8 years ago

Volume 7 Issue 5 - February 2002

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CHO!\M SCENt by Larry

CHO!\M SCENt by Larry Beckwith February brings two exceptionally distinguished visiting ensembles to Toronto. As well, several of the city's best choirs are in concert this nwnth with fascinating programs. At the beginning of the month, the TSO gives two performances (March 2 and 3) with guest ' conductor Helmuth Rilling, of Joseph Haydn's choral masterpiece "Creation", The lucky choirs chosen for these concerts are the Elmer Iseler Singers and the University of Toronto's MacMillan Singers. Rilling, a notoriously . fastidious choral conductor with a profound sense of style, is an infrequent visitor to our city. These promise to be memorable performances indeed. The programiners at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga have a keen eye for nabbing significant touring artists. This is the case with a rare Toronto performance by the legendary all-male South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Formed in the 1950s by Joseph Shabalala, the group's inspirational ensemble singing was brought to international prominence in Paul Simon's landmark "Graceland" album in the early 1980s. LBM was invited by Nelson Mandela to accompany him. to Oslo in 1993 for the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to Mandela and F.W. de Klerk, and an awardwinning documentary on LBM titled "On Tip Toe: Gentle Steps To Freedom" was recently · released. For a stirring and unforgettable evening, head out to the Living Arts Centre Feb 12. And still on the subject of visitors,Doreen Rao's outstanding University of Toronto Women's Chorus "celebrate in high voice" with the visiting Syracuse University Women's Chorus Feb 15. My admiration for conductor !vars Taurins and his Tafelmusik Chamber Choir often comes through in this column, and I don't apologize! Toronto concert-goers have come to expect a very high level of performance from this choir and they seldom disappoint. This month they begin a run of performances of the music of Mozart Feb 21 with guest conductor Sigiswald Kuijken. A member of the the Belgian Kuijken family, pioneers in the field of Baroque performance practice, Sigiswald is a brilliant violinist and conductor of the oft-recorded La Petite Bande baroque orchestra. The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir perform classical choral repertoire on the same weekenQ, with Noel Edison leading his charges in the C Minor Mass of Mozart and Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass. The soloist roster is led by soprano Meredith Hall and tenor John Tessier, and broadcaster Rick Phillips leads the pre-concert chat. Three concerts at the end of the month provide some of the most exciting choral music to hit Toronto this season. On Feb 26, the Amadeus Choir, under guest conductor Bramwell Tovey, perform Tovey's Requiem, Henry Kucharzyk's "Corral" and a piete titled "Jubilate" by the hot English composer/conductor/former King's Singer/honorary Canadian Bob Chilcott. Also on Feb 26, Soundstreams presents the first of two concerts featuring the worldrenowned Estonian Chamber Choir under Tonu Kaljuste's direction. The main work on the program is Rachmaninoffs All Night Vespers, but an intriguing Alto Lead Deer Park United Church Avenue Road & St. Clair Avenue W. Sight-reading skills required Interesting repertoire Good remuneration Contact: William Wright 416-923-2764 part of the evening is a performance of Estonian composer Veljo Torrnis' "Litany to Thunder" . I read a colourful review of this piece by an online music critic, Raymond Tuttle, who says "Litany to Thunder ... for tenor, bass, male choir, and bass drum , (is) essentially a shamanistic rain-dance, and the effect of the pleading, shouting, keening choir and the massive drum is so · powerful that I would want to bring a raincoat to even an indoor performance." , The following evening, the Estonian Choir "encounters" the Elmer Iseler Singers in a ·marvelous program that includes , the Swiss composer Frank Martin's "Mass for Double Choir" and a new piece by one of Canada's leading composers James Rolfe, entitled "O that you would kiss me" . (The program also features Arva Part's music, and I have to admit that I always come out of Part performances with three words on my mind: "life's too short". Maybe this is the performance that will open my eyes.) John Ford The Canadian choral community lost a real friend on New Year's Day with the passing of John Ford. Ford was a lifelong Torontonian, from his graduation from Scarborough Collegiate in 1952, through a career devoted to instilling in young musicians a love and discipline for choral singing. He led a busy life as a school teacher for over 20 years at Riverdale Collegiate. He was a choral conductor, instrumental in shaping The Oriana Singers, a women's choir founded in 1977. As So You Want To Do Something You Did In High School, Huh? •:• •!• •!• Muscles sore? Wind gone Can't play ball anymore? Remember singing? Call John Kirk at 905-707-7099 For more information on this new· found hobby John Ford well he was a church organist, active at Eglinton United Church from 1981-1999. Ford also served on several choral and music ep~cation boards both locally and nationally. It is as an adjlldicator and clinician that Ford will be most widely remembered, however. His encouraging words inspired generations of young people in Kiwanis and other music festivals across the country. Ford felt deeply that music should be an integral part of children's lives, whether or not they pursued it as a vocation, and he possessed the three most important qualities in a great teacher: love for his subject, uncompromising standards and a terrific sense of humour. He served his community and his art well and he'll be missed. As always, I can be reached at d The Canadian Singers are looking for a · BASS This dynamic group of eight vocalists performs a fascinating repertoire of Canadian music, ranging from Lightfoot to Willan. · We're looking for a singer who reads, looks good, has stage presence, and would commit to an exciting future with a closely knit group that proudly waves the flag for Canadian music. If this sounds like you, check out our website at www.the and/or call Music Director Harvey Patterson at 416-239-5821. 14 February 1 -- March 7 2002

~~ (New Music) by Paul Steenhuisen VITAL SIGNS Amidst the number crunching and national debates over the future and relevance of today's symphony orchestra, new music aficionados will appreciate that the coming month is one of the most interesting in recent memory, containing 6 different orchestral programs. The first of these (Esprit Orchestra Wed Feb 6, 8pm with 7: 15 pre-concert talk at the Jane Mallett Theatre), begins with the concert premiere of Toothpaste, a five-minute comedic opera with · music by Alexina Louie (see A highlight of the evening will be a . special tribute to Mary Morrison and Harry Freedman. Morrison's unparalleled work in Canadian vocal music and Freedman's long association with Esprit, and his deep friendship with Harry Somers will be reflected in the performance of his "Graphic 9". Also featured is John Rea's Alma & Oskar, a recent orchestration (for soprano, baritone and orchestra) of his 1994 sopran.oand-piano work of the same name. Set on the eve of World War I, this melodrama (from beyond the grave) is a musical account of the love story between Alma Schil1dler-Mahler and the visual artist and early Expressionist ' Oskar Kokoschka, as told in the biography (1988} of Alma written by Fram;:oise Giraud. This fine , work shows the consistent layering of meaningful musical, literary and artistic references that inform Rea's music. It deals with memory and misunderstanding between the two characlers, and makes reference to the fruit of their love, the great painting entitled Windsbraut (the Bride of the Wind). . Consistently excellent soprano Barbara Hannigan will be featured throughout the concert: including her role in the film version of Toothpaste. Feb 13, the TSO will play its first of three concerts this month containing new work. In addition to Leopold Mozart's 1_767 concerto for alto trombone (the first concerto written for trombone and orchestra), world-renowned trombone virtuoso Christian Lindberg will perform Italian master Luciano Berio's 22-minute piece titled SOLO. Berio and Lindberg first discussed the prospect of a piece for trombone and orchestra as early as 1985, the initial idea being an orchestration of his famous Sequenza V. However, when it came time to begin work, Berio felt the heed to write a longer, more substantial piece. Composer and performer worked closely together in Salzburg through the summer of 1999, where Berio had also written the acting role of "Abulafia" in his opera "Chronaca de! Luogo" specifically for . Christian Lindberg. Berio has recomposed and revised the piece 8 times, completing this definitive version in September 2000. Feb 23, at 1:30 & 3:30 (note weekend start time), is when the TSO will perform Barbara Croall 's "Caribou Song," based on a story by Tomson Highway, at an all-ages concert. The composer was attracted by descriptions of the northern tundra landscape, as well as the characters, especially the caribou, a central and spiritually significant figure in Highway's work. Croall worked together with Anishnaabe actor and writer Sandra Laronde, bringing the story · to life with music and choreographed 1nove1~ent and dance. "Caribou Song" is about one northern Cree family's relationship to the caribou within the habitat and way of life that they share. It reflects Tomson Highway's childhood and what he remembers as a magical time of joy, love and deep spiritual connection to his Cree roots. Croall writes: "Tomson's story ... embodies the specifically indigenous value that there is no hierarchy between. humans and animals, or other parts of nature which people might like to think they have 'explored' or 'conquered'. Indeed, we are humbled by the natural world around us, of which we are a part, dependent upon, and without which we won't survive. It is my hope that with the presentation of this work, this value may be understood and shared." Also from the TSO (Feb 27, 8pm) will be the Canadian premiere of HK Gruber's "Aerial" (Concerto for Trumpet&. Orchestra). tONTINUED, PAGE 1 7 February 1 -- M arch 7 2002

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