6 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 1 - September 2004

  • Text
  • September
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • Festival
  • October
  • Passport
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Arts
  • Orchestra

auoousET: Eu AT 80

auoousET: Eu AT 80 continued.from page 14 Born in 1924 in Vienna into a devout Jewish family, he was able to leave Austria for Palestine in 1939. In Palestine he was first trained as a cobbler, then as a soldier by the British, all the while playing the guitar on a very casual basis and also painting. When he came to Canada he had the visual arts in mind. Before he had even learned English, however, fate intervened in the form of a job sorting music for a week for Whaley Royce Music on Yonge Street. Here he discovered an abundance of sheet music for guitar - much of it written or arranged by Segovia. Promoted to a sales position once he learned English, when there were no customers around he was able to practise the guitar. A customer asked for lessons and his career as guitar teacher was launched! Through another customer he was introduced to RCM pianist and teacher, Boris Berlin, through whom he got the opportunity to audition for Boyd Neel, the Dean of the Faculty of Music at U of T and Ettore Mazzoleni, the principal of the RCM. The latter offered him a position teaching guitar at the Conservatory. He declined because he could not afford to give up the percentage of his earnings the deal required! Before that, however, he and his students founded the Guitar Society of Toronto in 1957. This led to a master class with Segovia, the Society's honorary president, who invited him to attend a month of classes in Spain in 1959. He went, thanks to the newly fonred Canada Council. Upon returning to Toronto he accepted guitar instructor positions, the first ever, at both the RCM and the Faculty of Music. "It took quite a few years to gain acceptance," Kassner told me, but before long some good students entered the program. One of the first was Liana Boyd. Once she became well-known many people came to study with Kassner. His next major accomplishment was the founding of the Eli Kassner Guitar Academy in 1967, his response to the need for instruction in jazz and flamenco. The U ofT brass wisely did not require that Eli give up his position to do this, seeing the dent brings something quite different to the instrument. One of the keys, therefore, was to keep the. hands relaxed and flowing - that was the foundation on which each student's development was built. Eli Kassner's other major contribution was the five international guitar festivals and comptitions that he launched, with participation of the Guitar Society of course, in 1975, '78,'81,'84 and'87. A measure of the impact of these events: the winners of the 1975 competition are now Four Festivals new academy's potential as a "feed- THE SUMMER MUSIC festival er school". They were not to be dis- scene continues, after a short appointed; students flocked to Eli pause in late August, into Sepfrom all over the world, and the bet- tember with four festivals: the ler ones went through the program Colours of Music Festival in at the university. Some of his stu- Barrie, the Westben Festival dents who have gone on to have an near Campbellford, the Sweetimpact in the guitar world are Liona Water Music Weekend in Boyd, Aaron Brock, Robert Feuer- Owen Sound and the Prince stein, Lynne Gangbar, Rachel Gauk, 'Edward County Music Festi­ among the leading guitarists of their generation - Sharon lsbin, Manuel Barrueco and Elliott Fisk. The line-up for the September 18 "Eli at 80" concert also speaks volumes. Guitar luminaries David Russell, Carlos Barbosa-Lima ; Vincea McC!elland and Celso Machado will perform, introduci:d by Liona Boyd. Among the compositions: one by Sergio Assad written for this event, and also one by Leo Brouwer, his health permitting. This is a celebration not to be missed. Drew Henderson, Danielle Kassner val in Picton. Britain's Onyx Brass come to Barrie (his daughter, for many years now Colours of Music living, performing, recording and Lawyer, politician and now impreteaching in Spain), Dale Kavanagh, sario, Bruce Owen, building on last Norbert Kraft, Vincea McC!elland, autumn's highly successful festival, Gordon O'Brien and Laura Young. has been nothing short of amazing What made him such a successful .in organizing this festival of 44 conteacher? "I always tried to preserve certs. in Barrie from September 24 to the individuality of each student, to October 3. Not only are some of inspire and to provide them with the Canada's best musicians performing tools to do what they want to do. I at the Festival such as James Campier my students express themselves. bell, Alain Trudel, the Penderecki All rri.y students are individuals." He String Quartet, the Duke Trio and went on to explain that every stu- the Elmer Iseler Singers, to name dent has different hands and 'since it only a few, but also wonderful muis through the hands that the music sicians from other countries will play is transmitted from the intellect and - Britain's Onyx Brass Quintet and temperament to the guitar, every stu- orgahist, Carol Williams, woodwind quintet Vento Chiaro, the Adaskin String Trio from the United States and the New Zealand String Quartet. Westben The Westben Festival offers two fine pianists, Jane Coop and Charles Foreman on Saturday, September 18 and Sunday, September 19 at 2:00 in the afternoon, Both will play music by Chopin and Beethoven. Ms. Coop's program will also include Pagarrini' s Variations on a Theme by Brahms. Mr. Foreman CONTINUES ON PAGE 5 J

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