8 years ago

Volume 9 Issue 2 - October 2003

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  • Toronto
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Book Shelf by Pamela

Book Shelf by Pamela Margles Orchestras, bands and organs can stir us like nothing else, just by the size of the sound they produce. But the more complex the sound, the more involved it is to pro(i,uce. Budget cuts, strikes, bankruptcies, fires, practically anything can wipe out the cultural institutions we value. The recent crisis at the Toronto Symphony Orches- . tra should make us realize the risks of taking themfor granted. As the books under review this month underscore, much has already been lost, but we still have a great deal to treasure. TSO Begins With The Oboe: A History of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra by Richard S. Warren University of Toronto Press 287 pp . 00 known Chilean pianist" overlooks his many years in Toronto teaching leading Canadian musicians like Glenn Gould, John Beckwith and Stuart Hamilton. Ernest Seitz is described as a frequent piano soloist with the orchestra, but no mention is made of his popular song,, 'The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise' , for which he is known today. Nevertheless, this beautifully presented volume provides an invaluable resource, 'fith its historical documents and photographs and extensive appendices, including the name of every musician who has played with the orchestra. HERITAGE OF MILITARY MUSIC The Heritage of Canadian Military Music by Jack Kopstein and Ian Pearson Vanwen Publishing 336 pages 39.95 over 300,000 people attended a grand military tattoo in Riverdale Park. But after the armed forces were amalgamated in 1968, the bands were dispersed or axed, ' and with them went the outstanding music training facilities. Among the thorough documentation are remarkable historical photographs and delightful descriptions of the regimental marches and songs, with their texts. LETS DANCE Let's Dance: A Celebration of Ontario's Dance Halls and Summer Dance Pavilions by Peter Young Natural Heritage 232 pages .95 the breezes from the nearby lake. But very few of these dance halls and pavilions that Peter Young describes in his geographically organized tour survive. Of those that weren't torn down, most have collapsed, or been converted into storage facilities, private, dwellings, or even motorcyclegang clubhouses. Much of the text deals with reminiscences from nostalgic patrons. I would have welcomed more recollections from the owners, who were often musicians, and the musicians themselves, as well as more information about the buildings, especially photos of what the surviving buildings look like today. But Young offers an entertaining collection of historical photographs of the buildings and bands, ticket stubs, and other memorabilia, providing a valuable document of an irrecoverable aspect of our musical, architectural and sociological heritage. ORGANS OF ONTARIO Richard Warren builds his history of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra around the extraordinary conductors who have led it, from the visionary Luigi von Kunits to the misunderstood Jukka-Pekka Saraste. It makes a compelling narrative. Warren offers colourful descriptions of the once-frequent tours across Canada and Europe, and especially the historic tour to China. The TSO was the first Western orchestra to visit China, and the Canadian ambassador memorably "thanked the orchestra for accomplishing what no amount of diplomatic hospitality could have hoped to do". Yet, even though the author was symphony archivist for twenty-six years, annotations are skimpy. To identify Alberto · Guererro merely as a "well- 50 With their extensive research, elegant writing style, and enthusiasm for military music, Jack Kopstein and Ian Pearson convince me that the contribution of military bands to the cultural life of this country is enormous and generally unappreciated - not just by historians, the public, and civilian musicians, but by the military itself, and the govern- . ment that funds it. Military bands were extremely versatile, and achieved impressively high standards, serving parades, regimental dinners, marching troops, theatrical performances, church services, and even dances, at home and · touring around the world. Sergei Rachmaninov once conducted the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Band, and on another memorable occasion Before the war, you could spend a summer evening dancing at the local pavilion for 10 cents a dance. Dress codes were enforced, and each evening would end with 'God Save the King' . After the war came dancing at "the Pav"to big bands like Oscar Peterson, Louis Armstrong, and Glenn Miller. More edgy times brought rock and country bands like Ronnie Hawkins. 1 The pavilion was likely made of wood, with shutters to attract Organs of Toronto by Alan Jackson and James Bailey Royal Canadian College of Organists 156 pages .00 Until I read this fascinating

survey of Toronto's finest organs I failed to realize how much a thrilling organ sound is a result of how the organ is installed. Ideally, according to Alan Jackson and James Bailey, it should be placed up high, along the central axis of the hall, either right at the back or the front. They point out how plaster and wood, wide aisles, and reduced sound traps enhance the sound. - Nor are they fond of roundshaped buildings like Roy Thomson Hall and Convocation Hall, which house the only nonecclesiastical organs included. Both authors are professional organists. Jackson is an organ builder and restorer who has repaired many of the instruments featured in this book. Bailey, who practices as well as teaches architecture, shares his delightful connoisseur's eye for stained glass windows and other significant architectural details. For each organ, they describe the stops, ranks, pipes, provenance, acoustical qualities and architectural setting. In the case of the organ of the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene., where composer Healey Willan was organist for forty-seven years, the authors actually attribute the type of music Willan created to the lively acoustics. The glossary of organ terms• is invaluable, and the archival documents complement the beautiful photographs by Brian Thompson. Performance notes On Sunday Oct. 26 at 2:00 the Royal Canadian Military Institute presents its annual Massed Military Band Spectacular at Roy Thomson Hall. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra season continues at Roy Thomson Hall. Consult the WholeNote listings. Information is available at Information on organ concerts throughout the city can be obtained, in the Wholenote listings, and at · · •Complete stop tis . organs, including Roy Hall & Convocation Hall •Many historical & technical details and a glossary 'of terms. A publication of the Royal Canadian College of Organists Toronto Centre Order from: NERA CM ORAL JtOOT~ ~Ol:JNDTRACI

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