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Volume 19 Issue 9 - June/July/August 2014

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On The Road with ...

On The Road with ... Peter Oundjian BY SARA CONSTANTWe’re at it again – as always this time of year, our summerissue becomes a point at which we check in with musiciansfrom across our community who are headed “on the road”– or are staying in – for the summer months. We’ve askedlocal musicians of all sorts and kinds what they’re most looking forwardto this summer, both as listeners and performers, and what their plansare for the 2014/15 season on the other side.While it’s the same four questions every year, the overwhelmingvariety of responses we receive demonstrates just how unique eachartist is, and just how far their summer travels will take them. Forsome insight on an array of upcoming plans – some international andsome much closer to home – our publisher David Perlman sat downwith TSO music director Peter Oundjian, on what he’ll be up to bothon and off the podium this summer.DP: For “On the Road,” our standard four questions are: first of all,what did we drag you away from for this interview?PO: I have been rehearsing all day. We started the morning withTchaikovsky 6 and we rehearsed that for a fairly long time. And thenwe did Rossini, La scala di seta. And then we had a lunch breakexcept that during the lunch break the orchestra was being introducedto our new CEO, Jeff Melanson … I had a rehearsal with Jean-Yves Thibaudet on the James MacMillan piano concerto and theShostakovich first piano concerto with Andrew McCandless, our principaltrumpeter. So that’s the life of a music director. There are alwaysplenty of different things going on.DP: Next question is: what are you looking forward to most as anaudience member, over June/July/August?PO: Oh that’s an interesting question, because people like mearen’t very good at going to things! My son sings in a wonderful acappella group on Martha’s Vineyard, called the Vineyard Sound …They put on a fantastic show, and they sing so beautifully and so intune and in so many different parts. That’s always really entertainingand I’m sure we’ll go there. I will be going to the Caramoor Festivala little bit because it’s right down the road and I have a former affiliationwith Caramoor, and I might hear some string quartet musicthere, it’s a beautiful location. And I may also go to part of their jazzfestival because I love it. You know, if I go for real entertainment thenobviously orchestral music, I can’t stop being curious about howthey’re doing it and why they’re doing that, and why not … And if Ihear a string quartet that’s in some ways a little too nostalgic for me,although I can certainly enjoy that very much. I love going to pianorecitals or classical guitar recitals or things like that and I also love tohear jazz and other different musical forms.DP: And as a musician yourself, what are you looking forward toover the summer?PO: Well first of all I’m looking forward to not being “on the road”for a while! But most importantly, I’m very very excited about theEuropean tour that the Toronto Symphony is going to be taking in themiddle of August for about ten days. It’s the first European tour in 14years for the orchestra, so it’s really a very, very significant momentfor all of us. And we’re going to be going to Grafenegg, which is abeautiful festival close to Vienna, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, andwe’ll be playing at Rheingau, a wonderful German festival. We’ll be inresidence at the Helsinki festival for a couple of days … And then thefinal concert is sort of on our way home, we’re going to stop in Icelandat Reykjavik, which has a beautiful concert hall called the Harpa,because every window is shaped like a harp, and it’s sitting right thereon the Atlantic ocean: this stunning place with a great sound.DP: Last of the mandatory four questions is: what are you alreadyembroiled in now, for the other side of the summer? What are youalready working on in your spare time for your next season?PO: …On the other side, the opening of next season we have alot of wonderful things which everybody can read about. But thebigger planning … you know it’s very interesting because the TorontoSummer Music Festival started to emphasize just this summer exactlywhat’s been on my mind for the last six months. Which is how fascinatingit is … the sort of eruption of 20th-century musical language.By the early 1920s, you could suddenly no longer have any ideawhen music might have been written, if you listen to it now. If it wasSchoenberg and the beginning of serialism, well you’d think, my God,that could have been written tomorrow. It seems so modern to us …At the same time, you still had Rachmaninoff and Strauss writingin very honest Romantic language most of the time and then otherRomantics developing, like Samuel Barber and so on. And then thesort of polytonal-but-non-modernists like Shostakovich and Britten,and then you had the people who were so influenced by folk music… So, I think it’s a very interesting period. And I think it’s one thatwe should get our audience everywhere in Toronto excited about. Ifeel that we as a group of arts leaders in the city need to do a reallygood job of engaging people who live in Toronto in what is fascinatingabout the world of art. We have to work harder at it now becausewe’re so distracted. I mean, which of us doesn’t sit with some kind ofa gadget and just go from one YouTube video to the other, from oneGoogle piece of information to the other. Sometimes you learn a lot.And sometimes it’s just purely mindless. But the fact is that you’redistracted and you’re entertained. So we need to work very hard ateither being part of that – which is part of what we need to do – butalso by just creating something that they’ve got to say, “now, that Iactually have to see! Because I wouldn’t be doing that alone, I wantto go out and share that with other people.” And this is the sad thingthat I think is happening to society now. People don’t go to bookshopsanymore. And talk to somebody who knows a lot about books andlook at a lot of books and be around people who love books. And sit,and read a few pages and say, “wow, that’s interesting.”DP: Well, the difference between the opposable thumb and the“app”-osable thumb is a whole shift in the evolution of the species.PO: That’s very very true. But one thing that we have to realizeis that this device-oriented society is a very lonely one. Potentially.And we need to understand that it’s got to be all about community.And this does not really bring us together. We should use it more tobring ourselves together, rather than to pretend that we are together.That’s my view.For the full half-hour conversation, on everything from the natureof orchestral sound, to the challenges (and triumphs) of musicalleadership, to the ever-changing landscape of the musical world,check out, where you’ll find the video link to thisconversation alongside the story on our home page, along with a linkto other interviews in the series.10 | June 4, 2014 – Sept 7, 2014

Oundjian and the TSO aren’t the only ones hitting the road in thecoming months; for a peek into the world of a very different kindof “orkestra,” JUNO-nominated composer and sousaphone playerRob Teehan gave us this preview of his summer, which will be fullof writing new music and performing with the Heavyweights BrassBand, The Boxcar Boys, and of course, the “folk-everything” powerhousesknown as the Lemon Bucket Orkestra.... Rob TeehanComposer andSousaphone Player“I’m in the middle of scoringa documentary film, TheBabushkas of Chernobyl. [It’s]an inspiring story about thehundreds of old Ukrainian villagerswho, defying mandatoryevacuation orders, snuckback into the radiation zone tolive out their final days on theirhome soil.This summer I’ll be touringCanada with Lemon BucketOrkestra, playing jazz and folkfestivals across the country. [As an audience member] I’m reallyexcited to discover new acts at these festivals in our downtime. Ihaven’t even looked at the lineups yet but I know I’m going to seesome great music!As a performer...ditto for the above, except that I’ll be onstageat those festivals, playing under the sun or stars for thousands ofjoyful people!Right after the tour, Lemon Bucket Orkestra will be hitting thestudio to record our second full-length album, and my other band,The Boxcar Boys, will be releasing our third album in the fall (which iscurrently in production). I’ve also been given an Ontario Arts Councilgrant to develop material for my own debut album of instrumentalcompositions. I’m thinking of taking off to Los Angeles for a month towrite, and while I’m there, trying to make some contacts that will leadto more film-scoring opportunities.”With dozens of replies from correspondents both returning andbrand-new, and more responses pouring in every day, what followsare excerpts of what a few more of this year’s “On-the-Roaders”will be up to.To view all of our participants’ full responses, plus brief biographiesand some links to music and videos, be sure to take a look at thefeature online, at The online versionwill continue to live and grow throughout the year, so remember tocheck in to find out where these musicians’ travels take them.Annalee PatipatanakoonViolinist“I always look forward to the diverse offerings at the Chamberfestin Ottawa. This year, I look forward to hearing my old friends theBrentano String Quartet perform the opening concert, SandraRadvanovsky, the Miró Quartet, and I could go on and on! Other thanplaying with my great colleagues in the Gryphon Trio at various festivalsin North America over the summer, two performance highlightswould include playing Mendelssohn’s Double Concerto for Piano,Violin and Strings with A Far Cry Orchestra in Ottawa (Jamie Parkeron piano and myself on violin) and Brahms’ G major String SextetNo.2 at the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival. In the fall, we will bedeveloping “Rhythm and Reeds,” a new program initiative in the spiritof the Trio’s many years of collaborations with jazz artists at Toronto’sLula Lounge, and “Illusions,” a new multimedia collaboration with[artists in] Montreal, to be premiered in May 2015.”Continues on page June 4, 2014 – Sept 7, 2014 | 11

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