4 years ago

Volume 25 Issue 2 - October 2019

  • Text
  • Performing
  • Orchestra
  • Symphony
  • Musical
  • Concerts
  • Arts
  • Jazz
  • Choir
  • October
  • Toronto
Long promised, Vivian Fellegi takes a look at Relaxed Performance practice and how it is bringing concert-going barriers down across the spectrum; Andrew Timar looks at curatorial changes afoot at the Music Gallery; David Jaeger investigates the trumpets of October; the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution (and the 20th Anniversary of our October Blue Pages Presenter profiles) in our Editor's Opener; the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir at 125; Tapestry at 40 and Against the Grain at 10; ringing in the changing season across our features and columns; all this and more, now available in Flip Through format here, and on the stands commencing this coming Friday September 27, 2019. Enjoy.

and the result vocally

and the result vocally and musically is remarkable. Diction is superb. Chords and polyphonic textures are always in perfect balance.” As for the opening work on the October 20 program, whether or not the Fauré Requiem was actually performed during the Mendelssohn’s first five years of existence under Augustus Vogt’s leadership, I have not been able to ascertain, even after poring over the almost complete set of early program books in the TMC’s own library. Vogt, as organistchoir director of Jarvis Street Baptist Church from 1888 to 1906, would have known the Fauré. “Unlike Mozart and even Vivaldi,” Fallis points out, it was written to be used in a church setting.” Vogt’s connection with Jarvis Street Baptist helped establish the preconditions for the TMC to come into existence, but the event that triggered it at that specific time was undoubtedly the opening of Massey Hall on June 30 1894, with an inaugural concert presentation of Handel’s Messiah. It could not have been the Mendelssohn Choir by that name as the choir for that concert, for the simple reason that the size of the choir was Mendelssohnian – 500 choristers – reflecting in the burghers of this town a predilection for oratorio on a grand scale, such as that which had accompanied the first performance of Mendelssohn’s own Elijah in Birmingham 48 years earlier. It’s likely that many of Vogt’s Jarvis Street church choir were among that first Massey Hall contingent, including core members of the fledgling TMC. David Fallis’ own first recollections of the TMC make for a nice story too. “I think I sang with them before I was aware of who they were,” he says. “I was in the treble choir – from the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus, under Lloyd Bradshaw – called for in the score of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. It was the Canadian premiere at Massey Hall, under Walter Susskind, in November 1964. I must have been all of eight years old. It made quite an impression. Lois Marshall, Victor Braun and Peter Pears all sang it.” It was a performance that marked the transition from Walter Susskind’s caretaker conductorship of the TMC; conductor-in-waiting, Elmer Iseler, actually prepared the choir for the performance. Fallis went on to sing the War Requiem, again with the CCOC, for the TSO under Seiji Ozawa. “It was a few years later,” he says, “and my voice was breaking by then.” Top: Augustus Vogt Bottom: Sir Ernest MacMillan TORONTO-PUBLIC-LIBRARY NOEL RUBIE Come the end of 2019, Fallis will relinquish performance conducting duties for the TMC as guest conductors take the podium for each of the three winter/spring concerts. But Fallis was a key member of the team figuring out the artistic details of the three visits. First up, on February 22, will be Chicago-based John William Trotter, in a program at Yorkminster Baptist titled “Romantics and New Romantics.” Next, on April 8 and 10 at St. Anne’s, in a program titled “Sacred Music for a Sacred Place,” will be Gregory Batsleer, currently dividing his choral duties between Huddersfield and Scotland. Last, on May 30, it will be the turn of Montreal-based Jean-Sébastien Vallée, who will conduct a program titled “Great Poets in Music” at St. Andrew’s Church (at King and Simcoe). “The repertoire for each of the concerts is very carefully chosen,” Fallis says, “reflecting the artistic priorities of the TMC, and a balance of music, old and new.” Assessing the chemistry between a guest conductor and choir is more difficult than with a symphony orchestra. Typically, the TMC devotes “a month of Mondays” to prepare for a concert, rather than, as a symphony orchestra would, ramping things up in the week before the concert. “Realistically,” Fallis says, “you can’t ask guest conductors to come back to town four weeks in a row for one day to watch how they rehearse with the choir.” Instead, Fallis explains, each of these three conductors is being asked to stay on till the Monday after their performances, to lead the choir in a first rehearsal of material for a “hypothetical next concert.” It’s a nice extra detail. An interim conductor doesn’t get to make the same kind of imprint on an orchestra or choir as a permanent hiring would. One inherits a “sound” and does not seek to change it using blunt instruments like the annual re-audition process to filter for one’s preferences. Besides, large choirs are infinitely less agile than smaller ensembles responding to change. “That being said,” Fallis says, “every conductor is in some sense, a stylist. You work with your material, and you focus on things you care most about achieving. Things like attention to text, for example ...something I believe strongly in.” Short as his stay will have been, he will have left his mark. David Perlman can be reached at WORLD PREMIERE The Sun, the Wind, and the Man with the Cloak Musical imaginings on literary inspiration Music by Stephanie Martin, with words by Paul Ciufo, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, Edward Elgar’s As torrents in summer, My love dwelt in a northern land, and Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb Pax Christi Chorale with Allison Walmsley, Catherine Daniel, Brett Polegato, Asitha Tennekoon, and the Intermediate Chorus of the CCOC NOVEMBER 2, 2019, 7:30PM Yorkminster Park Baptist Church 1585 Yonge Street, Toronto BUY TICKETS ONLINE AT PAXCHRISTICHORALE.ORG 14 | October 2019

CANADIAN MUSIC SOUNDSTREAMS and the Trumpets of October DAVID JAEGER Soundstreams’ founder and artistic director Lawrence Cherney has long been impressed by the breadth and depth of trumpet repertoire across the ages, and as a former trumpet player myself, I am always happy to hear him out on the charms of this favoured instrument. Now Cherney has gone one step further and created a whole concert to make his point. On October 3, Soundstreams presents “Top Brass” at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, featuring three brilliant trumpet soloists, Canadians Jens Lindemann and Ingrid Jensen, and Norwegian Ole Edvard Antonsen. Each of the three soloists has their virtuoso solo moments in the concert, but Cherney and his Soundstreams team have upped the ante by commissioning several works by leading Canadian composers for multiple trumpets, performing with a variety of accompanying forces, including a virtuoso string orchestra led by Joaquin Valdepeñas. The composers’ comments about the works they are contributing were as fascinating and as varied as the works themselves promise to be. Anna Pidgorna Vancouver composer Anna Pidgorna was commissioned by Cherney and Soundstreams to create a work for the three trumpet soloists and string orchestra. Pigdorna’s composition, which drew inspiration from the Biblical seven trumpets of Revelations, is titled The Three Woes, the designation of the last three of these trumpets. Pigdorna writes: “The Fifth Trumpet (First Woe) prompts a star to fall from heaven and open the bottomless pit, releasing acrid smoke and locust-like creatures, which are actually scorpion-tailed warhorses with human faces and lion’s teeth. These ‘locusts’ will repeatedly sting anyone who lacks the seal of God on their foreheads. The Sixth Trumpet (Second Woe) will release four bound angels who will lead an army of 200 million mounted on horses with lion’s heads and snakes for tails. This army will kill exactly a third of the mankind that didn’t already die from forest fires, bloody oceans, poisoned waters and the dimming of sunlight. The Seventh Trumpet (Third Woe) will bring in Christ’s second coming and the final judgment of the remaining people, after which paradise will be established on Earth and Christ will rule in peace and happiness for ever and ever, Amen.” Pigdorna continues: “The ancient authors of the Bible were certainly imaginative in the catastrophes they described, but reading this I can’t help thinking that much of this is already happening, due to global climate change. Ocean life is dying from rising temperatures; forests are burning en masse, dimming sunshine with smoke; fresh water is being polluted by industry. Thinking of the ending of the prophecy which promises Earthly Paradise, I can’t help wondering how the remaining people will manage to live happily ever after on a ruined planet after surviving war and major cataclysms and watching most of their brethren get slaughtered.” AMANDA BULLICK NEW MUSIC CONCERTS 2019-20 SEASON | CONCERTS @8, INTRODUCTIONS @7 15 | SUBSCRIPTIONS 416.961.9594 TUESDAY NOVEMBER 12, 2019 Walter Hall 80 Queen’s Park Kasemets@100 Ensemble U: from Estonia Stephen Clarke, piano Works by Kasemets, Märt-Matis Lill & Tatjana Kozlova-Johannes SUNDAY DECEMBER 8, 2019 Church of St. George 197 John Street Aitken@80 NMC Ensemble Robert Aitken, flutes Works by Brant, Cage, Carter, Crumb and more FRIDAY JANUARY 10, 2020 The Music Gallery 918 Bathurst Street The Mouths that Roar Gabriel Dharmoo Janice Jackson, soprano Works by Dharmoo, Alice Ho, Marie Pelletier & James Rolfe THURSDAY FEBRUARY 13, 2020 Harbourfront Centre Theatre 231 Queen’s Quay W. Serious Smile NMC Ensemble Brian Current Works by A. Schubert, Devaux, Soumah, Chow & Ligeti THURSDAY MARCH 26, 2020 Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre 427 Bloor Street W. Piano Erhu Project Cory Hamm, piano Nicole Ge Li, erhu Works by Chang, Ho, Hron, Morlock, Hwang, Po, Gao, Tse & Finnissy SUNDAY MAY 31, 2020 Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre 427 Bloor Street W. Matthias Pintscher NMC Ensemble Matthias Pintscher, direction Works by Pintscher, Olga Neuwirth and Jaehyuck Choi Subscriptions (6 events) 0 adult | 0 senior/arts | student | Single tickets | $25 | | October 2019| 15

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