6 years ago

Volume 14 - Issue 9 - June 2009


FREE CONCERTS IN THERICHARD BRADSHAW AMPHITHEATRE“Among the very bestperformances beingpresented in the city –free or paid.” Toronto StarMost Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at noon or 5:30 416-363-8231Official Media Partners:THE G REATEST MUSI COF ALL TIME. 08|09 seasonDancer: Robyn Alfonso, Sashar Zarif Dance Theatre Photo: Joel Slonetsky145 Queen St. W. (at University) Dame Gillian Weir,master organistby David PerlmanOn Friday May 1 this year, I listened to Dame Gillian Weir, masterorganist, give a breathtaking recital, jet-lag be damned, to open thefourth annual ORGANIX festival, on Casavant Organ Opus 3095,newly installed in Holy Trinity Church, in the shadow of the EatonCentre. The following morning I caught up with her for a whirlwindinterview, a few blocks east, at the console of Metropolitan UnitedChurch’s mighty Casavant Opus 1367, en route to the airport on herway back home to England. Between those two organs hangs thisparticular tale.Casavant Opus 3095, now nestledat Holy Trinity, is one of DameGillian Weir’s favourite instruments.It was largely the work of masterorgan builder Lawrence Phelps,Gillian Weir’s husband for nigh on30 years, and was installed at DeerPark United Church in 1970, barelya year after her first North Americanrecital and about the same amountof time before their marriage. Uponthe demise of Deer Park United, theorgan could well have suffered thesame fate but, as Dame Gillian put it,“it’s a lucky organ to have found anew home” in a place where it sounds if anything better than before.“It’s clear that everybody there loves it,” says Weir. “The priest incharge is an organist; Becca Whitla (Holy Trinity music director) isan extraordinarily thoughtful person with ideas for the organ. I wasthrilled to be here.”The good news is that she will be back sooner rather than later:June 30, at Metropolitan United Church to play a gala concert duringthe RCCO’s International Organ Festival. That is why, on thisSaturday morning, she was at the console, making notes, listeningto every sound the instrument was capable of, in order to makethe choices that an organist, more than any other musician (exceptperhaps an orchestral conductor) has to make.The full text of our interview will be on The WholeNote website.Here, to whet your appetite, is a sampling of what she had to say:On the difference between a great organ and an ordinary one:An organ is at its greatest when it transmits the message mostmagnificently. And then you venerate the organ because it’s donesuch a wonderful job – but not just because its got the loudesttrumpet in christendom or whatever. It’s a constant paradox becauseit’s so extremely difficult to build an organ that’s good and it’sextremely difficult to play it. It’s almost impossible to do either, ina way. The organ is half an artistic venture and half an engineeringone. The engineering has to be fantastic. And the artistic side isextremely difficult, because people hear colours and seek merelyto represent those colours on the organ. So you end up with what Icall a menu organ. You’ve got an oboe and you’ve got a crumhornand you’ve got a trumpet and you’ve got a diapason and so on,but they’re not thought of in the right relationships, and as withall art - relationships, that’s what its all about: relationships, andproportion, and in the organ they’re extremely difficult. That’s whythe proportion of good organs, or great organs is rather small.On “putting the Holy Trinity organ through its paces”: Yes ofcourse, well I do that. I do. And that’s why I think so carefully aboutwhat stops, what kinds of colours I’ll be using in a particular piece.And then follow with something that uses another kind. But I’m gladyou said “put through its paces,” not “demonstrate.” I hate that worddemonstrate. People have often said to me after a concert, ‘I reallylike the way you demonstrated the Nazard,’ and my heart and theheart of several of the composers is lying there bleeding on the floor.And somebody says you’ve demonstrated the Nazard. It’s tragicreally. I mean that’s a tragic thing to say, and a tragic thing to hear.10 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM JUNE 1 - JULY 7, 2009

Glionna Mansell CorporationExclusive Allen Organ Dealer for Ontario east to Port Hopewww.glionnamansell.com416-769-5224, toll free, 877-769-5224 JUNE 1 - JULY 7, 2009 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM 11

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