5 years ago

Volume 15 Issue 6 - March 2010

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Musical LifeWe are

Musical LifeWe are ALLMusic’sChildrenMJ BUELLThis Month’s ContestMusical multi-tasking: 1975,Beirut, Lebanon.Already loving music: conductingand singing at the sametime, and only two years old!Today he’s a busy pianist, composer,arranger, and chambermusician and married to oneof Canada’s most beloved sopranos.Think you know who March’smystery child is? Send yourbest guess to Please provideyour mailing address justin case your name is drawn!Winners will be selected byrandom draw among correctreplies received by March 202010.February’s Child was……mezzo-soprano LauraPudwell, who grew up inFort Erie, went to U. of T. forHonours English at Trinity College,and started singing professionallyin 1986.Laura is a singer of extraordinaryversatility, with musicalappetites that range fromearly to contemporary. Bothin Canada and internationallyshe is at home onstage in operas,oratorios, intimate ensemblecollaborations, and recitals.Laura appears regularly withThe Toronto Consort and as aguest artist with Opera Atelier,Tafelmusik, the Kitchener-WaterlooSymphony, the TorontoChamber Choir, ChorusNiagara and the Menno Singers,to name a few local collaborations.She lives in Kitchener-Waterloo with her husband andtwo children.People don’t forget workingwith Laura Pudwell and thisgoes back a long way. DirectorJennifer Parr remembers herdie-hard work ethic from Trinitydays: “Laura broke her ankleand ended up in a cast duringrehearsals of Camelot atTrinity College, and so played“the old lady” of the court, sothat she could legitimately havea cane and hobble around, aswell as singing Nimue’s songfrom offstage..”In rehearsal? “In unaccompaniedensembles, I’m usuallyknown as the pitch bitch, butyou can’t print that, can you?I’ll stop rehearsals and tunechords until they lock in.”And backstage? “I cannot standbeing called for an entrance,and will always arrive severalminutes before cue time and sayMiss Pudwell, standing by!”Your earliest musical memory?Music has been such a hugepart of my life, for so long, Ican’t remember any firsts. But Ido know that I always woke upto music. My mother would beplaying the piano, or my fatherwould have jazz records playing.Other musicians in your family?My mother is a church organistand choir director. My entirefamily, immediate and extended,are musical, with lovely voices.Music in your life at the time?Of course, always music atchurch. Hymns remain some ofmy favourite music. But mostlymusic is fellowship. It’s what youdo when you get together withfamily. You hang out around thepiano and sing songs and laugh.Making music? I apparently sangbefore I could talk. You can justimagine the sound of a little girlsinging with sand in her mouth… yep, I was a sandbox kind ofkid. I can certainly rememberthat on long car trips we sang infour part harmony .. as soon asmy little brother could manage.Which would have been when hewas four and I was about six. Hesang the treble, I sang the alto (Inever had a very high voice) mymother would sing the tenor andmy father would sing the bass.We pitched everything prettyhigh, because my father is actuallya tenor….. (Note: A completeversion of this Q&A can beread at Opera Atelier (April),Bach B Minor Mass, on Good Friday(Grand Philharmonic Choir,April 2), Toronto Consort (March5&6, May 7&8) and Chorus Niagara’sGilbert and Sullivan show (May15 and 16).FEBRUARY’s Winners and PrizesCONGRATULATIONS TOJulie Goldstein and friend will attend Opera Atelier’s April 27 performanceof Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (April 24-May 1). This brand-newproduction features Olivier Laquerre in his role debut as the incorrigibleFigaro, with baritone Phillip Addis and mezzo soprano Wallis Giunta, and OAfavourites Carla Huhtanen, Peggy Kriha Dye, Laura Pudwell, Curtis Sullivan,Artists of the Atelier Ballet, and the Tafelmusik Orchestra under the baton ofconductor David Fallis... . Louie Calleja and friend with be guests of theToronto Consort Saturday May 8 for Lutefest (May 7&8), for “the poetry ofthe lute” with Consort regulars, including Laura Pudwell, and guests BassamBishara, oud (the Middle Eastern lute), and Wen Zhao, pipa ( the Chineselute) ... . Paulette Popp will receive a copy of Toronto Consort’s recordingThe Queen: Music for Elizabeth.(MARQUIS 387). Gloriana would have hadthese 22 tracks for mixed consort and singers on her iPod, including LauraPudwell’s version of “Essex Last Goodnight”, like a Patsy Cline of the 17thcentury!Music’s Children gratefully acknowledges Elaine Pudwell, JenniferParr, Karen Lorenowicz, Jane Harbury, Opera Atelier, The Toronto Consort. 52 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COMMarch 1 - April 7, 2010

Book ShelfPAMELA MARGLESAdventures of an American Composer:An Autobiographyby Michael Colgrassedited by Neal and Ulla ColgrassMeredith Music Publications231 pages, photos; US .95Toronto-based composer Michael Colgrassis a natural story-teller - and he has someterrific stories to tell. So the unusual formatof this memoir,a series of vignettesranging inlength from a singlepage to fourpages, works wellhere. Without disturbingthe narrativeflow, he canswitch moods, locations,and timeframes. And witheighty-nine chapters,he has lots of opportunities to comeup with colourful title like Tormenting MyBand Teacher, Romancing a Spy in Bucharest,and Post-Humorous Works.Colgrass describes his childhood, his education(mostly acquired out of school), hiscareer as a percussionist, and his meetingswith remarkable people like Gene Krupa,Louis Prima, Aaron Copland, Dizzy Gillespie,Harry Partch, and Elliott Carter. Hepinpoints crucial experiences, showing howthey changed his life. It was after hearingCharles Munch conduct the Boston SymphonyOrchestra in a program of Brahms,he tells us, that he realized he was going tobe a composer. And it was after getting involvedwith theatre and the techniques ofNeuro-Linguistic Programming that he decidedto give up his career as a percussionistand devote himself full-time to composing .For me, the best anecdotes deal with Colgrass’sexperiences performing and writingmusic. There’s his description of an allnightemergency session to create a score forthe Joffrey Ballet. He had to use exactly thesame tempo and counts as the slow movementof Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major,in order to make it fit pre-existing choreography.Then there’s the recording sessionfor what ironically became a legendary recordingof Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Theconductor, Stravinsky himself, was ailing,distracted, and slightly drunk. Colgrass describeshow the remarkably skilled musicansin the studio orchestra, “hurtling forwardlike a Mack truck,” pulled him through.Colgrass’s wife Ulla Colgrass, along withtheir son Neal, did the editing on this book.My own experience with Ulla Colgrass goesback to the 1980’s when I wrote for themagazine Ulla founded and edited, MusicMagazine. Her skills as an editor and writerleaves me unsurprised that this delightfulmemoir reads so well.In his title, Colgrass calls himself “anAmerican composer”. Colgrass has lived inToronto for the past thirty-six years, almosthalf his life-time. The Toronto Symphonyis playing one of his best-known pieces, AsQuiet As, next season. Yet he says nothinghere about why he has stayed in Toronto allthese years, and what impact living in Canadahas had on him. Why the reticence insuch an open-hearted and eloquent memoir?BRAVO: The History of Opera inBritish Columbiaby Rosemary CunninghamHarbour Publishing208 pages, photos; .95“Opera is on a roll in British Columbia,”writes Rosemary Cunningham in this richhistorical survey of opera performance inBritish Columbia.It has been publishedto celebratethe anniversariesof the two mostprominent operacompanies in BritishColumbia. VancouverOpera turnsfifty years old, andPacific Opera Victoriaturns thirty.To her credit, Cunninghammanages to do justice to all theorganizations that produces opera in BritishColumbia, from Modern Baroque Operato Vancouver New Music. At the sametime, she focuses on the individuals whohave made opera happen there. These includethe first artistic director of VancouverOpera, Irving Guttman, and his equallyvisionary counterpart at Pacific Opera Victoria,Timothy Vernon. There’s the controversialRichard Bonynge, who playedfast and loose with budgets. He is nonethelessfondly remembered by many for raisingthe international standing of VancouverOpera, forming the Vancouver Opera Orchestra,and bringing in his wife Joan Sutherlandto sing. Cunningham also discussesother international singers who visited,like Plácido Domingo and Marilyn Horne,as well as the Canadian singers nurtured bythese companies, like Richard Margison andJudith Forst.Cunningham has examined archives andboard minutes. These prove to be more revealingthan the old newspaper reviews andbox-office records she frequently relies on.Fortunately, she has, as well, intervieweda number of people involved. These documentsmake interesting reading, but her reluctanceto offer a critical response diminishesthe impact of her descriptions. Aboutthe tenure of Robert Hallam as general directorat Vancouver Oprera in the 1990’s, shecomments, “Understandably, nobody wantsto revisit this discordant period”. Her conclusion?“It is best left in the past.”Cunningham is at her best in her sympatheticdescriptions of the more adventurousproductions these companies havemounted in the face of the “conservativetaste” of their audiences, like the First Nations-themedThe Magic Flute at VancouverOpera in 2004.Bravo has been produced with care,beautifully laid-out, with a reliable indexand documentation, lists of productions,and lots of high-quality photos. It offersconvincing evidence that opera has an importantpresence in the cultural life of BritishColumbia.The Toronto Music Garden:Inspired by Bachby Julie Moir MesservyJulie Moir Messervy Design Studio61 pages, illustrated; $15.00(available from:, tel. 416-397-5178, the Toronto BotanicalGarden bookstore or Bounty at HarbourfrontCentre.) March 1 - April 7, 2010 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM 53

Volume 26 (2020- )

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