8 years ago

Volume 19 Issue 2 - October 2013

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  • October
  • Toronto
  • Choir
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  • November
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Silmarillion, died right

Silmarillion, died right before I began my company, and I was devastated.So I decided to keep him alive in a way. Now, I have anotheriguana ... named Cain.”The woman definitely has a thing for reptiles. Which brings usmarching full circle, back to the saints. Turns out, St. John has maintainedan online WordPress page for years, under the name “sauriansaint.”And guess what? Saurian, in case you missed thatevolutionary biology class, is defined as being “any of a suborder(Sauria) of reptiles including the lizards.”Here’s a wee taste of some of the titles to her entertaining blogentries: from January 19, 2013, “Variations on ‘Is That a Violin???’”;from October 17, 2011, “Tricks For Getting Your Violin On a Plane”;and from June 7, 2003, “The Grey Plastic Laundry Tubs at AirportSecurity.” All cheeky and hilarious! ( wouldn’t want to invite Lara St. John to their gala — with orwithout her pet iguana? It will be thrilling to see and hear her, asSinfonia Toronto ushers in its 15th year with grand gusto!I’d love to fill several more pages with stories of successful womenmusicians but, unlike St. John, I don’t get to call the shots. For onefinal time, though, I can leave you with these:QUICK PICKSMore women (and a few good men) to watch for this month:Women’s Musical Club of Toronto!!Oct 17, 1:30: Music in the Afternoon: Bax & Chung, piano duo.Gallery 345!!Oct 18, 8:00: The Art of the Piano: Beatriz Boizan.!!Nov 2, 8:00: Leslie Ting, violin, and Sarah Hagen, piano.University of Toronto Faculty of Music!!Oct 26, 7:30: University of TorontoSymphony Orchestra. BiancaChambul, bassoon.!!Oct 31, 12:10: Thursdays at Noon:Debussy and Ravel. Shauna Rolston,cello; Erika Raum, violin; LydiaWong, piano.Royal Conservatory!!Oct 27, 3:00: Yuja Wang, piano.!!Nov 3, 2:00: András Schiff, piano.Yuja Wang.Kitchener-Waterloo ChamberMusic Society!!Oct 18, 8:00: Triple ForteTrio. Jasper Wood, violin;David Jalbert, piano; YegorDyachkov, cello.!!Oct 23, 8:00: Ang Li, piano.Toronto Symphony Orchestra!!Oct 10 and 12, 8:00:Masterworks: James Ehnes,Violin, Plays Britten.Ang Li.!!Oct 19, 7:30: Light Classics:From Dvořák to Tchaikovsky. Vilde Frang, violin. Also Oct 20, 3:00.University of Waterloo Department of Music!!Oct 23, 12:30: Noon Hour Concerts: New Canadian Duos.Stephanie Chua, piano; Véronique Mathieu, violin.York Symphony Orchestra!!Oct 19, 8:00: Heroic Exploits. Vivian Chon, violin. Also Oct 20(Richmond Hill).These last two years as Classical & Beyond columnist have been richand rewarding. I don’t know that I’m any closer to answering thatalways-niggling question, “Beyond what?” and that’s okay. Above andbeyond all else, the journey toward trying to figure it all out has beena true joy. To the music!Sharna Searle trained as a musician and lawyer, practised a lotmore piano than law and has just wrapped up a three-year stint aslistings editor at The WholeNote. Comments on and items of interestfor the column should continue to be sent to | October 1 – November 7, 2013

Beat by Beat | Choral SceneWhat’s ‘Weird,’Anyway?BEN STEINThose of you dropping in on this column for the first timewill have missed the start of a discussion of modern musicbegun here last month, revolving around the question: why didcomposers start writing music that sounded so weird?Short answer: It’s a complex subject that touches on globaleconomics, cultural history, evolutions in class and ethnic mobility,the changing nature of music education and concert-going, religionin society, European nationalism, industrialization and technologicalprogress in instrument building.So let’s move on. In practical terms, 1) choral audiences sometimeswant to hear music they haven’t heard before and 2) choral composerswant to keep composing new repertoire. So how do we bring the twoparties together to meet on the dance floor? Like any healthy relationship,it takes a leap of faith and a bit of compromise.So, to the audience member who runs for the doors at the hint ofan unfamiliar or apparently unpleasant sound: you have to be willingto give these new musical experiences not just a first, but a secondand third chance. The first time you went up on a two-wheel bike youprobably wobbled and fell. But you persevered, ’cause you had somesense that on the other side of the challenge were new vistas of excitement,freedom and enjoyment.And to those composers who write in a way that ignores the tworeasons why the vastmajority of people listento music — pleasure andsolace: you will simplylose your audience — aprincipled but selfdestructivepath thatmany mid-20th-centurycomposers chose.The musician whowants to connect withlisteners must be willingto meet them at least partof the way. This meansbeing open to musicalelements that have appealto non-musicians — traditionaltonal harmonicThomas Adè, melodic contourthat has a comprehensiblearc and graspable structure, rhythmic grooves that are anchoredin movement and dance, and other elements of popular, folk andindigenous music.If you think this is the kind of pandering to which no artiste shouldstoop, go back and listen to pretty much every composer of note fromthe last 500 years — they knew their dance numbers and their folksongs, their pub cheers and theatre numbers and children’s lullabiesand they infused their compositions with these elements, evenas they extended the boundaries of where music could go and what itcould express. They knew that to both thrive and survive, they had toconsider the needs of the people around them as much as their own.The point I made in last month’s column is that many moderncomposers are already doing this. The mid-20th century experimentsof atonality and serialism, Musique concrète, aleatoric music andBRIAN October 1 – November 7, 2013 | 21

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