8 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 6 - March 2006

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  • Toronto
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Toronto Children's

Toronto Children's Chorus Jean Ashworth Bartle, C.M., a. Ont. Founder/Music Director Auditions ... .. for the musical experience of a lifetime! Auditions are held in April and May for the upcoming performance season. Our West End location, close to Royal York subway station, is available for first-year choristers. For information, or to attend a rehearsal or concert call: (416) 932-8666 x231 info@to ro nto child ren scho www. to ron toch i Id renscho m Founded in 1978 York Regional Police Male Chorus - ~ - is accepting applications for • REGIONAi . . • • l:~~~eR~- 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: Musical Opportunity - Stouffville United Church Seeking a spiritual, versatile and creative musician to assume the position of Music Director. As the successful candidate, you will have a solid background in voice, piano and pipe organ. This is a part time position, approximately twelve hours per week, over an eleven month salary or contract period, annually. Please apply in writing along with your resume to "The Music Director Search Committee" c/o Stouffville United Church, 34 Church Street, Stouffville, Ontario, L4A 1 E3. Or, e-mail your resume to Stouffville United Church website: CHORAL Scene I begin this month with a confession (it being the Lenten season): I am familiar with a good deal of choral music, but at times I am confronted with pieces for which I have no frame of reference. At those times, a very handy Doubleday guidebook "Guide to Choral Masterpieces" by American journalist Melvin Berger comes to my rescue. While looking up the Messe Solennelle, by Charles Gounod, I came across two quotations that seem to pertain to this month's choral offerings in Toronto and indeed to concert-going in general these days, one from Hector Berlioz and the other from Gounod himself. Berlioz writes: "It is not enough that the artist should be well prepared for the public. The public must be well prepared for what it is going to hear." With the wide range of motivations for attending concerts these days, it would be interesting to know how much preparation concert patrons undertake to familiarize themselves with the works of art they are about to confront, especially in the case of large choral works that deal with profound subjects, whether religious or otherwise. The Gounod quotation is from a letter he wrote at the time he was composing the Messe Solennelle (St. Cecilia Mass): "There is only one difficulty. It is to match in music the demands of this incomparable and inexhaustible subject, the Mass! In music! By a paltry man! My God, take pity on me!" Toronto choral fans canjudge for themselves how successful Gounod was when the Toronto Classical Singers perform his work on March 5. Jurgen Petrenko's choir tends to perform the major classical and Romantic mass and oratorio repertoire, and they do so with flair and consistency. Paired with Gounod's Mass is the contemplative and introspective setting of the Requiem Mass by Gabriel Faure. Gounod's description of the composer attempting to "match in music the demands of ... (an) inexhaustible subject" could apply equally well to a number of other works being performed in the city this month, including settings of the mass by Palestrina and Mozart, the John and Mark passion stories by J.S. Bach, and the work we are told is the most recognizable and widely performed choral work in the western world: Handel's Messiah. by Larry Beckwith It has always been a slightly exaggerated claim that Palestrina's Pope Marcellus Mass, a brilliant six-voice setting written in the middle of the 16th century, single-handedly convinced Vatican leaders at the time not to banish music from the celebration of mass. We are not familiar with more than a handful of Palestrina's mass settings these days, but the Pope Marcellus Mass - which will be performed by Studio Sixteen on March 11 at 8:30 at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene - is an example of what I think ofas a generally spiritual piece of music that goes well beyond its antiquated text to touch us deeply. Yes, one can analyze it (and I have!) for its musical strengths, rocksolid counterpoint and voice-leading, and magnificent connection to the meaning of the words, but it could be performed by instruments - probably has - or sung to nonsense syllables and it would still be a very beautiful piece. Likewise, Mozart's Coronation Mass, written in Salzburg in 1779, is a work that goes way beyond the specifics of the text to inspire emotional and intellectual connections beyond dogma, glorification of God or the struggle with sin. Tafelmusik Orchestra and Chamber Choir perform the piece - with Bruno Weil conducting and a glorious quartet of soloists - at Trinity-St. Paul's United Church beginning March 23. In the Lutheran church in Bach's day it was customary, at a Good Friday service that would traditionally last for hours and hours, to read or listen to a musical setting of the story of the trial and crucifixion of Christ. This religious tradition has yielded a body of work that we hear almost exclusively in the concert hall today . This month there are a number of performances of Bach's St. John Passion being offered - including the Mendelssohn Singers at Roy Thomson Hall on March 3 and a massed choir effort at St. James' Cathedral on March 24. The intrepid and musically-curious David Fallis is presenting a performance of the newly-reconstructed St. Mark Passion by Bach, with his Toronto Chamber Choir and a nice group of soloists, at Christ Church Deer Park on March 11. As described by Frank Nakashima elsewhere in this issue, the music has been lost to this setting, but scholars have used existing music of Bach's 22 WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE. COM M AR CH 1 - A PRIL 7 2006

for the choruses, arias and chorales and borrowed the recitatives from a setting of the same version of the story by Bach's colleague Reinhard Keiser. I am fascinated to think of what today's audience takes away from these performances. I do know for a fact that there are those who go without any knowledge of German and who do not follow the texts in the program. They simply let Bach's music take them away to a timeless, wordless place filled with complicated thoughts and emotions. The Amadeus Choir gives a rare non-Christmas performance of Handel's Messiah on April 1 at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church and promises revelations of "new depths of the emotional appeal of this brilliant work". Once again, I marvel at the appeal of this work to the general public. I don't mean to be facetious or not to recommend this performance highly. I think it's a wonderful piece and it's really quite marvellous to know that the genius, depth of feeling and highly entertaining music carries the work far beyond the specifics of its text. I do not mean at all to diminish the spiritual meaning or effect of any of these works. Quite the opposite, actually. I am simply amazed, in light of Gounod' s worries, that these "choral masterpieces" now reach a much wider audience than they were originally intended to, due entirely to the brilliance of their music. There are several other great choirs in action, this month. On March 4, the Jubilate Singers - who have been enjoying much success lately under their dynamic leader Isabel Bernaus - welcome the Latin group Cassava as their guests for an evening of Cuban and Argentinian music at Eastminster United Church. The same evening, William Brown's Oriana Women's Choir present "Song of Survival", "a WWII story of courageous women and the music that saved their lives." The 1997 film "Paradise Road" told the story of a group of women interned by the Japanese in Sumatra in 1942. They formed a " vocal orchestra" to bring a sense of humanity to their awful situation. The concert features dancers from the National Ballet School and promises to be a departure from standard choral fare. The Victoria Scholars are in concert on March 5, the Exultate Chamber Singers sing 20th century settings of music for Holy Week on March 10, and Doreen Rao' s Mac­ Millan Singers give a concert with the legendary Nexus Ensemble at the University of Toronto on March 25. Last: for years, the music director at the Beth Tikvah Synagogue was Srul Irving Glick, a well-known composer who passed away a number of years ago. His successor at the Synagogue, Eyal Bitton, has been making a name for himself as a composer, as well. He has written a number of musicals and musical adaptations of existing stories, including The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, King David: The Musical and Moses: The Musical Saga. His latest work, an oratorio entitled Journey to Jerusalem, will be performed at the Synagogue on April 3 by an enormous collection of musicians, led by Bitton himself. It's a brilliant array of choral events this month. Gounod needn't have worried. BOSLEY REAL ESTATE D,)SlE Y ~EAL ESTAT E LT D .• kEA LTOP. PETER MAHON Sales Representative 416-322-8000 ~~J~~"r Lydia Adams, Conductor CELEBRATION Harry Freedman, Mary Morrison Friday, May 5, 2006 7:30 pm Glenn Gould Studio, 250 Front St. West, Toronto Guest artists: Amadeus Chamber Singers and The Aeolian Winds A concert honouring the artistic brilliance and immense contributions of these two Canadian musicians. Works include Voices, Tokaido, 1838, Valleys and Shakespeare Songs SPECIAL CD LAUNCH: Centrediscs, Canadian Music Centre SPECIAL BOOK PRESENTATION: Music Makers The Lives of Harry Freedman and Mary Morrison Walter Pitman/Dundurn Press Lobby Reception Following the Concert B1B Canada Council Consell des Arts © for the Arts du Canada Anarm's lengthbodyof the City ol Toronto to rontdartsbo u n c i I ~ ") M FOR INFORMATION OR TICKETS CALL 416-217-0537 Monday to Friday 9 am - 5 pm Director Wanted for BRA VADQ This Barrie-based "show-choir': an excellent group with wide-ranging styles, seeks a new musical director starting Sept 2006. For job description and choir information contact Charlie Carswell (705) 727-0473. Application deadline Jan . 15, 2006 NCXUS C,:plnxc rhe aO.. C..RCd mgsr ~.Ri Ci; 0 i: P->-s eiGm; id C mus ic q [>.m.

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