8 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 5 - February 2006

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • February
  • Theatre
  • Jazz
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  • Mozart
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  • Quartet

CHORAL Scene by Larry

CHORAL Scene by Larry Beckwith There is a rich and wide variety of choral activity across the city this month, beginning on Feb. 3 with a performance of Bach's St. John Passion presented by Lydia Adams' Elmer Iseler Singers. With an interesting array of soloists, steady pacing will be the key to this performance, an area in which the choir has been criticized recently. As many WholeNote readers know, the Bach Passions hurtle toward their dramatic high points, with the choir assuming many key roles and guises throughout. The visiting Bernard Labadie performance of the work two years ago still stands out in the memory as a masterfully-paced affair. We wish the lselers well, as we do the Mendelssohn Singers who perform the work under Noel Edison' s leadership exactly a month later on March 3 at Roy Thomson Hall. The weekend of February 11 and 12 features many intriguing choral events, including Valentine's events presented by the Burlington Civic Chorale, Peel Choral Society and All the King's Voices, all on Feb. 11 . There is certainly no dearth of choral music celebrating lovebirds, so all of these events should be delightful r IN THE 20TH CENTURY Friday, March IO, 2006 8:oo pm Saint Thomas's Anglican Church 383 Huron Street Toronto REGULAR SENIOR STUDENT For more information: 416-971-9229 John Tu ttle, Conducto r and musically diverse. Also that night, Doreen Rao and the U ofT MacMillan Singers celebrate the current "Mozart Year" (250th anniversary of his birth) by offering a concert of selections from his "sacred and secular" works. I' m assuming that means that some opera choruses are on the menu. There are several more choral Mozart events planned by some of our finest choirs in the coming months, including the "Mozart Celebration" by the Mississauga Choral Society on February 26, featuring a performance of the sublime Coronation Mass. It's been over twenty years since the U of T Press publication of Istvan Anhalt's study of contemporary vocal and choral composition, Alternative Voices . This book still stands as the bible of so-called "extended vocal technique" and its use in new music dates back to Arnold Schoenberg's masterpiece, Pierrot Lunaire (1912). I'm afraid we choral singers, especially here in Toronto, tend to be a little squeamish about "giving our all " for contemporary music, especially that which calls for avant garde or unusual vocal effects. I have to admit to being a bit baffled about this, especially given the extent to which choristers knock themselves out learning the angular BOSLEY REAL ESTATE Tl~JS LEY :{E,\.l EST A T E Ll'C!. , RE.;LTOk PETER MAHON Sales Representative 416-322-8000 Brainerd Blyden-Taylor's Nathaniel Dett Chorale. Serious emotional punch. lines of Bach, clever and tricky settings of Britten and spun-out parts of the great big works of Brahms, Verdi, Berlioz, etc. There are several new choral works on offer this month, beginning with a special Soundstreams presentation of contemporary Chinese-inspired major works on February 12. Canadian composer Chan Ka Nin has written a "choral drama" (The Weaving Maiden) with a libretto by Mark Brownell, based on a Chinese love-myth about a pair of star-crossed lovers. The Tafelmusik Chamber Choir is featured in the performance, along with a wonderful line-up of soloists and several fine players of Chinese instruments, including local George Gao on the erhu. Also on the program is an intriguing piece entitled "Ghost Opera" by the acclaimed composer Tan Dun, for string quartet, pipa, Tibetan bells, voices and various paper products. Once again, Soundstreams has put together a phenomenal program: not-to-be-missed. Later in the month, on February 22, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale presents another fascinating concert of Afro-American music, featuring the premiere of a work by former child prodigy Stewart Goodyear, entitled "God's Trombones", with words by James Weldon Johnson. Also on the program is a brilliant work by the founder of the vocal ensemble Chanticleer, Joseph Jennings. His piece, "An Old Black Woman Homeless and Indistinct" packs a serious emotional punch. On February 25, Robert Cooper's Orpheus Choir rocks out with arrangements of works by Dave Brubeck, Paul Halley, Leonard Bernstein, Trent Worthington and Bobby McFerrin. Also on the program is the Toronto premiere of American-born Swedish composer Steven Dobrogosz's Mass, featuring non traditional use of popular music and jazz. Early in March, the Toronto Consort presents a complete performance of one of the seminal works of early oratorio (perhaps the first one of its kind!): Giacomo Carissimi's "Jephte". Mostly set in recitative style, with various characters telling the story very dramatically and effectively, the work ends with a wonderfully striking lament and final chorus which simply depicts the horror and pointlessness of the turning-point of the story. One of choral music's early gems, any performance of Jephte is worth catching, but the Toronto Consort has a special touch with works like these. On March 3, the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama bring their gospel energy to Massey Hall. The first version of the group was formed in 1939 at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind and they have been going strong ever since. There is a wonderful website devoted to them at www z s: ..::; Cl z " ;..: iS ::! u 0 b :i: 0.. WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM EBR UA RY

I would also draw readers' attention to the premiere by Toronto Masque Theatre (my personal artistic baby) of a new piece for torch singer (Patricia O' Callaghan), madrigal group, lutenist (Terry McKenna) and blues guitar (Ken Whiteley), composed by Omar Daniel, at the newly-restored Gladstone Hotel on Feb. 2, 3 and 5. Settings of poems by Pablo Neruda, the work is an investigation into the seamier side oflove: just in time for Valentine's day! Chan Ka Nin 's choral drama The Weaving Maiden presented by Soundstreams this month features the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir. York Regional Police Male Chorus -~ - is accepting applications for c REGIONAL • • • • l:~~~ERus· the pos1t1on of Music Director, ~ a unique Volunteer Position If you are qualified and/or have experience in directing a large Choir we would like to hear from you. Application Deadline April 15, 2006 Call Lowell McClenny at (905) 727-9676 Email: a non-auditioned community outreach chorus of the GTA performing diverse music* for a diverse city *a balanced repertoire of classical choral works, world, ethnic, and popular music joseph dudzinski, ma, mm, artistic director welcoming amateur and professional singers JJ Rehearsals begin Tuesday, February 21, 7:30-9:00 at the Harbourfront Community Centre 627 Queen's Quay West, 416-392-1509, joseph dudzinski, 647-400-3087, call either number to register or for more information

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