7 years ago

Volume 20 Issue 4 - December 2014

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Beat by Beat | Art of

Beat by Beat | Art of SongTwo Busy SingersHANS DE GROOTThe countertenor voice had been prominent in English musicin the late 17th century, the time of Purcell, but was only keptalive afterwards in the cathedral choirs. That changed in 1944when the composer and conductor Michael Tippett plucked AlfredDeller from the choir stalls in Canterbury Cathedral and helped himto develop a solo career. Initially many people found the experience ofhearing a man sing in the alto register odd. There is a famous story ofDeller being confronted by a woman who asked him whether he wasa eunuch. The story goes on to say that Deller did not miss a beat butreplied immediately: “I think Madam the word you are looking for is‘unique’.” Well, si non è vero, è ben trovato, but the very fact that thestory rings true even if it isn’t, and has been repeated by many tells ussomething about the way audiences felt about this high male voice.Things have changed: now there are many countertenors and only thenaive and inexperienced will be nonplussed by what they hear. Theother day there was a very good countertenor, singing Schubert’s AveMaria during the evening rush hour inside the Bloor-Yonge Station.Nobody seemed to take any notice (I suppose people had trains tocatch) but nobody there seemed to find it at all unusual either.Countertenor Daniel Cabena will be a new voice for many. Iremember hearing him with the Toronto Consort and I was recentlylistening to the splendid recording by Les Violons du Roy and theChapelle de Québec of the Mozart Requiem. Cabena sings on thatrecording too. In 2004 he moved to Montreal, where he studied at theUniversité de Montréal; since then he has been a student at the ScholaCantorum Basiliensis in Basel and has performed in Switzerland withMusica Fiorita and La Cetra and in France with the Concert Spiritueland Le Parlement de Musique. He recently returned to Canada andnow lives in Guelph.December and January are going to be busy months for him. OnDecember 7 at 3pm he will be performing a free concert with thepianist Stephen Runge at Hart House. The countertenor voice isnow largely associated with early music but Cabena has chosen late19th and 20th century works, mainly British, for this recital: songsby Stanford, Vaughan Williams, Ireland, Finzi, Warlock, Quilter,Howells, Butterworth, Gurney, Britten and William Denis Browne. Ofspecial interest are two songs by Barrie Cabena, Daniel’s father. Theelder Cabena was born in Australia, studied in England with HerbertHowells, moved to Canada and taught at Wilfrid Laurier University inWaterloo from 1970 until his retirement.On December 13 and 14 Daniel Cabena will sing in a concert ofsacred music by Bach, with the Nota Bene Baroque Orchestra inHamilton and Waterloo, respectively. On December 20 he will be thealto soloist in Messiah with the Guelph Chamber Choir at the RiverRun Centre, Guelph and on January 31 he will sing with the ensembleScaramella in a program of 17th century German music at VictoriaCollege Chapel.Tenor Sean Clark is another busy singer. Fresh from his performanceof Tamino in Ottawa’s Opera Lyra children’s version of The MagicFlute (set in space), he has begun rehearsals for another Mozart role,that of Don Ottavio in Against the Grain Theatre’s #UncleJohn, anadaptation of Don Giovanni at the Great Hall’s Black Box TheatreDecember 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19). He is giving a recital of Canadian andAmerican music that consists of Verlaine settings by Mathieu as wellas folk-song arrangements by John Beckwith and John Jacob Nilesat the Canadian Music Centre on December 13. He is also the tenorsoloist in Pax Christi Chorale’s performance of Bach’s Nun kommtder Heiden Heiland as well as part of the Christmas Oratorio and inStephanie Martin’s secular cantata Winter Nights at St. John VianneyChurch in Barrie on December 5; Grace Church on-the-Hill onDecember 6 and 7. Clark has been a member of the Canadian OperaCompany chorus for some time and is continuing in that role. But heis interested in developing a solo career and these concerts may markan important stage in thatdevelopment.Other Events: OnDecember 3 Erin Bardua,soprano, ChristinaStelmacovich, mezzo, CharlesDavidson, tenor, and GrahamRobinson, baritone, singBach’s cantata Wachet! betet!betet! wachet! at St. JamesCathedral, PWYC.Miriam Khalil, soprano,and Julie Nesrallah, mezzo,are the singers in a concert ofArab music on December 4 atDaniel Cabena Koerner Hall.Two concerts on December 7:Off Centre Music Salon presents Ilana Zarankin, soprano, and EricaIris Huang, mezzo, singing works from Russia (Glenn Gould Studio);Marie-Lynn Hammond will sing with the Echo Women’s Choir atChurch of the Holy Trinity.On December 8; the soloists in the Toronto Masque TheatreChristmas concert are Lizzie Hetherington and Jean Edwards,soprano, Jessica Wright, mezzo, and David Roth, baritone at 21Shaftesbury Avenue.The third and final installment of the International Divas series takesplace on December 21; the singers are Rita Chiarelli, Maryem HassanTollar, Lara Solnicki, Sharlene Wallace, the Ault Singers and Hisaka atTrinity-St. Paul’s Centre.Whitney O’Hearn, mezzo, and Bud Roach, tenor, will performsongs from the Irving Berlin songbook, with the Talisker Players atTrinity-St. Paul’s Centre, January 11 and, 13.Nathalie Paulin, soprano, Laura Pudwell, mezzo, LawrenceWiliford, tenor, and Sumner Thompson, baritone, will be the soloistsin Beethoven’s Mass in C with Tafelmusik. The concert at KoernerHall, January 22 to 25, also includes Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony; theconductor is Kent Nagano (Koerner Hall, January 22 to 25).On January 25 Emily Klassen, soprano, and Jean-SebastienBeauvais, countertenor, will sing Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater at St. David’sAnglican Church.On February 1 Melanie Conly, soprano, will sing Brott, Purcell,Berlioz and Schubert at Heliconian Hall.And beyond the GTA: Marie-Josée Lord, soprano, will perform songsand melodies from Spain and Latin America at (All Saints’ AnglicanChurch in Peterborough, January 17).Catherine Carew, mezzo, performs at the Glenn Crombie Theatre,Fleming College, in Lindsay January 18.Two Postscripts: I enjoyed Opera Atelier’s production of Handel’sAlcina. Most of it was very well sung and Allyson McHardy was spectacularin the role of Ruggiero. I wish though that the company hadnot advertised it as a Canadian premiere as there was a fully stagedand very successful production of the work by the Opera School in theFaculty of Music at the University of Toronto in November 2002. Thiswas with a modern orchestra but Essential Opera also performed thework with a chamber orchestra with period instruments in May 2012.I have been reading with great pleasure the memoir of Mary WillanMason, The Well-Tempered Listener: Growing Up with MusicalParents (Words Indeed, 2010). Mason is the daughter of Healey Willan,the composer, organist and choirmaster, and of Gladys (“Nell”) Hall,who had been a distinguished pianist and singer before her marriage.Mason is now 94 and retains a lively interest in musical events inthe city. One of the many details in the book that struck me was anaccount of how during the Depression Evelyn Pamphilon “augmentedher piano-teaching income by producing a pamphlet, What’s On,listing local concerts and recitals.” This was clearly a forerunner of TheWholeNote. Do any copies survive, I wonder.Hans de Groot is a concertgoer and active listenerwho also sings and plays the recorder. He can becontacted at | December 1 2014 - February 7, 2015

Beat by Beat | BandstandA Night toRememberJACK MACQUARRIEEver since their inaugural days in Toronto, I havebeen a keen advocate of the New Horizons Bandsin this part of the country. When I was invitedto join the senior Toronto New Horizons band and sitin for one of their performances in early November,I was pleased and accepted. I thought that this wasto be a typical fall band concert. I couldn’t have beenmore mistaken.I had been told that the concert was to be at thenearby Salvation Army Dovercourt location as athank-you for the many times that the band had beenable to rehearse there when their regular rehearsalspace was unavailable. Since the title of the event was“A Night to Remember,” and since it was just a fewdays before November 11, I assumed that it would bea remembrance concert. However, in his planning,director Dan Kapp wanted something more respectfulof the pain and suffering at home and with membersof the forces during their times of separation.Kapp’s research on the internet led him to a booktitled One Family’s War: The Wartime Letters of Clarence Bourassa,1940-1944. This is primarily a collection of letters written by PrivateClarence O. Bourassa, of the South Saskatchewan Regiment, to hiswife Hazel from March 1940 to July 1944, when he was killed, aged30, in the Battle of Normandy. It was edited by Clarence’s son Rollie.While on leave in England, Clarence had established a friendship withone family, and letters from Dorothy Starbuck to Hazel have beenincluded in this collection. Clarence’s letters reveal the complexityof the emotional life of the Canadian soldier far from his belovedwife and two children. Obviously, it would not have been possible toobtain any of Hazel’s letters to Clarence, but Dorothy’s letters providemuch insight.Once he had read the book, Kapp knew that he had the basis ofwhat he wanted. In his words: “It was clear that this was all I reallyneeded to tie the show together.” It would chronicle, with musicalinterludes, the many torments of the war for a young soldier andhis family. (One extra tie-in was that, while in England, wheneverhe had the opportunity, Clarence played euphonium in a SalvationArmy band.)After discussion with Salvation Army Major Doug Hammond,the format for the event was agreed upon. Advertised as “A Night toRemember,” there would be no admission charged. Instead, audiencemembers wwould be invited to donate to a charitable program inZimbabwe sponsored by this Bloor Central Corps.During World War I conductor Eugene Goossens put out a call fora fanfare to be played at the beginning of every concert in Britainduring the war. It had been very successful. So,shortly after the United States entered World War II,Goossens, now in the U.S., put out a similar call. Ofall of the submissions, Aaron Copland’s Fanfare forthe Common Man is the only one to have survived. Itcouldn’t be a more appropriate selection to open thisremembrance program. In any war it is the “commonman,” not the leader, who must carry on the fight.The event that followed the fanfare was a multimedialook at the struggles of one such common manfrom small-town Saskatchewan. Private Clarence O.Bourassa was that common man. As the programprogressed, between musical interludes, Ken Hodge,a member of the band, read letters from Clarence tohis wife as a wide variety of war scenes and otherimages were projected on the screen behind. At othertimes Lisa Kapp, also from the band, read letters fromDorothy to Hazel.Throughout the program no fewer than 120 photosor posters were projected on the screen. From a bandmember’s vantage point, even with no opportunity to see the imageson the screen, it was a very moving evening. On speaking to someaudience members who had the benefit of the combination of music,dialogue and images, they indicated that the impact was considerable.This format is one which could well be employed by school teacherswhen planning remembrance services in future years. Once again DanKapp deserves congratulations for making remembrance ceremoniesmore meaningful.Wychwood Clarinet Choir: Another recent musical event deservingmention was the “Wind Song” concert offered by the WychwoodClarinet Choir this past month. Having awarded Howard Cable withthe title of conductor-in-residence, or something similar, it was onlynatural that he would play a significant role in the choir’s recentconcert. The name of the concert came from the name of one ofCable’s first compositions for clarinet choir when he was the civilianassociate conductor and arranger with the NORAD Command Band inColorado Springs in 1964. Wind Song was the opener for the December 1 2014 - February 7, 2015 | 33

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