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Volume 27 Issue 3 - December 2021 / January 2022

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Many Happy Returns: the rebirth of Massey Hall -- from venue to hub; music theatre's re-emergence from postponement limbo; pianist Vikingur Ólafsson's return visit to to "Glenn Gould's hometown"; guest writer music librarian Gary Corrin is back from his post behind the scenes in the TSO library; Music for Change returns to 21C; and here we all are again! Welcome back. Fingers crossed, here we go.

work with professional

work with professional creative teams on early drafts of new shows, showcasing the results for audiences at the end of the school year. CLASSICAL AND BEYOND Lots to enjoy to celebrate the upcoming holidays, and even more to look forward to.. QUICK PICKS It’s A Wonderful Life Ólafsson on Mozart, as momentum builds toward 2022 NOV 9 to DEC 23: A Christmas Carol. Royal George Theatre, Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake. LIVE NOV 14 to DEC 23: Holiday Inn. Festival Theatre, Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake. LIVE FROM NOV 20: Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle. Lighthouse Immersive, One Yonge Street. DEC 10,11,17,18: It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. GD Productions, the Villa Lucia Supper Club, Ottawa. A live radio play performance of the classic film script adapted by Joe Landry, with pianist Nicolas Code underscoring scenes and playing transition music, along with live foley and sound effects throughout. LIVE NOW to JAN 2: Touch. Created by Guillaume Côté and Thomas Payette. Lighthouse Immersive, One Yonge Street. Due to technical difficulties on the night I was there, I only had the chance to see ten minutes, one pas de deux, of this fully immersive dance show, but it was so good, such an exciting mix of live dance and projected background that I can’t wait to see the rest. LIVE DEC 10 to 31: The Nutcracker. National Ballet of Canada, Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, LIVE DEC 10 to 12: Wintersong. Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre, Fleck Theatre (Harbourfront). Celebrating 33 years of illuminating the solstice through dance with a world premiere by Rodney Diverlus and the stage premiere of Alyssa Martin’s Star Seed. LIVE Touch DEC 18 & 19: 2021 Nutcracker. Pia Bouman School of Ballet and Creative Movement. LIVE & Livestreamed. JAN 8 to 30: Boy Falls From The Sky. Mirvish Productions. CAA (formerly the Panasonic) Theatre. LIVE JAN 12 to 16: Gould’s Wall. Tapestry Opera, part of the Royal Conservatory’s 21C New Music Festival, performed in the RCM atrium. LIVE JAN 11 to 28: Room. Grand Theatre, London event/room. North American premiere. LIVE FEB 6 to APR 10: Room. CAA Theatre, Toronto. LIVE Jennifer Parr is a Toronto-based director, dramaturge, fight director and acting coach, brought up from a young age on a rich mix of musicals, Shakespeare and new Canadian plays. KAROLINA-KURAS PAUL ENNIS Vikingur Ólafsson’s Toronto debut was in 2014 – when I heard him play the Goldberg Variations at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre and speak about how thrilled he was to be performing in Glenn Gould’s hometown. Since then, the 37-year-old Icelandic pianist has released critically acclaimed recordings for Deutsche Grammophon (works by Glass, J.S. Bach and Rameau/Debussy) and has been named Gramophone magazine’s 2019 Artist of the Year. His Toronto return – to Koerner Hall on January 13 – finds him performing his just-released CD, Mozart & His Contemporaries. What follows is largely gleaned from Martin Cullingford’s April 20, 2020 story in Gramophone, Katherine Cooper’s interview in Presto Music, April 9, 2021 and an EPK interview for Deutsche Grammophon coincident with the release of his newest recording. “When I play Mozart I often feel like the ink has just dried on the page,” Ólafsson said on the DG website. “Despite the fact that the music was written 230 to 240 years ago, Mozart seems to reflect your innermost core.” On the DG site, he describes playing Mozart since he was five or six years old; one of his most vivid memories from his musical childhood is of playing the C Major sonata which is on his new DG recording (and in his upcoming Toronto recital). “It’s so serene, it’s almost impossible to play it,” he said. “It’s so perfect by itself that you almost dare not touch it – it’s like holding a newborn child – it’s so fragile, the beauty of it, that you just marvel at it. Mozart was so above us – what he did was so perfect.” In the Gramophone interview, Ólafsson told Cullingford that Evgeny Kissin and Glenn Gould were early obsessions, followed by musicians of an older generation – Edwin Fischer, Benno Moiseiwitsch, Josef Hofmann, Clara Haskil, Dinu Lipatti, Emil Gilels and the young Vladimir Horowitz. “I think all the ones that I love are masters of sound. They’re hugely different individuals, but they have something in common which is that they layer things, they create this dimension in the piano sound which is, really, the only way that a piano can sound beautiful in my opinion.” 14 | December 2021 and January 2022

ARI MAGG Víkingur Ólafsson Elsewhere, in the booklet notes to Ólafsson’s recent Bach album (which won two BBC music awards including Record of the Year in 2019), he wrote: “We performers must weigh our knowledge of period style against our individual and inescapably contemporary sensibility.” When that’s acknowledged and accepted, he told Cullingford, “What’s left is a liberating freedom. It’s like my manifesto. I really feel that. I see all music as contemporary music, I don’t make a distinction. If we play the music of Rameau today we play it, inevitably, so differently from the way it has sounded before – certainly in his time, when he had nothing close to the modern piano, and when the horse was the fastest means of transport. But because we are reinventing the music, obviously it is contemporary. It is new music.” Ólafsson’s love of recording owes a unique debt to his Icelandic childhood. “I think it has something to do with the fact that my exposure to music was limited growing up here in the 1990s. It was very different from how it is now, and it certainly wasn’t as easy to fly abroad, either. If I were growing up right now my dad would probably just fly me to London or wherever to see whatever I wanted to see. But that wasn’t the case then, and so I became a huge CD collector. And I didn’t do any competitions – that was very far away from my mentality – and so I didn’t have any exposure to what students my age were doing. I had no yardstick to measure myself against except through recordings.” Ólafsson’s parents instilled in him a sense of the profound value of music, Cullingford writes. When he was born, they were living in a tiny apartment in Berlin, making ends meet. But when they then inherited some money, they chose to spend it on a Steinway. The piano moved with them to Iceland, becoming a cherished and dominant presence in their small basement flat. As to why he chose to focus on the music of Mozart’s last decade? “Simply because I think it shows us Mozart at his best,” Ólafsson told Katherine Cooper. “There’s a reason why 85 or 90% of what we hear in concert today by Mozart is from the 1780s. This last decade in Mozart’s life is one of the most incredible decades in music history for any composer, both on a personal and a musical level. In 1781 he discovered the music of J.S. Bach – by accident almost, in a library in Vienna – and his own music would never be the same. He was really delving deeply into Bach study during this period, and you hear that clearly on this album. And at the same time he was going through this astonishing transformation from being the prodigy of all prodigies to being a mature musician: by his mid-20s he no longer has that free card of being the boy wonder, and he’s facing a lot of difficulties with the musical establishment of his day. He wouldn’t bow down to the pressures of the aristocracy; he always played his own game, and in a certain sense he was a wild card as a person.” Regional and community orchestras Now that the TSO has made a triumphant return, it’s time to pivot towards the GTA’s community orchestras. The Mississauga Symphony Orchestra began their 50th season – and music director Denis Mastromonaco’s eighth season – on November 20 with “A Triumphant Return,” a program of orchestral favourites. The concert included Autumn from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (concertmaster Corey Gemmell, violin soloist), the fourth movement of Mendelssohn’s “Reformation” symphony, Mozart’s Overture to the Marriage of Figaro (Miranda Brant, guest conductor) and Beethoven’s iconic Symphony No.5. It’s the first step leading to their 50th Anniversary Celebration on June 4, 2022 – complete repertoire to be released shortly. The Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra season opened on November 5 – available to stream on YouTube via the orchestra’s website – with a guided tour of the EPO led by music director Matthew JOIN US ONLINE AND IN-PERSON Carols by Candlelight SUNDAY, DECEMBER 12, 4:30 PM Carol arrangements and original compositions by David Willcocks, John Rutter, Randall Thompson, Geoffrey Bush and Malcom Sargent. Nine Lessons & Carols SUNDAY, DECEMBER 19, 4:30 PM Carols by Mark Sirett, Healey Willan, Philip Ledger, Edgar Pettman, Herbert Howells and William Walton. Soloists & Section Leads of Yorkminster Park Baptist Church Choir, William Maddox, conductor, Sharon L. Beckstead, organist YORKMINSTER PARK BAPTIST CHURCH | 1585 Yonge Street | December 2021 and January 2022 | 15

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