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Volume 25 Issue 5 - February 2020

  • Text
  • Composer
  • Performing
  • Orchestra
  • Arts
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Symphony
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • February
Visions of 2020! Sampling from back to front for a change: in Rearview Mirror, Robert Harris on the Beethoven he loves (and loves to hate!); Errol Gay, a most musical life remembered; Luna Pearl Woolf in focus in recordings editor David Olds' "Editor's Corner" and in Jenny Parr's preview of "Jacqueline"; Speranza Scappucci explains how not to reinvent Rossini; The Indigo Project, where "each piece of cloth tells a story"; and, leading it all off, Jully Black makes a giant leap in "Caroline, or Change." And as always, much more. Now online in flip-through format here and on stands starting Thurs Jan 30.

the Chieftains. Errol

the Chieftains. Errol also served as extra percussionist with the TSO – famously chastised by a concert reviewer for ‘reading a book’ during a performance. He was following the score. — Gary Corrin, principal librarian, Toronto Symphony Orchestra Errol was passionate about words, their meaning and usage, and proper grammar, as am I. I remember phone conversations with you [Ann] while Errol commented in the background about various aspects of our English language. He was always very complimentary to me about my writing and I always breathed a little sigh of relief when we agreed about a certain grammatical ‘rule’ because I knew that he was a stickler. During one phone conversation, can’t remember what we were discussing, I could hear him ask, ‘Is that Suzie?’ and then, as you moved closer to him with phone in hand he began to play a beautiful piece on the piano, undoubtedly his own composition, just for me. What an honour! — Suzanne Vanstone, senior communications manager, editorial at the Canadian Opera Company, now retired. [in a letter to Ann Cooper Gay] 36 years ago I had that absolute pleasure performing Howard Blake’s The Snowman with the Toronto Symphony. The conductor was maestro Errol Gay. This was my TSO debut at 12 years of age and Errol treated me like a son. He is no longer with us and we must all pay homage to the incredibly gifted musician he was …. Errol – thanks for trusting a redneck treble to create with! — James Westman, baritone [from Facebook] Errol taught me to listen. I was lucky enough to serve as concertmaster in the early 90s with the Hart House Orchestra. Thanks to Errol, I learned how to hold a section together, how to tamp down ego, how to fall back into an ensemble and really let music emerge. His ferocious passion for everything we played was infectious. And it was ferocious. You could never lose focus, or you’d have Errol looming over you, just screaming at you for playing forte in a piano section. The beautiful thing was that all of us knew his ferocity came from love, and after rehearsal, we’d go for too many beers together, laughing about the hysterics of the rehearsal. His care for his students was absolute – and all of us were certainly his students, even if the orchestra wasn’t technically a U of T class. I don’t teach music now, but Errol’s death has made me reflect upon how I steer my classes; being a professor maybe isn’t that different from conducting. I’m not afraid to let unreserved passion for what matters lead the way. Errol blasted away any doubt about that. He was so important to my upbringing. I miss him terribly. — Levi McLaughlin, associate professor, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, North Carolina State University. … a rehearsal that took place shortly after Pierre Elliott Trudeau passed away stands out in memory. As the orchestra trickled into the Great Hall at Hart House, we saw Errol placing a single sheet of music on each stand. After we had settled into our chairs, Errol, silent until this point, raised his baton and said only this: ‘O Canada.’ What followed was the most passionately led and performed rendition of our national anthem that I have experienced. Errol wasn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. His passion for music and the strength he drew from it was palpable – I am so glad to have had the privilege of knowing him. — Andrew Ogilvie, Hart House Orchestra violinist (1995-present) My first meeting with Errol Gay occurred at Roy Thomson Hall when I was directing a project for the TSO. I remember Errol explaining (in his role then as TSO librarian) the mechanism of orchestral rentals; in opera if one used only a single selection, one was obligated to rent the entire score. I mention this anecdote because it set a pattern. From that time on, I never had an encounter with Errol where I didn’t learn something. Encouraged by his wife, the dynamic Ann Cooper Gay, Errol and I were commissioned to write an opera for the Canadian Children’s Opera Company: A Dickens of a Christmas (December 2005), and we went on to co-create Laura’s Cow: the Legend of Laura Secord (June 2012) and Alice in Wonderland (May 2015). In our working sessions (Errol composing at the piano, me fine-tuning the libretto at the dining room table), we often talked of non-musical subjects. His understanding of the world and his compassion for those who struggled in it were uplifting. Without effort or even consciousness, our working relationship bloomed into one of the most meaningful friendships of my life. — Michael Patrick Albano, composer; associate professor, resident stage director at UofT Opera The world has lost an incredible musician, composer, and a beautiful heart. Errol, along with Ann Cooper Gay, believed in me when I was an 11-year-old kid Errol Gay as a young conductor who liked playing the clarinet and singing. I can’t begin to imagine how my life would be now if it hadn’t been for Ann and Errol’s relentless encouragement, guidance and second-to-none musical education. Errol was an incredible composer and his beautiful melodies will never leave my mind. — Michele Jacot plays clarinet, flute and saxophone. A conductor and teacher, she is the artistic director of Toronto’s Wychwood Clarinet Choir [from Facebook]. As a conductor Errol was colourful, dramatic and passionate. His love of jazz and creative music would trickle into our warmups. I distinctly remember a game he would play where we would start on a major chord, and then he would voice lead with each part to create rich jazz harmonies. He didn’t treat us like children – he treated us like musicians. This changed my life; I realized at an early age that this was what I wanted to do. When I work with groups of singers today, I do not aim for a perfect performance. It is more important that we feel something together as we sing. This feeling is not created by the conductor, but by the belief that everyone is truly involved in that moment, creating something. I learned this from Errol Gay, and a generation of musicians he taught did too. — Alex Samaras is a singer and educator in Toronto. At age ten he joined the High Park Boys’ Choir in its inaugural season and followed Ann and Errol to sing for the CCOC Youth Chorus through his high school years. Errol Gay was a melting pot of knowledge and art, each element inextricable from the other. He was kind, caring and witty. He was the kind of person you could make nerdy jokes with and not only would he understand them, but he would answer with a pun. He displayed the same intellect in his music, writing beautiful pieces full of allusions that you would only notice if you had the same encyclopedic musical knowledge as he did – this was his way of winking at his listeners. You could trust him ‘not to write crap’ (inside joke). I am so grateful to have known Errol from a very young age, and I could write a book about my memories and experiences with him. He very much helped form the person and musician I am today, and I will always cherish and pass on what I learned from him. — Kristina Bijelic is a singer and violinist who met Errol when she was a child in the High Park Choirs, and was later in the CCOC. I’m both happy and very sad that Errol Gay died on Friday. I’m happy because his long battle with ALS is over. I’m sad because we have lost another local musical hero and a lovely person. … He always valued the music and the enjoyment of making it more than personal ambition or honours. He was as loving and supportive with his family as he was with colleagues, students, little choristers and friends. And he knew how to laugh. Our loss is Heaven’s gain. — John Terauds founder of the blog Musical Toronto (now Ludwig van Toronto); music critic for the Toronto Star (2005-2012); organist, choir director and music teacher. 84 | February 2020 thewholenote.com

TS Toronto Symphony Orchestra RACHMANINOFF & SCHEHERAZADE FEB – 14–16 Elim Chan, conductor Stephen Hough, piano Jonathan Crow, violin Featuring Rachmaninoff’s rapturous Second Piano Concerto and Rimsky- Korsakov’s bewitching Scheherazade. Bring your Valentine to the TSO! FEB – 19 BEETHOVEN PASTORAL WITH OSM Experience Dusapin’s thundering Organ Concerto, performed by the organist of Paris’s Notre-Dame Cathedral, Olivier Latry. MAR – 13–15 PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION Plus Sergei Babayan performs Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto. Reserve your seats today! 416.593.1285 TSO.CA SEASON PRESENTING SPONSOR

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