6 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 1 - September 2004

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that they themselves

that they themselves would have chosen above all. It's a great group here in terms of getting on well, and buying into the idea that it's all for the good. And the other side of it, being "on call" for things like this interview for instance? You need to be available. That's all there is to it. I'm a people . person ... especially if they share a passion for music. I have lots of help with the artis.tic planning. Loie Fallis {ISO Director of Artistic Planning] is an extraordinary human being, arguably the most experienced in North America. I have to say, I'm having an appallingly good time. At a concert of yours with Yo-Yo Ma last December 6 I remember you mnde a joke as you took the podium, reassuring rhe audience that there would be nothing disturbingly modern on the program that evening - those weren't your exact words but it was something like that. [The works were 1he Schumnnn Cello Concerto, Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations, and Mussorgsky's Piclures al an .Exhibition.] I remember the moment but not the exact words either. My point was that the evening, the spirit of it, was clearly a pop fun celebration of great entertainers. I was · turning to encompass the audience ... something I believe strongly in ... and saying 'We all recognize this evening for what it is. There are other, perhaps grander, things that this symphonic ritual is for as well, but this evening is not one of those. Let's all just enjoy.' Mind you, I have nothing against concerts like that one. I remember once Kurt Mazur doing an all Brahms and Schumann concert with the New York Phil and being ripped apart, just for the fact of doing so, not for the way it was done. Well why shouldn't he, of all people. I mean he practically knew the . blokes (if you see what I mean). The way I see it, we're on that stage a hundred times a year. That's ample opportunity to provide concerts to everyone's tastes. Face it, no one's coming to more than twenty concerts. Most people buy one subscription, or three or four concerts. We are offering a menu not ·a curriculum. I have a good friend who writes and broadcasts about 10 music in New York. I really appreciated one day him saying in the context of a discussion about this very thing "I admit, if you programmed just for me you'd be ciut of business in a season." Getting back to thai off-the-cuff comment at 1he Yo-Yo Ma concert, I assumed rhat in some way you were responding lo perennial sore-point issues like choice of repertoire being too adventurous or not adventurous enough, alienaring hard core music lovers by "dumbing 1hings down", alienming devoted symphony goers by playing "difficulr" music. VVhat is your take on these things? Well, that's really what we've just been talking about. It's a fun subject. We will always have criticism. Can one make accurale assumprions about your own musical "likes" by looking at the Tokyo Quarrel's preferred repertoire over the years? Tokyc was an accumulation of four ideas none with leadership power. I'd say my own tastes are much more adventurous than the Tokyo. But on the other hand being privileged to do Shostakovitch, Beethoven, Bartek cycles all over the world; has been formative. I'm not a fringe repertoire type of person. My background is centred in the great traditions, Mahler, Brahms, Beethoven. VVhen your appointment to the TSO was announced, .your Toronto connections were menrioned. I know you were born here, but I'm wondering if it goes deeper than that. Will you still be based in Connecticut? Do you have family here? I have an older sister here, a middle brother who has been here almost as much as not. You could say it is our second family city, one with which I have close close connections, and which is one of my favourites. We will stay based in Weston. It's a very good place. And I can maintain my teaching at Yale. I have five students. I absolutely love oneon-one violin teaching. But the Toronto connection is much more than hype or even the fact of being born there. My first violin concerto as a soloist with a major orchestra was when Walter Hamburger invited me in 1981. And repeatedly after that. I watched what was going on with the orchestra in the late nineties and early '"oughts" and it saddened me to witness. I have an opportunity to make a difference. **** Assuming you've had a chance to glance at VVholeNote from time to time over the past few months, I'm curious as lo what it tells you about the exrent of musical involvement in the city: close ro three hundred concert presenters, 3500 concerts a season, close to a hundred choirs, a dozen community orchestras, the list goes on. Is it more than you would have rhought? I knew that it was cultured but have to say I have been astonished. And if there are audiences for all, nothing is too much. It's a good balance for the city, as is having a really strong opera company. It explains why we can offer twenty five subscription weeks, as many as any orchestra on the continent. A !Ot of people involved in this wider concert scene have over the years gravitated away from the symphony orchestra and symphonic music in general (perhaps out of hunger for the intimncy and clarity you alluded to earlier). VVhat can you say and do to draw them back? I think of one thing, right away. ·I touched on it, before. Coming out and welcoming the audience, " making them feel part of every § encounter with us. Michael Tiln son Thomas in San Francisco is a great practitioner of this. > Walking out, turning your back Z on the audience immediately for § that first downstroke doesn't work. VVhat about rhe "never turning your back" trend as mamfested by the video screen rhing lhat some orcheslras are adopting? That's not for me either. I believe even though the conductor's back is to the audience, the aura and expression is reflected back through the players and the music. Video replay diminishes intensity. In live sport, if you know there will be no replay, your concentration is elevated. There is an incredible level of concentration in our audiences, here. Why dissipate it? So, based on your experiences conducting around the world, is rhe symphony orchestra the endangered species 1ha1 so many articles tend to view it as? I think prophecy can be selffulfilling. Put it this way. It's a privilege to play this extraordinary music. So we take as our mandate trying to get as many people to come and hear it as we can. What if writing about it were viewed as the same privilege, with the same mandate? How would things be different? The announcement of a special new music series in the coming season drew, broadly speaking, three reactions: won't catch me there; good for the TSO for a step in the righl direction; it's just an excuse lo exclude new music even more from mainstream programming. If true then it scares me, but I think as a simplification it's a bit cynical. I commented before that I believe in the idea of festivals, celebrations. The whole point of this is to package new creation in an inviting way. It's savvy, it's practical and it's going to be fun. Each piece will be introduced. Each concert in the series is also part of one other series. As I said earlier, it's all for the good, really. WWW. THEWHOLENOTE .COM SEPTEMBER 1 - OCTOBER 7 2004

gn1sccW EDITOR'S CORNER This month we're back to a full complement of CD reviews after the quiet days of summer. Did it ever really arrive, I wonder? As I write this in mid-August we are still experiencing unseasonably cool days and positively chilly nights. But the weather aside, things are more or less back to normal with our reviews running the gamut from Vivaldi arias to 2lst century haiku settings, classic jazz and blues reissues to new recordings by saxophonists Scott Hamilton and Harry Allen and trombonists Tom Walsh and Steve Swell. Added to this are several local world music offerings, including Maza Meze's "Secrets Moon Magic" and Maria Antonakos' "Siren Songs of the Mediterranean". ·we top this off with our picks of the month, a new 'period performance' recording of Mozart's Le Nou.e di Figaro and Nadina Mackie Jackson's "Notes from Abroad", a disc you may have seen advertised in the pages of this magazine over the past few months, but which after delays in the manufacturing process is only now (finally) in hand. I almost kept that last one for this column, but I'm glad I did not because I seem to have made Merlin Williams' day by passing it on to him for review (see Discs of the Month, page 68). The discs I did keep to myself are predominantly from the world of new music, but I must say that the diversity of these offerings underlines the fact that there are actually many worlds involved on the contemporary music scene. From the 'minimalist' school I bring to your attention an important label that focuses on the music of Philip Glass. Orange Mountain Music is a fairly new company that grew out of a project to archive all of the master recordings that Philip Glass has made over the past three decades. There are now more than a dozen CDs of previously unavailable material documenting the extraordinarily prolific career of this former New York cab driver. The disc I chose to begin my exploration with is A Descent into the Maels trom (OMM 0005), a music-theatre work commissioned by the Australian Dace Theatre dating from 1986 based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe. Written shortly after the film Koyaanisqatsi, the mixed-media work The Photographer and the opera Akhnaten, this is classic high-octane Glass - a 'maelstrom' indeed - performed by the Philip Glass Ensemble (keyboards, reeds and the voice of Dora Ohrenstein). • From the ATMA Classique label we have the latest release by one of Canada's most important contemporary music groups, Montreal's Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (ACD2 2242). NEM is a 15-piece chamber orchestra in residence at l'Universite de Montreal and as such is this country's only fulltime orchestra devoted to contemporary repertoire. Founded in 1989 by conductor Lorraine Vaillancourt, over its 15 year history NEM has commissioned many Canadian and international works. This disc presents 4 of the Canadian offerings: Lo que vend ra by young composer Inouk Demers; Travaux et jeux de gravite and Vanitas by mid-career artists Isabelle Panneton and Jean Lesage; and Alap & Gat, a work inspired by the music of northern India by senior composer Jose Evangelista. Panneton "evokes the dynamic of bodies submitting to the force of gravity: gestures of rising and falling, or of attempts to preserve a precarious equilibrium." This is perhaps DISCOVERIFS: EDITORS CORNER CONTINUES ON PAGE 58 Denise Djokic, Cellist rnSinfqnia ioronto NURHAN ARMAN MUSIC DIRECTOR 2004-2005 Main Series Glenn Gould Studio - Saturdays at 8 pm Wit and every bar - a playful scherzo, two of Haydn's lively symphonies, and his robust concerto performed by the most exciting new cellist to emerge in years Brilliant European guests bring the folk traditions of Scandinavia and Eastern Europe alive, crowned with the grace of Mendelssohn Musical Christmas gifts for every taste - well-loved favourites, hidden gems, and a carol finale to send you home singing Songs without words, songs without end Four of the most lyrical composers who ever lived, and the singing tone of one of Canada's most outstanding young violinists Mario Carbotta, Flutist _IHEMAGlC_E.LU.IE.Mar.s..__._·---·· The magical sounds of one of Europe's foremost flutists plus tuneful delights from Italy and Canada Sinfonia Toronto International Competition -1HEIHRILL.O.EDIS.COY.fRY_Apr. .. L Feel the excitement!-as a new solo star shines out in a galaxy of variety: Nurhan Arman conducts a beloved classic, a lovely Canadian miniature and a Russian masterpiece Melody will sweep you away, in a scenic fantasy, one of the great romantic concertos played by the Esther Honens Competition winner, and T chaikowsky's glorious serenade Subscription to all 7 concerts Adult $ 1 SS, Senior S 110, Student 416-499-0403 or buy online at SEPTEMBER 1 - OCTOBER 7 2004 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM 11

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