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Volume 18 Issue 2 - October 2012

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Beat by Beat | Early

Beat by Beat | Early MusicStudy in ContrastsSIMONE DESILETSOctober brings an interesting variety of early music activity:historical instruments performing a range of music fromthe middle ages to the classical period; philosophies expressedthrough music and historically interesting pairings of old and new;the celebration of a milestone anniversary and brand new initiativesin the field.The Toronto Consort celebrates its 40th anniversary this season — nomean accomplishment for an early music group that started relativelymodestly. They’ve weathered many personnel changes in their longhistory, and therefore also shifts in their sound and to some extenttheir focus, according to performers and instruments available duringany givenperiod. Sadlyalso, they’veseen the recentdeath of awell-loved cofounder,GarryCrighton. Thereare also elementsofconstancy,including theinvolvementsince 1979 ofthe energeticDavid Fallis,artistic directorsince 1990,who has ledthem throughprojects suchas providingauthentic period music for the 10 part television series The Tudors.What better way to celebrate the success of 40 years than with a seasonopener showcasing masterpieces from the English Renaissance,including music the Consort recorded for that TV series, crownedwith the magnificent 40-part motet Spem in alium by Thomas Tallis?To perform this work they will be joined by members of Toronto’sTallis Choir. “The Tudors” is presented at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre onOctober 19 and 20.Voice and instruments: Just announced, the University of Toronto’sFaculty of Music is establishing an exciting new program in earlymusic that comprises both voice and instrumental components underthe direction of countertenor and early music specialist Daniel Taylor.The list of musicians involved as instructors is impressive and includesrespected local early music specialists as well as distinguished guestssuch as soprano Emma Kirkby and violinist Adrian Butterfield.Musicians from Tafelmusik and the Theatre of Early Music (Taylor’sown early music choir and orchestra) will appear in concerts this yearwith the newly formed Schola Cantorum.In Taylor’s own words:“My vision is one which brings faculty andstudents together. With the support and guidance of my gifted colleagues,we hope to bring what is sacred back into the process ofexploring this magnificent yet neglected early repertoire. The U of Toffers students an unparallelled opportunity in Canada to study withthe most sought after artists in the field of early music. We offer anexceptional program which meets the needs of our exceptional students.Any misconceptions that the study of music written between1000 and 1800 is limiting in any way will fall away.”One of the program’s first public performances is on October 18,when U of T presents “Songs of Love and War,” opera scenes from theBaroque, staged by Tim Albery and conducted by Kevin Mallon, in theMusic Room at Hart House.Some concerts open a window onto a world of ideas, or universaltruths. “Hildegard of Bingen and the Living Light” is one. Arising froma deep commitment to the precepts of this 12th century abbess, healer,writer and composer, it’s a one woman show created by the Americanmezzo Linn Maxwell, in which she becomes Hildegard, telling herstory and expressing her philosophy of the world through actualsongs and writings while providing her own accompaniment on thepsaltery, organistrum (an early hurdy gurdy) and harp. This performance,taking place on October 23 and 24 at Regis College Chapel, isa co-productionofTrypTychand Operaby Request.Obviouslya man ofideas whooperatedunder anassumedname referringtomusicalpitches,PierreAlamire wasnot only amerchant,a diplomatand a spy forthe court ofLeft: The Toronto Consort(back row, left to right), PaulJenkins, Alison Melville, LauraPudwell, David Fallis, JohnPepper, Terry McKenna; (frontrow, left to right), KatherineHill, Ben Grossman, MicheleDeBoer. Above, Daniel Taylor.Henry VIII,but also oneof the 16thcentury’smost skilledmusic copyistsandilluminators.On October 28, the Toronto Chamber Choir will be projecting someof his beautifully illuminated copies as they perform music by contemporariesJosquin, Ockeghem, de la Rue and Willaert. “MysteriousPierre A-la-mi-re” is an afternoon Kaffeemusik, one of those presentationsgiven twice a year by the Choir and their music director, MarkVuorinen, which seek to both entertain and inform.And though I’m not sure whether I Furiosi’s “Losers” exactly fallsinto the category of universal truth, their October 19 concert exploresthe theme of loss (they quote Oscar Wilde: “To lose one parent ... maybe regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness”) — butnot necessarily in a vein of melancholy. “We tend to make things justa little bit funny,” soprano Gabrielle McLaughlin assures me. The concertfeaturing works by Froberger, Handel, Purcell and others includesguests, baritone David Roth and harpsichordist Michael Jarvis, andtakes place at a new venue, St. David’s Anglican Church.30 October 1 – November 7, 2012

The juxtaposition of old and new turns up more than once thismonth, in various guises. Here are four events, each with its own takeon this concept:The marvellous violinist, Anne-Sophie Mutter, appears with theToronto Symphony on October 3 and 4, playing two contrastingworks: In tempus praesens written for her by the contemporaryRussian composer Sofia Gubaidulina and Bach’s A minor ViolinConcerto. You will not hear Bach clothed in the pure transparency ofperiod performance style but you will hear a performance of powerand conviction played by a master of her instrument who seeks toexpress the music’s truth with great artistry.If you have a penchant for the charms of the recorder and enjoyhearing what it can do in both early and contemporary styles, you’llbe well satisfied on October 9 as the COC presents, in its RichardBradshaw Amphitheatre series, the terrific recorder quartet FlûteAlors! — four young virtuosos from Quebec who play like a dream.They’ll offer an eclectic mix of styles, from the Baroque to contemporarypieces — “Bach to the Beach Boys” as their publicity tells us.For a time, much of Bach’s music was considered old fashionedand virtually forgotten. But the revival of the St. Matthew Passion in1829 by the young Felix Mendelssohn kindled the realization that thisindeed was music of a towering master, consequently spawning myriadcompositions inspired by Bach’s genius. You can savour some ofthe evidence of his influence on later composers in the realm of choralmusic, as the Tallis Choir opens its season with four Bach motetsand four beautiful works by romantic composers: Brahms, Bruckner,Rheinberger and Mendelssohn. “Bach & The Romantics” is presentedat St. Patrick’s Church, Toronto on October 13.Nota Bene Baroque is the Kitchener-Waterloo region’s ownbaroque orchestra, with an imaginative three-concert season. Theyhave a very interesting idea for their opener on October 21 titled“Something Old, Something New,” and that is to keep you guessing(for awhile) whether the music you’re hearing is by a baroque or aliving composer — there’ll be both on the program, but all composedin baroque style. It’s the audience’s task to discern which pieces havebeen recently written and which really come from the baroque era. Agood chance to hear “baroque” music you’ve truly never heard before!A few others: The Cardinal Consort of Viols presents an eveningof consort songs and instrumental music, featuring Elizabethanand Jacobean composers such as Byrd, Weelkes and Dowland — butnot just any music: it all pays special tribute to ladies both real andmythological. The beautiful genre known as the consort song — voiceaccompanied by viols — features soprano Dawn Bailey as soloist in“Musicke for the Laydies”, which takes place at Royal St. George’sCollege Chapel on October 6.Despite earthquakes, war and eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, baroqueNaples boasted a vibrant music scene. In concerts entitled“Bella Napoli,” Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra collaborates with theVesuvius Ensemble and percussionist Ben Grossman to celebratethe musical richness of Naples and southern Italy with rarely heardcomic opera arias, tarantellas and street songs; but also concertos andsonatas by Leo, Vinci, A. Scarlatti and Durante. For Tafelmusik, a newfirst: collaboration with an ensemble that specializes in traditionalregional music. Performances take place October 11 to 14 at Trinity-St.Paul’s Centre.The Windermere String Quartet on Period Instruments launchestheir season with the next in their series “The Golden Age of StringQuartets.” For this they’ve chosen quartets by Haydn, Mozart andBeethoven, linked both by the composers’ admiration for each otherand by the fact that each was composed as part of a set of six: theHaydn, from his Op.33 set; the Mozart, one of his six quartets dedicatedto Haydn; the Beethoven, one of his Op.18 quartets which wereinspired by Mozart’s genius in writing for the genre. The concert takesplace at St. Olave’s Anglican Church on October 14.For details of all these, and others not mentioned, please refer toThe WholeNote’s daily listings.Simone Desilets is a long-time contributor to The WholeNote inseveral capacities who plays the viola da gamba.She can be contacted at 1 – November 7, 2012 31

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