8 years ago

Volume 19 Issue 4 - December 2013

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flow of those

flow of those surroundings.”Although very much a product of his own provincial Ontarioculture — if that doesn’t sound too pejorative — the future impresariobegan to acquire a taste for internationalism in his student years inToronto (he studied music at the University of Toronto) where, at theinvitation of his sometime oboe teacher, Perry Bauman, he sat in as anextra player with the CBC Symphony Orchestra.“It was a big step for me,” he recalls. “I had to join the union and itdidn’t even occur to me to ask who was conducting. When I looked upfrom my music stand it was Igor Stravinsky.”Years later the tyro orchestral player was able to return the favour bylaunching Soundstreams (initially as Chamber Concerts Canada) witha three-concert 1982 festival honouring Stravinsky’s 100th birthday.But more of that anon.As a talented new professional, young Mr. Cherney soon found himselfin the pit of the O’Keefe (now Sony) Centre as principal oboe of theNational Ballet Orchestra, a position he left after two years to become afounding member of Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra in 1969.Offered tenure in Ottawa after the traditional three seasons, he facedanother critical decision — whether to continue pursuing a secureorchestral career or gamble on a riskier life in solo and chamber music(the third option of purchasing a cobra in a basket seemed somehowless practical for someone living so far from India).Joining Canada’s foremost wind ensemble, the Toronto-based YorkWinds, in 1972 settled thatquestion, developing in himan appetite for travel furtherwhetted by a 1976 Europeantour with Robert Aitken’s NewMusic Concerts.Through both experienceshe became simultaneously aninternationalist and a nationalisteager to showcase contemporaryCanadian music ina world context. Additionaltouring with harpist Erica Goodman and percussionist Russell Hartenberger(of Nexus fame) further contributed to cultivating this twosidedidentity.On the home front he augmented these activities by establishingMusic at Sharon in 1981, pointing out that “if I had just tried to be anoboe soloist I would have starved to death.”As the years passed and his entrepreneurial skills expanded, hisdouble-reed instruments spent more and more time in their cases. Aftera decade with York Winds, he decided finally to tip the balance in favourof presenting music more than playing it. If his instrument cases are notyet locked, neither are they frequently opened nowadays.Veteran Toronto concertgoers may remember the early years ofChamber Concerts Canada in the late 1980s. Monday was a dark nightat Young People’s Theatre so Cherney and company were offered theopportunity to launch a series called Musical Mondays. The name evencarried over to the other days of the week when the series moved to theSt. Lawrence Centre.By 1993 the series morphed yet again into Encounters, presentedmostly at the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio in association with DavidJaeger’s landmark FM radio program, Two New Hours (hosted for muchof its on-air life by the late Larry Lake). An institutionalized formatBack in 1941, before Lawrence Cherney was even born, in the pages of a book titled One World,a failed candidate for the presidency of the United States gave the artistic director of Soundstreamsa guiding theme for much of his career.In fact, Wendell Willkie might almost have written the very words of the Peterborough-bornoboist and English horn player’s welcome to his audience for November’s “Reimagining Flamenco”presentation in the newly refurbished Jeanne Lamon Hall at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre:“... Never have the world’s cultural heritages been so accessible to all, so available to beexplored, appreciated and transformed,” Cherney wrote in the Soundstreams program. “No culture or heritagecan survive in a vacuum, preserved in a museum in splendid isolation. Cultures interact, resonate withtheir surroundings. They’re in a constant state of evolution and revolution in direct relation to the ebb andinvolved pairing a Canadian composer with | continued on page 78Lawrence CherneyInter ~ NationalistWILLIAM LITTLER8 | December 1, 2013 – February 7, 2014

Lutoslawski’sLegacyA PersonalReminiscenceROBERT AITKEN{ The following is excerpted and adapted from a text deliveredby Robert Aitken at the Symposium “Lutoslawski – Musicand Legacy” held on October 26, 2013 at the Schulich Schoolof Music of McGill University in collaboration with The PolishAcademy of Arts and Sciences in Krakow and The PolishInstitute of Arts and Sciences in Canada, to commemorate thecentennial of composer Witold Lutoslawski’s birth. }There are many things in life which come to be obvious. As theyears go by you forget when you learned them and think that youalways knew them. They become truisms that you expect everyoneto know — a kind of self-evident knowledge. Was there actually a timein my life when I did not understand that Poland was truly a leader incontemporary music? I just knew it and continued to believe so formany years up to the present. So when I was invited to give this reminiscenceon Witold Lutoslawski I was pleased to rethink this importantpart of my past to ascertain just when and what it was that broughtabout my great interest in Polish music and led ultimately to invitingLutoslawski to Toronto.As best as I can remember it was on my first trip to Iceland in 1966,one of 26 visits there, that I met musicians who had studied in Polandand a number of (very) established composers who had worked at theelectronic studio in Warsaw. They regaled me with stories of vodkaand the antics of Józef Patkovski and other patriotic artists who hadconfronted the regime and gone on in their pioneering experimentswith music, electronic and otherwise. And it was about this time thatPenderecki and Lutoslawski composed their astounding, groundbreakingstring quartets which opened the door for many composersto a whole new musical world.Then two years later, again in Iceland at the 1968 ISCM Festival, I meta number of Polish musicians including Włodzimierz Kotoński who, ashead of the music department of the Polish Radio, invited me to playon Polish television ... Of course a visa was required and was supposedlywaiting for me at the Polish embassy in Copenhagen. After three daysof waiting, I gave up on that particular visit.Still, I was anxious to see Poland so one year later, with a visa fromToronto in hand, I entered the world of Eastern Europe and was pickedup by Kotoński at the airport in Warsaw ... I had asked several times,even the year before, what dress they would like for television but noanswer was forthcoming. Now it was to be tails, which no musician December 1, 2013 – February 7, 2014 | 9

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