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Volume 19 Issue 5 - February 2014

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he writes for The

he writes for The Telegraph, where you may read his highly literate,well-argued thoughts, insights and reminiscences on everything fromreligion (he’s a sceptical Catholic) to the death of Lou Reed:“In my teenage bedroom – dark purple ceiling, light purple walls,joss sticks a-burning – I used to listen to Lou Reed: ‘Take a walkon the wild side’ he suggested with that ironic, sing-song, coolerthan-coolvoice. I didn’t take his advice in the end and went back toBeethoven, despite years of neglecting the piano and neglecting to domy homework. But in those voice-breaking years as I lounged aroundin my flared jeans covering my (purple) platform shoes, and as theLP, scratched and coarse, spun lazy circles in the smoke, I did feel acertain coming of age. I felt maturity arriving as if a shoot in a plantpot pushing out of the brown soil (no, not that plant). I was wrong; Iwas still a kid; it was a false Spring. But writing this in night-time NewYork, realizing that such a force of nature as Lou Reed is now a deadleaf beyond the Autumn of life, is strange and poignant.”And he tweets, which is where you’ll find him showing his cheekyside, diaristically sharing choice words on whatever catches hisfanciful fancy, revealing his peccadilloes (he loves shoes) or offeringinsights on the news of the day. An example, this tweet from the dayClaudio Abbado died:“I did a German tour w/@londonsymphony & #Abbado in the mid80s. ‘I’m Claudio’: my youthful nerves instantly removed RIP”Or these:“My weird, wonderful life: solo on stage for 2000 people ... then 20mins later solo slice of pizza @UnionStation_DC”“Frank Sinatra on the speakers in the restaurant: comforting soundsbefore comforting food. That masterly swoop with its agogic accent.[continued] I think piano students can learn more from Frank Sinatraabout phrasing and rubato than from most classical instrumentalists.”Indeed. By the nature of the medium, the musical insights ontwitter may outnumber those onstage or in recordings. In any case,they’re a most welcome way to keep up with this uncommon musicianwhose live appearances here are all too rare a gift. On March 3,Hough will give a masterclass at RCM. I was fortunate to attend asimilar event at RCM’s temporary home in 2007. It buoyed me forweeks while providing invaluable insights into my own modest worldof piano playing. I’m looking forward to being reinvigorated.The Year of the Horse: Celebrate the Chinese New Year February 3with the TSO and an all-star lineup of guests including conductorLong Lu, the scintillating pianist Yuja Wang (playing Rachmaninov),the soulful violinist Cho-Liang Lin (in a Dvorak Romance) andDeutsche Grammophon recording artist Yian Wang (performingTchaikovsky’s delightful Variations on a Rococo Theme) plus popstarSong Zuying (a household name in China) and a new work by TanDun (incorporating music from his best-known film scores).Double Duty: Cellist Winona Zelenka brings her singing tone toBach, Haydn and Beethoven in the Associates of the TSO concertFebruary 10 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre and then wears her TrioArkel hat as part of Chamber Music Mississauga’s Belated Valentineconcert February 22 in The Great Hall of The Unitarian Congregationof Mississauga.Not To Be Missed: The Attacca Quartet’s foray into the completestring quartets of Haydn presented by the Kitchener-WaterlooChamber Music Society continues February 7, 8 and 9 in Waterloowith four concerts, each one including an early, middle and latequartet, and two introduced by a talk by violist Luke Fleming.For more information on the Haydn 68 series see my article inWholeNote’s November 2013 issue.Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote.16 | February 1, 2014 - March 7, 2014

Beat by Beat | In With the NewIn Dialogue WithHistoryWENDALYN BARTLEYIt has now been one year since I wrote my first In With The Newcolumn for Whole Note, and in looking back over the past 12months, I’ve made a short list of what I’ve observed as the leadingedge of the new in our local music scene: the continual blurring oflines between musical genres (or the rise of “genreless music”); improvisationanchoring itself as a respected artistic voice and creativeprocess; the role of community building and the creation of composercollectives; the movement out of the concert hall into new listeningspaces and environments.During this reflection process, a memory image came to mind fromone of the first new music concerts I ever attended. It was back inthe early 70s in Walter Hall at U of T’s Faculty of Music. The concertstage was full of percussion instruments, the lights were dim andcandles lined the stage front. A bearded man dressed in white (JohnWyre) along with some of his students moved as if in a dance amongstthe assembled gongs, bowls, drums and no doubt all sorts of instrumentsfrom around the world. The mesmerizing cornucopia of soundsthey invoked opened up a new world of possibilities in my imagination.I heard sounds that previously had existed only at the edgesof my awareness. I was hooked. Determined to experience more, Iimmediately signed myself up to attend New Music Concerts, therebyexposing myself to the wild and adventurous sound experimentstaking place both here in Canada and internationally.New Music Concerts: And now 40 years later, New Music Concertscontinues to bring these cutting-edge sonic visions honed bycomposers and performers to its audience members. The programthey are presenting on March 2 represents the creative interests ofmany composers active in the 1970s. It will feature the multi-talentedpercussionist, improviser and composer Jean-Pierre Drouet playingworks by some of these international composers that NMC introducedto Toronto audiences in its early days: the likes of Kagel, Rzewski,Aperghis and Globokar.Threads common among these composers include the intersectionbetween music and theatre, the use of improvisation and extendedtechniques, and (the thread I’ll focus on in this month’s column) thepractice of creating music that reflects upon socio-political issues.Jean-Pierre DrouetOn the program, two solos from Kagel’s Exotica will be performed.It’s one of his first pieces to focus on musical and political history, andtiptoes that elusive edge that exists between the West and the worldbeyond. Scored for an array of non-European instruments, Exoticareflects on the issue of what makes the music exotic. Is it because thesounds have been shaped by the pen of a Western composer, or ratheris it because with the sounds of these instruments, it’s not possible toproduce music with typical Western features? It’s a provocative topicto reflect upon all these years later, especially given the high interestamongst composers steeped in western musical traditions in usingan ever-expanding range of instruments and sound sources. Even myown initiatory experience of new music is implicated in this matter.Continuing, Globokar’s work Toucher, based on scenes from BertoltBrecht’s play Life of Galileo raises issues of being silenced by structuresof power (the church, government, and tyrannical ideologies).Rzewski, renowned for works that exhibit a deep political conscience,is represented with To The Earth, which stands in solidarity with thegrowing consciousness of the environmental movement. Drawn to thecombination of music and text, Aperghis’ Le corps à corps narratesthe thrills of a car racing event from multiple perspectives using bothsound and spoken word. It portrays the composer’s practice of transportingeveryday events to a poetic, often absurd and satirical world.Rounding out the program is Il libro celibe by Giorgio Battistelli,a composer fascinated by alchemy, psychology and the ideas ofMarcel Duchamp.New Creations Festival: What is compelling about the approachof the composers presented by New Music Concerts is their dialoguewith cultural and historical references. It’s fascinating to note thatthis practice is also evident in many of the works being programmedwww.NewMusicConcerts.comRobert Aitken artistic directorSunday March 2, 2014 • 8pm | A Percussive Evening with Jean-Pierre DrouetThe Music Gallery | 197 John St.Introductions @ 7:15pmConcerts @ 8:00pmThursday March 20, 2014 • 8pm | An Evening with the Arditti String QuartetJane Mallett Theatre | 27 Front St. E. | 416.366.7723 co-production with Music TorontoFriday April 18, 2014 • 8pm | A Portrait of Jörg Widmann | Jörg Widmann, clarinet/directionBetty Oliphant Theatre | 404 JarvisWednesday May 21, 2014 • 8pm | Beijing Composers with Wei-wei LanMazzoleni Hall, Royal Conservatory | 273 Bloor St. W. | 416.408.0208 co-production with 21C Music FestivalIndividual Tickets regular | seniors / arts workers | students[Call Box Office numbers above for March 20 and May 21 co-production single ticket prices]Pick 3 (or more) each reg | senior/arts | students | Call NMC @ February 1, 2014 - March 7, 2014 | 17

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