8 years ago

Volume 18 Issue 1 - September 2012

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  • September
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as Jay had, in the last

as Jay had, in the last years of her life, been working on the Masonicbackground of the opera. The bass voice is rare; it is even more rareto hear it fully developed in as young a singer as Blostein; he is still astudent (he studies with Adi Braun) and can probably be called preprofessional.We shall hear more of him.One of the best things in a Toronto summer is the Summer OperaLyric Theatre and Research Centre. Each year the company performsthree operas with young talented singers who are given extensivecoaching. This year, all three Figaro operas based on the plays byBeaumarchais were performed: The Barber of Seville (Rossini), TheMarriage of Figaro (Mozart) and La Mère Coupable (Milhaud). Thelast-named is very rarely done and is, as far as I know, only availablein an unofficial recording. In 60 years of opera-going I had not comeacross it. The standards were very high with an especially outstandingperformance by the soprano Elisabeth Hetherington as CountessAlmaviva. The pianist, Nicole Bellamy, was also brilliant.Hans de Groot is a concert-goer and active listenerwho also sings and plays the recorder.He can be contacted at September 1 – October 7, 2012

Beat by Beat | Choral SceneAs Choirs Return ...BENJAMIN STEINSeptember can be a frustrating time for choral music fans. Eagerto reconnect with their favourite choirs, they find that the concertseason does not start until October, or even November. Whatare choirs doing during the first month of the fall, anyhow — bowlingtournaments? Poker sessions? Sleeping in?Lofty goals: Lydia Adams is the conductorof two accomplished Toronto choirs, the ElmerIseler Singers and the Amadeus Choir. She writesabout the autumn’s first rehearsal, “I personallyalways have a sense of excitement, butterflies,even, before that first chord. It is pure joy (andrelief!) once that first moment is over and you(as a conductor) think: “Okay, we have a sound.Everything is going to be fine.“I start working for the choir’s sound from thatmoment. I have a clear idea what I want to hearLydia Adams.from the choir and keep asking for that rightthrough to the season’s end.”Nathaniel Dett Chorale director Brainerd Blyden-Taylor adds, “ourorganization has a social justice mandate as well as a musical one. Wedo a one-day retreat early in the fall, to connect with each other spirituallyand musically, to find the spirit behind the music.”But while these comments are insightful, they do not fully addressthe unique challenges of autumn choral rehearsals. Peeling back theveil of choral silence, this column exposes the complexities and challengesthat each choral section presents.Tenors have the reputation of being self-absorbed, in part becauseof the inordinate amount of time they spend in front of mirrors. Buttenors need mirrors to monitor correct mouth position. This helps inthe vocal production of glorious high notes that no other voice canmatch. No mirrors, no proper mouth position, no high notes — it isastonishing how many people cannot understand or accept this simpleequation.Still, these technical pursuits can interfere with the first few weeksof choral rehearsal. Music directors must struggle to convince tenorsto follow their beat, rather than to gaze soulfully into the conductor’seyes, hoping to see themselves reflected.Conductors should gently continue to call attention to themselvesas rehearsals progress, and eventually the tenors will be able to distinguishthem as sentient human beings. But the process must berespectful. The hurtful phrase, “There are other people here besidesyou, you know!” is to be avoided at all costs.Basses and altos: The more robust sections of the traditional choirtend to spend summers in physically active pursuits such as whitewaterrafting, rock-climbing, defusing bombs and rescuing heiressesfrom eastern European kidnappers bent on world domination.Often basses and altos have so much fun with these light-heartedoutdoor activities that a gentle reminder about fall commitmentsSeptember 1 – October 7, 2012 31

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