7 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 10 - July/August 2005

  • Text
  • Festival
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • August
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Trio
  • Concerts
  • Arts
  • Orchestra

The flip side: festival

The flip side: festival fascination The work of the six people talked to so far would all be for nothing without one thing - the pilgrim urge in so many of us to seek out those places where music happens. Allan Pulker, WholeNote publisher, in many ways epitomizes this spirit. Take the summer of 2002, for example. His plans for that summer had originally included three of Ontario's top chamber festivals : Elora, Festival of the Sound, and Huntsville. A need for a flautist in the orchestra at Symphony in the Barn caused him to change his plans, however, and as a result he found himself near Durham, Ontario, playing flute among the birds and farm animals at a working organic farm . Camping the whole time, playing where the hay was usually kept, cows under the floorboards and barn swallows twittering in the rafters during performances , being under the guidance of an artistic director whose daily duties included milking the cows before performances: understandably this was a stand-out festival experience. But only one among many, it must be said . Allan has over the past few years made stops at the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, Westben, Festival of the Sound, Collingwood Music Festival, Grand River Baroque Festival, Brott Summer Music Festival, Toronto International Chamber Music Festival, Stratford Summer Music, and the Mill Race Folk Festival. One of Allan's favourites is clearly the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, held each year in downtown Ottawa, in "a small downtown core, where the festival has the feel ·of a small town". The Festival of the Sound also stands out for him. "You can't get this in Toronto or Ottawa; a concert hall right on the shores of Georgian Bay. They time concerts so intermission coincides with sunset over the Bay." On the way back from this festival one year, a stop at Collingwood Festival seemed natural. "Concerts in churches on tree-lined residential streets" and a walk around town made Allan feel "like I wanted to get to know the place. " Then there was going to Westben Festival and Grand River Baroque Festival, where concerts are held in barns in rural settings, and reminded Allan of his time spent playing flute under the rafters. Toronto, the biggest city in Canada and the hub of classical music in Ontario, is strangely under-represented in Allan's list of festivals he has attended in the past. "People want to get out of the city in the summer, they want to go somewhere different." Which is why Allan thinks music festivals in the summer outside of a big city are so popular. "Festivals give you a life in a place where you would otherwise not go or just be hanging QUt. Going to a festival gives you a framework to plan your experience of a place. They give you a place to go in the summer." "Every festival is unique and different. Each one provides a superior opportunity for listening to music. You are not rushing home before a concert to eat after work, the pace is more relaxed. Context is a big part of the experience. You are in a place where you don't have to drive to a concert because you are already within walking distance, and you are in a better frame of mind to take in the music that is being offered to you." A few last comments from Allan might sum up what we have learned from this trip through Ontario festivals quite nicely. What would this festival-lover do if he could create his own summer festival from scratch? For venue, "a smallish town works best. Somewhere with restaurants and parks. Small towns have churches and parks that work well as concert venues." For repertoire, "an element which is notably absent from most festival is choral music. Also, I like the idea of doing complete works. A festival makes an in-depth examination of a particular genre of works possible. For example, American music bears more examination than is usually afforded to it, and it is not played enough." But this festival-lover is content to sit and listen at other people's festivals, at least for one more year. Allan's summer plans for 2005 include going to the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival. Another festival road trip beckons .. . that is if he isn't needed in a barn somewhere of course. - Catherine Muir

well told is music to the heart. " EACO.CK. mmerF JULY

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