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Volume 24 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2019

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  • August
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In this issue: The Toronto Brazilian bateria beat goes on; TD Jazz in Yorkville is three years young; Murray Schafer's earliest Wilderness forays revisited; cellist/composer Cris Derksen's Maada'ookkii Songlines to close Luminato (and it's free!); our 15th annual Green Pages summer music guide; all this and more in our combined June/July/August issue now available in flipthrough format here and on stands starting Thursday May 30.


FEATURE VOICES IN THE WILDERNESS Thinking about Murray Schafer in 2019 DAVID JAEGER The Horned Enemy from The Princess of the Stars, (Wildcat Lake, 1997) designed by Jerrard and Diana Smith. SEAN HAGERMAN On a particularly sunny and warm May day in Belfast – one might even have called it summery – my thoughts turned to the coming season, and to the phenomenon of music performed in the great outdoors, or even deep in the wilderness, if the friends and followers of Murray Schafer are to be emulated. My reverie gradually took me back to a much earlier time when such thinking was a fresh idea. I recalled that in the summer of 1979 my CBC Radio colleague, John Reeves, approached me with an unusual proposal for a broadcast. He asked if I would consider funding an episode he wanted to produce for my recently established contemporary music series, Two New Hours (1978–2007) on what was then known as the CBC FM Network. The notable aspect of his proposal was that it would feature a composition by Murray Schafer, to be recorded on a wilderness lake. The title of the episode was simply, Music for Wilderness Lake. The performance of the work would be by an ensemble of 12 trombonists, ringing the lake, and the recording would be made from the perspective of microphones positioned in a canoe in the middle of the lake. I thought about Reeves’ proposal, reflecting on other Schafer compositions I had already broadcast on the series, such as his now iconic Third String Quartet, which I had commissioned. The quartet had been a highly unconventional piece, one which begins with only the cellist on stage and in which the other three string players gradually join after slowly progressing, one by one, from the back of the hall to centre stage. In the middle movement, the string players perform all manner of un-string-like sounds. They shout, growl, stomp their feet, and generally carry on in an unhinged and bellicose manner. Needless to say, this kind of innovative writing worked beautifully both on stage and on the radio! The idea, therefore, of a new Schafer composition to be recorded from a canoe in the centre of a wilderness lake was only momentarily surprising. I responded by authorizing the necessary budget to Reeves to produce the segment. I subsequently discovered that the audio recording was only part of the project. A film crew would accompany Reeves and his recording engineer into the wilderness. The filmmakers eventually contracted for the rights to synchronize and mix our CBC recording as a part of the soundtrack of their film were Barbara Willis Sweete, Niv Fichman and Larry Weinstein; it was released as the first ever film by their new company, Fichman-Sweete Productions, which later evolved into Rhombus Media. Schafer mentioned in his 2012 autobiography, My Life on Earth & Elsewhere, that Music for Wilderness Lake was his first environmental piece. “I had been canoeing around one of the many unpeopled lakes in the Madawaska area and had noticed how the sounds changed throughout the day and evening. I decided to write a work for the lake and take advantage of those changes,” he wrote. “Just at this time I was approached by a group of 12 trombone players who wanted me to write a piece for them. I suggested my idea and they liked it.” The book, published by The Porcupine’s Quill in Erin, Ontario, is not the focus of this article, but bears mentioning; it is a remarkable read, divided into two parts. Part one is subtitled Student, Sailor, Wanderer and part two is The Music of the Environment. It’s furthermore am increasingly valuable document, since Schafer has become afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, and unable to further share his remarkable story. Brooke Dufton, a soprano and scholar who has devoted much of her career to studying and performing the works of Schafer told me: 8 | June | July | August 2019

GREAT CHAMBER MUSIC DOWNTOWN STRINGS Oct. 17 Nov. 7 Dec. 5 Jan. 9 Jan. 30 Feb. 27 Mar. 19 Apr. 16 Quartetto di Cremona Vision Quartet Gryphon Trio Miró Quartet St. Lawrence Quartet with pianist Stephen Prutsman Schumann Quartett Pavel Haas Quartet Quatuor Ébène St. Lawrence Quartet PIANO Oct. 22 Dec. 17 Feb. 18 Mar. 10 Mar. 31 Piano 6 Gala Jonathan Plowright Francesco Piemontesi André Laplante Benjamin Grosvenor Benjamin Grosvenor FULL SEASON OF 13 CONCERTS 0, 9. Other combinations available. Subscription prices include Handling Charges and HST. All concerts at 8pm TICKETS: 416.366.7723 | 27 Front Street East, Toronto

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