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Volume 19 Issue 6 - March 2014

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Beat by Beat | Art of

Beat by Beat | Art of SongThe Canadian ArtSong ProjectCanadian Art Song participants Carla Huhtanen andLawrence Wiliford when they appeared in Opera Atelier’sproduction of Abduction from the Seraglio in 2008HANS DE GROOTThere have been a number of suggestions in recent months thatin Toronto the vocal recital is in a very delicate state. The musiccritic John Terauds referred in his blog to “the near extinctionof the vocal recital from Toronto’s concert scene over the pasttwo seasons.” It is easy to back up that statement: the AldeburghConnection ceased to be after 31 glorious seasons; the celebrity recitalsat Roy Thomson Hall all but disappeared a few years ago; the fourrecitalseries at the Glenn Gould Studio, which was not well publicizedand which was poorly attended, has gone. Mervon Mehta,RCM’s executive director of performing arts, said in a recent interviewthat Koerner Hall was simply not the right place for vocal recitals.He mentioned that the tenor Ian Bostridge, whose 2005 recital inRoy Thomson Hall had been well attended, drew only a small audiencethere.But not everything is doom and gloom. As Terauds acknowledged,there have been many vocal recitals in the (free) lunchtime seriesin the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the Four Seasons Centre;Music Toronto, although its programs centre on the piano and onchamber music, has in the last two years presented Erin Wall andPhillip Addis; a new (four-concert) series has started at RosedalePresbyterian Church directed initially by Rachel Andrist and JohnGreer and now by Andrist and Monica Whicher. Vocal recitals havealso come back to Koerner Hall: recently we had the bass-baritoneLuca Pisaroni and the baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky will be singingthere on June 1; the 2014-15 season promises the tenor MarcelloGiordani, the baritone Christian Gerhaher and the mezzo-sopranoAnne Sofie von Otter. Last summer Toronto Summer Music gave usPhilippe Sly and Sanford Sylvan. Their line-up for the summer of 2014has not yet been announced but we already know that the baritoneFrançois Le Roux and the collaborative pianist Graham Johnson willbe among the mentors. And we should not forget that young singers(or their agents) from time to time book venues like the HeliconianHall for song recitals.Wiliford and Philcox: One of the most interesting recent developmentsis the Canadian Art Song Project, initiated and directed bythe tenor Lawrence Wiliford and the collaborative pianist StevenPhilcox. The aims of the Project are best given in its mission statement:“To foster the creation and performance of Canadian repertoireby commissioning Canadian composers to write for Canadiansingers; to facilitate a collaborative process between the composer andthe performer; and to promote artistic excellence and the Canadianexperience in the living art of song.” Past commissions have includedSewing the Earthworm by Brian Harman (2012; sung by the sopranoCarla Huhtanen), Cloud Light by Norbert Palej (2013) and ExtremePositions and Birefringence by Brian Current (also 2013; recentlyperformed by the soprano Simone Osborne). 2014 brings us Mothsby James Rolfe (text by Andre Alexis) and a new work by PeterTiefenbach (text by James Ostine; to be performed by the baritoneGeoffrey Sirett). For 2015 Marjan Mozetich will be writing a new workto be sung by the mezzo Allyson McHardy; for 2016 there are plansto perform and perhaps record unpublished songs by Healey Willan(apparently 100 or so exist!); for 2017 Canada’s sesquicentennialwill be marked by a new composition by Ana Sokolović for soprano,mezzo, tenor and bass with texts from across Canada, to be performedby members of the Ensemble Studio of the Canadian Opera Company.This month the Canadian Art Song Project will unveil its firstCD, on the Centredisc label. All the works on the disc are by DerekHolman and they include Ash Roses (1994; written for the youngKarina Gauvin), Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal (2007), The FourSeasons (2009; written in commemoration of Richard Bradshaw) andthree Songs for High Voice and Harp (2011). The CD will be launchedat a recital by Mireille Asselin, soprano, Lawrence Wiliford, tenor,Liz Upchurch, piano, and Sanya Eng, harp (Canadian Music Centre,March 7). The songs performed by Wiliford were written with his voicein mind; he also gave the first performances of The Four Seasons (withUpchurch) and the Songs for High Voice and Harp (with Eng). TheHolman disc will also be available at “A Celebration of Canadian Song”in the free lunchtime series at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre onMarch 27. At this concert the premiere performance of James Rolfe’sMoths will be given by Brett Polegato, baritone, and Steven Philcox;Colin Ainsworth will be singing excerpts from Derek Holman’s A Playof Passion; the soprano Monica Whicher will perform songs by theyoung British Columbia composer Matthew Emory as well as a set byPierre Mercure. Ainsworth and Whicher will be accompanied by thepianist Kathryn Tremills.Clearly this is a very worthwhile project; it deserves everyone’ssupport. Tax-deductible donations can be made through the Project’swebsite (canadianartsong project.ca). Anyone interested in commissioninga new work should contact Wiliford or Philcox(canadianartsongproject@gmail.com).The Ukrainian Art Song Project: a recording of songs based on thepoetry of Taras Shevschenko is now available. It features the bass-baritonePavlo Hunka and a number of Canadian singers: Russell Braun,Krisztina Szabó, Benjamin Butterfield, Allyson McHardy, ElizabethBRUCE ZINGER16 | March 1 – April 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

Turnbull, Colin Ainsworth, Monica Whicher and Isabel Bayrakdarian.A second CD with 80 Galician songs will be launched in November.Hunka will also sing on March 23, along with local Ukrainian choirsand the Gryphon Trio (Koerner Hall).Other Events in the GTA:On March 8 Measha Brueggergosman will sing works by Brahms,Ravel, Turina, Copland, Ellington and Joni Mitchell at the FlatoTheatre, Markham.March 16 and 18:The Talisker Players present “Creature toCreature: A 21st-Century Bestiary,” with Norine Burgess, mezzo, andGeoffrey Sirett, baritone; works by Poulenc, Rappoport and Hoiby(Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, March 16 and 18).March 26: Jennifer Taverner and Lesley Bouza, soprano, JenniferEnns Modolo, mezzo, Isaiah Bell, tenor, and Michael York, baritone,are the soloists in the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s performance ofBach’s B Minor Mass at Koerner Hall.On March 30 Kristine Dandavino, mezzo, and Dillon Parmer, tenor,will be the soloists in a performance of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erdeat the Kingsview United Church, Oshawa.On April 3 Claire de Sévigné, soprano, Charlotte Burrrage, mezzo,Andrew Haji, tenor, and Gordon Bintner, bass-baritone, are thesingers in Brahms’ Liebeslieder Walzer, a free noon-hour concert atthe Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.And beyond the GTA:On March 8 Leslie Fagan will be the soprano soloist in Schubert’sShepherd on the Rock. The program will also include Brahms’ ClarinetSonata no.2 and his Clarinet Quintet at the Maureen Forrester RecitalHall, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo.March 22: Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Daniel Lichti sings Elijah and otherroles are taken by Anne Marie Ramos, soprano, Sophie Roland, alto,and Chris Fischer, tenor at River Run Centre, Guelph.March 23: Allison Angelo, soprano, Jennifer Routhier, mezzo,Christopher Mayell, tenor, and Bruce Kelly, baritone, will be the soloistsin Mozart’s Requiem at the Kingston Gospel Temple.A Correction: A mistake crept into my February column as it movedfrom an e-mail attachment into print. I had tried to make a distinctionbetween the Purcell Consort directed by Grayston Burgess andthe Deller Consort directed by Alfred Deller (and after his death, byhis son Mark). In the printed version of the column the two wereconflated.Hans de Groot is a concertgoer and active listener. He alsosings and plays the recorder. He can be contacted at artofsong@thewholenote.com.Beat by Beat | On OperaJanuary’s News,March’s BountyCHRISTOPHER HOILEJanuary 2014 was so full of opera news it was impossible to coverall of it in a single column. As reported last issue, the CanadianOpera Company announced its 2014/15 season on January 15;on January 7 it had announced the launch of the Canadian OperaOrchestra Academy. Developed in collaboration with the GlennGould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University ofToronto’s Faculty of Music, the COC Orchestra Academy is a mentorshipprogram led by COC Music Director Johannes Debus to offerstudent musicians professional insight and experience in their pursuitof a career in an opera orchestra. As Debus puts it, “What we’recreating with the COC Orchestra Academy is an opportunity to passon the wealth of experience that the members of the COC Orchestrapossess to the next generation of musicians coming up through theranks. The students selected for the launch of the program representsome promising talent and I’m very interested to see how they willblend in with our players and the perspective they’ll gain on the worldof the orchestra pit.”Against the Grain: On January 16, the COC announced that it wouldpartner with the upstart Toronto company Against the Grain, bestknown for presenting operas like La Bohème in pubs. The point ofthe new training program organized by the Banff Centre is to takeopera off the stage and into the community. Following auditions inToronto and Vancouver, eight emerging professional opera singerswill be invited to the intensive. They will workshop skills that challengethe conventions of opera performance, production and design,and develop a modern interpretation of Mozart’s Don Giovanni forpresentation at venues throughout the Banff community.Opera Atelier: The COC was not the only company to announceits 2014/15 season. On January 21, so did Opera Atelier. It willpresent two new productions – the first fully staged production ofHandel’s Alcina in Canada from October 23 to November 1, 2014 andthe Berlioz 1859 version of Gluck’s Orphée et Euridyce from April 9to 18, 2015. The latter will mark the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra’sfurthest foray into the 19th century.Violins, violas, cellos & bowsComplete line of strings & accessoriesExpert repairs & rehairsCanada’s largest stock of string musicFast mail order servicethesoundpost.cominfo@the soundpost.com93 Grenville St, Toronto M5S 1B4416.971.6990 • fax 416.597.9923A treasure trove for string players& lovers of string musicthewholenote.com March 1 – April 7, 2014 | 17

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