5 years ago

Volume 20 Issue 8 - May 2015

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Cooper Gay coaching CCOC

Cooper Gay coaching CCOC chorister Dov H. duringa rehearsal for Dido and Aeneas (2005)for her ability to attract and inspire children. Michael Albano is bothlibrettist and stage director for the three children’s operas he wrotewith Errol Gay. Says Albano: “Clearly Ann has the extraordinary gift oftranslating skills from her own experience, and transmitting them tothe children.”No matter how many former and current CCOC members one talksto, it becomes an oft-repeated theme. That Cooper Gay has the gift ofremembering every young person she ever taught. That she instilled inher young charges the magic and the drama of opera. As jazz vocalistSophia Perlman says: “Ann would get us inside the skin of a song.She’d focus on how music can tell a story.”The numbers speak for themselves. More CCOC choristers have goneon to careers in music during Cooper Gay’s 15 years than the other 47years combined. Kate Applin is a case in point. Both Applin and hersister had dropped out of the CCOC before Cooper Gay took it over,but it was Cooper Gay who lured them back in, insisting that theyneeded music in their lives. Applin credits Cooper Gay with the inspirationto start her own company, Metro Youth Opera, which providesperformance opportunities for emerging opera singers who have justgraduated university.Perhaps we should leave the last word to Cooper Gay’s family. Elderdaughter Heather is a mother and a Grade 2 teacher in California.She calls herself the black sheep because she didn’t have a career inmusic, which, after all is the family business. “There were a lot of bigpersonalities in the house,” she says. “Mom likes things on a grandscale. Aida wouldn’t be a problem for her.” Erin is both a talentedFrench horn player and singer who is about to release her first album,a fusion of early, folk and contemporary music. “Mom wants to shareher music with others. It’s a beautiful way to be an artist.”And from Errol Gay: “Life with Ann has been a wonderful trip. Sheinspires me to do stuff beyond my capabilities. I’m a bit of a pessimist,so it does me good to be married to an incurable optimist.”Paula Citron is a Toronto-based arts journalist. Her areas of specialinterest are dance, theatre, opera and arts commentary.The writer would like to thank the following for their contributionsto this article:Michael Albano, Ryan Allen, Kate Applin, Jacoba Barber-Rozema,Peter Barcza, Kristina Bijelic, Dean Burry, Gene Cooper, JohannesDebus, Myna Denov, Emily Dorn, Nina Draganic, Anna Forgione, Ben Fox,Erin Cooper Gay, Errol Gay, Ken Hall, Stuart Hamilton, Sue Hammond,Peggy Hendricks, Heather Hoffman, Sandra Horst, Henry Ingram, JoelIvany, Kai Lee, Duncan McIntosh, Anne O’Neill, Sophia Perlman, AlexSamaras, Bruce Ubukata, David White, and Joanna Winchester.Ann’s Retirement Tea will take place Sunday, May 24, 2 to 4 pm, in theCourtyard of the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre, 227 FrontSt. East, rain or shine.10 | May 1 - June 7, 2015

Andrew DavisIn ConversationDAVID PERLMAN“I rather suspect you are going to be running into a bit of a ‘SirAndrew Davis, this is your life’ ambush when you hit town thistime” I say into the phone. The response is an amiable guffaw. It’s8:05am Sunday morning, Melbourne time, for him; just after 6pmSaturday night here in Toronto for me. Davis is “waking up slowly” hesays, after a performance with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, thethird of three towering programs over a four-week period.Davis is Chief Conductor at Melbourne, Conductor Laureate ofthe BBC Orchestra, and, for the past 15 years Music Director andChief Conductor of Lyric Opera of Chicago (an appointment recentlyextended through the 2020/21 season).He is, of course, also Conductor Laureate of the Toronto SymphonyOrchestra, a position he assumed after being the TSO’s Music Directorfrom 1975 till 1988. So, add the 27 years he’s been returning every yearas Conductor Laureate to the 13 he spent as Music Director, and thestage is set for the “Forty Years on the TSO Podium” possible ambushI alluded to when he returns to town mid-May for a two-week, threeprogramstint commencing with the Verdi Requiem May 21, 22 and 23.“It’s something I am tremendously proud of,” he says, beforepointing out that in terms of consecutive years it’s actually 42 not40;” Karel Ančerl had died in the summer of 1973” he explains, “so1973/74 was one of those audition years. They were trying to keep asmuch of Ančerl ’s programming as possible intact, and so they neededsomeone for [Janáček’s] Glagolitic Mass ... not a pushover. But theyknew I knew it; I’d had to learn it in four or five days in London in1970 after being called in ‘due to the indisposition of a colleague,’as they say. ... Anyway that was my very first TSO concert in May of1974, Don Quixote in the first half and the Glagolitic in the secondAndrew David and Louis Lortie in rehearsal. (1978)and it went well; in June Walter Homberger came over to Englandand offered me the job. But I was back again once more in the springof 1975 before assuming the post in October. I remember that springconcert ... We did Elgar Two and afterwards Walter [Homberger] camerushing backstage – he had been sitting with an important boardmember – and Walter said ‘he (the board member) says tell him NOMORE ELGAR!’” Another great guffaw.(That October, by the way, the start of Davis’ first season as TSOMusic Director was also the last season that the TSO provided theorchestra for the opera, he tells me in passing. But that it seems is astory for another day.)A sense of opera, though, is very much part of the Davis conductingskill set, at a visceral and far-reaching level. First of the threeprograms he has just finished conducting in Melbourne, to raveMSOMasterworksMSOHoliday * May 1 - June 7, 2015 | 11

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