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Volume 10 Issue 8 - May 2005

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Tol9. MLQiciil/Otaey by

Tol9. MLQiciil/Otaey by Colin Earock Another What? The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has about 90 musicians, and likes to ·put them all on stage as often as it can. But there's a whole other repertoire out there, for small orchestras, that the TSO doesn't often play. Currently, there are no less than four professional chamber orchestras in the Toronto area trying to fill this gap. In April I set out on a mission to determine bow well this city is served by these ensembles. April 2, 2005: Sinfonia Toroto, which bills itself as "Toronto's Premier Chamber Orchestra," played tonight at the CBC's Glenn Gould Studio, under their conductor, Nurhan Arman. Arman, who likes to speak to his audience about the music he's about to conduct, exudes an Old-World dignity and charm that goes over well with his audience. So did the repertoire: which consisted of Mozart's Divertimento K I36, Mozart's Clarinet Concerto and Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings - a commonplace selection, but well received. . This orchestra varies in size, but on this occasion it consisted of just 13 string players. In performance, it has a transparent sound: a little top heavy, but polished and well rehearsed. The guest clarinetist, Franois Duval - chosen through a competition run by the orchestra - was a worthy addition to the evening. His playing is perhaps more precise than expressive, but he shows a complete mastery of his instrument. The concert ended with Arman encoring a movement from· the Mozart Divertimento, playfully letting his orchestra perform without a conductor. And . for those in attendance - between 100 and 200 people, by my estimation - a good time was had by a!l. April 9, 2005: Another Saturday night and another chamber orchestra at the Glenn Gould: this time, it's the Canadian Sinfonietta, under Tak-Ng Lai. Again the audience consisted of 100-200 people, although the repertoire was hardly commonplace. Billed as a "Festival of Hungary," the program consisted of Kodaly's Intermezzo from Hary Janos, Bart6k's Suite Paysanne Hongroise (with guest flautist Gergely Ittzes), Popper's Hungarian Rhapsody (played by cellist and orchestra member Andras Weber) and J6zsef Sari's Parallels Which Meet Before the Infinite. While both of th

Quoolibet by Allan Pulker I TALKED TO Barry Shiffman of the St. Lawrence String Quartet early in April when the Quartet was here after performing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Beginning with John Barnum's thoughts from last month's Quodlibet on the place of "classical" music in contemporary culture. Barry commented, "I read your piece and wanted to say that he LBarnumj was responsible in a major way for my involvement in chamber music." This resulted from his being part of John's chamber mu­ sic program at the Royal Conservatory when he was between the ages of 11 and 14. Quite a few others who were in the program at the same time as he was, including Martin Beaver and Winona Zelenka, have gone on to highly successful musical careers. With respect to the solemn pronouncements of various print and radio journalists on the imminent demise of classical music in general and the symphony orchestra in particular, he laughed: "It's kind of fun seeing these people being so wrong!" He and his colleagues, he said, were "buoyed" by their very recent performance with the TSO: " ... it is an orchestra with a "can-do" spirit. .. and those concerts were 85% sold." Peter Oundjian, he said, '·was awesome!" Having known him as a mentor during the Quartet's days at Yale, he had tremendous respect for his musicianship, but had no idea what to expect of him as a conductor. "I was praying that he would be ok," but discovered in the rehearsals and performances of the difficult Murray Schafer concerto Jor String Quartet and orchestra that he had totally absorbed the score, his onducting was crystal clear and he was enthusiastic. It is my opinion that music must constantly be in a state of renewal through the work of composers. While there is great value in hearing the masterworks of the past, just as there is value in seeing the painting and sculpture of the past, the an must above all be connected with the present. Barry couldn't have agreed more: "The contemporary music scene is a barometer of the state of humanity. Composers are always on the front edge The Sr. Lawrence Srring Quartet of what people are thinking and feeling." Working with living composers too, he said, "informs not just the piece on the page but also the performances of the 'dead' guys." The quartet's contact with composers like Christos Hatzis and Osvaldo Golijov has helped them to realize that the great composers whose works they perform were just people, and enabled- them to take them off the pedestal and have the courage to add their own voice, "which is what the living composers want us to do." It is this, I am sure, to which Hatzis was referring in his notes UJ i:i "' 0 al 0 u "' < ::E with the St. Lawrence's CD, Awakening, when he wrote, "I am grateful to the St. Lawrence String Quartet for giving these two works wings to fly with - and what glorious wings they are!" Shiffman, however, was quick to deny responsibility for discovering the dialectic between the old and the new: "Robert Mann of the Juilliard Quartet impressed this on us: bring the same care to the new as to the old and the same freedom to the old as to the new." The St. Lawrence Quartet itself has contributed to the growth of the string quartet repertoire through its vigorous commissioning agenda. What, I asked, are your criteria for determining who is commissioned? In terms of "straightforward" criteria "we want about one-third ·of our commissions to be from Canadian composers and we need and want to support the composers associated with the school of music at Stanford, like Jonathan Berger." HowcoNTINUES NEXT PAGE ,..fine Arts Auction Week- .... ... , Monday 13 - Friday 17 June 2005 7pm On View: Friday l 0 June l Oam - 9pm Saturday 11 June l Oam - 5pm Sunday 12 June Noon - 5pm Musical instruments will be included in our Spring Fine Arts Auction on Monday 13 June 2005. We are currently seeking consignments. For More Info Contact: THOMAS QUIRK 416.847.6185 tq@waddingtons.ca A Neapolitan Violin by Francesco Verzella, bearing the label of the maker reading: Francesco Verzella, Fabricante di Strumenti da Corda, Napoli, 1915. Larga S. Antonie/lo a Constantinopoli, 68 Est. ,000120.000 Piano & Keyboard Centre •Sales • Service • Tuning Omcial Concert Tuner I Technician for CBC I Glenn Gould Studio National Ballet of Canada National Ballet School St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts 70 East Beaver Creek Road, Richmond Hill, Ontario L4B 1 G6 • t{estoration Tel: (905) 709-2771 • Event Rentals Fax: (905) 709-4624 MAY 1 - )UNE 7 2005 WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM

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