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.

2505_Feb2020_Cover.indd 1 2020-01-23 10:47 AM 2504_DecCover.indd 1 2019-11-20 3:55 PM 2503_NovCover.indd 1 2019-10-24 11:53 AM 2502_OctCover.indd 1 2019-09-18 6:45 PM continued from page 21 “(Music) is a peaceful escape from the world and the frustrations…the blindness creates” process – it can take an hour to go through just seven bars. As well, the loss of his once dazzling sight-reading skills precludes him from jamming with others unless he’s already memorized the music. “I can’t just get together with an oboist and play for fun,” says Arnowitt. Losing vision later in life is more challenging than being born blind, says Di Nino. As your sight gradually diminishes, you realize how much you rely on that faculty just to get around, and, in its absence, you might be limited in what you used to be able to accomplish. “You can have the feeling…(that the) world is literally closing in,” she says. Loss of sight can impact your social life as well. People usually gravitate to communities of friends who share similar capacities, so the shift into blindness can make the person feel out of place amongst their old networks. It can also shake up romantic relationships, says Di Nino. Music therapy can be healing in these situations. As a nonverbal medium, it helps clients process their grief before they’re able to attach words to their feelings. Later, when their mobility has been restored, clients can turn to songs to help them forge connections and keep loneliness at bay. “Music is a social act to be shared,” she says. Music therapy can also help newly blind clients augment their remaining sensory capacities and regain their functional independence. Neurologic music therapist John Hartman, from the Milwaukee Center for Independence in Wisconsin, uses musical techniques to boost auditory discrimination. In one exercise, clients try to emulate the pace and volume of the therapist’s playing, reproducing these on their own instruments. In another lesson, they concentrate on the location of sounds, turning their heads towards notes issuing from instruments spread out in the room. Hartman also uses music to activate newly blind clients fearful of flailing around in the dark. Rhythm engages the brain’s motor area, rousing people into motion. Hartman plays clients well-known action songs like Row, row, row your boat, which stimulate movements in response to the musical cues. As clients begin to explore their surroundings in the safety of familiar pieces, their ability to navigate improves. Arnowitt hasn’t needed formal music therapy to compensate for his perceptual loss, since he’s accomplished this naturally. Though the pianist’s hearing hasn’t changed since he lost his vision, (he already had a highly trained ear by that time), he’s become better at orienting himself in the environment. Arnowitt maintains the same organization of objects in every room, so when he looks for something, his hand always moves to the same spot. He believes this emphasis on spatial memory has impacted his piano playing. “The blindness might have caused me to be more aware of the distances between things, …so maybe I’m able to play greater jumps…on the piano,” he says. Arnowitt’s tactile ability has also grown since he lost his vision. He attributes this development to his increased reliance on the sense to identify commonly used items like toothpaste, scissors, or a hairbrush. This experience has, in turn, refined this dimension of perception. (That)…sensitivity in the fingertips…would make (your) piano touch a little bit better,” says Arnowitt. Music has also helped Arnowitt come to terms with the difficulties issuing from his disability. “(Music) is a peaceful escape from the world and the frustrations…the blindness creates,” he says. His years of solo practice have also made him comfortable spending long hours by himself. He rarely feels alone when he’s at the piano, since the instrument itself is a companion. So are the composers. “You have a connection to them even though you didn’t live (during) their time,” he says. Back at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, “Evening in the Key of B” is ending. Arnowitt stands and bows. The theatre explodes with applause and cries of “Whoo, whoo.” McCleary is relaxed after the show, her seriousness giving way to a smile as she talks to her parents. “It was a fantastic evening,” says her father. De Val agrees. “Working with Susanna is a real trip for me… she’s so professional, so musical,” she says. “It’s a bit of a high.” Arnowitt too is surrounded by fans. These moments of communion insulate him from the loneliness that can trouble others with visual impairment. “I lead an unusual life compared to typical blind people… every time I perform, I’m surrounded by people afterwards who want to talk to me and shower me with compliments,” he says. Every once in a while, spectators go deeper. One time a woman credited his concert with helping her mourn a death. Times like these confirm Arnowitt’s own conviction of music’s transformative potential. “You like to think that making music is more than entertainment,” says Arnowitt. “When you know someone in the audience had a deeper experience, it gives myself, as a performer, a special satisfaction.” Vivien Fellegi is a former family physician now working as a freelance medical journalist. SUPPORTING LIVE MUSIC IN ONTARIO & BEYOND – SINCE 1995. 25th SEASON! Vol 25 No 5 25th SEASON! Vol 25 No 4 25th SEASON! Vol 25 No 3 25th SEASON! Vol 25 No 2 FEBRUARY 2020 CONCERT LISTINGS FEATURES | REVIEWS MUSIC THEATRE Changed by Caroline R & B’s Jully Black CONVERSATIONS On the Early Trail of Indigo Suba Sankaran & Alison Mackay OPERA SPOTLIGHT Speranza Scappucci Lightning Conductor JAZZ NOTES My Funny Valentine A Brief History REAR VIEW MIRROR Beethoven @250 Jully Black DECEMBER 2019 / JANUARY 2020 CONCERT LISTINGS FEATURES | REVIEWS DEC/JAN COMBINED ISSUE! BEHIND THE SCENES And the trombone shall sound? The orchestra librarian’s nightmare NEW MUSIC The art of falling Laurie Anderson at 21C IN CONVERSATION Scarlatti and beyond Pianist Lucas Debargue REARVIEW MIRROR Merry, um, holidays! Toronto Symphony Orchestra NOVEMBER 2019 CONCERT LISTINGS FEATURES | REVIEWS CONFLUENCES Collaboration vs. appropriation An exploratory evening with mezzo Marion Newman LEGACIES Grounded in displacement Composer Udo Kasemets A centenary celebration REAR VIEW MIRROR Controversially uncontroversial The Met’s Porgy and Bess Marion Newman in Tapestry Opera’s Shanawdithit 20th Annual PRESENTER BLUE PROFILES 2019/20 PAGES SPOTLIGHT Toronto Mendelssohn Choir celebrates 125 SUCCESSION PLANNING Change is coming at the Music Gallery MUSIC AND HEALTH Relaxed performances bring barriers down OCTOBER 2019 CONCERT LISTINGS FEATURES | REVIEWS SoundCrowd ALL ONLINE AT 92 | March 2020

TS Toronto Symphony Orchestra “[Wang] has electrifying technique and musical taste.” (Los Angeles Times) GIMENO, YUJA WANG & BRAHMS The TSO’s incoming Music Director, Gustavo Gimeno, conducts these all-Brahms concerts, featuring the expressive Second Symphony. Plus dazzling star pianist Yuja Wang performs both of the composer’s piano concertos. APR – 8, 9 & 11 MAR – 13–15 PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION Plus Sergei Babayan performs Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto. APR – 1, 2, 4 & 5 LISIECKI PLAYS BEETHOVEN’S EMPEROR Plus Beethoven’s thrilling Leonore Overture No. 3. Reserve your seats today! 416.593.1285 TSO.CA SEASON PRESENTING SPONSOR

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