8 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 4 - December 2011

  • Text
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • December
  • February
  • Theatre
  • January
  • Symphony
  • Choir
  • Musical
  • Arts

theatrical nature of

theatrical nature of music has its beginnings.By contrast, Queen of Puddings Music Theatre’s presentationof Galgenlieder à 3 (Gallows Songsits theatricality quite explicitly, billing itself as “a concert drama.”Queen of Puddings has always had an aesthetic of physical, singingAll Reasons” in 1996, which was built around Peter Maxwell Davies’Eight Songs for a Mad King. Part of that aesthetic is curatorial,latching onto music that has an intrinsic theatricality rather thanadding visual cheap tricks to jazz up the musically ordinary.Gubaidulina’s Galgenliedercycle — sung in the original German — featuring the text of Germanpoet Christian Morgenstern (1871–1914)” saysDáirine Ní Mheadra, QoP co-founder anddirector. “Gubaidulina’s stature in the world ofcontemporary music is enormous — she is one ofthe pre-eminent composers alive today. Her musicis dramatic and intense.”Born in Christopol in the Tatar Republic ofthe Soviet Union in 1931, Gubaidulina’s musicwas an escape from the terrifying socio-politicalatmosphere of Soviet Russia, Ní Mheadra says.“For this reason, she associated music with humantranscendence and mystical spiritualism. Bringingthese qualities plus a wicked sense of humour toher settings of Morgenstern is a knockout combination.And to have a star singer like Betty Allisonsinging this Galgenlieder is sumptuous. Betty’ssound has voluptuousness and an emotional depthto it that is profoundly moving.”From Ladysmith, BC, by way of the CanadianOpera Company ensemble, Allison has beenexercising her new music “chops,” coming toMary’sWedding (music Andrew P. MacDonald, libretto Stephen Massicotte.)In Galgenlieder she shares the stage with Ryan Scott, percussion,and Joseph Phillips, double bass, both accustomed to swimmingoutside of the mainstream as well as in.Joel Quarrington, has made frequent appearances with Art ofTime Ensemble and is a member of Hotland Trio, a moody Balkan/Canadian trio (with violinist Aleksandar Gajic and accordionistMilos Popovic) that brings serious classical muscle to moody, driven,strongly rhythmic repertoire.And Ryan Scott is one of the most versatile, accomplished (andbusy) percussionists in this or any other town. Case in point, he willtake the stage for Galgenlieder a week after a scorching performanceof 20th century Japanese percussion titan Maki Ishii’s South-Fire-Summer for Esprit Orchestra at Koerner Hall November 30 — awork of extraordinary complexity requiring a percussion array thesize of (and better stocked than) the average kitchen. And just oneday later, December 9, it will be out of the proverbial frying panVinko Globokar, French avant-garde composer and trombonist,returns to Toronto at the invitation of New Music Concerts’ artisticdirector Robert Aitken, almost 20 years after Aitken brought himday Vinko-fest, culminating Sunday December 11, at Betty OliphantTheatre, 8pm, in an NMC presentation of works spanning fourdecades, ranging from Fluide (1967) for brass and (very extended)percussion through Eppure si Muove (2003) for solo trombone(Globokar) and an ensemble of 11 disparate instruments includingcimbalom, accordion, saxophone, synthesizer and electric guitar,without conductor. In between are Discours VII (1987) for brassquintet, which “attacks problems posed by spatialisation of sound,mobility of sound sources and different degrees of communicationEisenberg (1990) for four groups of four:conch), melodic instruments, harmony instruments and musiciansEven this mere recitation of ideas and instrumentation gives atrombone technique. Quite simply this is an individual who neverrepeats himself compositionally or artistically, challenging audiencesand players (be warned, they are not always entirely distinct!) anewwith every new outing and every new work.Events in his visit will already be under way by the time thisissue hits the street: at the University of Toronto, where Globokaris the Michael and Sonja Koerner Distinguished Visitor inComposition — improvisation workshops, forums, lecture, anda Globokar Colloquium at the Robert GillTheatre. The following week Globokar will workextensively with the musicians of the New MusicConcerts Ensemble and give masterclasses andimprovisation workshops through the auspices ofthe Music Gallery. Some of the results of all thisactivity will be on display at the Music Gallery,concert, titled “Back to Back.” The second halfof that concert is an extended music/theatre pieceTerres brulées, ensuite … co-presented by TorontoNew Music Projects and Continuum, which bringme back to percussionist Ryan Scott.Earlier, you may recall, I mentioned that, forScott, going from Galgenlieder on December8 to Globokar at the Music Gallery the nextHere’s how he described it (in the ContinuumContemporary Music November newsletter).“After intermission is the epic Terres brulées,ensuite … (Burned Lands, Then …). Prepare forglobal annihilation! This trio for saxophone, piano and percussionfeaturing Wallace Halladay, Stephen Clarke (piano) and myself, isphones,a prepared (and lightly abused) piano, over 70 percussioninstruments (e.g. #43 “plank”) spread around the stage in 7 stations,115 performance instructions (e.g. #21 Saw the plank and hammerin a nail), … live electronics … What else? Hmmm … a motet … aThere’s a wonderful interview with Globokar by Britishcomposer John Palmer available on the website of the CanadianElectroacoustic Community. For the curious it’s a great placeto start.What I got from it was the sense of energetic decades of musicalinquiry, endlessly parsing and reparsing the relationships betweenmusic and speech, and rendering into music the theatricality of relationship.Part of his secret, I suspect, is a thick skin, the ability notto judge his own work in terms of success or failure. As he puts it:“What is sure is that a musical work is a document which willa certain time in society. This is an historical truth which cannot becertain events that happened in those years.’ … L’art pour l’art assuch does not interest me, at all.”Percussionist’s “kitchen”: Ryan Scott.AND ALL TOO BRIEFLY“Beyond Sound,” the 2012 iteration of the annual New Music Festivalat the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, coordinated by composerNorbert Palej, features Swedish composer Anders Hillborgas the Roger D. Moore Distinguished Visitor in Composition andruns from January 22 to February 5. It’s billed as an explorationlandscape of the 21st century,” with a focus on Hillborg’s work. It’san event warranting much more of a mention than this. Happily,it’s well covered in our concert listings, and in “The ETCeteras”(page 67), our regular compilation of musical workshops, forums,lectures, etc. It is also very well described on the Faculty’s ownwebsite under “Events.”12 thewholenote.comDecember 1 – February 7, 2012

CAPTMONDOA Classic Case ofLess Is MoreS H A R N A S E A R L EIf you’re looking for something in the realm of classical musicin December — and I mean “classical” as in not baroque or renaissancemusic — you’re in luck … sort of. I say “sort of” becausewhile there are indeed December offerings that don’t involve oneadaptation or another of Handel’s baroque masterpiece, Messiah,or lovely renaissance-themed Christmas concerts, the pickings areslimmer than usual. However, the “luck” part lies in the fact that, atleast for December, you will not be completely overwhelmed by thesheer number of “Classical & Beyond” (C&B) concerts from whichto have to choose. (Let’s face it, that is usually the case with thisbeat, covering as it must everything from Haydn to Bartók, fromsolo recitals to orchestras.) So, amid the hustle and bustle of theseason, hop on and enjoy the “less is more” C&B sleigh ride forDecember while you rest up for January!TAKING STOCK: Any readers inclined to contest my thesis ofDecember’s “less is more” vs. January’s “abundance,” should work27 concerts in December that fall within C&B’s purview, 42 inas I did that of the 27 December concerts, seven offer Mozart, as do12 in January and one in February. That translates into over 25% ofwhile not a huge number, the concerts are, nonetheless, pleasingand varied. And I spotted four concerts featuring a Viennesetheme, two each in the GTA and beyond the GTA, with one veryinteresting connection surfacing: two concerts — one GTA, onebeyond — actually have “Vienna” in the concert title and both areholding matinees on New Year’s Day. So, armed with all of theabove info and analysis, let’s dive into the details.DECEMBER’S DELIGHTS:Toronto’s CounterpointCommunity Orchestra, thetiveorchestra in the world,”celebrates the opening of its28th season in grand fashion,with a performance ofMozart’s Symphony No.41,the “Jupiter,” on December3. Directed by TerryKowalczuk, the CCO’s programmealso includes worksby Khachaturian, Shostakovich,Schubert, Sousa andBeat by Beat / Classical & BeyondConductor Terry Kowalczukwith members of CounterpointCommunity Orchestra.von Suppé’s Light Cavalry Overture. St. Luke’s United Church onSherbourne is the venue. (And if you’re itching for a second dose ofthe “Jupiter,” you’ll have your chance when the Toronto SymphonyOrchestra performs it (twice) in January — details below.)On December 4, both the Kawartha Youth Orchestra andOrchestra Toronto have matinee performances that are “youth/familyfriendly.” An even more striking coincidence: each is performingWieniawski’s Violin Concerto No.2, with 16-year old soloists! TheKYO features Claire Motyer on violin; Clarisse Schneider does theCompetition: Marta Hidy prize). The KYO also performs works byDecember 1 – February 7, 2012 13

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