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Volume 19 Issue 7 - April 2014

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  • April
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
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udget available to the king of France) but Cavalli’s opera Giasone isstill a great piece of music that opera fans should find to be an essentialpart of the opera canon. Based on the story of Jason and theGolden Fleece, it was the most popular opera of the century. Thismonth, the Toronto Consort is putting on its own production ofGiasone. Laura Pudwell will join the Toronto Consort to sing the roleof Jason (no castrati being available any more) and the Consort willsupply the backup band of strings, continuo and winds. It all happenson April 4, 5, and 6 at Trinity-St Paul’s Centre.Suzie Leblanc: Anyone in Toronto still looking to get their fix ofopera this month should consider checking out the Toronto MasqueTheatre – they’ll be presenting an opera of sorts at the Trinity-St Paul’sCentre on April 25 and 26. The opera in question is Michel Pignoletde Montéclair’s L’Europe, a cantata for soprano based on the mythof Europa. There’s only one vocal part, along with a backup band, inthis cantata, so you could think of it as opera on the cheap, or alternatelyas really souped-up vocal chamber music. Suzie Leblancwill be singing with TMT and the concert will be further fortifiedby the choreography of Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière, the dancingof Stéphanie Brochard and the acting talents of Martin Julien, so itwill be a fine multimedia experience that will delight aficionados ofFrench Baroque music. Also on the program is a newly-commissionedcontemporary work: Toronto-based composer James Rolfe’s Europaand the White Bull, so if you don’t want to hear something old, stickaround and listen for something new.Sine Nomine EnsembleSine Nomine: If you’re completely against the idea of new music,indulge your inner arch-conservative and consider checking outthe Sine Nomine Ensemble in a program devoted to the musicof Guillaume de Machaut. Machaut was the leading composer of14th-century France and an early writer of polyphonic masses andmotets. If you have any interest in medieval music at all or are lookingfor a good place to start, Machaut is an excellent introduction tothe Middle Ages. Sine Nomine will perform at St. Thomas AnglicanChurch at 8pm on April 25.Scaramella: a chamber group with a reputation for bringingtogether informative and well-thought-out programs, this monthScaramella will play a concert devoted to the invention of the celloin Italy in the latter half of the 17th century and the gradual musicalDarwinism that ensued as it sought to take the place in the musicalworld previously held by the viola da gamba. The cello ultimately wonthat contest, but it was a hard-won fight that lasted nearly a hundredyears. Cellist Elinor Frey and gambaist Joëlle Morton will square off inan epic battle of bowed bass instruments, assisted by Daniel Zuluagaon chitarrone and guitar. Who will win? Find out at 8pm April 12 atInnis Town Hall.Musical rivalry: it’s a great way to sell tickets, and it’s especiallyfun to watch in opera. Tafelmusik will commemorate one of themost famous rivalries in opera history, the battle between FaustinaBordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni. Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarianwill join the orchestra at Koerner Hall on April 9, 10, 12, and 13for a program featuring arias written for the two divas by Handel,Hasse, and Bononcini; it also includes concertos by Handel, Vivaldi,and Telemann, and a sinfonia by Zelenka. I should stress that Ms.Bayrakdarian is singing all the arias composed for the two divasherself, so it is the historical rivaly that will be on display in whatshould be a comparatively civilized affair.David Podgorski is a Toronto-based harpsichordist, music teacherand a founding member of Rezonance. He can be contacted by Beat | In With the NewSpring’sSynesthesiaGavin BryarsWENDALYN BARTLEYAs I sit down to write thismonth’s WholeNotecolumn, the date(March 20) tells me that it’sthe first day of spring. Eventhough I see snow falling outsidemy window, I know that acompletely different sensationis waiting in the wings: a minglingof the smells, sounds andcolours of emerging spring. Andwith the arrival of April comesa plethora of in-with-the-newperformances that promise totake the listener into a multiplesensoryexperience.Back in 1827, the Germanphilospher K.F.E.Trahndorffcoined the term “Gesamtkunstwerk” to express the idea of a synthesisof the arts. About 20 years later, the (in)famous composer RichardWagner used this term to describe his vision of the unification ofall forms of art into one expression. This ideal became the foundationalprinciple of his operatic style. A companion to this idea is thephenomenon of synesthesia, a word created from the combinationof two ancient Greek words meaning “together” and “sensation.” Theword describes the experience that some people have when the stimulationof one sense creates an involuntarily response in one of theother senses. An example would be someone who automatically seescolours while listening to music, or vice versa. So while the sensoryworld of spring begins to awaken around us, inside the concert hallthe listener will have several opportunities to experience a variety ofapproaches to the combining of art forms, with or without an accompanyingdramatic component.Art of Time Ensemble: The WholeNote’s cover story last monthtalked about the symbiotic relationship between dance and musicin the work of Peggy Baker and how crucial her collaboration withpianist Andrew Burashko was for how she works with live music.This collaboration was equally formative for Burashko, who statesthat Peggy gave him “a whole new universe” in exposing him to arange of theatrical elements. And that without this infusion of newapproaches, his ensemble, Art of Time, could not have happened. Infact his ensemble’s reputation has been built on the daring and innovativeinteraction with outstanding artists in many different artisticdisciplines, including dancers, writers, actors and non-classical musicians.Their production running from April 9 to 12 is titled “I Send YouThis Cadmium Red: Meditations On Colour And Sound.” This explorationof the senses will combine music, theatre and visual projectionsto create a kaleidoscopic effect, which can best be described as afilm, a painting, an essay, a play and a concert —all at once. In fact thewhole becomes larger than the sum of its parts, and promises to bemesmerizing.The music of composer Gavin Bryars will provide the score for theevening. Two of his works will be performed by the ensemble: Afterthe Requiem and the title piece I Send You this Cadmium Red. Thelatter work by Bryars is based on a correspondence between the visualartist John Christie and Booker award-winning writer John Berger,who wrote The Ways of Seeing. To begin their collaboration Christiesent Berger a square of colour along with a letter that ended with thesentence “I send you this cadmium red.” John Berger’s reply was amusing on the cadmium red as well as many other colours, and theNICK WHITE26 | April 1 – May 7, 2014

ensuing correspondence began a series of meditations on the essenceof individual colours, while also delving into poetry, art history andmemory. The correspondence eventually became both a book anda radio broadcast for which Bryars wrote music to underscore thecolour themes in the texts. Performing the text taken from theseletters in the Toronto production will be actors John Fitzgerald Jay andJulian Richings. To get a sense of the stunning explosion of colourand sound of this piece, I highly recommend viewing a short video(see from a 2011 performance of the workco-produced by Art of Time and Canadian Stage.Toronto Masque Theatre: Even before the term Gesamtkunstwerkwas coined, the art of masque existed. Tracing its origins back tothe 16th and 17th centuries, this European form of interdisciplinaryentertainment involved music, dance, song, acting, stage design andcostumes. The Toronto Masque Theatre is dedicated to reviving this artform both through the performance of early works and the commissioningof new works. On April 25 and 26 they will present twopieces exploring the Greek myth of Europa, after whom the continentof Europe was named. Alongside a baroque-era work by Pignoletde Montéclair will be the premiere of Toronto composer JamesRolfe’s Europa and the White Bull. With a libretto written by poet/novelist Steven Heighton, this 21st century masque will expose thedarker sides of the myth: power, sexuality and ethics. There are manyversions of the original, but at the heart of the story is an encounterbetween Europa (sometimes equated with the goddesses Astarte andDemeter) and a bull, an animal sacred to the Cretan Minoans. (Asa side note, I recommend a unique take on this story set in Ontario:the novel entitled Europa in the Wilderness written by ChristopherMalcolm and published by Augusta House Press. )Contemporary Opera: Then there is contemporary opera, a worldthat continues to imbue the traditional form with new elements. Lastmonth, I introduced the FAWN opera company and their new workshopopera productions. On April 11, they are premiering a newchamber opera by award-winning composer Adam Scime, L’Hommeet le Ciel. Based on sources from the second century, the librettoby Ian Koiter recounts one man’s struggle to live righteously. Scimeintroduces electronics into the score as both an enhancement of theorchestral colours and to further the narrative. On May 3, FAWN presentsan event in their Synesthesia series: a showcase of eight shortfilms by emerging Canadian filmmakers with live soundtracks byToronto composers.Back to opera: the Essential Opera company will be premieringthree new one-act operas by three composers from the Toy PianoComposers collective on April 5. Monica Pearce’s Etiquette combinesmusic and speech to present various opinions about the role ofetiquette in society. Elisha Denburg’s Regina is based on the storyof the world’s first female rabbi – Regina Jonas. Chris Thornborrow’sHeather explores the issues of cyberbullying. Just a week later, onApril 12, these co-directors/composers of the Toy Piano Composersgroup will be presenting a concert entitled “Tension/Resolution: NewMusic for Harp and Ensemble” featuring soloist Angela Schwarzkopfand the TPC Ensemble. All works on the program are composed byTPC composers, who represent an eclectic range of interests andaesthetics – from chamber music to improvisation to sound installationsand noise art.Soundstreams: The groundbreaking Australian Art Orchestrahas evolved their own way of blending and reinventing by breakingdown barriers between disciplines, forms and cultures. On April 15,Soundstreams will present the Canadian premiere of their jazzinfusedpiece Passion After St. Matthew, a reinvention of J.S. Bach’sSt. Matthew Passion. Five of the ensemble’s composers were askedto write new pieces inspired by five movements from Bach’s masterpieceand these are linked together by chorale passages. However, thepiece is a constantly evolving structure, and the Toronto performancewill put together six members of the AAO with a 12-person ensembleof acclaimed Canadian musicians to create a unique new hybrid of thepiece. The program will also feature a new work by Montreal-basedcomposer Nicole Lizée, Hymns to Pareidolia, which will combineTWENTY-FIRST CENTURY MUSIC FESTIVAL MAY 21-25/20148 CONCERTS 5 NIGHTS 20 PREMIERES!21CChilly GonzalesLouis AndriessenR. Murray SchaferUri CaineJohn CageJennifer HigdonBrian CurrentJavier LimónEve Egoyan &David RokebyChristos HatzisLeo Ornsteinand more!IN THIS FESTIVALOF NEWLY MINTEDMUSIC, TODAY’SMOST FEARLESSMUSICIANS ANDCOMPOSERSBRING US FRESHNEW SOUNDSAND IDEAS.THE 21C MUSIC FESTIVAL IS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH THE GENEROUS ASSISTANCE OF MICHAEL AND SONJA KOERNERThe Afiara String Quartet appearance is generously supported by R.S. Williams and Sons Co.Chilly GonzalesAfiara String QuartetFESTIVAL PASSES & CONCERT TICKETS ON SALE NOW! 416.408.0208 www.performance.rcmusic.ca273 BLOOR STREET WEST (BLOOR ST. & AVENUE RD.) April 1 – May 7, 2014 | 27

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