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Volume 24 Issue 6 - March 2019

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Something Old, Something New! The Ide(a)s of March are Upon Us! Rob Harris's Rear View Mirror looks forward to a tonal revival; Tafelmusik expands their chronological envelope in two directions, Esprit makes wave after wave; Pax Christi's new oratorio by Barbara Croall catches the attention of our choral and new music columnists; and summer music education is our special focus, right when warm days are once again possible to imagine. All this and more in our March 2019 edition, available in flipthrough here, and on the stands starting Thursday Feb 28.


IN CONVERSATION GREG LOCKE Suba and Trichy Sankaran Trichy Sankaran, tracing the significance of the introduction into 17th-century Europe of indigofera tinctoria, the indigo dye that provided both the royal blue of the Bourbon courts and the colour of the cotton fabric worn by the common folk, known as denim. Ancient history with profound contemporary implications. Other programs dig into the centuries before Baroque in the same way the Mendelssohn/Tchaikovsky program pushes past it. Or introduce us to a composer (Antonio Lotti) whose direct influence on composers like Bach and Handel was evidently as profound as history’s silence where Lotti is concerned … the list goes on. Engaging as it all promises to be, the jury is out on whether NORMA BEECROFT, ELECTRONIC PIONEER DAVID JAEGER “I truly hope audiences will be happily surprised by it all. I think I am getting to know them better.” Tafelmusik’s audience will follow where the orchestra under Citterio clearly wants to go. And it’s clear that Tchaikovsky is not the end of the road. Citterio herself agrees that only time will tell. But she knows what she thinks about it: “I truly hope audiences will be happily surprised by it all. I think I am getting to know them better. I understand it will take time. And that some come to Tafelmusik only to hear Baroque music, I know it is only one story, but I like it: It was after we did Mozart’s Symphony No.40, which everyone does, and everyone knows. It’s everywhere. And where probably every audience member expects to hear it a certain way. So we tried to clear the score, to give it a transparency, taking advantage of our instruments, dynamic, articulation, pronunciation even (in German, of course). And one member of the audience who goes to the TSO all the time and likes that kind of style more for this kind of classical and Romantic repertoire came to me and said ‘today I discovered a new Mozart, and I don’t want to stop. I could hear each instrument and detail.’ I was so happy to have feedback like that.” “So right at the beginning you said you were hoping for ‘busier perhaps, but less crazy,” I say, to bring it full circle. “Crazy busy!” she replies, with a smile. Not crazy the way Italy was, where there are great talents but not, shall we say, well organized as a team. Yes I am busier than I should be, I have a baby but everything is organized, and well organized, so busier is definitely easier.” David Perlman can be reached at Norma Beecroft taking a break while working on the tape part for Two Went to Sleep (1967) in the University of Toronto Electronic Music Studio (UTEMS). © JOHN REEVES 12 | March 2019

Canadian composer Norma Beecroft (b. 1934) recently released her book, Conversations with Post World War II Pioneers of Electronic Music, containing an insightful and revealing collection of interviews that explore the history of electronic music around the world. The book, originally published as an e-book, contains transcriptions of her interviews with many of the principal innovators who shaped electronic music from its earliest days. Beecroft, of course, is herself one of the pioneers of electronic music. Her creative life closely mirrors the appearance and development of what was, in the mid-20th century, the newest musical medium. Given that she was also a prolific broadcaster and a maker of radio documentaries about contemporary composers of her day, it should be no surprise that she decided, in 1977, to embark on this landmark series of interviews with her fellow electronic music pioneers. The list of the composers included in Beecroft’s book is comprehensive, reading like a who’s who of early electronic music. Among the 23 interviews, prominent names such as Luciano Berio, John Cage, Pierre Schaeffer, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Iannis Xenakis jump out of the group. Max Matthews, the so-called “father of computer music” is there. And there are important Canadian innovators as well, such as Bill Buxton, Gustav Ciamaga, James Montgomery and Barry Truax. Each interview is framed with a carefully drawn profile of her subject, intricately and accurately placing each into historical context. The 400-plus-page book also contains an extensive preface, in which Beecroft introduces the overall subject of the relationship between music and technology, which is broadly relevant to her topic. She also details highlights of her own career, creating historical markers in the process, that show her creative work in parallel with her interview subjects. She describes herself as, “the second of five offspring of a father who was an inventor, Julian Beecroft (1907– 2007) and one of his main interests was acoustics and sound, which he began investigating when he was very young.” She touches on her early composition lessons with John Weinzweig (1913–2006), interspersed with her other career activities, including her work with CBC Beecroft working on the tape part for Two Went to Sleep. Television in the 1950s, a time when TV was the newest of the broadcast media. It was also a period of her life when she travelled extensively, to both the United States and to Europe, meeting numerous composers, conductors and performers in the process. These acquaintances helped her in the development of the many phases of her career: composer, broadcaster and arts administrator (this latter role as co-director – with Robert Aitken – of Toronto’s New Music Concerts, from 1971 to 1989). And a great many of these colleagues found their way into her collection of interviews. Beecroft writes: “It was inevitable that I would join those questioning the present and future value of this new technology to music, this fascinating interaction between the fields of science and the humanities. And so, in 1977, I began my investigations into exploring music’s relationship to technology through the voices of some of the world’s foremost creative musical minds.” She concludes her preface with the notion: “It is generally agreed that the field of electronic music began in Paris, France, in the studios of the French Radio, then experiments in this new domain were being conducted at Columbia University in New York, and at the West German Radio in Cologne. Accordingly, I have ordered my collection of interviews in the same manner, beginning in France, and then moving to the United States and Germany, then followed with important work by Luciano Berio (1925–2003) and Bruno Maderna (1920–1973) at the Italian Radio in Milan, and concluding this volume with the interviews in Canada.” At the same time, she notes: “All these activities were mushrooming around the same period of time, in the years immediately following © JOHN REEVES P A X • C H R I S T • C H O R A L E I David Bowser Artistic Director Miziwe... (Everywhere...) Performed in Ojibwe Odawa language with surtitles The world premiere of a newly commissioned oratorio by Barbara Croall Pax Christi Chorale with Krisztina Szabó, Justin Welsh, Rod Nettagog, Barbara Croall and the Toronto Mozart Players Sunday, March 31 2019, 3:00 p.m. Koerner Hall in the Telus Centre for Performance & Learning FOR TICKETS, VISIT PAXCHRISTICHORALE.ORG March 2019 | 13

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