8 years ago

Volume 16 Issue 6 - March 2011

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(les Ritmiks de

(les Ritmiks de Montréal) we spent a lot of smoky nights playingmusic at the church bingo games to raise money for the differentactivities of our band.Just the Spot | Favourite Musical PlacesSuppose a child of about the same age today asked “What do youdo?” How might you reply? I am living my dream! If an adult askedyou the same question? I am living my dream. With all the beautifulWhere did you grow up and go to school? I was born in Montréal –what is now known as “le plateau”… before it was posh! My last twoyears of high school were the turning point in my life and musicalcareer. I went to Joseph-François-Perrault High School where I metmy two mentors, Raymond Grignet and Gerald Macley. They starteda special intensive music program, with about 50 students in thosedays (now thriving with more than 700!). We had an orchestra andMonsieur Grignet use to let me conduct it, a little bit at a time but ona regular basis… and we all know how valuable early podium timeis for a conductor! After high school I studied at the Conservatoirede Musique de Montréal. Great school, Old European training withhuge emphasis on solfège, musical dictation, history of art… thegood stuff!What is your absolute earliest memory of music? My mother singingjazz. She was a cabaret singer. She had a wonderful voice. Othermusicians in your family? My father was an excellent jazz drummer,back in the days when there were jazz clubs in Montréal! I startedbeing interested in music around 12, so it was always around.Your first instrument? Guitar (for a very short time)! It was the bigHarmonium craze in Québec – a really great group, try listeningto their album “si on avait besoin d’une 5ieme saison,” – incrediblemusicians. Then trumpet and then valve trombone.Your first experiences of making music with others? Right from thebeginning! I joined “les Ritmiks,” a community brass band, with afew of my friends and we started that very night.Do you remember when you first performed alone for an audience?That would have to be when I used to practise outside in the summer,in a quiet corner of the botanical garden in Montréal!Was there some point when you began to think of yourself as amusician?that way.Ever think you would do anything else? Before starting with the band,I wanted to be a veterinarian, a psychologist, an airplane pilot, andnot to forget the all too famous astronaut! After entering the band Inever looked back.If you could travel back through time to the little guy in yourchildhood photo, is there anything you would like to say to him? Iwould tell him not to worry; life will be very interesting for you…But lose the shoes! Publicity, press kits& image consultingfor performers416.544.1803www.lizpr.comAlison Melville’s Heliconian Hall.Part of rural Toronto when it was built in 1875, the HeliconianHall is located near the south end of Hazelton Avenue, situatednow known as Yorkville. It’s the home of the Heliconian Club, anorganization founded in 1909 for professional women in the arts andone of the oldest associations of its kind in Canada.For me, it’s a delightful and unpretentious little oasis in asurrounding sea of consumer excess, and an intimate concert hallcompulsory” solo recital there, blissfully free from the pressure ofuniversity grading, and have made music there many more timessince. I also recently became a member of the Heliconian Cluband appreciate the opportunity it provides to connect and interactwith women artists of various disciplines, backgrounds, ages, andperspectives on the creative life.The current building opened in 1876 as the Olivet CongregationalChurch, and became the church hall and Sunday school in 1890when a larger adjacent building was erected. In 1921, it was sold tothe Painters Union and renamed Hazelton Hall when acquired by theHeliconian Club in 1923. Original elements of the Carpenter Gothicboard-and-batten church have been restored to their former glory,including a Victorian rose window above the entrance, a majesticrafters. The Hall has been appointed a National Historical Site, andthe Lonely Planet website lists it as #213 of 540 places to visit inToronto!The current building also has a modest but well-appointedkitchen, a small bar and a patio at the rear, which is a convivialtouch for summertime events. But perhaps what makes theHeliconian most appealing to musicians is its stellar acoustic and itsintimate feel. With every seat occupied there’s room for 120, and theof establishing that “us versus them” feeling that many performancevenues still seem to evoke. It’s a great place for chamber music, andbeside the Grange’s occasional concerts take place there. The hallis available for anyone to rent, at a very reasonable rate. An addedbonus is that there’s almost always an art exhibit on display in themain space for concertgoers to explore.BMBG’s previous home was the Church of St. George theMartyr, another historic building which predates the Heliconian Hallby about 40 years. These days, though, the multifaceted activitiesof the Music Gallery mean that the concert dates we’d like are oftenconcerts. The solution was truly a no-brainer: the historic and cozyatmosphere of the Heliconian Hall is perfect for our purposes, andthe sound is fabulous. It’s a pleasure to play there. It feels very muchlike home. BMBG’s upcoming Heliconian Hall concert The CoffeehouseCollective: Sociable music, Baroque-style is Friday March 4 at 8pm.PHOTO ANDREW FARE58 thewholenote.comMarch 1 - April 7, 2011

Weinzweig: Essays on His Life and MusicJohn Beckwith and Brian Cherney, editorsWilfred Laurier University Press416 pages plus CD, photos; .00The many facetsof Canadian composerJohn Weinzweig’s lifeand work revealed inthis collection of essayshis impact on Canadianmusic. He created alasting body of adventurousworks, promotedCanadian music with untiring iringferocityandtaught many generations of composers.Sixty years ago, as co-editor BrianCherney points out in a discussionof Weinzweig’s irrepressible activism,Weinzweig declared that Canada’s composers“have a special distinction. We are themost unpublished, unheard, unperformedand unpaid composers in the Western world.”He devoted his life to changing that situation.Weinzweig, who died in 2006 at theage of 93, was a rebel. But even though hispioneering use of serial techniques pushedCanadian music into the modernist ethos, hedidn’t impose his own style on his students.proachedcomposing as a process of creativethinking. Throughout this book we read howhe would tell his students “We don’t do itthis way anymore,” when he felt the musicthey were writing was not daring enough.Especially in his later years, he would complainabout how conservative the youngergeneration of composers was. Nonetheless,as John Rea observes, even when Weinzweigdidn’t accept the ideas being put forward byhis younger students, “he would teach othersBook ShelfPAMELA MARGLESto be as eager and enthusiastic as him and,yes, teach them also to be and to become justas impatient.”Weinzweig referred to himself as a “radicalromantic.” In an essay about how to playhis music, RobertAitken writes about“his spry wit, intenseirony, twinkling eyesyet steadfast seriousnessof purpose.” Byessay, co-editor John Beckwith’s affectionateWeinzweig As I Knew Him, a vivid portraithas emerged from the various perspectivesexplored in this superb book.This book has been produced withuncommon care, right from the cover art,through the documentation on Weinzweig’scompositions and recordings, to the enclosedCD of his music. Throughout the text thereare photos of items such as a page fromhand-written account of his early years, anda portrait by Harold Town, whose rejectionof realism, as Robin Elliott shows, parallelsWeinzweig’s own unswerving rejection oftonality.“His spry wit, intense irony,twinkling eyes yet steadfastseriousness of purpose”The Secret Life of Musical Notationby Roberto PoliAmadeus Press264 pages, illustrations; .99 US Roberto Poli was simplyquestioning certainperformance directionswhich he found confusing.How, he wondered,had composers actuallyintended performers tointerpret markings thatseemed to either contradicteach other, like a hairpin < to pianissimo,or repeat each other, like a hairpin >with decrescendo written underneath.Poli began to suspect that in the past thehairpins hadn’t been used just to indicatedynamics, as is usually assumed today. Infact, he realized that they could be indicat-of a melody. With this, he was inspired tore-examine traditional ways of interpretinga number of musical signs, including stretti,pedalling, and sforzandi markings, thoughfor reasons he doesn’t explain he doesn’t lookat tempo markings, which, especially in theAt every step of this fascinating study,Poli has consulted original scores and documents.He has also looked at the instrumentthe composer wrote for, and the size ofthe room where the work would have beenperformed. This is all familiar territory toperiod instrument players. Yet Poli expressesno inclination to give up his modern piano infavour of an historical instrument. Instead,he advocates morefreedom, suggestingthat interpretations ofcomposers’ markingshave become toorigid during the pastcentury. “Decades oftraditions,” he writes, “have been instilling asense of overexactness in our reading habits– a way of evaluating notation that is remotefrom how a composer probably imagined it.”Poli looks at works by composers fromon Chopin. As it happens, there’s an exhibitof original scores and letters from Chopin’stime on display at the Royal OntarioMuseum. To celebrate Chopin’s 200thbirthday, the ROM has pulled out someprecious items from its rarely displayedcollection of scores and instruments,including a splendid piano made by Pleyel,whose instruments Chopin favoured becauseof their clear bass register, transparent toneand sensitive action.Poli’s quest for greater interpretiveinsight unfolds like the plot of a captivatingmystery story. His ideas about what liesbehind the notes on the printed page aremade all the more persuasive by the manymusical examples included in this book. Fryderyk Chopin & the Romantic Piano ison view at the Royal Ontario Museum in theSamuel European Galleries until March 27.Address inquiries 1 - April 7, 2011 59

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