8 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 7 - April 2006

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  • April
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DISG , ·1 __/ BooK

DISG , ·1 __/ BooK Shelf by Pamela Marg/es When soprano Mary Morrison retired from the opera stage forty years ago, still in her prime, there was a sense that opera was a troubled art fonn in Canada. While her husband, composer Harry Freedman did write extensively for voice before his death in 2005, he never wrote an opera. But opera is flourishing today, and attracts the most interesting composers, directors, designers and singers. This month's books look at Walter Pitman's important new biography of Morrison and Freedman, a group of apprentice opera singers, the avant-garde stage designer George Tsypin, and the first great opera master, Monteverdi. Music Makers: The Lives of Harry Freedman & Mary Morrison by Walter Pitman Dundurn 312 pages, photos; .00 Singer Mary Morrison and composer Harry Freedman formed a remarkable couple, both in their involvement in the contemporary music scene, and their commitment to Canadian culture. Walter Pitman's innovative dual biography to present their lives works well. He manages to balance detailed accounts of the various paths their individual careers took them on with descriptions of the interests that united them. As Pitman skillfully flips back and forth between YPHIP6P'P/TIP ~.,,.,d ,,p,.,. 7 "I ; r ~ 314 Churchill Ave ~ ; Toronto. Ontario I' ; M2R 1 E7 Canada I ~ Tel: 416-224-1956 ~ Fax: 416-224-2964 ~ ; MIKROKOSMOS ,' ; ~ , ' , r! !' ~ We buy your ~ classical LP ; ~ collection ; ; , ; ~ , r! ; " (classical, such as Beethoven, Mozart, Stockhausen) the two lives, he maintains a compelling narrative flow . Pitman depicts Morrison and Freedman not just as icons of Canadian music, but as front-line fighters for Canadian sovereignty. Their activities directly involve organizations like the COC, the CBC, the TSO, the Canadian League of Composers, and the U of T. Pitman himself has had a significant impact on Canadian culture as a politician, journalist, administrator, and historian. He is eloquent in conveying the life of a musician, with both the rewards and difficulties involved. But he also puts the careers of Morrison and Freedman in their cultural contexts. Pitman has clearly done extensive research, and provides a detailed bibliography and index. Murray considers himself more than a dispassionate observer. He eagerly, and knowledgeably, shares his opinions about the young singers he is observing. Enrolled in the program are two Canadians, soprano Erin Wall and tenor Roger Honeywell. Murray takes particular interest in both. His appreciation of the art of singing means that he can pick up on the insights being passed along, as when the dynamic voice teacher Gianna Rolandi says to Honeywell, 'It's a question of air". Remarkable characters continually appear and reappear here. Of necessity, Murray's account jumps around. An index would have helped track his cast in this affectionate backstage look. Erin Wall sings with the Toronto Symphony in Mahler's Symphony no. 2 next season _ -

ecently in town CONTINUED FROM PAGE 16 Roiet

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