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Volume 25 Issue 1 - September 2019

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Vol 1 of our 25th season is now here! And speaking of 25, that's how many films in the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival editor Paul Ennis, in our Eighth Annual TIFF TIPS, has chosen to highlight for their particular musical interest. Also inside: Rob Harris looks through the Rear View Mirror at past and present prognostications about the imminent death of classical music; Mysterious Barricades and Systemic Barriers are Lydia Perović's preoccupations in Art of Song; Andrew Timar reflects on the evolving priorities of the Polaris Prize; and elsewhere, it's chocks away as yet another season creaks or roars (depending on the beat) into motion. Welcome back.

Neef The production also

Neef The production also gives the opportunity for some early reflection on what the implications will be of Alexander Neef’s announced move, after ten years heading up the COC, to assume the position of General Director of Opéra National de Paris. From where I sit, looking at Turandot, it’s potentially really good news, looking at the calibre of casts he’s attracted and the international co-producing allegiances he’s been able to build. Having someone “on the other side” with a bedrock understanding that this is a good place to build bridges to can only be a good thing. It’s an offstage season story that will unfold very interestingly over time. Opera Atelier With Atelier’s fall production, Don Giovanni, still a month away (October 31), their big news is also a “French connection” story, with Atelier founders and co-directors, Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg, having been invited to stage and choreograph Grétry’s opera Richard Coeur-de-lion, celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Royal Opera House at Versailles from October 10 to 13, 2019 at Château de Versailles. “This extraordinary event marks the ultimate recognition of Pynkoski and Lajeunesse Zingg’s interpretation of French Baroque repertoire – selected as the only non-French artists involved in this milestone anniversary of the most prestigious opera house in France,” said OA’s press release about the event. And I wouldn’t change a word of it. Opera by Request planning the entire Wagner Ring Cycle over the Ontario Family Day weekend this coming February (hmmm, talk about dysfunctional families); Tapestry Opera embarking on their 40th season; Against the Grain Theatre completing its tenth … Let the good times roll. David Perlman can be reached at Opera-related leads and news should be directed to Beat by Beat | Art of Song Mysterious Barricades And Systemic Barriers LYDIA PEROVIĆ The Barricades The Mysterious Barricades concert series came out of a tragedy: in 2015, the series co-founder and president, Edmonton-based mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Turnbull, lost her husband to suicide. “Beth and Chris and my husband Gord and I, and Russell Braun and Carolyn Maule and many others in this group – we were all friends mainly through University of Toronto Opera School,” explains Monica Whicher, Mysterious Barricades’ Toronto leader and presenter, when we meet in her home to talk about this year’s event. “Chris wasn’t a musician professionally, but he was a music lover. We were each other’s families essentially, as you are when you’re young in school and away from your own family. We have been friends for at least 30 years when it happened.” Turnbull herself speaks eloquently about her loss and her partner’s struggle with depression and anxiety in the video on the Mysterious Barricades website. Nothing, however, prepares one for the devastation that is the loss of a loved one. “Beth understood that a way for her toward healing would be music,” says Whicher. The mezzo invited her musician friends to join forces and create a consciousness-raising event, rolling out as a series in multiple cities across the country in the course of one day. Each year, the event takes place during World Suicide Prevention Week and includes guest speakers and representatives from mental health organizations. Each concert has its own presenter and programmer. There will be a Kitchener-Waterloo concert on September 10 at 7pm. And on September 14, Ottawa (12pm), Toronto (1pm), and London (2pm) will be the three Ontario cities participating in what is planned as a 17-hour sequence, coast-to-coast concerts which will also be streamed live. The 1pm Toronto concert will be in the University of Toronto’s Walter Hall. From the very start, the Toronto Mysterious Barricades concert has been under the auspices of the University of Toronto, where Whicher and many other musicians involved happen to be teaching. Everybody is volunteering their time. “There’s space, there’s some generosity amidst of it all, and there is a student body who we feel can use the knowledge and shared experience,” says Whicher. This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Andrea Levinson, psychiatrist-inchief, Health and Wellness, University of Toronto. “Our goal is to make sure that everybody knows that there is help available. We will present these resources in between the music making. It’s easy when one is not struggling to let something in one ear and out the other; but when one is struggling or one’s loved one is, it becomes difficult to understand how to proceed in a crisis. The more we can put this info forward – the better.” While much of the messaging of MB is directed toward the university population, students and instructors, the resources listed on the website for each city include information for the general population as well. Representatives from the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Canadian Mental Health Association and CAMH will also be there. “At university each year we’re encountering a group of people, and I was this person at one time, trying to do something that they love and trying to do it better. Whether this is music or anything 40 | September 2019

else. You are coming to a new level of critical process, and this is very difficult. You may need support.” If a student is struggling, there’s a confidential number to call and an email address, and this is easy to find in all student handbooks. I ask her if there are perhaps plans to grow out of the university setting, move to a non-university-affiliated hall. She explains that given that most things are currently donated, including the access to Walter Hall, this would not be an easy transfer, but that they’d be open to it should the opportunity present itself. Thanks to the live-streaming – which is, let’s not forget, still extremely rare in Canadian performing arts – the concerts do get seen by a large swath of people who are not attending university or teaching in it. And while Mysterious Barricades is not a day of advocacy for better funding or better insurance coverage for talk therapy, it is an invitation to look at the available resources, and to start a conversation around mental health. “I appreciate that it can be difficult,” says Whicher. “We want to deal with problems before they become a crisis. The understanding of what’s already available, and the availability – both of these need to be ramped up. Everybody comes to their help differently. Monica Whicher “Beth understood that a way for her toward healing would be music.” We are here to start the conversation, and get past the initial discomfort around it.” Social media is not helping – they’re making, Whicher says, things worse. “It’s not helping the isolation factor, it’s not helping the understanding – in fact it’s diminishing the understanding. We need daily contacts with humans. We just have to keep finding ways to make contact with one another. And in this world of online likes and dislikes that can be difficult.” Does she program each year around an idea? “Yes – Beth initially asked and I think it’s a beautiful plan, that the music provide some space for contemplation. Now, of course, it may also create space for emotion. We want to have music that evokes shared experience and be contemplative… forward-looking… colourful… in a word: hopeful.” “Music has been the thing that’s upheld me for as long as I can remember,” she says. “And that’s true for so many people.” “Barriers” continues on page 55 MOZART DON GIOVANNI Oct 31—Nov 9, 2019 | Ed Mirvish Theatre Starring Colin Ainsworth, Gustav Andreassen, Mireille Asselin, Stephen Hegedus, Carla Huhtanen, Olivier Laquerre, Meghan Lindsay, Douglas Williams. HANDEL THE RESURRECTION Apr 11—19, 2020 | Koerner Hall Starring Isaiah Bell, Stephen Hegedus, Carla Huhtanen, Meghan Lindsay, Allyson McHardy With Artists of Atelier Ballet and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra A SEASON of SAINTS & SINNERS Subscribe for as little as ! or 416-703-3767 x222 Season Presenting Sponsor Season Underwriter Photo by Bruce Zinger September 2019 | 41

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Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)