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Volume 18 Issue 5 - February 2013

  • Text
  • February
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Arts
  • Symphony
  • Musical
  • Theatre
  • Quartet
  • Soprano
  • Orchestra

poor instrument on which

poor instrument on which to introduceyoung children to music. WhenSchola Magdalena.asked by parents about the advisabilityof beginner piano lessons, I usuallystart ranting about the dangers of subjectingchildren’s formative musicalexperiences to the piano’s complicatedkey mechanism and rigid tuningsystem. If the parents are still listeningafter an hour, I finish witha diatribe about singing and movement’scentrality to the developmentof musical skill.My apologies, piano teachers.But what better support can I offerfor these heretical notions than theexcellent Toronto Children’s Chorus, which is helping raise the nextgeneration of singers and choral conductors. They combine musicand movement as they perform “Dance All Around the World” onFebruary 23.Sondheim Vivace: American musical theatre icon StephenSondheim’s brilliant scores are a resource that more choirs shouldexplore. Choral versions of musical theatre songs lean towards theclassic composers or the mid-20th century, or the juggernaut megamusicalsof the 1980s. Sondheim’s work is searching and complex,witty and sardonic, and a good choral performance of it can berewarding for both audience and singers. Conductor and singer LindaEyman is responsible for a busy pocket of Toronto music making — sheconducts four separate choirs and maintains a private singing studioas well. One of her ensembles, Vivace Vox performs “Sondheim!Sondheim!” on February 24, including selections from Company, Intothe Woods, Follies and Sweeney Todd, among others.Bell’Arte’s 25th: Toronto’s Bell’Arte Singers has drawn manyexcellent Toronto singers into its ranks. They celebrate a quarter centuryof work with their “25th Anniversary Concert: Memories andReflections” on March 2.Gesualdo Sinister: In an art form that does not lack for odd characters,Italian Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo is one of theoddest and most sinister figures in history. The title of the TallisChoir’s March 2 concert, “Gesualdo: Murderer & Musician,” states thecase straightforwardly. I won’t relate the shocking story here. Instead,attend the concert to find out more, and don’t cheat by resorting toan online check. Gesualdo’s music is always worth hearing live — itsanarchic harmonic shifts and haunting word painting are a high pointof Renaissance madrigal writing. Some of his work sounds uncannilylike some of the choral compositions of 20th century Austrian composerErnst Krenek, and manymodernist composers were drawn tohis madrigals .Rossini Solenelle (times two):Toronto audiences have a rare opportunityto hear Rossini’s Petite MesseSolenelle not once, but twice. TheToronto Mendelssohn Choir performsthe work on February 9, andthe Toronto Classical Singers sing iton March 3. The work was writtenin 1864, four years before the famedopera composer’s death. It is anengaging piece, first performed with aquirky piano and harmonium accompaniment.Rossini orchestrated it lateron. Fans of bel canto Italian vocal style will find much to love, especiallythe tenor solo showstopper, “Domine Deus.”Magdalena goes modern: Schola Magdalena is a chamber ensembleof women’s voices, conducted by choral multi-tasker StephanieMartin. Usually focused on early music , they make a foray intomodern works in a concert sponsored by NUMUS, a very good contemporarymusic organization based out of Waterloo. This concerttakes place on February 7 in Waterloo and again at the Church ofSt. Mary Magdalene in Toronto.These are only a few of the excellent concert choices available in thecoming weeks — please check out the listings and find out about themany other excellent choirs around.Ben Stein is a Toronto tenor and theorbist.He can be contacted at choralscene@thewholenote.com.Visit his website at benjaminstein.ca.Glionna MansellPresentsA Music Festival unlike any other13May 6 to June 7, 2013www.organixconcerts.caFeaturing Nine brilliant concerts including two Gala performancesfrom world renowned organist Jane Parker Smith as well as ChelseaChen in a duo performance with virtuoso violinist Lewis Wong.14 thewholenote.com February 1 – March 7, 2013

Beat by Beat | Classical & BeyondMy SunnyValentineSHARNA SEARLEAs i sit here, on the coldest January day in Toronto on recordsince 2009, it’s almost comforting to have to turn my thoughtsto the romantic, warmth-inducing, Valentine’s Day-inspiredconcerts that February brings. And, indeed, there is much to temptus, an array of delightful performances to warm the “cockles of yourheart” — metaphorical or otherwise, whatever they are — and, hopefully,the rest of your body, too.Chopin, obviously: Think fast. Most romantic composer? Answer:Chopin. Yes, there are others, and he may not be your first choice (ornot your choice at all), but, let’s face it: it’s not really possible to getthrough a column about concerts in the “season of romance” withoutmentioning those featuring the works of Chopin. Besides, whowould want to? For so many, myself included, it’s gorgeous, seductive,romantic music.Chopin’s oeuvre consists mostly of solo piano works — nocturnes,waltzes, préludes, études, ballades, impromptus, polonaises andmazurkas, to name some of the most familiar and beloved. In addition,he also wrote two piano concertos, some songs set to Polish textsand a few chamber pieces. This month, we are treated to at least oneballade, waltz and polonaise, two sets of études (12 in each), his set of24 préludes, a sonata, two scherzos, a chamber work and a concerto.So much Chopin, so little time ... or space.So let’s get right to it; and don’t forget to check the Quick Picksat the end.Chopin, not so obviously: Chopin is not the first composer to springto mind when considering repertoire for a chamber choir known forits historically accurate performances of music from the Baroque andClassical periods. Then again, the Georgetown Bach Chorale is notyour average chamber choir. In addition to its innovative choral programming,as part of its season it also offers concerts of orchestral,chamber and solo performances, often involving creative collaborationswith guest artists, in unique venues.Its February 10 and March 3 concerts are a case in point: the firstis a 4pm house concert titled “Winter Moods,” and features guestcellist Mary-Katherine Finch and the Chorale’s artistic director/conductor,Ron Greidanus, at the piano, in chamber works by Debussy,Chopin and Prokofiev. Regarding the Chopin “mystery music” (“worksby” is all we were told), it’s a safe bet to expect either — or possiblyboth (there are only two Chopin works for cello and piano) — theCello Sonata in G Minor, Op.65 and/or the Grand Duo concertantin E Major B70, (written, jointly, with Chopin’s friend, cellistAuguste Franchomme). If that isn’t filling enough, for the inadvance-onlyticket, you also get a choice of hot stews, cheeses andhomemade bread after the concert. If music — and stews — be the foodof love, indeed!“Relics of the Romantic Era,” on March 3, 8pm, in the quaint NorvalUnited Church, will feature solo works by Chopin performed by guestpianist Matthew Pope, in addition to choral works by Reger, Brahmsand Tavener. As stated in its brochure, it has always been a missionof the Chorale “to expand the musical experiences of its listeners.”Judging by these two concerts, clearly it’s “mission accomplished.”And with that interesting detour out of the way, on to the solopiano music!Formidable Fialkowska: Celebrated Canadian pianist JaninaFialkowska is a musical force to be reckoned with and a distinguishedinterpreter of Chopin’s piano works. Along the way, she received someexcellent mentoring: after her prize-winning performance at theFeaturing André Caplet’s impressionistic Messe à trois voix, John Greer’sdelightful Chante, voyageur, chante!, Sir Ernest MacMillan’s marvelousarrangement of Blanche comme la neige, and a piece written for the Scholarsby Ruth Watson Henderson. Works by Cable, Champagne, Debussy, Fauré,Milhaud, Martin, Poulenc and Togni complete this fête of French choral music.Sunday, March 3, 20137:30pmOur Lady of Sorrows Church3055 Bloor Street West(1/2 block west of Royal York subway)Admission Seniors & Students Tickets and info416.761.7776www.victoriascholars.caFebruary 1 – March 7, 2013 thewholenote.com 15

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