7 years ago

Volume 22 Issue 4 - December 2016/January 2017

  • Text
  • December
  • Toronto
  • Arts
  • January
  • Symphony
  • February
  • Jazz
  • Performing
  • Choir
  • Orchestra
  • Volume
In this issue: a conversation with pianist Stewart Goodyear, in advance of his upcoming show at Koerner Hall; a preview of the annual New Year’s phenomenon that is Bravissimo!/Salute to Vienna; an inside look at music performance in Toronto’s health-care centres; and a reflection on the incredible life and lasting influence of the late Pauline Oliveros. These and more, in a special December/January combined issue!

telephone conversation

telephone conversation and email exchange, Kirsh – who is herself an amateur musician – told me that she is attempting to stretch the cultural envelopes of the music and musicians she presents, to better reflect the cultural backgrounds of the hospital’s patients, health-care workers and surrounding east-Toronto community. “The catchment area of our hospital is the most diverse in Toronto,” Kirsh told me. “I am working with musicians to put on free noonhour concerts – about four per year – featuring the music of [our diverse] heritages. I want to reflect the soul of the community. [While the concerts are free,] we nevertheless recognize the importance of paying fees to professional musicians.” The first concert in the series was held November 15, featuring Toronto’s stylishly virtuoso Payadora Tango Ensemble. It performed repertoire drawn from the core Buenos Aires tango tradition, as well as signature compositions by Astor Piazzolla. “A Venezuelan hospital volunteer opened the concert with South American music,” said Kirsh. The series continues on January 17, 2017 with Toronto-based Demetri Petsalakis curating a concert of Greek music, reflecting the musical identity of the nearby Greektown on the Danforth. Petsalakis and his group will perform in a wide variety of styles, with an instrumental accent on his masterful Greek and Middle Eastern lute playing. What about the future of music programming at Michael Garron Hospital? Kirsh intends to extend the musical mix further, “to reflect the huge Filipino community at our hospital, particularly our healthcare workers.” She looks forward to the late spring, when she plans to hold a concert in an appropriate outdoor space on hospital grounds, with music provided by members of Toronto’s vibrant Filipino community. As each of these five examples show, the power of music to build social and emotional connections is already being put into practice in Toronto’s health-care spaces – and is finding resonance with the communities involved. Andrew Timar is a Toronto musician and music writer. He can be contacted at REMEMBERING Pauline Oliveros May 30, 1932 – November 24, 2016 “In hearing, the ears take in all the sound waves and particles and deliver them to the audio cortex where the listening takes place. We cannot turn off our ears – the ears are always taking in sound information – but we can turn off our listening. I feel that listening is the basis of creativity and culture. How you’re listening is how you develop a culture and how a community of people listens is what creates their culture.” – Pauline Oliveros, from an interview with Alan Baker, American Public Media (2003) I first experienced American composer, electronic music pioneer and Deep Listener extraordinaire Pauline Oliveros at a concert she gave at the original Music Gallery sometime in the late 1970s. What I experienced was a revolution in the making that I had difficulty making sense of at the time. I had heard about Oliveros, in part through interviews with her in Musicworks magazine and also in Casey Sokol’s improvisation class at York University. I was anticipating a usual event – an audience sitdown-in-your-chair-and-be-quiet experience. But no, that’s definitely not what happened. The first piece, Tuning Meditation, was created by everyone lying on the floor with our heads in the centre, following these simple instructions: On breath one, make a tone that you are hearing inside yourself. On breath two, match a tone you are hearing in the room. Repeat this sequence until the ending occurs. No doubt many of you reading this have also participated in this piece as it is one of her most well-known and loved Sonic Meditations. It is a way of cultivating listening presence and awareness, both focal and global. The second piece on the program was Extreme Slow Walk. The task was to listen while walking extremely slowly. I remember Pauline teaching us how to walk – to pay attention to each and every micro movement required just to take a step. The group walked in a circle for at least 40 minutes and, if my memory is correct, we only made one rotation around the room. However, it is what I experienced during that walk that has stayed with me all these years. At one point, it was as if a veil had been lifted and something inside of me expanded. The tension in my body dropped away. And despite the fact that my mind was questioning whether or not this was really a proper concert, the experience itself communicated the truth that something more profound was occurring at another level within me. In the vast outpouring of tributes on social media in these last few days after Pauline’s passing, it was this quote from 1975 that spoke to my experience. When asked about the musical idea for Rose Mountain Slow Runner, Pauline said: “Well I haven’t been working with musical ideas for a while, but I’ve been working on my consciousness, on my mode of consciousness, and the result of the mode is the music.” And that is indeed what has evolved throughout her career. She has created a legacy that has profoundly altered the awareness and musical practices of so many people worldwide. For myself as a young student at the time of that initial encounter, it began a process of questioning the way things are defined in music. And as I look back on the many experiences I have had with her over the years, each one of these memories marks a significant moment of learning, of expanding and of questioning assumptions. This is the gift of the expanded listening process she has brought to the world. I Pauline Oliveros with a synthesizer in 1966. return again to her definition of Deep Listening: “listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what one is doing.” In closing, I would like to recount two short stories from my own personal encounters with Pauline. The first took place during one of her visits to Toronto, sometime in the 1990s. With a small group in a forest close to Gayle Young’s home in Grimsby, Pauline led us in a few different approaches to vocal soundmaking. After we concluded, she said: “It’s really important for the trees that we do this, that we communicate with them.” The second incident took place close to her home in Kingston, NY. I was visiting her and wanted to go on an excursion to a local cave to do some soundmaking. Before we even got to the cave, her instructions were to start listening as we walked along the path, to become aware of all the other beings living in the fields and skies above, to listen to their presence and become as nondisruptive as possible. We continued in this mode after arriving at the cave, and only towards the end of our stay did we add our own soundmaking as participants in the larger field of sound around us. Her gift to the world is so vast that it is almost impossible to sum it up in words. She affected and influenced so many because she herself treated each encounter as an opportunity to witness and be fully present. Wendalyn Bartley DAVID BERNSTEIN 70 | December 1, 2016 - February 7, 2017

FRANK WANG WE ARE ALL MUSIC’S CHILDREN December’s Child Ambur Braid MJ BUELL Ambur Braid grew up in Terrace, BC, and graduated from Claremont High School in Victoria, where she worked for a year at the Italian Bakery “to gear up for my move to Toronto and my undergrad at the Glenn Gould School.” A graduate of the GGS, Royal Conservatory of Music and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, she was a member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio during which time you may have seen her in the title role of Semele, as Adele in Die Fledermaus and Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito. With Opera Atelier you may have seen her as Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte. Braid recently debuted at Lisbon’s Teatro de São Carlos as Anne Truelove in a new production of The Rake’s Progress and made her UK debut as the Queen of the Night, to all accounts formidable, at the English National Opera, a role which she then sang for Opera Calgary. After a change of pace as Dalinda in the COC’s recent Ariodante, Braid will return to sing the Queen of the Night in all 12 performances of their upcoming January 2017 Magic Flute. Apparently undaunted by her demanding opera schedule, this coloratura without borders also has time and energy to prepare and sing collaborative concerts like “The Living Spectacle: Songs by Erik Ross and Libby Larsen” with the Canadian Art Song Project and solo recitals with titles that range from “La Favorita: Verdi, Mozart and Puccini Arias” to “Rachmaninoff and Ribs with a Side of Sibelius” Soprano Ambur Braid is a Torontonian who goes to Athens whenever possible. She has a poodle and a partner who both travel the world with her and for that she is incredibly grateful. Beyond music, some of her other pastimes and pleasures include cleaning, reading, eating, shopping and hosting dinner parties. Suppose a friendly fellow asks what you do for a living? I’m an opera singer. You’re right, I’m not fat, but here are my Viking horns. If you were driving alone and could sing along to any recording, what would you choose? Always David Bowie. About that childhood photo…? My smile hasn’t really changed, but my attire has. Your absolute earliest memory of music? My brother singing along to Billy Idol. He was super into it. Musicians in your childhood family? Everyone appreciated music in my family, and music was always playing in our house! My mother (a social worker) would sing to me after each bath (I still love baths), and my father (a notary public) attempted to sing in church. It wasn’t amazing. My older brothers played a lot of Bon Jovi, Billy Idol, Tiffany and the Georgia Satellites. And my eldest Ambur Braid, with Walter Bowen Braid, at the airport. brother had a blues band. A first recollection of making music? My debut, singing Jesus Loves Me in French and English, was as a three-year-old in church. Then singing Keep Your Hands to Yourself with my brother’s band as a five–year-old. There’s a video of it and it’s pretty great. A first instrument? Tambourine, drums, recorder and then, reluctantly, the piano. Early experiences of making music with other people? Choir tours and musical theatre camp – so much fun! What experiences helped form your appetite for staged works? Going to London and NYC with my parents to see musicals – I just stared at the conductor. I guess I still do! NEW CONTEST! Who is February’s Child? One of The WholeNote’s own, since 2008. ~ ~ His own records offer fresh takes on other standards, and more. ~ ~ An energetic promoter, producer and jazz journalist. ~ ~ “Clap on the 2 and the 4” is toetappingly irresistible for even the stuffiest music expert. ~ ~ Type “Googleable” into your YouTube search box for swinging proof that he can sing something catchy about absolutely anything. Know our Mystery Child’s name? WIN PRIZES! Send your best guess by January 25, to When did you begin to think of yourself as a career musician? I don’t remember a time when I didn’t think of myself as a career musician. I did dabble in floristry and event planning, though. Does teaching/mentoring figure in your life? Only in an organic way. There are some young singers who stay in contact with me for guidance. Yikes. That’s terrifying when you think about it! Where does music fit into life at home? I’ve been known to dance along to my favourite overtures in the morning. Everyone needs a good dance party once in a while. Haifa, 1986, when Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf was his standard fare before he learned to swing, scat, croon and generally entertain. AMBUR BRAID RECENT / UPCOMING • Dalinda in Ariodante | The Canadian Opera Company | Oct/Nov 2016 • Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute | Oper Frankfurt (debut)| Dec 2016 • Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute | The Canadian Opera Company | Jan/ Feb 2017 • Oksana in Oksana G. | Tapestry Opera (premiere) | May 2017 CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS! HERE’S WHAT THEY WON Ambur Braid will be the Queen of the Night in the Canadian Opera Company’s 2017 production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Jan. 19 to Feb.24) and everyone else had better watch out for the fireworks! This includes Elena Tsallagova and Kirsten MacKinnon (Pamina); Andrew Haji and Owen McCausland (Tamino); Joshua Hopkins and Phillip Addis (Papageno); Goran Juric and Matt Boehler (Sarastro); Michael Colvin (Monostatos). Bernard Labadie conducts, Ashlie Corcoran directs. A pair of tickets for DEBORAH DAVIS. May 24 to 30 Ambur Braid will sing the title role in Tapestry Opera’s Oksana G., with Keith Klassen, Adam Fisher and Krisztina Szabó. This ambitious premiere production, with a full orchestra and chorus conducted by Jordan de Souza, will be directed by Tom Diamond. It’s the uncompromising and powerful story of a young Ukrainian woman lured into sex trafficking and her extraordinary battle to escape it. A pair of tickets each for SUSAN MIDDLETON and MARYLIN GILLESPIE. December 1, 2016 - February 7, 2017 | 71

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