7 years ago

Volume 13 - Issue 10 - July/August 2008

Gould in 2007 celebrated

Gould in 2007 celebrated his 75th birthdayyear. And in 2010, we'll have our tenth seasonand celebrate some of the events fromour first decade.So while we work hard to identify ourselvesbefore the public as not being theStratford Festival, there is no doubt that theFestival has created a huge and positivesetting where music can flourish. I often saythat we simply could not have grown to fourweeks and 86 events in eight years if we hadset ourselves in business in Woodstock.(Sorry about that, Woodstock.)If there is one over-riding principlewhich guides the general development of aStratford Summer Music season it is mydesire to be fresh and unique in our programming.This doesn't always happen, butin retrospect, I think our seasons have beennotably different from what other summerfestivals have been presenting. Also important,a commitment to support and presentCanadian composers, arising directly frommy years as Director of the Canadian MusicCentre twenty-five years ago. I'm particularlypleased to say that this year we will havePius Cheung, Peter Hatch, Murray Schaferand Mark Richards, a young composer whohas boldly written his own opera, Hamlet,here for Summer Music. We're workingwith Hatch and Richards in the developmentof major new works they're developing;we're honouring Schafer in his 75th birthdayyear by reviving one of his finest environmentalworks, and we're presenting theyoung composer/marimbist Cheung, in oneof his first Ontario concerts. I have everyintention to keep the profile and participationof composers high so long as I'm at thehelm of Stratford Summer Music .One interesting change over the yearsrelates to our scheduling. We began totallyby setting our concerts and events around the2pm and 8pm theatre shows. But now we'restarting to claim our own ground with ourfirst effort in 2008 to set concerts at thesame time periods as the Festival. We'llhave, for instance, a 2pm Sunday recital byMeasha and jazz sets at 9: 15pm and10: 15pm. I'm anxious to see how these timeslots will work and if we find people coming,then we'll do more of this next year.After all, as the merchants, locals and B&Bowners constantly remind me, not everyonehere is at a drama in the afternoon and theevening.Looking ahead, if private and publicsector supporters continue to be with us asthey are, one can expect to see StratfordSummer Music grow. The extent of theprivate sector's support is another interestingaspect of our particular festival-damn,there's that "f" word again.QuoolibetAtis Bankas' NiagaraReading about John Miller's Stratford SummerMusic on the previous pages brings tomind another summer music series thatshares its home base with a giant theatrefestival. The Shaw Festival and the NiagaraInternational Chamber Music Festival peacefullycohabit Niagara-on-the-Lake in theNiagara Peninsula to the south of Toronto,as Stratford Summer Music and the StratfordFestival do to the west. I talked with theNiagara festival's founder and artistic directorAtis Bankas recently about the NiagaraFestival's past and present and how he dealswith Niagara-on-the-Lake's theatrical "elephantin the room".Bankas, a violinist and veteran of the firstviolin section of theToronto SymphonyOrchestra, was born inLithuania. He began toplay the violin there atthe age of five and as ayoung man won violincompetitions in Eastern MJi::llc- --'Europe and played in I,the symphony in Viln-.,....:..__JIius. In 1980, in searchof a better society than:··_. -· .___ \ ·_ '/'"that fostered by Sovietsoc1a . ]' ism, h e gave up 'i\ \ _.Iall he had, includinghis citizenship, andcame to Canada with amere eighty dollars andno prospects. Preparedto do anything to makea living, he was fortunate to land a paying jobwith the Niagara Symphony, and the verynext year he joined the Toronto Symphony.He has also had a distinguished teachingcareer on both sides of the border, but currentlylimits his teaching to the Glenn GouldProfessional School."What possessed you, " I asked, "to starta summer music festival?""It really started as a summer course inMuskoka. It was a high-level course withfaculty from all over the world, and the festivaljust grew out of it." The Muskoka LakesSummer Festival acquired its own existence,he explained, independent of the course, andthen the facility where it was held was soldand finding an affordable replacement provedimpossible. "So I began to look in the partof Canada which I had first gotten to know-Niagara- and approached Brock University."To make a long story short, the summerprogram was at Brock for a number of summers,but three years ago he decided to bringit to an end. The summer festival, however,that he started at the same time in Niagaraon-the-Lakecontinued and is now celebratingits tenth season.I asked how he went about programmingthe festival. Not surprisingly, Bankas sometimestakes his cue from the Shaw Festival'sprogramming: this season, for example, thefestival is offering two works by StephenSondheim, Follies and A Little Night Music.This summer, complementing the Shaw Festival,he is offering Marry me a Little, Sondheim'ssetting of songs from his other musicalsin a dialogue-free plot about the relationshipof two people, each in separate Manhattanapartments.He also takes his cues from the writingsof the theatre festival's namesake as well.Shaw's famous music criticism, Bankas explains,provides a more or less inexhaustiblesupply of thematic material. To programs ofmusic that Shaw reviewed or which wascomposed or was popular during Shaw's1 ;r,t,.-J1time, he will add readingsfrom Shaw, read by actorsfrom the Shaw Festival.Bankas' August 11show, Shaw on Mozart andBax, is this season's incarnationof this type ofprogramming. This year'sfestival is also offeringThe Wizard and HisParrot, a retelling byGladys Evan Morris ofthe Pygmalion story, onwhich Shaw's play, Pygmalion,was based.But it seems there is asecond giant on Bankas'turf. "This area alreadyhad something to offerbefore I came, the ShawFestival-and the wineries," says Bankas.Taking inspiration from the vineyards andwine-making that the region is known for, thewineries (there are eighteen wineries inNiagara-on-the-Lake alone) provide themesand venues for many of the festival's programs.One of the most popular is the Mozartweekend morning series, which takes placein local wineries, where you can listen toMozart quartets and trios while tasting wine!This summer's festival offerings also includeVivaldi Underground on August 9 at the InniskillinWinery with wine and hors d'oeuvresas well as music by the Red Priest.Yet another of his programming themescomes from the location's proximity to theAmerican border-you can actually see theUnited States across the Niagara River fromthe festival's office above the Pump HouseArt Gallery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The"Musical Bridges" concerts are all builtaround this theme. One of these on August14 will feature The CanAmerata Quartet,composed of two Canadian musicians andtwo from Buffalo, New York, on August14, performing a program of music by Canadianand American composers.With the Shaw Festival sharing his festival'sspace and the Niagara wineries and theAmerican border mere kilometres away,14WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM] UL Y 1 - SEPT 7 2008

Ready for the music .. . the Vivaldi Underground concerton August 9 at the lnniskillin Winery features wine, horsd'oeuvres and music by the Red Priest.Bankas' approachto festivalprogrammingmay seemto stem morefrom geographythan perhapsother festival'sprogrammingmight, but atheart, as with allmusic festivals,his programmehas the festivalpatrons' interestsfront andcentre. "Deep down I'm an educator," says Bankas. "I want peopleto know what's good in music and share with them and educate themin one way or another. I want people to make connections that theymight not ordinarily make, to trigger their thinking and investigation."The 2008 season seems to offer it all-the festival's press release forthis year's tenth anniversary season invites patrons to "Have lunchwith Stephen Sondheim, share a glass of wine with Vivaldi, spend thenight with Brahms and wake up with Mozart."Seems the Niagara festival is indeed a feast for the ears. In fact,Bankas says he often thinks in terms of food in the way he serves upmusic at the festival: "Which dish goes best with which dish? Whatdo you offer for hors d 'oeuvres-the overture, the opening? What'sthe main course?" His words conjure up a visual image of how thediverse elements of his programming come together like a wonderfullyvaried but balanced meal-as he explains, "A concert has to makethat kind of sense in the way the elements are connected."Allan Pulker)I· the @.!!Z!!f postViolins, violas, cellos, and bowsComplete line of strings and accessoriesExpert repairs and rehairsCanada's largest stock of string musicFast mail order serviceQUALITY AND TRADITIONSINCE 1890MUSI KIDSTHE CHILDREN'S MUSIC DEPARTMENTBrass - Woodwind -String Instruments - GuitarBuy direct from the DistributorAUTHORIZED DEALER FOR:Armstrong. Artley, Besson. Buffet,Conn, Getzen. Holton, Jupiter,Keilworth, King, Noblet,Selmer. Vito, YanagisawaMUSIC BOOKSBEST SELECTIONOF POPULAR&EDUCATIONAL MUSICPiano - Guitar - Instrumental905-477-11412650 John Street, Unit 15(Just North of Steeles)www.harknettmusic.comExposure to musIC at an early age has provenpositive effects on the intellectual and creativedevelopment of children. MusiKids, the"Children's Music Store" offers uniquepercussion instruments, toys, storybooks,educational recordings and everything you needto ensure music becomes a fun-filled, stimulatingexperience for child, teacher and parent alike.REMENYI.COMSTRINGS PIANOS BOOKSTORE GUITARS210 BLOOR ST. WEST, TORONTO· 416.961.3111]ULY 1 - SEPT 7 2008 WWW, THEWHOLENOTE,COM 15

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