7 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 10 - July/August 2005

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CHORAL Scene These are

CHORAL Scene These are the days, my friends by Larry Beckwith Public opinion has been in· the news a lot lately. Not that it doesn't create and shape the news perpetually, but with the supreme nonsense of Paul Martin's Ottawa leading the way, it seems to me that the perception of the public "will" has never been more powerful. I kept thinking of this during the recent magnificent Northern Voices festival, hosted by Soundstreams and featuring choirs from Latvia, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and elsewhere, sharing the stage with many of Canada's finest choirs. As I wrote last month, the star of the festival was the music, the actual "cutting-edge" repertoire that was performed. Many of the visiting choirs brought spectacular brand new works and "gems" from their repertoire never before heard in Toronto. It was so satisfying and exciting to hear such innovative programming and - thank goodness - it showed up one or two of our local choirs, who tried to pass off ho-hum "standard repertoire" to the dismay of a very discerning audience. The choral landscape is changing. Drastically. This was the subject of several fascinating panels at a conference held in conjunction with the festival. It is estimated that one of every ten Canadians sings in a choir. Choral singing is by far the most populous artistic pursuit in the country and, together, choral singers represent a huge "constituency" . Can we call ourselves a community, though? If we do, it's ·a fractured and fractious one. A representative from the Canada Council was present for the final panel of the conference and he stated, very bluntly, that the Council is looking to the choral community to "get its act together", not only for its own good, but for the good of all the arts in Canada. It seems that as go the choirs, so goes the country! And so I look briefly to the vibrant activity planned for the summer months in Southern Ontario. There's a busy tour of the Czech University Choir - appearing in many different venues in July ... do go and hear them! There's the heavy choral focus of the Elora Festival- Haydn's Creation, Verdi Requiem, Missa Gaia, other works of Bernstein, Purcell, etc. There are visiting choirs (Brazil Denard Chorale from Detroit, Kokopelli Youth Choir from Edmonton) at Stratford Summer Mu- The Ottawa Bach Choir, under the direction of Lisette Canton. sic. There are run-out showcases of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale (Collingwood Music Festival), Elmer Iseler Singers (Festival of the Sound) and the Mendelssohn Choir (Festival of the Sound) . There's the reopening of Mus,ic at Sharon with the Canadian Singers and a visit from Lisette Canton's Ottawa Bach Choir to the Brott Festival in Hamilton. And there is activity here in the city. The Orpheus Choir gives a benefit concert at the Music Gallery. The Mendelssohn Youth Choir gives a performance at the Toronto Street Fair. The Hart House Singers give a summer concert at the Great Hall and the Georgian-inspired, bearded ball of energy Alan Gasser gives a recital with his wife Becca Whitla at the Church of the Holy Trinity. And speaking of recitals, one of this summer's best kept secrets is the appearance of the awesome Canadian baritone Gerald Finley at the local Westben Arts Festival, run by Finley's cousin, Brian, a fine pianist in his own right. There are a number of pleasant events taking place, then, all across the province, all summer long. (even the Ontario Youth Choir is getting back on track, with conductor Lydia Adams, giving a camp concert in Ottawa towards the end of August) . So, the question remains: are we a community, and what is our "voice" capable of saying? Certainly a great deal more than we say at the moment. Looking at the few season announcements for next year, it looks like another slightly "play it safe" season for the most part from Ontario choirs. If the Northern Voices festival tau·ght us anything, it is that time is running out on boring, re-tread programming. I'm not saying the masterpieces won't endure. Of course they will, but we choristers need to begin to put more pressure 2005-2006 Concert Series Singers Wanted All Voices Christtnas for Kids ,\ cclcbmrion for the young at h eart.! Sunday. November 27, 2005 at 4:30pm Christtnas Classics Traditional Songs of th e Season! Saturday, D ecember 17, 2005 at 8pm Songs of Love and Laughter 1\fusic to warm rhe hca.rt! 'Sarurda y, Fe brua .r ~· 11, 2006 at 8pm \Here we grow again!" AUDITIONS WW' william wolosthuk - artistic director 416-253-467 4 An Evening of Gilbert &: Sullivan Expcricnct' rh eir frunous Operettas!! Saturday, :\pril 29, 2006 ar 8pm lnrercstcd in bccorning a n1cnlbc.r or purchasing tickers, call 416-225-2255 or e mail 1M Ci!)• '!l J "f,mn/IJ tbYYJI~f!.b tbc 'llJrotJin./lrl.r (.illmt'l"l

on our conductors to lead us in ation of Canadian Choral Conducnew directions and really inspire tors, which is a professional assous . And similarly, we need to have ciation that does not always have ultra open minds to receive new, the furtherance of the choral art at serious forms of choral expression. the top of their priority list. We do ourselves a great disservice if we simply go through the mo- I will .keep writing about this in tions of commissioning or singing the fall. Please write to me and second-rate, superficial new rep- maybe we can get a good dialogue ertoire when our heart' s not in it. going. If we leverage our tremen- We need to embrace other lan- dous strength and power, we can guages whole-heartedly . I want to surely nudge the status quo. hear Toronto's choirs singing in Spanish! In Italian! In Chinese! In Look out conductors! Latvian! Not just shelving good new repertoire, because it will take Have a great summer, readers! a few more rehearsals to put it together than Randall Thompson's Frostiana. Baloney .... bring it on! We need to demand that our .--------..;._------. conductors learn new repertoire, go to summer enrichment programs to enhance their skills, arrange exchanges with choirs from different parts of the world and, above all else, we need to demand that they not hide behind past glories. Theile are the days, my friends ... it's great to be singing, but we all need to summon the courage to hold our conductors a lot more accountable than we do at the moment. If we are indeed a country of choral singers, let's come out of our shells and get together. There was some exciting talk at the conference of the reconstitution or formation of a national organization to represent the choral community . Presently , we have the Associ- BOSLEY· REAL ESTATE I\)~UY a: U.L f.STATf !.TD . l'IAl.TOl PETER MAHON Sales Representative 416-322-8000 ~ RIVERDALE YOUTH 51NGER5. SPRING AUDITIONS 2005 Children and youth who love to sing are invited to join the choir for its 7'h season in 2005/2006. Membership is open to any child from 7 years of age and up. · Auditions for the 2005/2006 season of the Riverdale Youth Singers are presently taking place. Children and Youth who are interested in auditioning for the choir, please call416-875-1587 to book an audition appointment. Audition forms may be submitted "on-line". Visit our website at: 2005-2006 AUDITIONS Pre12arato!Y Chorus Main Chorus I Ages 4-6 Ages 7-10 Susan Suchard, Conductor Carol Woodward Ratzlaff. f • Basics of choral Conductor singing and musical Sarah Morrison. notation gently Assistant Conductor introduced • Structured choral • Fun. interactive experience including rehearsals theory program and • Small class sizes vocal coaching • Three in-h-'>use • Variety of musical performance; styles and languages opportunities • Minimum three annually performance opportunities annually NEW!!! S.A.T.B. Youth Choir Main Chorus II Ages 11-16 Carol Woodward Ratzlaff. Conductor Sarah Morrison, Assistant Conductor • Choral experience for maturing singers • Includes theory. sight- singing program and vocal coaching • Challenging, diverse repertoire • Regular performance opportunities • July 2006 tour Brad Ratzlaff and Carol Woodward Ratzlaff. Conductors • For experienced singers committed to performing large-scale choral works • October 9 performance with Helmuth Rilling and Trinity-St. Paul's Church Choir, International Bach Festival, Univers of Toronto VOCAL COACHES AND VOICE TEACHERS to be hired from Youth Choir. Dr. Elmer lseler and Dr. Fred Fallis Memorial Bursaries by application, for qualifying singers. t: 416.788.8482 f: 416.788.0138 e: )uLv 1 -SEPTEMBER 7 2005 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM 23

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