6 years ago

Volume 22 Issue 3 - November 2016

  • Text
  • November
  • Toronto
  • December
  • Jazz
  • Symphony
  • Arts
  • Performing
  • Faculty
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Volume

facilitated by his

facilitated by his former student George Zaduban (1931-2003), a music teacher, conductor, organist and composer-arranger who, in 1960 had founded a choir mainly comprised of recently arrived Hungarians in Toronto, the Kodály Chorus. A folk-dance group was added soon afterwards and thus the Kodály Ensemble was born. Periodically the group would be supplemented by an orchestra, and it mounted ambitious performances involving over a hundred performers in major Toronto venues. As a Kati Ilona Agócs teenager in the late 1960s I sang tenor with the Chorus for a season or two, including, as I recall, singing in the Kodály Chorus on its tour to Cleveland, Ohio. The Hungarian music educator and composer, Thomas LeGrady, also immigrated to Canada in 1956, initially settling in Montreal where he taught solfège and orchestration at Loyola College and elsewhere. Another Kodály student, the conductor, composer, pianist and teacher Tibor Polgar (1907-1993) made Toronto his home. He taught for years at the University of Toronto and at York University while scoring feature and documentary films, plus CBC radio and TV soundtracks, often employing Hungarian idioms in his compositions. And beyond these examples of first generation 1956 Hungarian emigrants who continued their careers in Canada, the influence of the events of 1956 continues to echo among second generation Canadian musicians as well. A good example is the multi-Grammy Award-winning songwriter-singer Alanis Morissette (b. 1974). Her father is French Canadian while her mother fled Hungary with her family after the 1956 Revolution. Another is Kati Ilona Agócs (b. 1975) the successful midcareer Canadian composer of contemporary classical music and faculty member at the New England Conservatory of Music. Agócs grew up in Southwestern Ontario, where her Hungarian father eventually settled after leaving Hungary in the wake of the 1956 Just announced! Marc-André Hamelin only concert in Toronto this season. Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 8 pm Haydn, Feinberg, Beethoven, Scriabin, Chopin Holiday sale pricing from October 1st to December 31st General sale from January 1st, 2017 Full-time students of any age – accompanying non-student FOR THE events. As for Mary Kenedi, her sense of mission and allegiance has broadened over the years into an avid advocacy of 20th-century Canadian composers as well as of Hungarians; in 1993 Kenedi organised and performed an 80th birthday concert for the eminent Toronto composer John Weinzweig (1913-2006). It was nationally broadcast on CBC radio and released as a Centrediscs CD. Krisztina Szabó Pursuing a career-long commitment to the music of Bartók, Kenedi notes with enthusiasm that “one of my most memorable concerts was the solo recital I gave at the Bartók Memorial House in Budapest. Last November I performed a program at the Hungarian Embassy in Ottawa to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Bartók’s death. As for albums, I’ve issued two recordings of Bartók’s music, [Zoltan] Kodály’s complete piano works, in addition to three all-Canadian CDs.” Reflecting the contribution: I asked Kenedi about the contributions of Hungarian musicians who made Canada their home in the wake of the 1956 Revolution. She was quick with her reply. “For such a small country, Hungary has produced a multitude of talented people in all walks of life, but to be immodest, particularly in the arts. Composers, instrumental and vocal soloists, chamber musicians and orchestral players are all represented. Check members of any orchestra and Hungarian names keep popping up. The vitality and wonderful training of these artists who came to Canada made an enormous difference in our musical landscape.” The November “Bridge to the Future” concert program is true to its name: “It will have three Kodály songs sung by wonderful mezzosoprano and actress Krisztina Szabó. She’s a no-brainer since I really respect her talent…as well as her sense of humour! We’ll have Dohnányi’s Trio Op. 10, Kodály’s Piano Sonata Op. 4 and his very significant Cello Sonata Op. 8, a work full of references to Hungarian folk music. I am playing Liszt’s Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este, and of course some Bartók: Three Hungarian Folksongs from the Csik District, Fifteen Hungarian Peasant Songs, and Romanian Dance Op. 8a among several other of his works for piano solo. Operetta arias by Hungarian composers Lehár and Kálmán will provide a lighter touch to close our evening.” Will these concerts be of interest to non-Hungarian Canadians? I ask. Kenedi responds by talking about the innate power and universality of folk music: “While it’s a broad generalization, [I feel] folk music is based on the everyday lives…of ethnic groups and thus communicates on an even more gut level than through-composed music does. It attracts the sympathy and empathy of listeners, even though they may not share those same ethnic roots.” As for her own future plans, they speak to a balanced identity. “I’m working on arranging performances of two pieces I have commissioned, a choral fantasy by Abigail Richardson, and a concerto for piano, percussion and strings by Kevin Lau, both younger-generation Canadian composers. I do get sidetracked into works that do not fit into either Hungarian or Canadian composer categories. An example is my 2013 Naxos CD of the chamber music of Nino Rota. I enjoy performing less-known repertoire.” Her hope is that these concerts will provide an opportunity for others to look back with similar clarity, in order to move confidently ahead. BO HUANG Andrew Timar is a Toronto musician and music writer. He can be contacted at 14 | November 1, 2016 - December 7, 2016

Beat by Beat | Classical & Beyond Sir Simon Rattle Master Carver PAUL ENNIS When Sir Simon Rattle – who brings the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) to Roy Thomson Hall for two concerts in November – was two years old, he showed his rhythmic talent by beating in time while his father played Gershwin songs on the piano. Born in Liverpool in 1955, he quoted his more famous fellow Liverpudlians when he announced in 2013 that he would cease his post as chief conductor and artistic director of the BPO in 2018. “It is impossible not to think of the Beatles’ question, ‘Will you still need me…when I’m 64?’ and I am sure that then it will be time for somebody else to take on the magnificent challenge that is the Berliner Philharmoniker.” Two years later, he was appointed music director of the London Symphony Orchestra. Rattle grew up “an absolute musical monomaniac,” in his words, not far from Penny Lane. According to the BPO website, his father, the manager of an import and export company and later a teacher, was an enthusiastic jazz fan and an excellent pianist. His mother, also an excellent pianist, ran a music shop before her marriage. Both parents supported their son in his studies of percussion, piano and violin. At seven he read Hector Berlioz’s Treatise on Instrumentation; and from an early age was interested in the music of the 20th century. Christopher Ford called the 21-year-old Rattle, in a 1976 article in The Guardian, “a precocious and versatile musician as a boy in his native Liverpool.” The British musical polymath Fritz Spiegl gave him his first professional job at 13, playing timpani in Handel’s Fireworks Music. His reputation as a percussionist and pianist was growing but a year later he decided that “what he really had to do was conduct.” At the age of 16 he entered the Royal Academy of Music. “I went there as a pianist and a percussionist, trying to make it as clear as possible that I wanted to carve. You’re not supposed to carve until your second year, but one has to make opportunities. By the time I got out I had conducted a lot of operas, and even more bits of operas.” He had also given performances which continued to be talked about, according to Ford, of two of Mahler’s biggest symphonies. In the year before going to the Academy he had played in the National Youth Orchestra, where he met and worked with Pierre Boulez. “Boulez really was a ‘formative experience,’” Rattle told Ford. “I then went through a terrible Boulez patch, trying to conduct like him … For me the greatest musical influence among all the conductors is Furtwängler.” A quarter century later, Rattle followed in Furtwängler’s footsteps in Berlin. In a recent Presto Classical interview, Rattle described Furtwängler’s approach as “a typical composer’s way of looking: very free, very mystical, extraordinary in another way. … To try to reproduce a Furtwängler performance now would be postmodern. There are atmospheres and a grasp of the overall structure which is almost unearthly. He had such a grasp of this, that he could improvise - particularly with his orchestra that he knew so well - in a manner whereby he could go anywhere without losing the basic shape of a piece.” Rattle brings the BPO, one of the world’s great orchestras, to RTH for two distinctively different concerts. The first – on November 15 – will open with Boulez’s Éclat. That’s just an amuse bouche for Mahler’s mercurial, kaleidoscopic Symphony No.7 which will follow. Mahler has been at the centre of Rattle’s conducting life forever. He made his BPO debut in November 1987 conducting Mahler’s Symphony No.6 and his first concert as chief conductor, September 2002, included Mahler’s Symphony No.5. The November 16 program juxtaposes the Second Viennese School of Schoenberg (Five Pieces for Orchestra), Berg (Six Pieces for Orchestra) and Webern (Three Pieces for Orchestra) with Brahms’ Sir Simon Rattle idyllic Symphony No.2. Schoenberg regarded Brahms highly and analyzed his music when he taught composition, calling him “the progressive” who paved the way for the future of music. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear some of the best musicians on the planet. Stephen Prutsman at Mooredale. American pianist Stephen Prutsman’s impeccable classical credentials include studying with Leon Fleisher who used Prutsman’s arrangement of Jerome Kern’s All the Things You Are on his 2014 Bridge Records solo piano CD. Prutsman brings his fascinating “Bach and Forth” program to Mooredale Concerts December 4. The program is little changed since its December 2010 NYC debut. It links 11 preludes and fugues from Book II of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier and Gavottes I and II from the English Suite No.6 with works by Rameau, Beethoven, Wagner/ Liszt, Debussy and Schoenberg in its first half and arrangements of compositions by Yes, Charlie Parker, gospel singer Walter Hawkins, MONIKA RITTERSHAUS November 1, 2016 - December 7, 2016 | 15

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)