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Volume 19 Issue 3 - November 2013

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  • November
  • Toronto
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BEHIND THE SCENESRichard Herriott and Winona ZelenkaMusic forAutismREBECCA CHUAMusic was what brought them together when,as eager young members of the gifted programat the Royal Conservatory in Toronto in the early1980s, Richard Herriott and Winona Zelenkafound themselves part of a hand-picked cadre of buddingmusicians. And music is what reunites them, after yearsapart and careers on opposite sides of the pond.Zelenka is well known to readers of The WholeNote as achamber and orchestral musician. Herriott is less so, althoughsome will remember his November 6, 2011 appearance at Walter Hall ina moving tribute concert to the memory of Antonin Kubalek.Both will be performing in the intimate surroundings of St. Stephenin-the-Fields Anglican Church on November 29 in a program featuringBenjamin Britten’s Cello Sonata (beloved by Zelenka), folk song settingsby Vaughan Williams and the Canadian premiere of Herriott’s RockPiano Concerto without Orchestra, subtitled “An Electric Organ, aLadder and a Persian Rug.”Britten’s seldom-performed cello sonata is a tribute to Shostakovich,while Vaughan Williams, perhaps the most quintessentially English ofcomposers, turned to English folk songs for inspiration. Herriott’s ownRock Piano Concerto, which he composed and performed on the occasionof his 40th birthday, ten years ago, was a tribute to progressiverock, “prog rock Britannia” as he calls it. He is a big fan of Emerson,Lake and Palmer, as can be seen by their initials deftly woven into thework’s subtitle.Hence the concert’s title: “Music of British Composers of the 2nd ElizabethanEra.”Proceeds of this inaugural concert for Music for Autism, of whichHerriott is the artistic director, will be mainly directed to the GenevaCentre for Autism, a full-service agency and resource centre for thosewith autism spectrum disorders and their families. Located in Toronto,the centre was named for a groundbreaking conference held in Switzerlandin 1974.Herriott refers to many studies that demonstrate the positive effectof music on children with autism, citing anecdotal evidence that manyautistic individuals actually understand and appreciate complex musicalcompositions.The inspiration for this venture is Music for Autism, a series of fundraisingconcerts established in the UK more than a decade ago by twomusicians (Herriott and Duncan Honeybourne) who were themselvesthe parents of autistic children. Herriott, who moved to the UKand started a family there, is the father of two autistic sons, Oliver, 18,and Greg, 15, who still live in Leeds,Yorkshire. While both Oliver andhis brother are highly functioning and intelligent, their social skillsare limited.Herriott remembers how, as a boy, Oliver would routinely recite primenumbers, and have no trouble multiplying various large integers thatmight stump lesser mortals. Herriott also recalls how, at a young age, hissons and their classmates would conduct conversations about complexmathematics that might leave their parents in the dust.Herriott characterizes Oliver as “incredibly musical but with no idea ofdanger,” whereas “Greg could hum you almost an entire Brahms sonatawhile rummaging through your purse, and would not be able to tell youwhere he lives.”“So while the ethos and vision (of Music for Autism) is to raise bothawareness and revenue for autism and autism research, just as importantis the opportunity to provide a venue for people with autism to hearquality live classical music,” he explains.His hope for the concert, and the series, is to create an environment,Richard Herriott (inset) and Winona Zelenka.“a haven” he says, in which the audience comes generously prepared fora significantly less decorous and more exuberant ambience than thatof the typical concert, something that may also make it a welcomingenvironment for people with children in general.In Leeds, the boys receive cutting-edge care and support funded bythe government. When he returned to Canada a couple of years ago,Herriott quickly realized that there was a great disparity not only in thelevel of care, but also in general awareness and understanding of autismand Asperger syndrome. That’s why he’s hoping that every effort thatcan being made to heighten awareness may eventually close the gapbetween the level of care here and that in the UK.Zelenka was in the audience for the Kubalek tribute concertmentioned earlier, but the salient detail that brought her and Herriotttogether for this endeavour after 30 years is probably the fact that, asit happens, Zelenka’s younger daughter Kathryn, 18, is also autistic. Abright, bubbly individual, Kathryn sings, loves drama, and writes storiesbut suffered from excruciating anxiety; she now handles the noise thatused to plague her by using headphones all the time.When Zelenka, who is assistant principal cellist of the TorontoSymphony Orchestra, mentioned this initiative to a few of her colleagues,also parents of autistic children, they were equally interested inparticipating.This first Music for Autism concert will take place at St. Stephensin-the-Fields, 103 Bellevue Ave., November 29 at 7:30pm. Generaladmission: . Looking ahead, Herriott will be back at Walter Hall foranother tribute/celebration this coming January 26 when he will givethe premiere performance of Walter Buczynski’s Piano Sonata No.8, ata concert celebrating the composer’s 80th birthday.Rebecca Chua is a Toronto-based journalist who writes onculture and the arts.BRYSON WINCHESTERA MarketPlace ad is like handing outyour business cardto over 30,000 music with SheilaSheila McCoy416 574 Woodbine subway)ChildrenʼsPiano LessonsFriendly, approachable– and strict!Liz Parker416.544.1803liz.parker@rogers.comQueen/Bathurst60 | Novemberr 1 – December 7, 2013

SEEING ORANGE | ALLAN PULKERBuilding the Student/Teacher Relationship,Brick by BrickIn march this year we published our first “Orange Pages” directory”— a collection of profiles written by private music teachers,community music schools and summer music programs ofvarious kinds. Their goals and ours were, and remain, the same — toput music teachers with something to offer in touch with prospectivestudents wanting to learn. The grand vision, of course, would be tocome up with a resource that would do for lifelong music learningwhat our concert listings do for the live music scene — a “one stopshopping” destination in the quest for a music teacher or school.A grand vision indeed, but the reality is that even the grandestedifices are constructed brick by brick. There is no short cut to whatwe are trying to do. We realized early on that profiles wrfitten by theteachers are only part of the answer — that what is also needed issome way of gathering comparable data from all the participants —so that someone looking for a teacher can go online and find ateacher in a specific town or in a particular area of music.A dear friend of The WholeNote, a retired music professor, helpedus draft questionnaires for various kinds of music teaching — private,community-based, fulltime — and, once again, as the saying goes, wewere “good to go.” All we had to do was put the survey up on ourwebsite and, presto, there would be our hoped for panoramic vista ofall the educational possibilities out there.Or would it? We took the precaution of running our draft questionnairesby a cross-section of active music teachers and educators.Were we asking the right questions or not? What others might weask? We asked for feedback and, boy, did we get it!!!!“The whole premise of these number-crunching questionnairesseems all wrong to me ...”; “I would certainly never take part in it,and I consider myself one of the best independent teachers in town”;“Perhaps examples would help generate responses”; “The queriesseem far too intrusive for the typical private music teacher to care toanswer” were some of the more extreme, along with a host of reallypractical suggestions, seeing the usefulness of what we were hopingto do, and how to improve it.One response though seemed to hit the nail on the head:“None of the questions I see tells me anything about the potentialstudio teacher/music student relationship or philosophy, and that’sreally all that matters in choosing a teacher.”The central issue is that studying music is all about the relationshipbetween teacher and student, and this was the fundamentaldifference between our idea for an Orange Pages directory of musicschools and teachers and some of our other directories.Letting the teacher or school say what they like about themselvesis clearly not enough. Trying to turn them into ciphers on a questionnaire(“like the long-form census” as one exasperated commentatorput it) is not the whole answer either. But somewhere in betweenthere’s still, we think, a useful role for us to play — a way of gatheringand correlating information so that the searching student cancompare “oranges to oranges,” in the search for the right teacher —while at the same time giving individual teachers the opportunity togive voice to the things they most prize and value; to say in their ownwords what they believe they have to offer.Bloor West Music StudiosYour Neighbourhood Music Schoolbloorwestmusicstudios@gmail.comDon Mills Music StudioIndependent studio of Derrick Lewisdonmillsmusicstudio.weebly.comEtobicoke Suzuki Musicetobicokesuzukimusic.cainfo@essm.caCOMMUNITYSCHOOLSFun With Music TogetherFor children from birth to 5 yearsfunwithmusictogether.caInternational MusicAcademyInternationalMusicAcademy.caDo you thinkyour childshould studymusic?Kingsway Conservatoryof Musickingswayconservatory.caKoffler Centre of the ArtsYear-round programs for all ageskofflerarts.orgMiles Nadal SuzukiMusic November 1 – December 7, 2013 | 61

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