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Volume 24 Issue 1 - September 2018

  • Text
  • September
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • Musical
  • Symphony
  • Quartet
  • Orchestra
  • Festival
  • Theatre
  • Violin
In this issue: The WholeNote's 7th Annual TIFF TIPS guide to festival films with musical clout; soprano Erin Wall in conversation with Art of Song columnist Lydia Perovic, about more than the art of song; a summer's worth of recordings reviewed; Toronto Chamber Choir at 50 (is a few close friends all it takes?); and much more, as the 2018/19 season gets under way.

called “the poverty

called “the poverty and rawness of the subject,” he wrote a “less melodic score than usual using dissonant choral melodies that seem to disappear before they can be grasped, as well as synth-based electronic sonorities.” Crucially, he chose not to “underline or highlight emotions that were already sufficiently intense.” Birds of Passage, by the filmmaking team behind the remarkable Embrace of the Serpent, is a compulsively watchable saga inspired by true events in the Guajira region of Colombia during the rise of the marijuana export industry (1960-1980). It’s a carefully constructed epic where chapters are presented as song titles and stunning music – a combination of traditional instrumentals and contemporaneous pop – contributes in kind. Ali Abbasi’s Border, a Swedish film which deservedly won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, benefits from an atmospheric score by Martin Dirkov that moves discreetly from dreamy electronica to joyful swells. Strikingly original, Border follows a female customs officer who can smell what people are feeling, making it easy for her to spot deception of any kind. Her life broadens when she meets a man with similar characteristics who shares her uncanny ability. Then this film about societal outsiders takes a page from Norse mythology and leaps into unseen territory. In Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson’s genre-bending dramatic comedy, Woman at War, a middle-aged female choirmaster (with a twin sister) whose adoption request for a Ukrainian four-year-old has just been accepted, is also an eco-terrorist who shoots down power lines with a bow and arrow. And because it’s an upbeat movie, she’s followed around by a kind of musical Greek chorus consisting of sousaphone, accordion, drums and three Ukrainian singers in traditional costumes. FILMS WITH A PEDIGREE Tom Volf’s documentary, Maria by Callas, narrated by Joyce DiDonato, promises fresh insights into La Divina through recently rediscovered writings and interviews with the legendary Greek- American soprano. Quincy follows 85-year-old legend Quincy Jones as he puts together a star-studded concert for the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, giving him ample time to reflect on his life and work with such icons as Count Basie, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Dinah Washington, Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie and Michael Jackson. For Damien Chazelle’s First Man, about Neil Armstrong’s moon landing, Chazelle’s longtime composer Justin Hurwitz has revealed he’s getting away from jazz and old-fashioned orchestral sounds and experimenting with electronic music. Maria by Callas NOT YET VIEWED BUT INTRIGUING CANADIAN FILMS In Darlene Naponse’s Falls Around Her, a renowned Anishinaabe musician (the always watchable Tantoo Cardinal) comes home to Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation in Northern Ontario to restore herself after many exhausting years on the road. But it can be tricky to hide from the demands of the outside world. Said to be inspired by Buffy Sainte-Marie. Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown’s debut feature, Edge of the Knife, the first feature made entirely in the two dialects of the Haida language, uses traditional music to add a note of authenticity to its story. In 19th-century Haida Gwaii, an accident prompts a tormented man to retreat deep into the forest where he becomes Gaagiixiid/Gaagiid (“the wildman”). Igor Drljaca, fondly remembered for his cinematic eye and musical ear in Krivina, has made his first documentary, The Stone Speakers, that looks at the intersection of tourism and ideology in four post-war towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina and features traditional music on the soundtrack. A tiny section of Part 2 of his Symphony No. 8, that Mahler wrote in relation to the final scene of Goethe’s Faust, adds to the fascination of Andrea Bussmann’s first feature, Fausto, which she calls “quite experimental.” On the Oaxacan coast, tales of shapeshifting, telepathy and dealings with the devil are embedded within the colonization and enslavement of the Americas. Through literature, myth, and local entanglements, the veil between reality and fiction, and the seen and unseen, is lifted, according the film’s press kit. THREE LOTTERY PICKS Fresh from the Venice Film Festival and featuring a soundtrack full of new music by Australian pop star Sia, Brady Corbet’s Vox Lux is an original musical that follows a pop star (Natalie Portman), from her rise to fame after surviving a major school shooting in 1999, to her scandal-plagued, present-day, all-too-public private life. 12 | September 2018

Falls Around Her Now in its 24th season, the Off Centre Music Salon recreates the magical atmosphere of the Viennese and Parisian salons of the 19th century. Music is intimately shared between the performers and the audience. Each concert tells a story. Vasan Bala’s Bollywood genre mashup, The Man Who Feels No Pain, screening in the Midnight Madness section, has a kinetic trailer filled with action and humour set to a rollicking riff on Superfly that demands attention. These words by Guy Lodge in Variety about Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt’s Diamantino are quite a recommendation: “Part loopily queer sci-fi thriller, part faux-naive political rallying cry, glued together with candyfloss clouds of romantic reverie, it’s a film best seen with as little forewarning as possible. ... Only in the up-isdown world of Diamantino could Donna Lewis’ cream-cheese slab of mid-90s dreampop I Love You Always Forever briefly seem a soaring anthem of the heart. ‘Love has reasons that even reason can’t understand,’ muses Diamantino in voiceover at one point; so does this lovably ludicrous film.” The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 6 to 16. Check for further information. Diamantino Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote. Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin Founders & Artistic Directors OCTOBER 21, 2018 THE MYSTERY OF HISTORY: 1889 in Paris and Vienna FEBRUARY 3, 2019 24 th Annual Schubertiad APRIL 14, 2019 To The Letter: An Epistolary Celebration JUNE 9, 2019 Russian Salon: Ages & Stages To order tickets or subscriptions, please call 416.466.6323 or visit us at OFFCENTREMUSIC.COM Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre 427 Bloor Street West Sunday afternoons, 3:00 pm September 2018 | 13

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