3 years ago

Volume 25 Issue 6 - March 2020

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FEATURED: Music & Health writer Vivien Fellegi explores music, blindness & the plasticity of perception; David Jaeger digs into Gustavo Gimeno's plans for new music in his upcoming first season as music director at TSO; pianist James Rhodes, here for an early March recital, speaks his mind in a Q&A with Paul Ennis; and Lydia Perovic talks music and more with rising Turkish-Canadian mezzo Beste Kalender. Also, among our columns, Peggy Baker Dance Projects headlines Wende Bartley's In with the New; Steve Wallace's Jazz Notes rushes in definitionally where many fear to tread; ... and more.

St. Michael’s Concerts

St. Michael’s Concerts presents Mozart Requiem Thursday, March 12 | 7:00 p.m. St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica 65 Bond Street, Toronto St. Michael’s Choir School Schola Cantorum Schola Cantorum Orchestra Guest Soloists Teri Dunn – Soprano Krisztina Szabó – Mezzo-Soprano Michael Colvin – Tenor Robert Pomakov – Bass Conductor S. Bryan Priddy Freewill offering only. For more information visit: Beat by Beat | Choral Scene Graduation With High Honours in Song BRIAN CHANG The end of March and beginning of April mark a special time for anyone in the post-secondary education sector. The term comes to a close, the academic school year settles into its final exams, papers, and for music students – final concerts. This month we’re exploring the end-of-term concerts at Western University, University of Toronto (my alma mater), and York University. University of Toronto is lucky in its breadth of ensembles and guests. The program is also very large with four major choral ensembles and over 200 students across the various ensembles. As conductors Mark Ramsay, Elaine Choi, Lori-Anne Dolloff, and David Fallis share, this work begins the previous year before the students even start classes. It’s a delicate balance to program works that are familiar while challenging; pedagogical, but fun. Not all the music needs to be new, because as Ramsay shares, “Working with a new conductor and/or singing with new colleagues can bring a fresh perspective to a familiar work. Singers also sometimes note [by revisiting familiar works] that their own skills have improved. Elements such as break management, vowel unification and dynamic control that were challenging the first time, may now be easier.” But they note, “It’s important to have some challenging music late in the season to keep a goal to strive for.” The MacMillan singers, under David Fallis also have the pleasure of singing a composition written by one of their own, Katharine Petkovski’s The Angels. For many singers, some songs they are singing may be familiar, some may not. John Holland at York University’s music program notes that he strives to “work towards finding a mix between unique music and music that will challenge the singers to raise their level of musicality.” It can’t just be all choral masterworks or the most popular music out there. The challenge is part of the work, and for Holland, “keeping choral students interested and excited, first and foremost, comes from the repertoire.” Holland’s approach is to create a welcoming and productive atmosphere that helps set the stage for a positive musical experience. “The students learn that they will be treated as professionals and are also held accountable for their work outside of the rehearsals, and that has helped foster a choral program that has produced many first-class choral musicians.” The Value of Music Education “Choir provides our students with crucial opportunities to explore and develop their professional musical selves,” shares Patrick Murray about the choral faculty at the Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western University. I asked him about the importance of setting students up for success as they graduate. “Be that through solo singing opportunities, furthering their ensemble skills, mentoring younger singers, leadership roles producing concerts and social events, or opportunities to connect with the community through concerts off-campus and on regional tours, ensemble singing sets our singers up to value their own musicianship and the role they want to serve in the community in their future careers.” Many of them will go on to sing in choirs for years to come, lead ensembles of their own and teach a new generation of musicians. (Murray’s colleague, Gloria Gassi, was my one of my high school music teachers.) The impact of solid music education is essential to a vibrant cultural landscape that enhances and vitalizes our communities. Murray continues, “It’s important that a musical education develop students’ critical thinking skills to question the canon, value works by living composers and other musical traditions, and think about what they will teach their own future students.” 32 | March 2020

DON WRIGHT FACULTY OF MUSIC Patrick Murray, Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western University The Bittersweet End These concerts do mark a graduating point for some of the students. It’s hard not to feel a little sad at the end of the endeavour. “With the second semester concerts, there is that terminal thought – that ‘This may be the last time we all sing together,’ shares Holland. “Especially for graduating students, the second semester concerts have a very powerful energy.” This is a common sentiment, shared by Patrick Murray at Western. “There’s always an energy of accomplishment after this concert. Each choir performs harder music and has grown in their sound and skill as an ensemble. It’s also always a bittersweet moment as we wish our graduating singers goodbye and they sing their final concert with us.” Some of these singers have sung together for four years, developing and challenging themselves as they’ve grown not only academically, but personally and professionally. Mark Ramsay agrees: “It is always exciting to experience the growth throughout the semester. Singers are performing with greater confidence and comfort. Each concert throughout the year showcases a new level of skill and refinement.” “The number one thing that I would want choral students to take with them is the concept of musical professionalism and all that entails” John Holland concludes. “The ideas of preparedness, accuracy, courtesy, pride, camaraderie, artistry and a high level of performance, are all part of being a professional musician. This can be challenging due to the high expectations of performance, so leaving an undergraduate music program with a strong skill set, understanding of repertoire and styles, and a high level of professionalism helps singers leapfrog their competition when it comes to audition time.” In the end, as Mark Ramsay says, it’s about “a love of ensemble singing and a desire to continue singing for as long as [one] wishes throughout their life.” Graduation isn’t just the end, it’s also the start. Catch these new beginnings at the end of March. March 22, 3pm: The York University Concert Choir concludes its season with Vivaldi’s Gloria, Mozart’s Te Deum, and Dvořák’s Psalm 149. Conductor John Holland describes this program as “the blending of the popular classics with unique works … something not to be missed, and the fine singing of the students will make you realize what a hidden gem the York choral program is.” (And it’s just across the street from the York University subway stop!) Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East, York University. March 27, 7:30pm: The might of the Western University Don Wright Faculty of Music choral program combines for “United We Stand” under the batons of Gloria Gassi, Patrick Murray and Kathleen Allan. The end of the university school year concert features the four UWO choirs separately and en masse: The Chorale, Les Choristes, St. Cecilia Singers and the Western University Singers. On the program are the men in James Erb’s classic arrangement of Shenandoah and 200 singers performing the Sanctus from Duruflé’s Requiem, and the Hallelujah from Beethoven’s Christ on the Mount of Olives. St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica, London, which conductor Patrick Murray calls TENEBRAE MOSAIC Canadian Vocal Ensemble and members of St. Michael's Choir School Alumni Soloists Soprano: Emily Canning, Cellist: Samuel Bisson Tuesday March 24 7:30 pm St. Patrick Catholic Church 921 Flagship Dr, Mississauga Pastor: Fr. John Facey and Tuesday March 31 7:30 pm St. Leo Catholic Church 277 Royal York Road, Etobicoke Pastor: Rev. Fr. Frank Carpinelli These are solemn liturgical services, open to all, FREE to all. However a free-will donation will be gratefully accepted. Founder, Artistic Director and Conductor Gordon D. Mansell For further information, call/text: 416-571-3680 or email: March 2020 | 33

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