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Volume 17 Issue 6 - March 2012

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
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  • April
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  • Violin

Memory? Forget

Memory? Forget ItbenjAMIN steinIt may be partially true that with age comes wisdom. But it iscertainly true that with age comes the inability to remember whatone went down to the basement to retrieve. Upstairs you trudgeagain, retracing your steps untilyour memory is sufficientlyjogged — oh right, duct tape — andyou are ready to make the frustratingsecond trip. Perhaps whatoften passes for wisdom is in facta mellow, philosophical acceptanceof how many extra journeysfor duct tape (or garbage bags orwhatever) age and failing memorynow require.Myself, I’m finding that withage comes immaturity. Jokes thatmade me sneer with contempt inmy high-minded teen years nowmake me snicker and guffaw. Ilook forward to the ongoingdismantlement of my critical faculties,until seeing Bugs Bunny indrag and Wile E. Coyote repeatedly plummeting into a chasm sendsme to the floor, helpless with laughter. But time, memory and theway in which both elements change perception seem to be the themesof a number of this month’s concerts.Perfect romantic gentlemen (almost all).Liszt and students, Weimar, October 22, 1884.On March 3 the Guelph Chamber Choir presents “Remember… Places, people and songs you love.” With the concert’s repertoirefocussed around folk songs, spirituals, Broadway show tunes andcabaret songs, audience members will doubtless find themselves recallingspecific occasions tied by memory to some specific song.Toronto’s Bell’Arte Singers have presented a whole series of linkedconcerts this year (for the complete series see bellartesingers.ca)that evoke this sense of introspection. Their latest March 3 concert,“Classical: Ways of Seeing,” features music by Bach, Barber, Mozartand Brahms, among others. Treating the music almost like visualworks of art, this choir asks its audience to not only listen but toponder the question of whatconstitutes beauty, balanceand classicism.Another concert evoking a bygoneera is the Victoria Scholars’“The Romantic Gentleman,” onMarch 4. Here, the audienceis reminded not to lose sight ofthe things that may fall by thewayside in our charge towardsmodernity. Comprising works byBrahms, Elgar, Gounod, Rossini,Grieg and others, this concertconjures a time of frock coats andmuttonchop whiskers, of codes ofhonour and high-minded behaviour.The title of this concert alsoraises a difficult, extra-musicalquestion: what standard defines a“romantic gentleman” in the 21st century? Is our new “RG” the manwho discreetly refrains from posting on Facebook or Twitter picturesof himself passed out beside a beer bong (merely texting them insteadto his closest friends)? Standards have changed, of course. ButCANARYALERT2012Are you a choir looking for new members orpublicity? A singer, amateur to professional, lookingto join a choir?The WholeNote annual Canary Pages is the placeto be! Published every May (and remaining onlineyear-round), the 2012 Canary Pages directory willpresent profiles of choirs Ontario-wide, catering toall ages and levels of ability.To find out more about having your choir listedin the upcoming Canary Pages, please contactcanary@thewholenote.com or 416-323-2232 x26.To see our current Canary Pages, read profiles orsearch choirs by category, please visitwww.thewholenote.com, click on “Directories,” then“Canary Pages.”better is PEACE than always warKarl Jenkins’The Armed Man:A Mass For PeaceApril 28, 7:30 pmMetropolitan United Church56 Queen Street East, Toronto | in advance | students416-960-5551Oakham House Choir of Ryerson UniversityUnivox Choir, Toronto SinfoniettaTodd Delaney, baritone & Melanie Conly, sopranoMatthew Jaskiewicz, music directoralso works by Penderecki, Bacewicz, & ZielenskiPETER MAHONSales Representative416-322-8000pmahon@trebnet.comwww.petermahon.com20 thewholenote.com March 1 – April 7, 2012

perhaps attendance at this particularconcert should be mandatory for men25 and under.One of English literature’s mostpoignant evocations of the pangs ofmemory and the challenges of time andage is Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Theplaywright’s last play, it contains someof his most powerful poetry, and withlines like “in the dark backward andabsym of time,” is generally thought,in part, to be a meditation on thecurrents and sorrows of Shakespeare’sown life. Chorus Niagara (in pan-Canadian partnership with the RichardEaton Singers, who work out of Edmonton, and the Vancouver BachChoir) has commissioned Canadian composer Allan Bevan to createNo Mortal Business. This new work takes as its premise the idea thatThe Tempest (and other earlier works of Shakespeare) were indeedwindows into the playwright’s preoccupation with religion, politics,aging and art. Orpheus Choir and Chorus Niagara will combine tomake up a 160-voice ensemble to present the work on March 4.Two local choirs, on the other hand, embrace and celebrate thepassage of time this month. The Toronto Classical Singers, directedby their founder, Jurgen Petrenko, celebrate their 20th anniversary.I have sung on several occasions with this rambunctious andfriendly group of singers, and it is a pleasure to salute them at thistime. On March 4 they perform Vivaldi’s Gloria and Schubert’sMass in G.Tafelmusik Chamber Choir celebrates its 30th anniversary with aseries of concerts from March 27 to April 1. Full disclosure: I havealso sung with this ensemble and have accompanied student vocalistsand instrumentalists on lute and theorbo at the Tafelmusik BaroqueSummer Institute. Setting these connections aside, I can state withComposer Allan Bevan and conductor Robert Cooper.confidence that TCC is one of the topchoral ensembles in the city and possiblyin all of Canada. This group hasbeen part of the continuing story ofthe resurgence of pre-1750 music — asprawling, international dialogue betweenscholars, performers and audiencesthat has revived and uncovereda multicultural wealth of previouslyforgotten composers and compositions.The Tafelmusik Orchestra, ofwhich the choir is an offshoot, hasbeen a leader in this ongoing area ofdiscovery. For these concerts, TheTCC has commissioned a new pieceby Canadian composer James Rolfe, and will also perform works byPurcell, Rameau, Handel, Poulenc and Saint-Saëns.Anniversaries define the passage of time; so do annual events.Outside of the Jewish community, one of the lesser known holidaysis Purim, a real children’s party centred around costumes, gamesand food. Purim commemorates the story of Queen Esther, oneof the great mythic tales of Jewish pride and independence. TheToronto Jewish Folk Choir performs songs in Yiddish, Hebrew,Russian and English at its March 1 “Purim Concert.”Memory is what helps define tradition — what we remember ofthe past shapes our present and future. Canada is a young countryfilled with immigrants, and for many it is the histories and art formsof our ancestral countries that often define us. At the same time,Canadian composers are hard at work creating a repertoire thatthey hope will help define us anew. Choirs performing concerts thatinclude Canadian works are the Vespera Choir, March 29, the EchoWomen’s Choir, March 31, and the aptly named Canadian Singers,who perform in Markham on March 4.Finally, the choral requiem form, often valedictory in nature, isVIVA! YOUTH SINGERS OF TORONTOPRESENTSA GALA EVENING WITHADRIANNEPIECZONKASTEPHEN RALLS, PIANISTTON BEAU STRING QUARTETHOST IAIN SCOTTOF OPERA-ISAPRIL 11 TH , 20126:00 PM, ST. LAWRENCE HALL5/TICKET416-788-8482INFO@VIVAYOUTHSINGERS.COMMarch 1 – April 7, 2012thewholenote.com 21

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