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Volume 19 Issue 1 - September 2013

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  • September
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REMEMBERING . . . . .Nic

REMEMBERING . . . . .Nic Gotham[b near Southampton, England 1959d Toronto, July 25, 2013]The title of John Terauds’ July 28, 2013, blog reads,“Composer and jazz musician Nic Gotham left eclecticlegacy in Canada and Latvia.” Those stark words all toobriefly sum up the career of Nicholas Ivor Gotham, cutpainfully short.The previous night, Gallery 345, on Sorauren Ave. inToronto, had hosted an unusual, celebratory concert ofGotham’s music. Some 200 friends and fans jammed intothe long gallery space, attracted by Nic’s selected compositions whichwere played by a large ensemble of his Toronto colleagues. Amongthe works performed were excerpts from Oh, Pilot (2000), a chamberopera for four singers with the libretto and direction by his wife BaņutaRubess. The heartfelt tribute evening wrapped up with a 2009 videoof the cheeky James in Peril “from the soundtrack to an imaginaryBond film” with Gotham rendering a passionate-yet-cool post-bopinflectedsax solo with the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra.The evening’s proceeds were skyped to Nic’s hospice bedside. Theaudience turned towards the camera and waved to connect. Nicbeamed back on his end emanating supernal grace.Nic Gotham was more than a first order jazz saxophonist andcomposer of instrumental concert works. His first chamber operaNigredo Hotel (1992), with a libretto by Ann-Marie MacDonald, has agood claim to being the most frequently performed Canadian opera.According to Gotham’s own website it “has now been produced inthree continents and ... performed around 80 times.” Other tallies haveit closer to 100 performances.Over his career Gotham composed some 50 works for variousensembles including chamber, choral and orchestral music and twochamber operas. Commissions came from Toronto’s Arraymusic, 40Leslie Huggett[b London, England 1929d Port Perry, Ontario , February 14, 2013]Canadian music has lost a giant with the passing ofLeslie Huggett. Born in London, England in 1929, Leslie,a one-time French hornist with the Royal PhilharmonicOrchestra, moved to Ottawa in 1954 with his wife Margaret.Initially he directed a chamber music program there andlater played in the Ottawa Philharmonic. As their fourchildren arrived and grew, the family began giving private concerts in1966. At that time the children were playing only recorders while Leslieand Margaret were teaching the Orff method in Westchester County(New York) schools. With the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War,they decided that it was time to move, and in 1967 the family spent ayear on the island of Crete.After their time in Greece and England, the family returned to Canadaand began work on what was to become the renowned Huggett Familyensemble. The group made its formal debut in 1969 in a concert at theNational Arts Centre in Ottawa.In the 1970s the name “Huggett Family” was synonymous with therevival of early music played on period instruments. Leslie Huggett, hiswife, Margaret, and their four children were known across Canada fortheir tasteful interpretations of music from the medieval, renaissanceand baroque periods. From Canada’s National Arts Centre to London’sWigmore Hall, and on the CBC and BBC, the family played and sang inperiod costumes to the delight of audiences and critics on both sidesof the Atlantic.In 1982, after several successful LP recordings, the group disbanded.Fingers, Evergreen Club Gamelan, Tapestry New Operaand the improvising chamber orchestra Hemispheres ofwhich he served as artistic director. In 1997 Gotham wasawarded the Fred Stone Award “for leadership, integrityand innovation in new music.” Moving to Latvia in 1998he enjoyed a vibrant career there, composing for AlteraVeritas, Latvian Radio Choir, Sinfonietta Riga and theRiga Saxophone Quartet, among others, and was activeas a music instructor there, among other teaching postsat the Latvian Academy of Music in the newly formedDepartment of Jazz.I’d known Nic for years in Toronto’s new music scene before hemoved to Latvia with his family (I’d performed with the EvergreenClub Gamelan in the premiere of his Toy Garage). We often met in the90s at Jim Tenney’s Sunday afternoon relaxed yet exciting composition“seminars” held at Jim and Lauren’s home. Nic considered Tenney andTenney’s York colleague David Mott his “two most important teachers.”Last year when the Gothams moved back to Toronto I invited Nic fora Korean hot pot lunch on Bloor St. W. Nic wanted to re-establish hispresence on the Toronto scene, and I to reconnect.While we feasted, we spoke for hours on a sweeping variety of subjects.Music was a theme of course, but also we covered the completionof his Ph.D., his family, my kids and master’s degree research, hiscancer, Canada vs. Latvia and the place of composers in those countries— generally re-establishing our friendship after nearly 15 years.In retrospect it felt like exchanging ideas and verbal intimacies with ayounger composer brother I never had.I’ll always remember our few choice hours together that afternoonin late 2012 — and the surprising gusto and care with which Nic ate,thought and spoke, passionately expressing his undiminished appetitefor life in the face of acute challenge.—Andrew TimarIn 1984, having moved to Markham, Ontario, Leslieand Margaret founded the Huggett Family Music Studiowhich emphasized the development of musical talent inchildren. Meanwhile, their own children moved on topursue individual musical careers in Canada and abroad.Subsequently, this studio became the Flute Studio. Inmore recent years Leslie was joined in teaching duties byFlora Lim.In recent years Leslie conducted a series of intimatereadings titled “Reflections of a Part-Time Optimist” athis Flute Studio in Markham. In these he presented a series of fascinating,humorous accounts of many aspects of his life. In all of thesehe was accompanied on piano and flute by Flora. Although diagnosedwith terminal cancer, Leslie continued writing and presenting thesedelightful Sunday afternoon reflections until he was no longer physicallyable to do so. The musical component of these intimate performanceswas always tasteful and the dialogue always down to earth andrich with Leslie’s own brand of subtle humour.A memorial service was held at Trinity United Church in Uxbridgeon May 11. A number of family members and friends reminisced abouttheir times together, and excerpts of recordings of some of the earlyperformances of the Huggett Family were played. All four childrenfrom Canada and abroad were in attendance and performed selectionswhich would have been favourites of their father. The final page on theprogram listed the four selections Leslie had specified to be played atthe service. This included the complete Mahler Symphony No.2 “TheResurrection” — “in its entirety.” His further instructions were to listento them at home if there was not time at the service. He retained hisunique sense of humour to the end. He will be missed.—Jack MacQuarrie58 | September 1 – October 7, 2013

WE ARE ALL MUSIC’S CHILDRENSeptember’s Child Rufus Wainwrightmj buellWho isOctober’sChild?Hmm ... what’ll itbe today?The film festival?Or the operahouse?With Danna?Or Mozart?A devil’s knot ofa decision.Know ourMystery Child’sname?Send your bestguess tomusicschildren@thewholenote.comby September 24.Win concerttickets andrecordings!Victoria, BC,circa 1966.On the subject of hisacclaimed show and recordinglatest recording, Outin which he recreates Judyof the Game, RufusGarland’s 1961 Carnegie HallWainwright hasconcert. He recently composedsaid, “In a lot of ways, whilemy mother was still alive, Iwas singing to her. She was mytoughest critic and my biggestfan. With her not having beenaround for this album, therewas a kind of release, a necessityto get to the next step.”“There’s a famous saying thatyour mother gives birth to youtwice — once when you’re bornand once again when she dies.So having a slightly tougher,wiser attitude on this record, Ithink I only could have done thatafter her passing ...”Rufus and Martha, Westmount, PQ, opera, Prima Donna,which had its North Americanpremiere at Luminato in 2011.Wainwright’s sister, MarthaWainwright, is also a singer andsongwriter with a considerablecareer. Music was clearlythe fabric of their childhood— raised among peoplefor whom singing is as normalas breathing, immersed in asongwriting ethos with thepower to move anyone, regardlessof musical preferences,because it’s personal in auniversal kind of way. SingingComposer and singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright isa musical chameleon with roots in both Canada and theUSA. He’s the son of Loudon Wainwright III and the lateKate McGarrigle — half of the musical sisters duo Kateand Anna McGarrigle.Wainwright was born in New York State, grew up inMontreal, and has lived in London, New York and LosAngeles. His daughter, Viva, now two, lives with hermother, Lorca Cohen (daughter of LeonardCohen), in Los Angeles. Wainwright andhis partner Jorn Weisbrodt have a home inToronto’s Annex neighbourhood (Weisbrodtis the artistic director of Luminato) butWainwright spends a huge amount of timetouring internationally — he’ll make twoOntario appearances before the end of theyear — October 11 with the Toronto Symphonyat Roy Thomson Hall, and November 2 atOttawa’s National Arts Centre.Rufus Wainwright has recorded sevenalbums of original songs in a range ofstyles. Other projects (among many) includeShakespearean sonnets set to music for a theatre pieceby Robert Wilson, soundtrack collaborations and anto, for and about each other has remained a Wainwright/McGarrigle constant.In June 2013, Nonesuch Records released Sing Me TheSongs: Celebrating The Works Of Kate McGarrigle — twoCDs of performances from benefit concerts in New York,London and Toronto which include Rufus and MarthaWainwright and a remarkable array of friends andfamily. Many, including Anna McGarrigle, elder sisterJane McGarrigle, Emmylou Harris, Teddy Thompson,Norah Jones, Sloan Wainwright and Joel Zifkin are inthe feature documentary Sing Me The Songs That SayI Love You: A Concert For Kate McGarrigle, directedby Ian Larson (seen at Luminato and TIFF Go to theMovies in 2012). Proceeds from the CDs go to the KateMcGarrigle Foundation, which supports cancer care andsarcoma research.Canadian performers across all genres often travel faraway before finding themselves on a river that bringsthem back. Wainwright didn’t sing Joni Mitchell’sRiver at the June Massey Hall birthday tribute concertfor Mitchell’s upcoming 70th birthday, but the songshe performed — All I Want, A Case of You, SlouchingTowards Bethlehem and Free Man In Paris — were eachin some way about searching and longing.dane lankenConGRAtulAtionS TO OUR WinnerS!“Rufus Wainwright with Orchestra” (TSO, Oct 11, 8pm) will feature Wainwright as both acomposer and singer-songwriter. The concert will include music from Wainwright’s opera PrimaDonna, his orchestral setting of Five Shakespeare Sonnets and songs that reflect his extraordinary range of musical appetites(from Arlen to Berlioz), with Melody Moore, soprano, and Jayce Ogren, conductor. There’s a pair of tickets for Kathleen O’Neil.Prima Donna – The Story of An Opera is a 90-minute documentary film by George Scott (Decca, 2010). This fascinating portraitof Wainwright, his musical history and career, includes interviews with Wainwright and family, Prima Donnacollaborators and commentary by Renée Fleming. Why opera? A scene with Wainwright and his mother,sitting on her sofa, listening to an old record by Beniamino Gigli, might just hold a clue or two. Lucky NaomiLuker and Paul Sayer each win a copy. All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu is Rufus Wainwright’s sixthalbum (DECCA RECORDS, 2010). Wainwright’s first recording after the death of Kate McGarrigle is a departure fromhis usually more extravagant arrangements: these 12 original songs are for piano and voice. Three are settingsof Shakespeare’s sonnets 10, 20 and 43: The words “All Days Are Nights” are from the sonnet 43: “All days arenights to see till I see thee...” Loretta London and Sheri Katz each win a copy, along with a copy of Out of theGame, Wainwright’s newest album of original pop music (Decca, 2012).Music’s Children gratefully acknowledges Shushan and Joseph, Eve, Marcy, Loudon and September 1 – October 7, 2013 | 59

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