8 years ago

Volume 18 Issue 4 - December 2012

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BEHIND THE SCENESSt. Michael’s Choir School’sStephen HandriganBY Rebecca ChuaSometimes second chances take a long time in coming. Fortunately,if you’re only 10 or 11 years old, you don’t spend a lot of timeregretting lost opportunities. You just put it behind you, grow upand get on with the rest of your life — or so you think.It’s been four decades, but the winsome little boy who sang “O HolyNight” to a packed cathedral in St. John’s, Newfoundland, has never forgottenwhat it felt like. Especially since the cathedral in question wasthe Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, which, when it was consecratedin 1855, was the largest Irish cathedral outside of Ireland andthe largest church in North America — and a full house meant morethan 3,000 seats filled.“I grew up in a largeIrish Catholic family withfour sisters and threebrothers — we were a bitlike the von Trapps of St.John’s — after supper, we’dget around a piano andsing,” reminisces StephenHandrigan, the new directorof the St. Michael’sChoir School. “And, ofcourse,” he points out,“there’s a huge choral traditionin Newfoundland.”The legendary musicologistSister KathrineBellamy was the organistand music director at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist for almost aquarter of a century, but she also worked with several school choirs inSt. John’s. Handrigan still remembers the many chants she taught, andher favourite Schubert lieder.For the young boy introduced to sacred music by Sister Kathrine,the highlight of his young life was the prospect of being sent to the St.Michael’s Choir School in Toronto, which seemed like light years awayfrom St. John’s at the time. But, in the end, the funding fell throughand the boarding school experience never materialized.Handrigan went on to study music and music education at MemorialUniversity in St. John’s and eventually pursued a Master’s Degree inMusic Education from the University of Victoria in British Columbia.After trying out both coasts of the country, he finally made it to Toronto.All in all, he’s been teaching music in schools for nigh on 30 years,including at Upper Canada College and the Country Day School in KingCity. Between 2003 and 2005, he directed the Conference of IndependentSchools’ Music Festival. He’s accustomed both to seeing the bigpicture and to being front and centre, because he’s also a singer. As abaritone, he put in a stint with the Canadian Opera Company and hecontinues to be active in his church choir.Before St. Michael’s callled, he had a pretty full life, as a husband andfather of two sons and as an administrator with the Toronto CatholicDistrict School Board. To be honest, he hadn’t given St. Michael’s ChoirSchool much thought. So he was completely gobsmacked when the invitationto be its new director came. That’s why he ended up replayinghis voice mail message 20 times before it finally sank in.Upon accepting the position, he found himself immersed in a surrealflurry of meet and greet as he was introduced to the various faculty, staff,committees, students and members of the community he would getto know. He was learning about the rubrics of his job, as he says, “oneconversation at a time, with students, parents”— in short, with everyonewho could help him piece together the big picture.continued on page 7212 December 1 – February 7, 2013

KOERNER HALL IS:“A beautiful space for music ”THE GLOBE AND MAILFRIDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2012 8PM KOERNER HALLBach Christmas OratorioCollegium Vocale GentMaestro Philippe Herreweghe conducts Bach’s ChristmasOratorio to celebrate the holiday season. “Collegium VocaleGent produces a creamy, beautiful tone.” (BBC Music)SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2012 8PM KOERNER HALLQuartetto GelatoClassical in intent, eclectic by design, Quartetto Gelato travelsimaginatively between classical masterworks, operatic arias, andthe sizzling energy of tangos, and gypsy and folk songs. Joiningthem is singer Alejandra Ribera, who transcends genres with herrich voice and dramatic flair.SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2012 2PM MAZZOLENI CONCERT HALLAnagnoson & KintonCanada’s foremost piano team celebrates Beethoven’s birthdayby performing his complete 4-hand repertoire, including his ownarrangement of the Grosse Fuge.SUNDAY, JANUARY 20, 2013 2PMMAZZOLENI CONCERT HALLAndrés Díaz& FriendsInternationally renowned cellistAndrés Díaz performs Rachmaninovwith pianist Jeanie Chung, and theTan Dun with percussionists MarkDuggan, Morris Palter, and TorontoSymphony Orchestra PrincipalsDavid Kent (timpani) and JohnRudolph (percussion).SUNDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2012 3PM KOERNER HALLCanadian Brass Christmas“Virtuosic musicianship, masterful interpretations andflashes of humour … the world’s leading brass ensemble.”(Washington Post) Canadian Brass has invited studentsfrom the U of T Faculty of Music and from the Conservatory’sGlenn Gould School to join them to play holiday favouritesat this celebration of the season.TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2013 7:30PMMAZZOLENI CONCERT HALLJoaquinValdepeñasConductsToronto Symphony Orchestra PrincipalClarinet, Joaquin Valdepeñas, conductsThe Glenn Gould School ChamberEnsemble in a performance ofJanáček’s Capriccio for PianoLeft-Hand and Winds, and Stravinsky’s“Dumbarton Oaks” Concerto.TICKETS START AT ONLY ! 416.408.0208 www.performance.rcmusic.ca273 BLOOR STREET WEST (BLOOR & AVENUE RD.) TORONTO

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