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Volume 13 - Issue 4 - December 2007

SoME THING NewBY }ASON

SoME THING NewBY }ASON VAN fYKAfter the fall's flurry of events, December sees Toronto's diehard newmusic presenters clear the stage for a well-deserved holiday break(something to do with a seasonal scarcity of professional musiciansbooked solid for the holiday marathon of Messiahs, Christmas Carols andNutcrackers?). However, for the curious, this offers an opportunity tosample the broader local new music scene, which has continued to growin diversity in the three-plus years I have written about it here.December's first such concertrefers back to 1968, when RyersonTechnical Institute (now RyersonUniversity) hosted a weeklongSound Sight Systems festival,which peaked with a now-legendaryelectronically/sonically riggedchess game between Marcel Duchampand John Cage, organized byToronto-based composer UdoKasemets, well known for hishighly conceptual interdisciplinarywork. December 1 and 2, almostfour decades later, Ryerson willhost another ofKasemet's intriguingevents, this time with leadingAmerican poet Susan Howe: atransformation of her many-sectionedpoem The Liberties into whatKasemets calls a pOemPERA,featuring live and pre-recordedspoken and sung words, instrumentalmusic and video projections.Kasemets himself will performalongside vocalists Susan Layardand Linda Catlin Smith, with Howeadding narration.Then, December 9, Syrinx invitesus into cozy Heliconian Hallfor their first Sunday Salon of theseason. Syrinx's last five seasonshave each promoted one Canadiancomposer, contextualizing theirwork alongside more traditionalrepertoire. To date, they have featuredsuch Canadian greats as SrulIrving Glick, Oskar Morawetz andJean Coulthard. For the currentseason, Syrinx has selected AntonKuerti, known primarily as a concertpianist but also credited withbeing a composer of great merit.On this Sunday afternoon we willbe treated to his 6 Arrows for solopiano, as performed by pianist ReaBeaumont, who is no stranger todemanding Canadian repertoire.The concert will also feature musicof the French Impressionists.December 13 offers a doublebill.During the lunch hour, as partof the COC's Free Concert Seriesat the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre,Brian Current will lead theGlenn Gould School New MusicEnsemble in a concert, originallyintended to feature Dean Burry'snew urban rap opera, Pandora'sLocker. The proverbial locker notbeing ready for opening, the concertwill now feature what Currentdescribes as "music for large ensembleby George Benjamin (AtFirst Light),Murray Schafer(Hymn to Night- with soprano andsoundfiles), Chris Paul Harman(Amerika), Michael Oesterle (AssumeSometimes) and others."Then, in the evening, Music Torontobrings the Grammy awardwinningYing Quartet to the JaneMallett Theatre. This fresh and adventurousgroup was the pioneerensemble of the National Endowmentfor the Arts' Rural ResidencyInitiative and is currently Quartetin-Residencefor the "No Boundaries"series at Symphony Space inNew York City. Their programmeincludes a musical "Dim Sum" - atrio of contemporary pieces by livingChinese-American composers,including Chou Wen-chung (ofwhom more later in this column),Lei Liang and Canadianex-pat Vivian Fung.Not all the die-hards havebowed the knee to Handel andTchaikovsky, by the way. Dec17 Hannaford Street SilverBand with the Canadian Children'sOpera Chorus undermusic director Ann CooperGay, and organist MichaelBloss, presents The Majesty ofChristmas, a much-anticipatedannual event, made bittersweetby the loss of maestro RichardBradshaw, who conducted lastyear's edition. As always, theconcert will have a plethora ofcheerful new music, includingBramwell Tovey's Magnificatfor brass band and children'schorus. The majesty will beamplified by the acoustics of St.James Cathedral Church.The New Music concert cardfills up quickly in the New Year,though. January 6 and 7, early careerCanadian composer DavidOgborn unveils his latest site-specificcollaboration, Opera on theRocks, a concert-length piece ofvocal theatre. Created in collaborationwith a quartet of Toronto librettists.Ogborn's piece calls onthe popular Annex-area PaupersPub both as inspiration for its storiesand as the setting for the show,performed by fast-rising Torontoopera stars, baritone Alex Dobson,soprano Carla Huhtanen, tenorKeith Klassen and mezzo JessicaLloyd. The pub's architecture allowsfor the audience to get upclose to the music and characters."We want people to experienceopera closer to the way that a singerexperiences it", said Ogborn"as immediate, physical and interactive."Opera on the Rocks is connectedto the CMC's New Musicin New Places festival series.Erika Raum will play American GeorgeTsantakis' award-winning Violin Concerto 2during his six-day visit to U of T's annualNew Music FestivalThen, composer Chou Wenchung,mentioned earlier, makeshis return for New Music Concerts'two-day mini-festival devotedto him and his most prominentteacher, Edgar Varese. After immigratingto the United States in1946 at age 23, Chou was introducedto Varese by ColinMcPhee in 1949, and served asstudent and assistant to the mastercomposer in the years when he wascreating his last works. Chou's ownworks during this period are creditedas being the first to exist independentof either Western or Easternmusical grammar. This integrationof musical concepts andpractices, evolved into a theory ofvariable musical modes, continuesto influence his composition intothis century. January 12 and 13,New Music Concerts offers twoevents that balance Chou Wenchung'smusic with Varese'sseminal works. The first focuseson Chou's recent works, includinghis String Quartet No. 2 (2003)and Twilight Colours (2007) forlo,· ........ • ,. '"••t ~ ot•a\es111 e~CC ilu@lliJ ~@ [ID o~[h} lliJ [ID~and the Varese StoryFeaturing the World Premiereof Frank Sheffer's new Varese filmNew Music Concerts EnsembleRobert Aitkensolo flute and directionAccordes QuartetTeri Dunn sopranoSaturday+Sunday12 + 13 January 2008events begin at 7: 15 pmBetty Oliphant Theatre404 Jarvis StreetReserve Now 416.961.9594 adult I senior I studentwww.NewMusicConcerts.comCanada Councilfor the ArtsConseil des Arts ... OJ.. ONTARIO ARTS COUNCILdu Canada ~ CONSEIL DES ARTS DE L'ONTARIOWWW, THEWHOLENOTE,COMtorontdartsbou n ci IAn ilrm·s lonolh bodv of I ho Cllv of Toron,oD ECE MBERl 2007 - FEBR UA RY 7 2008

mixed septet. The following nightfocuses on Varese' s large ensembleworks, bisected byChou's Echoes from the Gorgefor four percussionists. Pre-concerttalks with Chou Wen-chungstart at 7:15 p.m.And for those willing to brave thecold for a short jaunt, the EloraFestival Singers' Made in Canadaprogramme January 20 at St.John's Church in Elora is an entireconcert of music by our own GlennBuhr, Leonard Enns, James Rolfe,Barry Cabena and John Burge,some of whom will be present tospeak about their works. Pleasenote the special 3pm start time.The month closes out with the annualUniversity of Toronto NewMusic Festival. At the cornerstoneof this six-day event is al ­ways an invited guest composer,this year American George Tsantakiswhose overwhelming list ofhonours recently includes a"Charles Ives Living" which allowshim to exclusively concentrateon composition over the nextthree years. Tsantakis is in Torontoprimarily to work with U ofT students, but the public will betreated to concerts that showcasehis music. The festival launchesJanuary 28 with the GryphonTrio. The following day, a noonhourconcert at the Richard BradshawAmphitheatre delves intoTsantakis' chamber music. Closingout the Festival will be a performanceof the composer's ViolinConcerto No. 2, which wonhim the coveted GrawemeyerA ward in 2005. This February 2performance at the MacMillanTheatre will feature violin soloistErika Raum.Ultimately, the excitement ofU of T's new music festival liesin the freshness of student work,embodied in the Student ComposUnfortunately, I must close outthis column with a farewell message.A new opportunity is callingme away from the new musiccommunity. A piece of me willalways stay with these performers,presenters and creators, whohave impressed me with theircreativity. So, while I'll no longerbe writing for these pages, I'msure I' II see you all in the concerthall soon, where I know we allwill experience some thing new .ri;Sinfqnia1oron(oNURHAN ARMANMUSIC DIRECTORToronto' sChamber Orchestragreat orchestragreat musicgreat soloists!PHOEBE TSANG, ViolinistFriday, Dec 14, 8 pmHANDEL Sinfonia & PifaHAYDN Violin Concerto in Cscon GOOD Anguished GriefARUTUNIAN SinfoniettaMARY-ELIZABETH BROWN, ViolinistFriday, March, 7, 8 pmMOZART Divertimento K137BACH Violin Concerto in A MinorSOMERS Little Suite on Canadian Folk SongsVERDI SinfoniaKAREN OLJZOLJNIAN, CellistFriday, Feb 1, 8 pmSHOSTAKOVICH Sinfonia op. 83aBOCCHERINI Cello Concerto B flat majorBEETHOVEN Quartet op. 135orchestral version ad, sr, stBuy online and save STRAUSS & SWING VIENNESE BALLMarch 29 - Buy before Dec. 25 and save !www.sinfoniatoronto.com 416-499-0403DECEMB ER 1 2007 - FEBR UARY 7 2008WWW. THEWHOLENOTE,COM13

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