7 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!


ALEXINA LOUIE CBC Radio Two: The Living Legacy Esprit Orchestra Celebrates Murray Schafer DAVID JAEGER Alex Pauk (left) and Murray Schafer Esprit Orchestra founder and music director Alex Pauk will take the podium at Koerner Hall on the evening of October 23 to lead his orchestra in a heartfelt tribute to Canadian composer and cultural icon, Murray Schafer (b. 1933). Pauk has collaborated with Schafer for over 42 years on a wide range of innovative musical projects that includes 60 performances of Schafer’s works with Esprit alone, not to mention many others that began when the two met in Vancouver in 1973. “The time is right for this tribute,” Pauk told me. “It’s right for Murray, it’s right for Esprit and it’s right for me.” He went on to say that the concert “reflects the amazing relationship between Murray, me, Esprit and the audience.” When they first met, Pauk was engaged by the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra (VYSO) and Schafer was in his last years of teaching at Simon Fraser University (SFU). In 1974 Pauk conducted Schafer’s North/White, a work composed that year for full orchestra and snowblower, with the VYSO. At that time, Pauk was looking for academic work at SFU, and he asked Schafer if he might help or offer advice. Schafer’s reply may have turned Pauk’s fate. He said: “You’ll be better off if you stick to conducting contemporary music, and the rest of us will be better off too.” The VSYO released Pauk from his conducting position in 1977, in what Pauk felt was a reaction to his programming of “too much contemporary repertoire.” But by then Pauk had met the Romanian/ French composer/conductor Marius Constant. Constant was touring the world conducting contemporary repertoire, including his own, and he found frequent conducting opportunities in Vancouver with the CBC Vancouver Orchestra. Constant provided a career archetype for Pauk, one that matched the guidance Pauk had received from Schafer. He befriended Constant, and the two discovered they shared artistic interests. For example, Constant remarked how very interesting the works of Schafer were, particularly those he had conducted with the Radio Orchestra in Vancouver. The freshly inspired Pauk returned to Toronto in 1980 with a mission to create a contemporary music orchestra and in 1983 founded Esprit Contemporaine, soon to be renamed Esprit Orchestra. The works of Schafer figured prominently in Esprit’s programming from the very beginning. Alex told me that it was while preparing a performance of Schafer’s Dream Rainbow Dream Thunder that he was suddenly struck by the realization that Schafer’s ear and skill continues to page 74 Cover Story On the Edge with Claire Chase SARA CONSTANT When Claire Chase speaks there is a sense of urgency in her voice, as if she’s always on the verge of a discovery that she can’t wait to reveal. It’s not exactly an incorrect assumption to make – Chase is famous for being a musician who is always reaching ahead of her time. As flutist/founder of New York’s ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) and an active performer of newly composed works, Chase has always looked towards the future – creating the music that until now has yet to be heard. To that end, she’s already accomplished a lot. Praised in The New Yorker as “the young star of the modern flute,” Chase is one of new music’s most relentless advocates. She’s a prolific soloist and recording artist, and a frequent collaborator with composers both established and emerging. She’s a recipient of a 2012 MacArthur “Genius Grant” for her work in visioning an artist-driven business model that emphasizes giving performing musicians the freedom to direct their own career paths. She’s also, incidentally, slotted as a co-artistic director of summer music at the Banff Centre for 2017 – but in the meantime, she comes to Toronto this month as a guest of Soundstreams, for two shows inspired by the musical future of the flute. Density 2036. The first, “Density 2036,” is part of a 22-yearlong centenary celebration in the making. Tracing its roots to the premiere of Edgard Varèse’s solo flute masterwork Density 21.5 in 1936, Chase’s project is a series of annual commissions, leading up to a 24-hour flute recital in the year 2036. Each year she collaborates with a different roster of composers to premiere a recital-length solo set, with the objective of performing all 22 years’ worth of music as a 100th-anniversary celebration of the Varèse original. On October 4 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Chase (along with sound engineer Levy Lorenzo) will open Soundstreams’ new Ear Candy concert series with a selection of music from the last three years of the Density project. The show will sample from a daunting breadth of musical language: two older works – Steve Reich’s Vermont Counterpoint and of course, Varèse’s Density 21.5 – as well as pieces from Density 2036’s three-year archive of commissions, including recent works from Marcos Balter, Mario Diaz de León and Du Yun. When it comes to Chase’s choice of composer-collaborators, nothing is out of bounds. “The only rule that I’ve given myself for the project is that every time a piece is created through Density, the piece that follows it has to be a complete departure,” she says. “I don’t want to repeat collaborations. I don’t want to repeat language. I want every new Density birth to really be a birth – so in choosing composers, I’m interested in those who are really going far outside their comfort zones…and who are as fiercely and fearlessly committed [as I am] to the idea of creating something new: new for them, new for me, new for the instrument. “It’s a very difficult thing to ask someone to do,” Chase concedes. “But I love that question. I love the space that it opens up. I love the vulnerability and the malleability that results. So I look for people who are up for that adventure – and who want to jump off that proverbial cliff with me.” As the soloist leading that cliff-top jump, preparing for an end goal 22 years in the future is no easy task. However, for Chase it is in part this long-term, cumulative nature that gives Density 2036 its appeal. “It’s about the idea of really setting the bar high for myself,” she says. “Of saying, okay, what would it be like to build up to being able to play continuously for 24 hours when I’m 58 years old? It’d be an Olympic sporting event – but it’d have to also be something that really is in 8 | October 1, 2016 - November 7, 2016

Claire Chase and ICE, performing the U.S. premiere of Dai Fujikura’s flute concerto Lila in August. JUILLIARD QUARTET An evening of Beethoven and Bartok Thursday October 13th at 8 pm Join us for a post show reception. ARMEN ELLIOTT service of the music. How could I do that and what would my training look like over these decades? It was such an interesting question that I had to start the project immediately. “And it’s about saying, okay, the goal is to create this repertory. If I can commit seriously to making it, performing it, and putting it out there for myself, but be just as committed to disseminating it and making sure that it is available for other flutists – for them to study, to learn, to make it their own, to play it better than I can – then that would be really cool.” Magic Flutes. Chase’s second Toronto appearance, titled “Magic Flutes,” will open Soundstreams’ mainstage season at Koerner Hall on October 12. At first glance the concert program, which includes works by long-revered composers for the flute like Debussy and Takemitsu, fulfills all the expectations of a standard flute recital. But at Soundstreams – especially with Claire Chase in tow – “standard recitals” are not what they do. A second look reveals that the show will feature five flutists (Chase, joined by Marina Piccinini, Patrick Gallois, Robert Aitken and Leslie Newman) positioned in what Soundstreams bills as a “surround-sound” setup, pairing classic 20th-century flute repertoire with less-known works and a world premiere from local composer Anna Höstman. According to Soundstreams artistic director Lawrence Cherney, the show takes its cue from the tale of the Pied Piper, and harnesses the potential of the flute as “both a force for good, and a force for evil.” And if Soundstreams plans to reshape what the flute can do – and what it can represent – in this concert, then Chase is game. “What excites me most about the flute,” Chase explains, ”is that it is our oldest musical instrument. Our little tube, our little pipe, was the first musical instrument, other than the voice, and percussion in its earliest iteration. That’s really moving to me, really inspiring to me, and it makes me think about all the ways that this instrument – and the way that we tell stories through it – can still evolve.” JANINA FIALKOWSKA Canada’s great Romantic pianist plays an evening of Chopin. Tuesday October 25th at 8 pm Join us for a post show reception. FOR THE October 1, 2016 - November 7, 2016 | 9

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