8 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 4 - December 2011

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

Billion (with a

Billion (with a “B”)J A C K M A C Q U A R R I EAs if the looming Christmas Concert season wasn’t enoughto deal with, this is a combined December/January issue, so Ihave twice as much activity as usual to contemplate. Even so,before looking at the weeks that lie ahead, there have been a fewmusical events in my life over the past few weeks that warrant morethan passing notice, so indulge me, dear reader. Silver Band and the Amadeus Choir in a performance of The ArmedMan: a Mass for Peace by the contemporary Welsh composerKarl Jenkins. Having heard this work before in its original formfor chorus and orchestra, I was anxious to hear how it might farewith a transcription for brass band. This arrangement exceededany expectations I might have had; I enjoyed it much more than theoriginal. For this work, the band and chorus seemed made for each the instrumentalists and vocalists were as one. If I had any concern,it would be that there was far more to this work than I could absorbin a single performance. I hope that this arrangement will berecorded so that I may hear it again.The other noteworthy musical event was totally unexpected. As analumnus of the University of Toronto and former participant in variousalumni functions over the years, I was invited to the launch of amassive fund raising campaign for the university. I had expected afew inspirational speeches followed by a distribution of pledge cards, every aspect of the evening was as overwhelming as the fund raisinggoal for the next year of billion (yes that’s a “b”) dollars. Butit was the music that I found most inspiring. While we were beingseated, we were treated to a vocal octet of students from the facultyof music. Then the spotlight shifted to the two upper galleries oneither side of the organ where two brass choirs, under the directionof the Faculty of Music’s Gillian MacKay, performed an amazingwork by graduate music student Aaron Tsang. While it was referredto in the programme as the Opening Fanfare, with four french horns, was much more than that, and warrants more performances in thefuture. After the various addresses, we were treated to a massivevideo presentation with a musical score by another Faculty of Musicstudent Kevin Lau and after all being awarded “Doctorates inBoundless Opportunity” left Convocation Hall for the reception in amassive marquee tent, in the corners of which there were four smallstages where there were alternating performances of a small jazzgroup, vocalists singing operatic arias and a brass quintet amongothers. With our honorary degrees in hand, we all left with the assurancethat the future of music in this part of the world is certainlygoing to be in good hands.Now on to December. What’s in store in the band world? Needlessto say, Christmas music and other seasonal works dominate allprogrammes. Most bands have guests, with various types of choirsdominating the scene. Here’s a condensed list, from those bandswhose listings we received, featuring choirs. Needless to say youwill have to consult the concert listings for details: Rose Theatre (Dec 10); Etobicoke Community Band presents “You’dBetter Watch Out: Holiday Favourites,” with the Toronto PoliceServices Men’s Chorus (Dec 16); Milton Concert Band performs the Arts with St. Paul’s United Church Choir (Dec 10); PickeringCommunity Concert Band offers “Celebrate with the Soundsof Christmas” with the William Dunbar School Choir as guest(Dec 11); Wellington Winds will have “A Christmas with the Windand Young Voices,” with the Inter-Mennonite Children’s Choir(Dec 18); Whitby Brass Band offers “A ChristmasCelebration,” with classics, Salvation Army and poparrangements, and guests, the O’Neill Chamber Choir(Dec 9). On the professional side, Hannaford StreetSilver Band presents “Yuletide Celebration” withAriana Chris, mezzo, and the Canadian Children’sOpera Company Youth and Principal chorus (Dec 13).With guests other than choirs, ChinguacousyConcert Band presents “Brampton ChristmasPops” featuring the Chinguacousy Swing Orchestra(Dec 11); East York Concert Band’s “ChristmasFestival” will be a holiday sing-along (Dec 12);Markham Concert Band will have “A SeasonalCelebration” featuring Christmas and Chanukahsongs with guest Lisa Kallasmaa-Bavis on vocals(Dec 4). Of the bands with December concerts thatwe heard from, only two did not include guests intheir programs. Scarborough Concert Band will be presentinga “Community Concert Series” at three locations over the holidayseason (Dec 7, x and y). And Wilfrid Laurier University WindOrchestra has a single performance (Dec 3). For details of time andplace of these events, consult the listings sections.Of all of the bands that we were made aware of, one stood out ashaving no public Christmas concerts. That does not mean that theNewmarket Citizens’ Band will not be busy. On the contrary, a visitto their website told a very different story. Unlike all of the othercommunity bands, this band marches and plays in parades. In thesix week period between November 6 and December 20, this bandwas booked to play in no fewer than 11 parades, including six SantaClaus parades in surrounding communities. They also had scheduled This is a band that takes community service seriously. All of theiractivity will be topped off with an annual banquet to present variousawards to members.Recently, I was asked to write some programme notes for aconcert discussing the evolution of Christmas music from the earliestday to the present. That project is still in its infancy. However,there is certainly no question that the programme of a modern bandconcert would bear little resemblance to that of a concert a centuryago. Of the repertoire being performed by the bands of today, thereseems to be a common theme: diversify. No longer do they stick tothe traditional Christmas carols and such shopping mall favouritesas Sleigh Ride or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Increasingly weare seeing a wide spectrum of medleys of seasonal and/or Christmasmelodies along with such humorous spoofs as Good SwingWenceslas or How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And many bands arenow including some excellent arrangements of Chanukah music.As in other years, the period from Christmas to mid-January 30 thewholenote.comDecember 1 – February 7, 2012

Newmarket’s Main Street Candle Light Parade and Tree Lighting,with the Newmarket Citizens Band on Nov. 18.THE BACKYARD BIRDERperformance. For the rest of January, traditionally community have begun sampling a broad spectrum of music to challenge bandmembers and hopefully please audiences in the coming months. Sofar we have not heard of any plans for band concerts in Januaryexcept for the Hannaford Street Silver Band’s presentation of “ALatin Celebration” with guests the Boston Brass on January 22.Can’t think of a better start.DEFINITION DEPARTMENTThis month’s lesser known musical term is Gelatinissimo: to play We invite submissions from readers.Jack MacQuarrie plays several brass instruments andhas performed in many community ensembles. He canbe contacted at Mondayevening bandstarts onJanuary 16th!“SENIOR”BANDIt’s Never Too Late!NoAgeLimitPlay-in-a-Band Programfor People Over 50!. Learn to play a musical instrument from scratch. Dust off that old horn and get back in the game. Rehearsals at L&M Bloor - 935 Bloor Street West. Fee: 0 for 20+ classes. More information: newhorizonsbloor.caor 416.588.7886 ext. 662Gift Certificates availableBeginner programs start in January.Players with at least a little experience can join anytime.December 1 – February 7, 2012 31

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