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Volume 16 Issue 10 - July/August 2011

  • Text
  • Jazz
  • August
  • Toronto
  • Festival
  • Festivals
  • Quartet
  • Concerts
  • Trio
  • Orchestra
  • Musical

REPERTOIREFeaturingMahler | Symphony No. 5subject to changeMAESTRO Jonathan Darlington Guest ConductorAUGUST 09TORONTO ONKoerner Hall | 7:30 PMRCM Telus CentreFind NYOC online:National Youth Orchestra Canada@nyoc_onjcnyoconjcSTRIKE A CHORDTOUR 2011National Audition and Tour SponsorTicket Informationnyoc.org | 416-532-4470 | 1-888-532-4470NATIONAL YOUTH ORCHESTRA CANADA nyoc.org20 thewholenote.comJuly 1–September 7, 2011

Choral DNABENJAMIN STEINThe last two WholeNote columns I wrote examined somegeneral aspects of choirs and the practice of choral singing, atopic that did not meet with unanimous approval. A friend whocan be relied on never to mince words said something to the tuneof, “Can’t you just tell us what concerts are going on? All this navelgazingabout the meaning of choral singing is kind of self-indulgent.”My first thought was that this comment was completely unjust.But just to make sure that I had not overreacted to reasonablecriticism, I resolved to sternly inspect my actions and motivations.Hewing to a strict schedule, I spent every evening of the followingweek sitting on the back deck, drinking wine or coffee depending onmy whim, moodily watching the sunset, writing about my feelingsin my journal and listening to my favourite music.At the end of the week I was absolutely certain there could beno possible justification for characterizing as indulgent someone asrigorous, self-denying and ascetic as myself. So, the final questionof this tripartite series, in this last WholeNote column before the fallseason begins, is this: What gives a choir its particular identity?Choirs can define themselves by the era and musical repertoire,making their specialty baroque or contemporary music. Mostchoirs sing diverse repertoire, and in a crowded choral market, itis challenging for choirs to find a way to stand out from the crowdin a manner that will attract an audience. As our knowledge of theperformance practices of earlier eras has increased, the “one sizefits all” choir that sings repertoire from five centuries is becoming athing of the past.Some choirs build themselves around music associated with aparticular culture or region of the world. The greater Toronto areais likely the most diversely multicultural region of Canada, and theculture of the area is enriched by those who come and bring a bit oftheir home country’s musical practices with them. Such groups oftenstrive to strike a balance between being exemplars and proponents ofpast traditions, and exploring the way in which new influences canchallenge and reshape those traditions. The Heritage Singers wereformed in 1977 by Grace Carter-Henry Lyons, who came to Canadafrom Jamaica. Its members hail from diverse parts of Africa and theCaribbean. They will be singing at Harbourfront on July 31.Philippine Madrigal Singers.Cross-cultural influences can give a choir its identity, as in thecase of the Philippine Madrigal Singers. Hailing from the PacificRim and based out of the University of the Philippines, they singdiverse music but have made their specialty the European renaissancemadrigal and have been hugely successful in Europe. Theyperform in Toronto on July 13. Incidentally, they perform theirconcerts seated — my kind of choir.Often, groups are assembled for the express purpose of puttingon a discreet performance. This summer is the first and, hopefully,July 1–September 7, 2011 thewholenote.com 21

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