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Volume 12 - Issue 7 - April 2007

  • Text
  • Theatre
  • April
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Arts
  • Musical
  • Yonge
  • Symphony
  • Choir
  • Orchestra

While reading through

While reading through the Aprillistings in preparation for writingmy column I kept noticing listingsfor events involving young people- children's and youth choirs,youth orchestras, Suzuki programconcerts, ensemble and solo recitalsat post secondary institutions.(As a relevant aside I remind youthat in last November's QuodlibetI wrote about York University'srapidly expanding music program,recently relocated to its enormousnew arts building - you can readthat on our website.) The numberof these listings was so strikingthat I took the time to count them,and found almost one hundred, plusa few performances by adults specificallyfor children and youngpeople.In spite of the mainstream media'srelentless insistence that classicalmusic is an effete and dyingpastime of the very old, the veryeccentric or the very out-of-touch,those whose vision is not cloudedby preconceptions can detect agroundswell of desire among theyoung actively to engage in music.What is it that attracts so manyyoung people that close to 20% ofour listings are for events in whichthey perform as choristers, musiciansin orchestras and ensemblesor as soloists?The answer, I think, is all aroundus: first, most of us have met peoplewho say, "I studied an instrumentas a child, but gave it up andnow I wished I had kept it up."Perhaps some of us are amongthose people. In any case, lookingback as adults, their assessment ofnot continuing work in music isthat it was a manifestation of theirimmaturity and lack of appreciationof the value of the activity.But what is the value? That iswhat the Opera Diva documentaryseries on Bravo (touched on in ourour cover story last month), wasall about: the striving to achievemastery, to overcome obstacles, internaland external, to grow andbecome someone you can only bethrough transformative effort.(Incidentally, this year's winnerwas the oldest person who made itto "opera boot camp," ElaineBrown, who was fifty-nine at thetime the documentary was made.)Somewhere inside everyone is therecognition that life has meaningonly insofar as one engages insome kind of work that transformsone into something greater thanQuodlibetby Allan Pu Ikerwhen one began. Just about everyonerecognizes this in sport, inwhich every game is an enactmentof the process of rising to a challengeand overcoming resistance.Just listen to how often the hockeycommentators talk about "character"in reference to the winnersof games. Just a few weeks agohockey great turned MP, KenDryden, talked about how the opponentsthat were really goodbrought out the best in a team,helping them, as it were, to gobeyond their expectations.The same is true in music. Virtuosiwere not born with their skill:they acquired it through, yes, character,persistent focused work thatgradually transformed them intoindividuals who can perform difficultmusic. Going out on a stagebefore an audience to perform is aheroic act, the culmination of aprocess of self-transformation, asis a performance by a choir, a band,an orchestra, where the disciplineof preparing the music has transformeda motley collection of peopleinto a whole so much greaterthan the sum of its parts.The individual members, eachof whom had to prepare themselvesto reach the level demandedfor participation in the ensemble,reciprocally participate in its greatness. People cannot do these sortsof things without "character" anymore than a team can win theStanley Cup without "character."The difference is the invisibility ofthe opponent in music, which isreally one's own internal resistance.Returning to the Opera Divadocumentary, what made it so interesting,I think, is that it madethe opponent visible, thereby revealingthe essentially heroic natureof the activity.The most obviously heroic participantin any ensemble is, ofcourse, the conductor. The underlyingtheme of my cover storyabout Yannick Nezet-Seguin in theFebruary issue was the transformationof a young man from Quebecinto a world-class conductor.Closer to home, consider peoplelike Jean Ashworth Bartle, AnnCooper Gay, Linda Beaupre orZimfira Poloz, who can transforma group of children into a choir - aquite incredible ability, which undoubtedlyeach had to work hardto acquire (no pun intended).CONTINUES NEXT PAGESMALL W~RLDpresents ·TANDAVA w. STEPHEN KENTlndo-jazz meets didgeridooSunday, April 29th, 9:00Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas St. W.Tickets, adv. I doorBollywood FeverThursday, May 3rd, Lula LoungeEvergreen Club & guestsSunday, May 6th, Lula LoungeKiran Ahluwalia~-... , t . ~.... "'. J •CanaoranHeritar:iel'amrncwtecanadicntore ntdartsbou n ci IAnarms long(hb(ldy o11hcC11y o!TorontoA PRIL 1 - M AY 7 2007 WWW.THEWHO LEN OTE. COM 17

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