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Volume 20 Issue 8 - May 2015

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Beat by Beat | Early

Beat by Beat | Early MusicJ.S. Bach’sCreative CircleDAVID PODGORSKIAlthough an all-Bach program is a tempting, and ambitiousproject for an artist, there are two perils. One is difficulty, theother, monotony. Bach seldom found himself in a mood to writeanything easy, and it’s hard to give his music the flair it often deservesin performance. It also doesn’t help that a modern concert audiencedemands variety, and one composer alone, even Bach, is hard pressedto carry an entire evening’s worth of music.Unless of course that Bach program is an Alison McKay multmediaproject. This month, Tafelmusik presents McKay’s newest production,“J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation,” a celebration of the genius of Bach.Like McKay’s previous productions, “The Galileo Project” and “Houseof Dreams,” her latest combines text, music, projected images andvideo, with the help of Jeanne Lamon, back to lead the orchestra, andMarshall Pynkoski, providing stage direction.The Circle of Creation promises to be more than just a tribute toBach. McKay wants the audience to explore not just the composer’sworld, but also the world of the artisans who lived in Bach’sday — the lives of a typical 18th-century papermaker, violin carver,string spinner and performer are all examined in this concert.And if anyone thought difficulty was going to be an issue (even forTafelmusik) consider this: Tafelmusik will perform the entire concertfrom memory. This will be quite a stunt, as the orchestra will beexpected to pull off the first two movements of the BrandenburgConcerto No.3, highlights from the First and Third Orchestral Suites,J.S. Bach byAugust Wegerand instrumental excerpts from a slew of cantatas. If that weren’tenough, the evening will also include a pile of the master’s chambermusic, including parts of the Goldberg Variations, sonatas for two andthree violins, and the Allemande of the First Partita for solo violin.It’s not exactly the sort of repertoire one jumps to include in the sameconcert, let alone try to do all from memory. J.S. Bach: The Circle ofCreation will be performed May 6 to 10 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre andMay 12 at George Weston Recital Hall.While Tafelmusik promises to throw every possible form of staging,multimedia presentation, and musical direction at one of the greatcomposers of classical music, there’s another concert gong on laterthis month that promises to be much more down-to-earth, but no lessof an impressive affair. Bud Roach, a great lover of Italian music of the17th century, will be presenting the music of Giovanni Felice Sancesand Alessandro Grandi, two Italian composers who lived late enough30 | May 1 - June 7, 2015

in the Renaissance to consider Monteverdi as part of the musicalestablishment, rather than a radical. Sances was well known in hisown time as a composer of opera in Venice. He later moved to Viennawhere he eventually became Kapellmeister under Ferdinand III.Unfortunately for Sances’ legacy, his operas were all lost, so we haveno chance of performing any of his larger-scale works. Grandi wasmore than a contemporary of Monteverdi – he was also a colleague,and worked under the great composer at St. Mark’s Church in Venice,where the two wrote most of their best-known works. Roach willperform a selection of Sances’ and Grandi’s works as well as accompanyhimself on baroque guitar, on May 31 at 2:30pm as part of theToronto Early Music Centre’s “Musically Speaking” series of concerts.This all happens at St. David’s Anglican Church. Roach is a giftedmusician who is blessed with an exceptional voice – this concert willbe an excellent chance to uncover some hidden gems from Italy in the17th century.Speaking of Italian music, there’s another concert this month thattakes its inspiration from the vocal music of Renaissance Italy – albeitwith a twist. Although we definitely associate the madrigal with Italy,the genre caught on in other countries, with a few changes made intransit. Every composer in Italy felt he had to compose a madrigalto be taken seriously; even Palestrina, the composer of the PopeMarcellus Mass, got in on the craze, publishing a collection of his ownmadrigals (although he later claimed the work as the youthful indiscretionof a young man who should have written more masses andmotets). Once the madrigal had become standard fare for Italian musiclovers, and composers like Monteverdi and Gesualdo had stretched theboundaries of the genre, it eventually died out in Italy.Not so in England. There, audiences were too busy enduringdecades of religious strife, violence, and a country in political turmoilto occupy themselves much with the arts, and so discovered the formmuch later. Still, by the beginning of the 17th century the English hadre-dedicated themselves to capital C Classical learning and culture.The result was an eccentric, derivative look at what the Renaissancecould have been – a token nod to Greek and Roman culture andlearning; none of the Homeric myths, mind you. No stories of godsmeddling in the lives of mortals. Rather, an overall aesthetic thatsought entertainment in easygoing comedy and diversion rather thanin the epic tragedy found in, say, a typical Italian opera. Presumablyeveryone in the country had seen enough drama and tragedy afterHenry VIII’s reign.So while your typical English madrigal of the day may have hadenough sighing in it to make a sizeable breeze, it nevertheless kept atight rein on the emotional range of its earlier Renaissance counterpart– no broken hearts, no ruined lives and absolutely no tragicdeaths allowed. There’s a reason they called it “Merrie England.”The Cantemus Singers will pay tribute to the jolly, frivolous fun ofthe English Renaissance in their program “Nymphs & Shepherds,” thegroup’s salute to the madrigal rage that swept the kingdom for the lastdecade of Elizabeth I’s reign and after. Highlights will include a fewtrue masterpieces of English vocal music, such as Thomas Morley’sHard by a crystal fountain (from his The Triumphs of Oriana), JohnWard’s Come, sable night, and Thomas Bateson’s Merrily my loveand I. As well as some jolly English songs, the group will performa few more sobering compositions, including Byrd’s exceptionalMass for Five Voices and John Sheppard’s glorious motet LiberaNos. The concert will be presented at the Church of the Holy TrinityMay 30 and 31.Finally, if you’re in the mood for something French (or Turkish),consider checking out Toronto Masque Theatre’s Les IndesMécaniques, a choreographed adaptation of Rameau’s great opera LesIndes Galantes. The show also includes The Anahtar Project, traditionalTurkish music from the days of the Ottoman Empire. It promisesto be an eclectic musical evening featuring one of the great 18thcentury French operas. This concert takes place at the Fleck DanceTheatre at the Harbourfront Centre May 14 and 15.Beat by Beat | Jazz StoriesThe Way We WearOur HatsORI DAGANLabel executive, writer-producer, educator and jazz journalistJeff Levenson is speaking. “Find yourself within this ecosystem”he advises. “You’re a musician, but you’re many other thingsas well.”He is one of a handful of speakers at a music business seminarco-presented by JAZZ.FM91 ( and the International ResourceCentre for Performing Artists ( on April 11, 2015, hosted atJAZZ.FM91 in Liberty Village. It’s a well-attended event, with panelscurated by community engagement and education manager MarkMicklethwaite and CEO of the station, Ross Porter.“With the Music Business Seminar, we seek to help Canadian artistsgain the knowledge and expertise to succeed in the Canadian musicmarketplace. We have brought together successful industry professionaland musicians to talk about the important topics – bookingperformance, recording, radio airplay, promotion – and provide aforum for enterprising musicians to ask questions and interact withthe experts and their peers,” says Porter.Founder of IRCPA, Ann Summers Dossena was honoured by theinternational arts industry in 2012 and again in 2014. She retired fromarts management in October 2013 after a distinguished, 55-year careerin New York, Rome and Toronto.“During these years I was invited to give a number of workshopsfor emerging artists in Austria, Italy, Israel and the United States, withseveral colleagues,” recalls Summers Dossena. “When I returnedto Toronto in 1977 I opened the office here and soon realized thatCanadian artists needed the same help.”In her decades of important work in the field she gained anunequalled amount of experience pertaining to artist management,personal representation, promotion and marketing. I asked SummersDossena how the IRCPA has changed since its birth in 1985:“The Centre now has a formal board and by-laws, and is workingon a strategic plan and fundraising on two levels. One to keep ourbadly needed workshops and the second to create a physical centre formusicians to come together as a community to exchange ideas, sharechallenges, seek solutions, gain confidence, network and be mentored.We are working toward being able to own our space in a new buildingby the fall of 2017 to be named the IRCPA Maureen Forrester Centre,David Podgorski is a Toronto-based harpsichordist, musicteacher and a founding member of Rezonance. He canbe contacted at May 1 - June 7, 2015 | 31

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