8 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 9 - June 2006

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REFLECTIONS ON THE ART OF THE URBAN FESTIVAL (PART II) soundaXis It would be remiss to let pass without comment that soundaXis is the first time WholeNote has been associated with an event as a named "media sponsor". A bit of a slippery slope, we've always thought - why for one presenter and not another? Well, WholeNote's connection with the Toronto Coalition of New Music Presenters goes back a long way - to the time Jason ~;x I YVONNE BAMBRICK Man from MaRS: Composer, trombonist, Scott Goode in the doorway of the MaRS complex on College just east of University Ave. The complex is soundaXis HQ for van Eyk talks about (in Some Thing New on page 2l)when the the festival's eleven days. city's new music presenters were bracing themselves for the loss, after seven years, of the Massey Hall New Music Festival. "Just list everything that's happening anyway during that period and call it a festival" was the brilliant advice I remember giving at the time, and being chided for it by people whose love is the music itself, not the packaging of information about it. The chiders were right. Without a curatorial focus, a particular spark, a festival is an unlit fire. Truth be told, that early incarnation of the Coalition would have had a hard time coming up with a musical idea to agree on, let alone coming up with a plan to implement it. The thematic cohesiveness of this inaugural soundaXis shows how far they have come. Worth supporting, we say. Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) You couldn't pick a better spark than Iannis Xenakis for soundaXis' stated goal - exploration of the interaction and shared compositional structures of music and architecture. Xenakis was equally versed in both and revelled in their connection. An example: in the 1950s as architectural assistant to Le Corbusier he designed a pavilion for the 1958 Brussels World Fair to house the premiere of Edgard Varese's Poeme Electronique - a work requiring 400 amplified speakers in a series of rooms. True to Xenakis' shuttle-loom, back-and-forth questing creativity, he based the design of the pavilion itself structurally on one of his own musical masterworks, "Metastaseis". (And "Metastaseis" itself was posited on laws of physics relating to the kinetic properties of gases.) Back and forth, back and forth. Visiting and revisiting I'll be doing a fair bit of back-and-farthing myself for the 11 days (and hope you all will too). I'll be shuttling back and forth to MaRS, of course, especially to catch the high school work generated as part of the educational lead-up to the festival. And the "Fanfare" project (starting with "Fanfare@ Frum) gives a chance to revisit with Alain Trudel back in town for the first time since a life-threatening illness earlier in the year. I'll also be at the first of Les Amis' three concerts, July 4. After all, I borrowed the cover's "music in the cacophonous din" phrase from Michael Pepa, artistic director of Les Amis. And there's a composer on the program, Berislav Sipus, I'm very intererested to meet. Among other things he's the artistic director of the Zagreb New Music Festival, which three year's from now will host its 25th biennial festival . I wonder what he'll notice most. David Perlman PHOTOGRAPH OF GERALD FINLEY AS D OCTOR ATOMIC: TERRENCE McCARTHY PHOTOGRAPH OF AMPHITH EATRE 'Doctor Atomic' Gerald Finley interviewed by Robert Tomas It is a rare privilege to witness history in the making. Witnessing the birth of the nuclear age, would be one example. I'd say that witnessing the birth of Doctor Atomic - John Adams' operatic masterpiece on that subject - was another. Adams is fearless in his musical explorations: no subject is taboo, no historical moment too fresh in the collective memory to be expressed through music. Doctor Atomic deals with one such moment - the first nuclear test in Alamogordo, NM July 16, 1945. It changed everything: it created Hiroshima, Cold War, "Superpowers", fallout shelters, Chernobyl, even the official reasons for the current war in Iraq. In the San Francisco Opera premiere production I saw last fall, Peter Sellars' brilliantly frantic direction revolves around just one unmoving, unmovable element: an early atomic bomb, hanging above a child's cradle, casting a shadow. One of the mysteries surrounding Doctor Atomic's creation was the early departure from the project of Alice Goodman, the brilliant poetlibrettist who had worked on all John Adams' operas to date. Sellars took over the task, creating the libretto from disparate sources: poems of Baudelaire and John Donne, de-classified government documents, various books on the history of the Manhattan Project and even an excerpt from the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu "Song of God". (I have to say, rich and textured as this libretto is, it suffers from not having been assembled by a poet of Ms. Goodman's talent.) If the true power of a momentous work of music lies in its ability to offer us catharsis regardless of the libretto, Doctor Atomic is such a work. With only hints of Adams' earlier fascination with minimalism, it is a musical treasure trove of new ideas, putting the idiom on its ear the way Pelleas et Melissande and The Rite of Spring did. Rite of Spring's premiere caused riots. Doctor Atomic's very well should have! Canadian-born Gerald Finley, in his SF Opera debut, brought the house down with his bravura aria setting of John Donne's Holy Sonnet XIV. When the words "Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you as yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend .... " come out of the mouth of Robert Oppenheimer, a scientist seemingly untroubled by the deadly potential of "his" bomb, you can hear the goosebumps forming on the skin of the audience. That moment stayed with me right through the winter. Then I had the pleasure to speak by phone with Gerald Finley from his home in London, England. Robert Tomas: From a choir in Ottawa to leading roles on the world stages: how long did it take to become an "overnight" success? Gerald Finley: It's a bizarre thing ... because you toil away in obscurity and suddenly you're "it". As you say, I started as a choirboy in Ottawa and it was my dream to sing in a choir in New York or maybe even London. So I received a comprehensive training. Learned how to read a score well, learned music well. Then I got involved in the choral movement and came to England, still thinking of being a chorister, maybe a choir conductor. In university I sang a new piece of music almost every day, with short rehearsals and gradually started to do professional training out of the choir setting, and became a solo singer. Through scholarships and competitions, I continued on this path and then started appearing on stage, all the way to Doctor Atomic. To quote George London (the great Canadian baritone): "Luck is being prepared for opportunity." I have had some lucky breaks but I think it is because I tried to be prepared for those opportunities. RT: Your career path, and repertoire, follow an interesting trajectory - though you handle the classics effortlessly (Mozart, Handel, Haydn), increasingly we hear you in contemporary or indeed modem roles - CONTINUES PAGE 25 WITH MOON RJSING: FESTIVAL DE LANAUDIERE 10 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM JUNE 1 - JU LY 7 2006 Back to Ad Index

Back to Ad Index JULY 21 - AUGUST 13, 2006 James Campbell, Artistic Director This season's Festival of the Sound is a celebration. We are celebrating the anniversaries and birthdays of a variety of composers, collaborations, musicians and even instruments! Come Celebrate with Us! -*' GALA OPENING CONCERT featuring Anagnoson and Kinton celebrating their 30th anniversary * STRINGS ATTACHED HARP FESTIVAL is a festival within a festival, three days celebrating harps and the great musicians who play, tune, move and watch over them with a mother's love. Hear the Celtic harp on the Island ~een, the romantic harp at the Inn at Manitou and six harps on stage together. -*' MOZART GALA featuring James Ehnes playing two violin concertos, baritone Russell Braun singing Mozart arias and James Campbell playing the Adagio movement of the Clarinet concerto in A. -*' OH WHAT A NIGHT, a benefit for the Festival's music in education program, Music Scores, featuring many Festival favourites including Mary Lou Fallis, the Festival Winds, Gene DiNovi and Dave Young -*' MUSIC FROM THE INSIDE OuT, a series of free workshops and discussions for listeners eager to grow in their understanding and appreciation of the music being performed. Hosts include CBC's Keith Horner • \ ' I "'\,..,__ if; • . ":'~ .·. - . . ('flAl,LE~ \' STOCKE) ( Ec\Tl(E F()J, 111[ l'El(FOHMING AllTS PARRY SOUND, ONTARIO Call the Festival of the Sound for-rickets: Box 750, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada P2A 2ZI tel 705-746-2410 L1x 705-746-5639 c mail. wcboitc www.fes J UNE 1 - J ULY 7 2006 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE ,COM 11

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