7 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 10 - July/August 2012

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singing in Ontario —

singing in Ontario — so accomplished in so many ways — could certainlystand to take a professional leap forward. Why should choral singingnot be a skilled and specialized métier, a viable career choice, ratherthan a very poor second to soloist work?Open, public discussion of this question might offer some creativesolutions. What follows are a few statements and suggestions for dialogue, debate and possible action for those involved in choral trainingand performance.Organizations that hire choral singers have a ethical responsibilityto pay them equitably. This is easier said than done, of course — inmany cases it would require some groups to extensively revise theirbusiness model. But choirs regularly manage to pay market prices forinstrumentalists, venue rental, advertising, administrative needs, technicalneeds and other expenses; should they not do the same with theemployees whose work defines the very nature of the organization?At the same time, singers should become more exacting in the twoways that count most for a professional musician: being at an engagementpromptly, and being able to execute music accurately and stylishlyin the shortest amount of time. Choral musicians often comeup dismayingly short in these areas. One cannot demand a professionalrate of pay if the service delivered is not up to the best professionalstandard. And speaking of professional standards, strong choralskills — sight-reading, chiefly — could be much more emphasized invoice training than they are currently, if singers are going to be able tosolicit paid chorus work.Music teachers, universities, colleges and conservatories ought tobe very clear about what options and opportunities truly exist for thesingers that they graduate every year. Voice students should be learningskills and techniques that will broaden their knowledge base beyonda narrow focus on vocal technique and classical music, to encompassother skills that help them find work in a variety of professional areas.Grants bodies and unions can raise awareness of this issue, by notingthe hourly rate or general compensation parameters of other performers,and by helping to promote and foster the idea of parity forchoral singers.Audience members can raise this issue with arts organizations,grants bodies and governments. Individual and corporate donors caninsist that the amount of money given will be dependent on a certainamount of it going directly to singers’ compensation.More than anything, all parties involved may start talking and sharinginformation, to begin to come up with their own solutions. Nowand then, choral singers have been known to complain about the organizationsthey work for. For all I know, those who run these organizationsare griping about their hired singers as well. Isn’t it time to turnfrom private complaint to open discussion? It can only help the growthof skill, excellence and artistry within the Canadian choral scene.If you would like to be part of what I hope will be a creative, goodhumouredand energetic discussion, feel free to email me at emails will be held in strict confidence.In coming months, look for a choral blog in which open dialogue cantake place.Ben Stein is a Toronto tenor and theorbist.He can be contacted at his website at by Beat | Early MusicTraveling RightSIMONE DESILETSSummer is the season when everybody wants to be somewhereelse. This includes those searching for live music — people wholive in cities travel to villages and barns, lakesides and countrychurches; those who live in rural settings perhaps find the opportunityto make their way to city venues. This column is dedicated to helpingyou find your way to someof the wonderful early musicevents going on in “other”Southern Ontario places duringthe summer months.Summer is a good time tobe in Ottawa; with this city’stwo music festivals, there’s ahealthy offering of early music.The first of these, Music andBeyond (July 4 to 15), presentsno less than 80 concerts;among them you can find suchtreasures as all six Bach motets performed by the Ottawa Bach Choirand its director, Lisette Canton (July 7). In a Coffee Concert titled “FourCenturies of Bach,” you can hear Bach chamber music performedby acclaimed baroque violinist Adrian Butterfield and several otherrespected period musicians (July 5). You can experience Handel’sWater Music played on a barge which travels up and down the RideauCanal, with the London Handel Players and the Theatre of Early Music(July 8). Or you can attend a “Baroque Opera Soirée,” presented by TheTheatre of Early Music, actor Megan Follows and five well-known singers:sopranos Karina Gauvin and Nancy Argenta, countertenor DanielTaylor, tenor Charles Daniels and baritone James Westman (also July 8).At the Ottawa Chamberfest (July 26 to August 9) there are furthertreasures to be found: renowned American lutenist Paul O’Dette presentsa program of Anonymous, Bacheler and Dowland (August 9).The internationally recognized Gesualdo Consort Amsterdam presents“Sweelinck and Gesualdo: Masters of the Madrigal from Northand South” (August 5). British cellist Colin Carr performs all six ofBach’s unaccompanied cello suites in two concerts (August 1). LesVoix Baroques present “Da Venezia,” a choral celebration on the 400thanniversary of the death of Giovanni Gabrieli (August 3). And on thesame day, the Eybler Quartet gives their program “I’m Mozart,Too!”which features quartets by three composers (Bologne, Arriaga, Kraus)whose short lives and colossal talents were often likened to Mozart’s.In the city of Stratford, Stratford Summer Music (July 16 toAugust 26) offers a myriad of interesting events, among them a celebrationof the organ and a celebration of Bach. From July 26 to 29there’s a “Young Canadian Organist and Heritage Organ” series (subtitled,“A Salute to Glenn Gould and the Organ”), during which portionsof Bach’s The Art of Fugue, and other Bach works, will beJOANNE BOUKNIGHTPETER MAHONSales Representative416-322-8000pmahon@trebnet.comwww.petermahon.comMusic at St. Stephen in-the-FieldsConcerts at MiddayWednesdays at 12:35 pmAdmission FreeSee listings for detailsSt. Stephen in-the-Fields (College St. between Bathurst & Spadina) 416-921-6350 / 647-638-355022 July 1 – September 7, 2012

performed by organists Andrew Adair, Sarah Svendsen and RyanJackson. The series concludes with an exploration of the hymn traditionas revealed in so many of Bach’s works, with organist ChristopherDawes leading a vocal and instrumental ensemble. On August 1,American pianist Simone Dinnerstein plays a program of Bach keyboardsuites and partitas. Dinnerstein has an outstanding internationalreputation particularly for her Bach playing; she has beendescribed by the New York Times as “an utterly distinctive voice inthe forest of Bach interpretation.” On August 15, you can hear anothermightily accomplished pianist, Canadian David Jalbert, who performsBach’s Goldberg Variations. The Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, withcountertenor Daniel Taylor and baritone Tyler Duncan, give two performancesof Bach — cantatas either complete or excerpted, plus othermusic — on August 18 and 19.In the township of Uxbridge lies an imposing building: the ThomasFoster Memorial temple was built in 1936 as a family legacy by thisLeft, New YorkPolyphony. Below,Simone Dinnerstein.on a forgotten Handel cantata Clori, Tirsi e Fileno, composed in 1707and thought lost until the score was discovered 250 years later. It featuresthree singers and a live baroque orchestra playing period instruments,and runs from August 20 to 31.The Toronto Music Garden’s Summer Music in the Garden series is acornucopia of interesting performers, sometimes by artists we’d rarelyhave a chance to hear otherwise. I have fond memories of past concerts:the Italian singer of frottole, Viva BiancaLuna Biffi, who sang hertales while accompanying herself on the vielle; also the tenor KevinSkelton, a Canadian who lives and works mostly in Europe, with hislovely singing of sacred works by Telemann and Schütz. Three upcomingconcerts will interest the early music seeker: August 9, ArcadianVisions: Montreal violist Pemi Paull performs visionary music fromthe 17th century to the 21st, including music by Biber and others;August 19, Nymphs, Masques and Madness: From Montreal, LesAmusements de la Chambre performs music from 17th-century Italyand England, interspersed with new music inspired by baroque formsby Canadian composers; September 6, “Bach at Dusk”: Baroque cellistKate Haynes continues her cycle of Bach’s suites for solo cello with theexquisitely dark Suite No.2 in D Minor.And finally, a delight: The winner of the 2012 Canadian MusicCompetition’s biennial Stepping Stone competition is Vincent Lauzer,a young recorder player from Quebec, who plays his instrument withamazing virtuosity and style and is already a multi-award winner. Youmight have heard him as a member of the electrifying recorder ensembleFlûte Alors! His CMC win ensures that he’ll be invited to playat the Gala concert on July 6, at the MacMillan Theatre, U of T Facultyof Music. You might see me there!And so, whether or not you go “somewhere else” to find it, I wishyou all a happy summer full of music.Simone Desilets is a long-time contributor to The WholeNotein several capacities who plays the viola da gamba.She can be contacted at MP and Mayor of Toronto from 1925 to 1927. It was inspired bythe Taj Mahal and Byzantine architecture, and features solid bronzedoors, hand-painted and fired stained glass windows, and terrazzoand marble floors. Music is performed there every Friday night, andfrom all reports the acoustics are ideal for early instruments. Twoconcerts will be of special interest to the early music afficionado: OnAugust 3, The York Consort of Viols — a quartet of musicians fromToronto and Buffalo — presents “Heart’s Ease,” a program of musicof the late Renaissance including pieces by Caurroy, Byrd, Farina,Tomkins, Gibbons, Holborne and others. On August 31, the ShimodaFamily Ensemble presents a concert of baroque music for recordersand harpsichord.“Perched on the edge of a spectacular gorge and nestled along thebanks of the Grand and Irvine Rivers lies the enchanting village ofElora …” begins the promotional blurb for the place that is home eachsummer to the Elora Festival (July 13 to August 5). On July 26, you canhear a cappella music from the Renaissance sung in a church setting,by the men’s vocal quartet New York Polyphony. On July 29, Purcell’sopera “Dido and Aeneas” will be presented in the Gambrel Barn, withthe Elora Festival Singers, Festival Baroque Players and Noel Edison,conductor.The above-mentioned New York Polyphony will go on to Niagaraon-the-Lake’sfestival Music Niagara (July 13 to August 11), performinga vocal feast of chant, polyphony and renaissance and modern harmonieson July 28.Another idyllic place to hear music in the summertime is ParrySound on Georgian Bay, with its Festival of the Sound now in its33rd season. Here you can attend two concerts of baroque music onthe same day, July 31, as Bach and Handel concertos, sonatas andother pieces are performed by soprano Leslie Fagan, flutist SuzanneShulman, oboist James Mason, violinist Julie Baumgartel and others.In Toronto: The Gladstone Hotel on Queen St. W. is the venue forVolcano Theatre/Opera Underground’s production of A Synonymfor Love. A detailed description of this opera/cantata can be found inChris Hoile’s On Opera column this issue; I’ll simply say that it’s basedJuly 1 – September 7, 23

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