1 year ago

Volume 25 Issue 8 - May / June 2020

  • Text
  • Choir
  • Performing
  • Performances
  • Orchestra
  • Musicians
  • Jazz
  • Recording
  • Toronto
  • Musical
  • Concerts
"COVID's Metamorphoses"? "There's Always Time (Until Suddenly There Isn't)"? "The Writing on the Wall"? It's hard to know WHAT to call this latest chapter in the extraordinary story we are all of a sudden characters in. By whatever name we call it, the MAY/JUNE combined issue of The WholeNote is now available, HERE in flip through format, in print commencing Wednesday May 6, and, in fully interactive form, online at Our 18th Annual Choral Canary Pages, scheduled for publication in print and flip through in September is already well underway with the first 50 choirs home to roost and more being added every week online. Community Voices, our cover story, brings to you the thoughts of 30 musical community members, all going through what we are going through (and with many more to come as the feature gets amplified online over the course of the coming months). And our regular writers bring their personal thoughts to the mix. Finally, a full-fledged DISCoveries review section offers cues and clues to recorded music for your solitary solace!

Beat by Beat | Bandstand

Beat by Beat | Bandstand Digitally Aided Rehearsals and Reminiscences KAROLINA KURAS Small business threat: Nichols' Extension Room faces closure due to "COVID-19, government inaction, and lack of landlord cooperation." in Toronto, is enormous) and all of our other operational costs. Sadly, this could mean the demise of at least half of the small businesses in the city. Once circumstances allow, I am determined to pick up all the pieces! I am hoping that the shows I have been commissioned for will eventually find new dates. However, it may be a much longer time than we anticipated, before audiences will be able to gather for live performance. Similarly, I’m hoping to be able to open my studio again; however it may be in a different location and context. My fitness program, the Extension Method, has already undergone a restructuring during quarantine. Since I cannot teach live groups, I currently teach free online classes, not only for my studio community, for but anyone who wishes to tune in and stay active at home. To be honest, there are some beautiful positives associated with this. I have reconnected with students who haven’t been able to attend classes in person for years. My viewing audience has grown exponentially, and now I am reaching students across the globe. We, as humans, are resilient and creative. I’m also continuing to work in the development stage of my creative projects, writing grants and virtually meeting with composers and writers for productions that will hopefully be presented down the road. My focus while in quarantine is to find ways to make art and movement viable and relevant in a different format. We don’t know how long it will be before we can gather in groups as we did. There may be serious restrictions; the general public may nervous. The ultimate scenario, I believe, may be a tempered one, in that we find a balance between in-person and virtual experience, so I am working towards finding ways to present dance, theatre, music on screen in a new manner. My husband is a filmmaker, and we have started exploring this -- for example speaking with a colleague, an opera singer, about ways to shoot and present dance with classical and new music in a manner that is appealing and accessible to children; and using the art of filmmaking to present a multi-dimensional experience involving several artists who don’t have to be in the same place, or at least with minimized contact in a controlled environment. There are unlimited possibilities! Jennifer Nichols is a dancer, choreographer (for both stage and screen), director and teacher (of dance and fitness) based in Toronto. Her work can be seen on screen in the upcoming Netflix series, Tiny Pretty Things, for which she is head choreographer. JACK MACQUARRIE This month’s column is a very different perspective on the current status of music in our part of the world. There is no point in discussing in generalities the coronavirus pandemic. We have heard enough about it. As a columnist friend, Roger Varley, who writes for Cosmos, a weekly community newspaper in Uxbridge, recently remarked, “It’s rather like going to a Luciano Pavarotti concert only to hear him sing Nessun Dorma over and over again for two hours.” Instead, let’s have a more specific look at how this pandemic is affecting our musical world, starting by dividing our musical world into two groups: performers and listeners (with, hopefully, almost all performers being listeners to forms of music other than that which they perform). The coronavirus has forced us all into quarantine. Performers The regulations now in effect, affect music makers in several ways. First, as they stand, the laws have closed all possible locations where groups might rehearse or perform until further notice. Second, even if there were places, no groups larger than five individuals, other than those who live in the same location, are permitted to assemble. Third, all people in a group must maintain a separation of at least two metres. For performers in bands, orchestras and choirs there are two major reasons why they regularly rehearse and perform. Yes, they are individuals who love to make music, but even more important, to make it with others. The social component is now missing. Many isolated members of bands, orchestras and choirs have now turned to their computers, cell phones and other electronic devices. They now socialize, play and sing with such Internet applications as Zoom and others. While far from the real thing, these help to maintain, at least, the social element of performing with friends. Having observed a number of such online rehearsals of choral groups, the musical outcome is rarely of concert quality, or even rehearsal quality. On the other hand, with a suitably skilled individual orchestrating the event, and some means of synchronizing all parts, it can be quite satisfying for all participants. In most cases that I have seen, individual participants have been singing while filming themselves with their cell phones. I can’t imagine attempting an online band rehearsal with tuba or trombone players taking selfies while playing. Listeners As for online listening, I have seen an amazing (and amusing) variety of both animated and live selections. There are three performances which have captivated my attention enough to warrant returning to them periodically. For a start I suggest a visit to a most entertaining performance of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies on YouTube, performed by the Cats and Friends Choir. Featuring the distinctive vocal sounds of cats, cows and sheep, the rendition is, to put it mildly, unique. Just about the most entertaining musical work that I have heard and seen on the Internet is a rendition of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, featuring a full symphony orchestra broadcast in the format of a major football or hockey game. All of the orchestra members, including the conductor, have numbers on their backs. Moving about, all over the stage, is a referee in his striped jersey. When an orchestra member 30 | May and June 2020

2508_MayCover.indd 3 Next season will see the first of our regional runout concerts attached to our main Sudbury season. We would love for any Northern Ontarians interested in interested in bringing top-level classical music and musicians to their communities to contact us. Even the skeptics have upped their Zoom game: people I thought would never turn on their web cams have finally done so. So in the meanwhile, I have been playing Beethoven and Debussy on the piano daily. … Witnessing how opera companies across Canada are dealing with the crisis and planning for the future. Advocating for inclusion of more artist voices so that our new reality on the other side of this works for administrators, as well as for creators and performers. I miss the magic when the lights go down and the curtain rises. I miss the symbiotical flow of energy between us performers and our audiences, and yes I even miss the stress of preparation before. No longer bound by geography, we have engaged Canadian solo artists who live abroad and wouldn’t normally be able to perform with us. We have also set up a Patreon page so that people can support us with small monthly contributions. COVID-19 has brought forward the tipping point, hastening the creation of new structures to support the creation and production of the arts in a different way than has been the case through the latter half of the 20th century to now. Strong developments and innovation arise in hard times as we focus on what matters. We’re optimistic that things will eventually return, but it’s going to take a long while … Right now, this all kind of feels like jazz: we’re improvising … Vol 25 No 8 2020-04-27 1:31 PM plays a wrong note, the referee raises his flag, gives him a penalty and sends him off stage. As in a team sports event, there is a box at the rear of the hall with two commentators discussing the performance. In the opening of this work, when the first four-note phrase is repeated, the commentators discuss why that phrase was repeated. So it goes throughout. For this one google PDQ Bach, Beethoven 5th and you will find it. Another humorous performance is by the Competitive Foursome two violins, a cello, and piano engaged in the most amazing athletic manoeuvres while performing. To see this one: google Wettstreit zu viert. For those without Internet access, there have been many excellent programs on TV and radio. On Easter Sunday I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Andrea Bocelli, the blind Italian opera-singing icon, performing at the Duomo di Milano, the cathedral church of Milan in Italy. There he was standing alone with only the organist accompanying him. While he did sing other numbers, I will never forget his rendition of César Franck’s Panis Angelicus. Invited by the city of Milan and the church to spread a message of positivity, love and hope through the power of music, Bocelli, broke two of YouTube’s biggest records: the biggest classical livestream event in the website’s history; and also its biggest musical livestream of all time. According to Variety, that Music For Hope concert reportedly was seen and heard by more than 2.8 million “peak concurrent viewers” across the globe while it was actually happening. Reminiscing For no particular reason, with so many musical activities curtailed for a while, I found myself exploring the deeper crevices of my brain known as the Reminiscence Department, where I found my way to radio feature programs of the 30s and 40s. In other words, pre-TV. For years one of the most popular radio programs was Major Bowes’ Amateur Hour where once a week, amateur musical performers competed. If below a suitable standard, the Major hammered the Gong, and that competitor was gone. I remember one broadcast in which a girl from my home town was the top performer for that show, happened to be heard by big band leader Raymond Scott, and was hired to join his group. I have no idea as to how that worked out, but I did acquire a bit of fascination for Scott and his sometimes strange music. Scott’s original name was Harry Warnow, and he was the brother of Mark Warnow. Mark, a violinist, was the leader of the orchestra on the weekly broadcast called Your Hit Parade, sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarettes. Rather than ride on the coat tails of his well-known brother, Harry chose Raymond Scott as his stage name. Scott’s compositions for big swing band included some “almost Uxbridge Museum Heritage Day - I was dressed for the occasion and sitting on a bench that I donated. standard” ones like Toy Trumpet and Powerhouse. The ones that have fascinated me most include such strange titles as Twilight in Turkey, In an 18th Century Drawing Room, New Year’s Eve in a Haunted House, and the amazing Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals. In 2011 his children produced a movie about him titled Deconstructing Dad. You never know what surprises will pop up on the internet, when you have time on your hands. Jack MacQuarrie plays several brass instruments and has performed in many community ensembles. He can be contacted at PAT NEAL You also waiting for normal? Flip through every issue, since 1995 MAY AND JUNE 2020 25th SEASON! COMMUNITY VOICES How May is & what may be YOU ARE HERE BROWSE 25 YEARS AT KIOSK.THEWHOLENOTE.COM May and June 2020 | 31

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