting people to engage with that history. Her idea was that Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom could be that anthem. With pianist Oliver Jones, who was a good friend of Peterson’s, and with Oscar’s wife Kelly Peterson, the plan was born. A stirring new choral arrangement was done by Corey Butler, musical director of Toronto Mass Choir, and it premiered in Waterloo in March 2019. Fast-forward to January 2021, we were excited to learn that the video project was completed and available for sharing. Along with the anthem, the video The Many Roads to Freedom features an extraordinary range of images – historical through contemporary – offering “glimpses of the integral, extensive influence and part that Black Canadians have played in the building of our country, Canada.” Music Monday is The Coalition for Music Education in Canada’s coastto-coast annual event that advocates for the importance of quality music education for all students. Thousands of students, educators and music makers celebrate the appointed day and time by singing collectively an original song by a Canadian artist. For 2020 Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom was, coincidentally, chosen to be the song that would be sung. It was a new bilingual translation by Hariette Hamilton, and was recorded at the National Arts Centre featuring several choirs, a youth jazz trio and Robi Botos, piano, Jim Doxas, drums, and Dave Young, bass, who mentored the youth trio. Their video recording was shared to help people all across the country prepare for the day. While a new song is usually chosen each year, this year Peterson’s anthem has been chosen again, because of the difficulty of learning a new song in a school year that has been as disrupted as this one has been so far. Music Monday 2021 is Monday May 3! Join the nationwide celebration by planning and registering your own Music Monday event! You can enjoy the video, and access recordings and sheet music, teachers’ resources, and materials for parents and children to use at home, all available at An inspiring new arrangement of Oscar Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom in THE MANY ROADS TO FREEDOM We’ve been in Canada since the 1600s #BlackHistoryMonth Visit February 2021 | 13

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