6 years ago

Volume 22 Issue 2 - October 2016

  • Text
  • October
  • Toronto
  • Choir
  • Jazz
  • Orchestra
  • Symphony
  • Concerts
  • Arts
  • November
  • Musical
In this issue: David Jaeger and Alex Pauk’s most memorable R. Murray Schafer collabs, in this month’s installment of Jaeger’s CBC Radio Two: The Living Legacy; an interview with flutist Claire Chase, who brings new music and mindset to Toronto this month; an investigation into the strange coincidence of three simultaneous Mendelssohn Elijahs this Nov 5; and of course, our annual Blue Pages, a who’s who of southern Ontario’s live music scene- a community as prolific and multifaceted as ever. These and more, as we move full-force into the 2016/17 concert season- all aboard!

Shen Yun Orchestra

Shen Yun Orchestra Visits Toronto October 23 ALLAN PULKER On October 23 at 2pm the unique Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra will perform at Roy Thomson Hall, one of the last three performances in a tour which includes Taiwan, Tokyo, New York, Boston, Chicago and Washington D.C. As we know, simply maintaining, let alone touring, a symphony orchestra is a large, complex and challenging undertaking, so where does this orchestra come from and who is responsible for it? The short answer is that the orchestra is based in New York and is part of Shen Yun Performing Arts. And from the Shen Yun Performing Arts website: “In 2006 a group of leading Chinese artists – all Falun Dafa practitioners - came together in New York with one wish: to revive the true, divinely inspired culture of China and share it with the world.” Who these specific artists were and who is responsible for the organization’s ongoing operation is not revealed. The reason for this probably lies in this statement a little further along in the website: “Over the past 60 years the [Chinese] communist regime has treated Chinese values – centred on the idea of harmony between heaven and earth – as a threat to its existence…bringing 5,000 years of civilization to the brink of extinction.” According to the website the Chinese government has felt so threatened by Shen Yun’s presence that it has sent out competing shows and even gone so far as to slash the tire of a tour bus in Canada. Art and ideology: The threat that art poses to ideology is not so difficult to understand: one has only to reflect on the impact of the signal sent rippling through the Soviet Union when Glenn Gould was allowed to present a program of Bach’s music in Cold War 1957, or the McCarthy-led crackdown on the arts in the U.S. at the same time. The current Chinese situation becomes a little murkier when one considers that this same government’s Ministries of Education and of Culture support and sponsor the Beijing Modern Music Festival, to which Toronto’s New Music Concerts recently toured, a tour recapitulated in NMC’s September 30 opening concert. It would appear that the largely secular and formalistic music of contemporary Western composers is no longer perceived by the Chinese authorities as a similar threat to that posed by the music and dance of Shen Yun. Shen Yun’s artistic methodology is to bridge traditional Chinese and Western musical cultures, integrating traditional Chinese instruments into an otherwise “standard” symphony orchestra which performs symphonic orchestrations of traditional Chinese music, sometimes interspersed with arrangements of Western Classical repertoire. (With the number of Chinese students who have embraced the Western musical tradition, studying it in China as well as at North American and European music schools there is a potentially huge pool of Western-trained orchestral musicians for Shen Yun to draw on.) One of these is violinist Chia-chi Lin, now in her tenth year with the Shen Yun Symphony as a member of the first violin section. She was also the conductor of the pit orchestra for the Shen Yun Dance Company’s performances in Toronto last May. She studied at Rice University and at the Peabody Conservatory before becoming the principal second violinist of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, then moving on to become a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony for several years before joining Shen Yun. After one of the performances at the Sony Centre last May I sat down with her to chat. She told me that while she had been happy with her job in Pittsburgh, she moved to Shen Yun because of the Falun Dafa connection and its mission to revitalize traditional Chinese music and dance. (Her connection with Shen Yun also includes the vice presidency of Fei Tian College in New York which trains young dancers and musicians in the traditional Chinese art forms.) Shen Yun’s mission is to infuse traditional Chinese music and dance with new life to rescue them from the threat of extinction; paradoxically it is doing this by means of a fusion of Chinese and Western musical resources, so that it transcends race and nationality. Likewise, the message of harmony and connection between heaven and earth is one which is equally central to many of the composers whose music is performed in the concerts listed in this magazine. I recently came upon these words about the impact of music by French writer, Amin Maalouf, in a concert program. They are worth repeating in this context. “In addition to the aesthetic emotion, we feel another which is even more intense – a sense of magical communion with reconciled humanity.” Flutist Allan Pulker is chairman of the board of The WholeNote. FALL CLEARANCE SALE OF OVER 150 NEW AND ALMOST NEW PIANOS Huge Savings on Top Name Grands, Uprights, Digitals October 24 to 31 210 BLOOR ST. W. 416.961.3111 12 | October 1, 2016 - November 7, 2016 October 1, 2016 - November 7, 2016 | 13

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