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Volume 10 Issue 10 - July/August 2005

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R. Murray Schafer:

R. Murray Schafer: rooted in the Enchanted Forest by Allan Pulker If there were such a thing as a Canadian "composer laureate" R . the World Wildlife Federation and the Murray Schafer would be it. Despite - or perhaps because of- tak- Sierra Club. At a time when clearing the road less travelled - he gave up an academic position at Si- cutting of virgin forests is still toleratmon Fraser University in 1975 to live in rural Eastern Ontario to de- ed here, Schafer's productions draw vote his time to writing and composing - he has achieved interna- attention to the reality of what is lost tiona! distinction as both an author and a composer. His awards every time a forest is sacrificed on range from the Jules Leger Prize in 1977 to an Ontario Arts Coun- the high altar of profits. In Schafer's cil Lifetime Achievement Award 1999 and beyond. The Esprit Or- words, " Haliburton Forest is a quiet, chestra's recording of his Dream Rainbow, Dream Thunder won a meditative place, where audiences and Juno in 1986, his first five string quartets were recorded by the Or- performers alike can feel transported ford String Quartet, and Montreal's Quatuor M.olinari has recorded into a magical realm . The natural all eight, receiving a Juno for the eighth. Still active as a composer, lighting, sounds and acoustic envihis Ninth String Quartet will be premiered at the Winnipeg New Mu- ronment, coupled with the smell of sic Festival next February and his tenth the same month by Radio the fresh outdoors, will enrich the ex- France, which commissioned it. perience and make it unforgettable." His great "environmental theatre" work of the last 35 years, his This year's production of The Enchanted Forest will take place from 12-part Patriq Cycle, has been compared with Wagner's Ring Cycle. August 24 to 28 and August 3 I to September 2 . To reserve tickets • Unlike the Ring, which requires an opera house, the Patria Cycle phone 416-596-8585 or e-mail Maps to the Hallpieces require unusual venues: Hermes Trismegistos, Union Station; burton Forest can be found at and The Princess of the Stars, dawn beside a lake; The Palace of the Cinnabar Phoenix, a lake but at night; and The Enchanted Forest, a Next year's performance will be The Palace of the Cinnabar ?hoeforest at night. nix; 2007's production will be The Princess of the Stars ; 2008, The At the end of February, Schafer and Peter Schleifenbaum, the Greatest Show, and in 2009, a revised version of And the Wolf Shall owner of the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve, announced a Inherit the Moon, the epilogue to the Patria cycle. Each promises to partnership to present one part of the Patria Cycle in the Haliburton be a night, a dawn or a day to remember. Forest. each summer.for the next five years. I recently attended a For a short while longer (till August 15) the full text of Paul Steengathen~g near Uxbndge celebrating the new partnership and its first huisen's series-launching Composer to Composer interview with R. productiOn, a remount of The Enchanted Forest. After the formalities Murray Schafer is available for reading at I had an opportunity to sit down with Schafer. and We talked about the effect of a performance space on a performance and the reasoning behind the outdoor settings of his "operas" That t 1·me 1 • 0 .that place or "music dramas" as he referred to them in Paul Steenhuisen's interview with him in WholeNote in 2001. It is his vie~ that staging by Catherine Muir performances indoors is historically an aberration that began in 17th Before sounds could be recorded and played again, music was a desticentury Europe, but that even in our time about 90% of music nation, defined by a place and a time, a fleeting series of sounds never worldwide is performed out of doors. Acoustically, he said , en- repeated exactly. Before music became portable, available at the whim of closed spaces are so different from outdoors that they affect the way the listener, people had to travel to hear music. That connection of muwe hear music harmonically. Socially, too, indoor performance sic to place is so much rarer these days. Today's venues get c)losen for makes it possible to control who will hear the music and who will qualities like convenience, price, or necessity. Combine that with the not. Music indoors begins and ends in silence, while music out of ability to hear recorded music anytime anywhere, and the connection of doors is in constant interaction with naturally occurring sounds. An- music to location has be~n eroded with time. other interesting difference is tl'!at music performed outdoors has no Except that something special happens every summer; the flourishing dynamics; it is performed as loud as possible all the time. Dynamic of festivals across the country. Small towns, big cities, open countryvariations can occur only as a result of variations in the distance be- side; parks, fields, churches, by lakes and by rivers, celebrations of mutween the performer(s) and the listener(s). sic are happening everywhere. It is as if the places themselves are calling At the root of Schafer's outdoor works is his concern about the out for the music to be made there. negative impact of human activity on the environment. In our time , Still, it takes a special person to hear the call. It requires love of muhe told me, "the environment is downtrodden and oppressed." There sic, love of a place, and countless hours of hard work. I talked to six was a time , he said, when artists considered it their responsibility to such people: Ge.orge Jackson, artistic director at the Uptown Jazz Festibe politically "engage, " to put their weight and their art behind what val, Brad McEwan, chairman of the Mill Race Festival, Father Fernand w~s right and to oppose what was wrong. Voltaire's expression Lindsay, founder and artistic director at the Festival de Lanaudiere "Ecrasez l' infame" comes to mind . While some literary and visual Noel Edison, founding member and artistic director at the Elora Fe~tiartists have engaged in supporting the cause of the environment, al- val,, volunteer Deborah Schnarr at the Kincardine Festival, and Rob most no composers have. Perhaps this is because music is a per- Saunders at the Huntsville Festival. For each, place was high on the list formance art so most composers, along with 80 % of us, live in cit- of what they wanted tp talk about. ies . One of Schafer's priorities is to build awareness by staging his Mill Race happens in the historic town of Cambridge, Ontario, "a productions in places where audiences will make a kind of pilgrim- nineteenth century town along the Grand River" says Brad McEwan. age from their urban dwellings to a forest environment where they "The festival areas are all within walking distance: Mill Race Park; the ~ill be in contact with the sounds and rhythms of nature. These per- Main Stage, an outdoor amphitheatre built in the ruins of a stone mill tormances , he observes, have an impact quite incommensurate with overlooking the river; the civic square, next to the old town hall and fire the amount of time they take. " People have told me, " he said, hall museum; and Main Street, with its historic storefronts, shut down "about how vividly they remember a performance of The Princess of to traffic for thf; festival." Lanaudiere takes place in "the Amphitheatre the Stars that took place twenty-five years ago." de Lanaudiere, a place unlike any other" says Father Lindsay ."A mag- Schafer's environmental thrust makes the partnership with Sch- nificent tree-lined avenue leads to a luminous arch overlooking a spectacleifenbaum's 60,000+ acre Haliburton Forest tick . Haliburton is ular site. At the crest of a hill, we find ourselves gazing upon a stage Canada's first "certified sustainable forest", meeting the stringent below ." At Elora Festival, says Noel Edison "it was a love of this standards of the "Forest Stewardship Council", a NGO supported by village [of Elora] that started this festival. We have the good fortune of 10 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM ) U LY 1 -SEPTEMBE R 7 2005 .

eing close to large urban centres, yet still just a little village in the country. This is a village where you can walk to everything-the concerts in any of the churches, or the Gambrel Bam." Kincardine Summer Music Festival also had its origins in the simple love of a town. "The original organizers of the Festival lived in or near the historic and beautiful town of Kincardine, and were able to arrange to use the lovely local churches to enhance the Festival de Lanaudiere chamber music concert experience" says Deborah Schnarr. The Huntsville Festival of the Arts again has its base in an attachment to a village and the surrounding land. "The Festival was founded in 1993 with the assistance of Attila Glatz and Susan Alberghini, one of whom had a vacation property in Huntsville" says Rob Saunders. "Visitors come into our area from larger urban areas wanting to experience the arts in a more relaxed, less formal setting." Even city festivals have a strong link to location. Case in point is George Jackson's Uptown Jazz Festival. "The festival takes place in the north part of the city, where I have always lived. When I was younger we would always have to go downtown to listen to music and then go back uptown. Our catchphrase for the festival is very important: Bringing Downtown Uptown. Location is important. This festival is for all the 90Sers." Once one starts delving into place as a musical influence, history is right behind. Many festivals in Canada have their roots in a musical style from years or miles away . Father Femand Lindsay says "the Festival de Lanaudiere was born of a dream I had in 1978, a dream to create at home, in Joliette, Quebec, a festival in the style of the grand festivals of Europe, a classical music affair that would make the warm summer evenings around Lanaudiere reverberate with beautiful sounds." The creation of Elora's classjcal music festival was also stimulated by European festival of days past. "In 1979 Michael Purvis-Smith fell in love with the beautiful and charming village of Elora. He dreamed of establishing a festival of music from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. For many years before this, several residents of Elora had discussed the idea of a festival in Elora fashioned after the Tanglewood Festival in Massachusetts or the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina'." Brad McEwan also had dreams of bringing European music home to Canada. "I founded the (Mill Race) festival because, in the course of ·being a musician, I had attended a bunch of festivals in the UK. I liked the way they tended to be run, a historic town centre with all of the activities within walking distance. When I came home, I looked at the downtown of the town where I grew up. I thought that having a festival there could be different than any other festival in North America." George Jackson was also influenced by festivals in other countries. "I was going to a lot of jazz festivals when I was younger, and got turned on to smooth jazz. I made some really good contacts in Clearwater, Florida, at the Clearwater Jazz Festival, and when I got back I wanted to start my own jazz festival. I said, why don't we have one in North York? We have the facilities for it. Now the festival is in its second year, and people are listening." Music in summer has a magic about it. Nature combines inimitably with music. Brad McEwan thinks a big part of the difference is that "with an outdoor festival you can provide more performers and bring it outside and make it more visible. In Mill Race the real essence of the festival is dancing in the streets. I think that coming together with your fellow human beings to celebrate is the point, a great deal different from a concert." Noel Edison agrees. "A summer festival does not compromise artistically, but it does offer an informality and intimacy between performer and audience that is more relaxed and welcoming." A quote from William Carlos Williams, early 20th century American poet, comes to mind. "In summer, the song sings itself." James Campbell, Artistic Director FESTIVAL OFTHE SOUND Parry Sound's world renowned summer Festival offers classical music and jazz in the spectacular new Charles W Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts! A SELECTION OF HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR PROGRAMME OF OV:ER 60 CONCJ;RTS .. , Lts Violons du Roy with Alain Trudel at our Gala Opening Concert The Gryphon Trio performing the complete cycle of Mozart Piano Trios QE_artctto Gelato with Arthur LeBlanc String QE_artet, the premiere performance of this unique collaboration Also in collaboration, the Penderecki String Q):!artet with Dancetheatre David Earle performing *Heart at Night* ro Shostakovich's String ~arret For a brochure, call I -866-364-0061 : PHONE:705- 746-2410 FAX: 705-746-5639 !lOX OFFICE: 42 James Street, Parry Sound F. -MAlt: WE!J SITE': CONTINUES NEXT PAGE www.

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