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Volume 20 Issue 3 - November 2014

  • Text
  • November
  • Toronto
  • December
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Arts
  • Musical
  • Bloor
  • Orchestra
  • Choir

he will appear onstage

he will appear onstage in a Q & Aafter the screeningof the fully packed17-minute film,Two Hands: TheLeon FleisherStory, which documentshis battleto overcome focalLeon Fleisherdystonia, a movementdisorder thataffected the use ofthe fourth and fifthfingers of his right hand. Watching him rise from the depths of despairat the peak of his concert career to remake his life as a musician isthrilling to behold. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet himin person.Three days later on November 28, Fleisher conducts the RoyalConservatory Orchestra in a program that includes Mozart’sSymphony No.39 and Brahms’ Symphony No.3. On the morningsand afternoons of November 29 and 30 he will give masterclassesin Mazzoleni Hall. He will share a musical legacy traceable back toBeethoven directly through his teacher Artur Schnabel and Schnabel’steacher Theodor Leschetizky who studied with Carl Czerny whostudied with Beethoven. Anton Kuerti can claim a similiar connectionthrough another pupil of Leschetizky, Mieczysław Horszowski, whotaught Kuerti.The evening at the Bloor also includes the feature-length, documentaryHorowitz: The Last Romantic, a true curiosity by the notedfilmmakers Albert and David Maysles (best know for Salesman, GreyGardens and Gimme Shelter). The impish pianist and his shrewd wifeWanda (Toscanini’s daughter) are filmed in their apartment whereHorowitz is recording an album at the age of 81. The up-close cameraworkdevoted to his fingers is just one of the attractions of this fascinatingfilm.Bavouzet and the LPO: Coincidentally, pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet,who recently played Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at RTHOctober 17 with an energetic London Philharmonic Orchestra underVladimir Jurowski, suffered from functional dystonia that affectedhis right hand from 1989 to 1993. In the Prokofiev Bavouzet movedconfidently from wistful calm to devilish passagework, from idiosyncraticnote picking to mysterious pianissimos as he revealed thecomposer’s Russian soulfulness. In the evening’s other major work,Shostakovich’s Symphony No.8, the LPO displayed great clarity andairiness including wonderful sound clashes, vibrant searing melodiesin the strings, terrific brass work and yeoman flute playing that setup the intermittently febrile march of the second movement and thesardonic third before the gratifying, sombre conclusion.And So Much More: MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship-winner JeremyDenk leads a parade of world-class pianists into November’s concerthalls. He’s followed by the inimitable Richard Goode, the dynamicaestheticism of Simon Trpčeski, the elegance of Angela Hewitt (in aprogram that ranges far and wide from Bach and Scarlatti throughBeethoven’s Op.110 to Albéniz and Liszt), to Mooredale Concerts’“Piano Dialogue” between David Jalbert & Wonny Song and theadventuresome Christina Petrowska Quilico whose name is oftenfound in the pages of The WholeNote’s CD section.And then there’s The Dover Quartet, the Daedalus String Quartet,the Cecilia String Quartet, the Windermere String Quartet, theZuckerman Chamber Players, the Canadian Brass, Leonidas Kavakos &Yuja Wang, Dmitri Levkovich ... It goes on and on. Like Tchaikovsky,Danny Kaye’s famous tongue-twister of a patter song, name aftername, concert after concert. What riches there are to be found in thisissue’s listings.Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote. Hecan be reached at editorial@thewholenote.com.Beat by Beat | World ViewMusic in Focusat the AKMANDREW TIMARThe auditorium at the AKMIn my last column I briefly introduced the new museum in town,one which is positioning itself to be a significant world music venueand curator: the Aga Khan Museum. Having opened its doors onlyin the third week of September, its inaugural music festival featuredthe renowned Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, a group whichhas collaborated since 2000 with the Aga Khan Music Initiative inconcerts elsewhere.Music is one of the prime “focus areas” of the Aga KhanDevelopment Network, the larger entity behind the museum: theproof is that five groups are being presented in November and fourin December. But is the museum really positioned to “become bothmajor cultural destination and player in very short order” as toutedby James Adams of The Globe and Mail, or “a vital new additionto Toronto’s cultural landscape” as augured by David Dacks of theMusic Gallery?As I promised, I set out to take a closer look at the AKM and itsmusic programming. I arranged an interview and tour with Amir AliAlibhai, the AKM’s head of performing arts and chief architect of itscuratorial vision.I made my trek to the stretch of Don Mills where the museum issited, north of Eglinton Ave. and between Don Mills Rd. and the D.V.P.,on a cool, rainy October weekday afternoon. To a downtowner it mayseem “up there” on a mental map, but on an actual map of Toronto, itis not far from the geographic centre of the city. Located on WynfordDr., the museum is across the street from the notable modernist midcenturyRaymond Moriyama-designed Japanese Canadian CulturalCentre where I’ve enjoyed many memorable cultural events, and onlya few blocks north and east of the Ontario Science Centre.Coming face to face for the first time with the imposing whitestone-clad AKM building, the new museum on the block’s standardsof architectural excellence are self-evident. The 10,000 square-metrebuilding, the design of prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki, skillfullymelds postmodern and Islamic design elements and aesthetics.The monolithic building itself is set in a formal garden within expansivegrounds where multiple black infinity pools form a traditionalchar bagh, a Persian-style four-part garden. The pools evocativelyreflected and reframed the rainy Don Mills sky as I walked up to themuseum’s dramatic front entrance.Amir Alibhai led me directly to the 336-seat auditorium, theprimary venue for music performances. With teak floors and stage,graced with a high, multifaceted white dome, it’s one of the architecturalfocal points of the AKM. “It’s an ideal site to present an intimateand powerful experience for audiences,” he says, where they can lookforward to “varied and innovative cultural programs throughout theyear, including music, dance, theatre, book readings and films.” Ihaven’t had a chance to hear music there yet but the empty space feelsintimate and quiet, an acoustic sound-friendly space, underscored by18 | November 1 - December 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

DakhaBrakhaA REMARKABLE CONCERT SERIESIN NATuRAL ACOuSTICS 2014INTERNATIONALthe lack of air ducts in the hall, with ventilation coming from underthe seats.To ward off the early fall chill we sat down for the interview withinvigorating cups of dark hot chocolate strengthened with a shot ofespresso. The museum’s small café is right next to a square glassedincourtyard through which sunlight (and reputedly moonlight) filtersthrough Arabic-inflected mashrabiya patterns etched in the glass.Alibhai has already vetted the courtyard as an alternative performancevenue, though with five very hard surfaces it’s undoubtedly areverberant one. He related that a recent performance of Sufi whirlingand its accompanying music “worked very well in the glass-walledcourtyard, granting both an effective personal ritual space for theperformers, as well as allowing the audience to see the performancethorough the glass walls, if they so wished.”Prior to moving to Toronto to take his AKM position Alibhai was a40-year Vancouver resident with an extensive career in arts administration– and significant for readers of The WholeNote, a lifetimebackground in music. He has worked as an exhibited artist, a curator,educator and facilitator of visual and community-based arts for over20 years. “I was part of the team that initially developed and ran theRoundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre” he said, referringto the innovative arts-centric Yaletown, Vancouver organization whosemission is to “celebrate diversity ... of people, values, ideas and activities.”He has also developed a national perspective, having served onnational arts boards such as the Canada Council for the Arts and theCanadian Conference of the Arts. He has clearly had plenty of opportunityduring his career to consider the place of the performing arts inpublic-access spaces. “It may not be obvious to the core identity of themuseum that it may also serve as a venue for a series of live concertsand dance performances. But I’m at the table at every curatorialmeeting working to closely integrate my programming with plannedexhibits,” he says.The AKM is the first institution in North America “dedicated to thearts of Islamic civilizations.” It’s a goal clearly reflected in the exhibithalls. Visitors can see it in rare and exquisite editions of the Koran,in the sensuous paintings, illustrations, calligraphy, early scientificinstruments, sumptuous silk clothing and carpets, as well as21st-century artworks confronting and reinterpreting the traditionsdisplayed in galleries closer to the entrance.Its stated Toronto mission as an oasis of diversity and dialogue is,“to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the contributionthat Islamic civilizations have made to world heritage ... througheducation, research, and collaboration.”I ask where live music fits in. “In terms of [our] music programmingthe vision is to bring the highest calibre of traditional and contemporaryperforming artists from the broad diaspora of Muslim culturesto audiences. Music is particularly well suited as a creative mediumthat inherently engages artists and audiences in cross-cultural understandingand dialogue. “Concerts at the Aga Khan Museum: In an earlier interview AKMeducational consultant Patricia Bentley talked about how Islam hasalways responded to local traditions.” Alibhai’s programming choicesto date put that vision into action. In November the five acts overeight concerts demonstrate an even-handed admixture of Canadian,dIvAS IIiiThursday November 27, 8pmELIANA CUEVAS • FERN LINDZONNATHALIE • SAMIDHA JOGLEKARCHLOE CHARLES • KATHRYN ROSEproducer & artistic director - GeorG e KollerTRINITY-ST. PAUL’S CENTREticketbreak.cominternationaldivas.netthewholenote.com November 1 - December 7, 2014 | 19

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