11 months ago

Volume 28 Issue 2 | November 1 - December 13, 2022

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Available now for your online "flip-through" reading pleasure, The WholeNote Volume 28 no.2. For Openers, my uncle had a barn; then: Trichy Sankaran at 80; the return of the professional chamber choir; what makes music theatre more than just theatre; how to fit three violin concerti into one concert; and more.

sides of the waltz –

sides of the waltz – the glitter of Strauss’ Der Rosenklavier and the searing indictment of WWI that propels Ravel’s over-the-top La valse. NOV 23 & 24, 8PM; NOV 22, 7:30PM; NOV 23, 8PM: Legendary pianist/teacher Sergei Babayan – he has 54 concertos in his repertoire – teams up with conductor Dalia Stasevska and the TSO for Tchaikovsky’s beloved Piano Concerto No.1. Born in Ukraine, Stasevska emigrated to Finland when she was five, and, according to the Los Angeles Times, has now entered the ever-growing ranks of top-ranking Finnish conductors of all generations. In Finland, Stasevska is music director of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, one of the country’s finest, and is also musical royalty, having married Sibelius’ great-grandson, the eclectic electric bassist of the Finnish power metal group Stratovarius and an intriguing composer in his own right. She keeps busy as principal guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The post-intermission is devoted to Tchaikovsky’s radical Symphony No.6 “Pathétique.” DEC 2, 8PM: Grammy Awardwinning pianist Daniil Trifonov – named Musical America’s Artist of the Year in 2019 – returns to Koerner Hall to perform works by Tchaikovsky, Schumann, Mozart, Ravel and Scriabin. Marrying technical prowess with a unique sensitivity, Trifonov is at the top of the generation of pianists now moving into their 30s. Coincidentally, his December 2 recital comes just ten days after his former teacher, Sergei Babayan, performs with the TSO. Babayan taught Trifonov from 2009 to 2015 at the Cleveland Institute of Music. In a 2018 interview with, Babayan spoke about his pupil: “He is a dream for a teacher – a real diamond. It’s a one-time life opportunity for someone to have that kind of student…When he plays, he gives so much of himself. Sometimes I’m scared he’s burning that candle too intensely.” Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote. IN MEMORIAM Daniil Trifonov Music TORONTO mourns the passing of Geoff Nuttall, first violin of our beloved St. Lawrence String Quartet, on Oct. 19 th. Their concert for us, scheduled for Dec 1 st , marked a 30-year relationship. Geoff was an extraordinary musician and a remarkable person. We share with Geoff’s family, colleagues, friends, students and indeed the entire music world, deep sadness, profound loss, and gratitude for his spirit, energy and joy. Please see the quartet’s own statement at USUALLY CLUBS (BUT NOT THIS TIME) Decorum be damned! JAZZ IN THE CONCERT HALL COLIN STORY Koerner Hall is, most assuredly, not a club. Completed in 2009 as the centrepiece of the Royal Conservatory’s massive mid-2000s renovation, the venue’s plush seating, acoustic clarity and ligneous splendour have made it a major destination for all manner of art music. Unlike the venues normally covered in this column, typical club activities – hooting at the stage, drinking in one’s seat, posting shaky Instagram clips of instrumental solos with fire emojis in the middle of a song – are frowned upon, though still possible (other than drinking in one’s seat), with a little determination and disregard for concert-hall decorum. Ravi Coltrane In November, Koerner hosts two notable jazz concerts. Up first is Ravi Coltrane, who brings “Cosmic Music: A Contemporary Exploration into the Music of John and Alice Coltrane” to the hall on November 12. The last names are not coincidentally similar: Ravi is the son of John and Alice, and has gracefully navigated a career playing jazz on the tenor and soprano saxophones, the same instruments whose sounds his father revolutionized. Though deeply influenced by both John and Alice’s legacy, Ravi – a Grammy-nominated saxophonist in his own right who has worked with artists such as Chick Corea, Terence Blanchard and his cousin, the producer Flying Lotus – brings his own unique voice to his improvisatory practice. With six albums under his own name and countless others with the likes of jazz-world luminaries such as Steve Coleman and Jeff “Tain” Watts, as well as newer-generation artists like harpist Brandee Younger and pianist Glenn Zaleski, Coltrane has made his own indelible mark on American music. On November 12, he will be joined by a stellar young band, which will feature pianist Gadi Lehavi, bassist Rashaan Carter and drummer Elé Howell. Tigran Hamasyan On November 19, another relatively young musician takes the stage: Tigran Hamasyan, an Armenian pianist whose music combines a deep knowledge of jazz harmony and improvisation with Armenian folk melodies, prog rock and other influences. Hamasyan’s concert is programmed under Koerner Hall’s Global Music series, but it could just as easily fall under the category of jazz; Hamasyan’s pedigree in 24 | November 1 - December 13, 2022

STARMUS FESTIVAL Majd Sekkar Opening for Hamasyan at Koerner Hall is Toronto-based clarinetist Majd Sekkar, originally from Syria. Sekkar’s selection as Hamasyan’s opening act is an apposite choice; like Hamasyan, Sekkar’s music blends jazz with folk melodies, while bringing a high level of technical skill to his practice. (Sekkar is also a member of the Canadian Arabic Orchestra, an ensemble that plays at Koerner earlier in the month, on November 13, in concert with the singer Marwan Khoury.) Sekkar appears at Koerner, on November 19, with his quartet. Structurally, Sekkar’s band is strongly rooted in jazz, with a penchant for propulsive grooves and responsive, interactive comping. To this format, however, Sekkar brings a distinctive harmonic approach, using a variety of chord/scale sounds (such as the double harmonic scale, a system common in Arabic, Indian and other regions). Colin Story is a jazz guitarist, writer and teacher based in Toronto. He can be reached at, on Instagram and on Twitter. Majd Sekkar Tigran Hamasyan the genre is second to none. A 2006 winner of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Competition (formerly known the Thelonious Monk Competition), his newest album, Standart, features bassist Matt Brewer, drummer Justin Brown and special guest artists Mark Turner (tenor sax), Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), and saxophonist Joshua Redman (Akinmusire and Redman were also Monk Competition winners, in 2007 and 1991, respectively). As a performer, Hamasyan is deeply engaged in his practice, with an intensity and focus that imbue moments of relatively simple playing with a great depth of feeling. He often sings, especially in Armenian, and makes used of common extended techniques on the acoustic piano. He is also a musician for whom humour and insouciance go hand-in-hand with earnest artistic expression. One of his mostviewed videos on his YouTube channel, a performance of his original song Vardavar, is captured outdoors in a mountainous setting, at either sunrise or sunset (one suspects the latter, knowing something of the sleeping patterns of musicians). The setup is decidedly ad hoc; upright bass and acoustic guitar are accompanied by cymbal, drum case, and, for Hamasyan, a Casio keyboard and a Hello Kitty acoustic toy piano. Joining him on this trio tour, as per his social media channels, are drummer Jeremy Dutton and either Matt Brewer or Rick Rosato on bass (Rosato, who hails from Montreal, is the safe bet). GIVE THE GIFT OF MUSIC Musical Instruments · Gift Cards Lessons · Online Shopping 925 Bloor Street W (416) 588-7886 SELMER. Ravi Coltrane November 1 - December 13, 2022 | 25

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