5 years ago

Volume 23 Issue 8 - May 2018

  • Text
  • Choir
  • Toronto
  • Musical
  • Choral
  • Singers
  • Arts
  • Theatre
  • Concerts
  • Jazz
  • Festival
In this issue: our sixteenth annual Choral Canary Pages; coverage of 21C, Estonian Music Week and the 3rd Toronto Bach Festival (three festivals that aren’t waiting for summer!); and features galore: “Final Finales” for Larry Beckwith’s Toronto Masque Theatre and for David Fallis as artistic director of Toronto Consort; four conductors on the challenges of choral conducting; operatic Hockey Noir; violinist Stephen Sitarski’s perspective on addressing depression; remembering bandleader, composer and saxophonist Paul Cram. These and other stories, in our May 2018 edition of the magazine.


MONTEVERDI’S ORFEO May 25 & 26 at 8pm | May 27 at 3:30pm WE cap off this 45 th Anniversary Season of Celebration with the world’s first great opera, and one of the most moving love stories of all time, Claudio Monteverdi’s masterpiece Orfeo in concert. For this grand finale we have assembled an international team of singers and players, starring critically acclaimed, English tenor Charles Daniels in the title role, the Montrealbased early brass ensemble La Rose des Vents, and for the first time in Toronto Consort history, Jeanne Lamon, on first violin. TRINITY –ST. PAUL’S CENTRE 427 BLOOR ST WEST, TORONTO ON M5S 1X7 Great seats available for only ! 416-964-6337 | perform? Do you approach a recital in Toronto differently than one in the UK? The phrase “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone” really rings true with me. It wasn’t until I left Toronto and had been gone a year that I realized just how much I love the city, so I particularly enjoy coming home, especially to play. Toronto Sarah Svendsen and Rachel Mahon as organ duo, Organized Crime has so much going on and this is true in the local organ scene too: there are several fine instruments in the city of all different styles. I will be playing at Holy Family for the Bach Festival and this is particularly a homecoming for me because I was born and raised in Parkdale. When I started organ lessons at 15, the Oratorians let me practise at Holy Family twice a week and for many years I sang in the Oratory Children’s Choir (which my mother founded and directed) before I became the choir’s organist at age 18. I would say I approach each concert I play differently, no matter where it is. Of course I take into consideration my audience and perhaps the time of year, as so much organ repertoire is based on the liturgical year, but also, and most importantly, the instrument. Organists have the unique problem of not being able to travel with their own instruments, so we must adjust to each organ and each organ is completely unique. Certain pieces just won’t work on certain organs. I suppose there might also be an extra layer of nerves for Toronto as well. The organ world is relatively small and in Toronto I have many friends in the field. I studied with John Tuttle at the University of Toronto and wouldn’t want to horrify him with any bad habits I might’ve picked up across the pond! “The phrase ‘you don’t know what you have until it’s gone’ really rings true with me. It wasn’t until I left Toronto and had been gone a year that I realized just how much I love the city.” Bach is one of the most-performed composers across the globe. What does Bach’s music mean to you? Do you think there’s still something new to say in the interpretation of these works? Bach is my favourite composer of all time. I love Tallis, Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Elgar and Howells, to name a few, but Bach remains the supreme composer for me. As an organist, a singer, a conductor and a listener, Bach’s music never disappoints me. I am always fulfilled by it and yet want more – I went to Tafelmusik’s St. Matthew Passion three times in one week a few years ago... There is so much to bring out in the music that no two performers’ interpretations will be the same. I believe a performer is able to put his or her own character into a piece, to draw the ear to what he or she wants the listener to hear in the music. This is an exciting privilege and is why there can always be something new to say with these works. Rachel Mahon’s organ recital, May 12 at 2pm at Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, is the middle concert of the third annual Toronto Bach Festival, which takes place May 11 to 13. Matthew Whitfield is a Toronto-based harpsichordist and organist, and The WholeNote’s regular Early Music columnist. 10 | May 2018

FEATURE THE ICING ON THE CHORAL CONDUCTOR’S CAKE BRIAN CHANG LORRAINE DILLARD Jenny Crober and I are chatting over the phone. She’s in New York City with several of the choristers from VOCA Chorus of Toronto and the Achill Choral Society from Orangeville. They’ve spent the last few days rehearsing with James Meaders, the associate artistic director of Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) and composer-superstar Ola Gjeilo. Crober and crew are in NYC with DCINY to perform a concert of Gjeilo’s work onstage at Carnegie Hall with choirs from across the world. “There were 250 singers,” shares Crober. “It was a bit of a crush to fit us all onstage. And it was hot, but lovely.” Jenny Crober of VOCA Chorus of Toronto It is moments like these that are hard to put into words: why do conductors do this kind of work? Why sing under intensely hot lights and packed like sardines? Why drive two hours each way to lead rehearsal? Why spend hours studying scores and making notes in private? Why conduct at all? Last year in May, we explored with a range of choristers the reasons they give up so much of their time and energy to choral music-making. This year, I’m chatting with choral conductors to get perspective on the power of choral music in their lives, and why they do what they do. When she’s in Toronto, Crober raises her hands to lead VOCA Chorus; Cheryll Chung, an accomplished pianist, founded the Cantabile Chamber Singers in 2006; powerhouse Karen Burke leads the Toronto Mass Choir; and you’ve probably seen Shawn Grenke in action as associate conductor of the Amadeus Choir. Here they all share their ideas on the hard work of conducting and choral music. Crober started working with VOCA (when it was still the East York Choir) in 1991 as an accompanist and took over the reins in 2004. Over her tenure she has seen VOCA (the name-change was in 2011) double in size. The choir is a whole different beast now, she says. “We have professional singers, doubled the size and have choristers from across the city and beyond. This gives me impetus to keep on as the choir continues to grow into what we’re becoming.” Conductors are uniquely able to pull on the threads that pull community together. And community is the common theme that all these conductors bring forward. “The community outlets need to be present for people to fall in love with choir – to fall in love with conducting and community music,” says Burke. Cheryll Chung says, “It is really important as a conductor to connect with your ensemble and build a sense of community and trust, so that it can enable you to get the music across.” And Grenke tells me: “I love bringing Upcoming Concert Ambe… Welcome! A Choral Concert for Families Saturday, June 2 – 6:30pm Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre 427 Bloor St. West Tickets at the Door / VIVA!’s six choirs singing choral classics and songs inspired by Canada’s indigenous peoples VIVA! is Hiring VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto is hiring: Vocal Development Coordinator • Vocal Coach, Private Voice Lesson Coordinator • Research, Outreach and Support of Transgendered Singers Send CV to: by May 30, 2018 Auditions Audition to Sing with VIVA! in our 2018-19 Season • Children’s Choirs from age four to teens • Adult Choirs for beginners to experienced choral singers • TD Bank Group Inclusion Program for singers with disabilities For information or to book a vocal assessment: May 2018 | 11

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