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Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020

  • Text
  • Ensemble
  • Classical
  • Concerts
  • Singers
  • Choral
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • Musical
  • September
  • Choir
Choral Scene: Uncharted territory: three choirs finding paths forward; Music Theatre: Loose Tea on the boil with Alaina Viau’s Dead Reckoning; In with the New: what happens to soundart when climate change meets COVID-19; Call to action: diversity, accountability, and reform in post-secondary jazz studies; 9th Annual TIFF Tips: a filmfest like no other; Remembering: Leon Fleisher; DISCoveries: a NY state of mind; 25th anniversary stroll-through; and more. Online in flip through here, and on stands commencing Tues SEP 1.

Beginning’s composer

Beginning’s composer Nicolas Jaar live at the Rex Club, Paris The Broadway show’s running time was 100 minutes. Lee’s film is listed at 135 minutes. Vive la différence. New Zealand-born, LA-based director Stacey Lee’s documentary Underplayed, about gender inequality in electronic music was shot over a period of six months with an all-female crew and (according to Lily Moayeri in Variety) takes us into the professional and personal worlds of established superstars like TOKiMONSTA and Alison Wonderland, newcomers like Sherelle and hardworking underground artists like Tygapaw. Lee told Moayeri that Suzanne Ciani, Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram and Wendy Carlos – the pioneers of electronic music – have been tinkering away in “this almost scientific laboratory realm. As things have gotten more commercial, it’s become harder for a woman to be taken seriously. There is this underlying double standard where people who do the exact same thing don’t get the same level of acceptance.” Bandar Band, Manijeh Hekmat’s music-infused twist on a road movie follows a group of Iranian women singers and their entourage on a day-long journey across a flooded landscape to Tehran where they hope to enter a competition. Every road they take leads to a dead end in a film that appears to be more allegorical than Sisyphean. Underplayed Three Tempting Soundtracks Ludovico Einaudi, whose recordings invariably rise to the top of the classical charts, brings his lyrical minimalism to Nomadland, Chloé Zhao’s follow-up to her critically acclaimed The Rider. “Set against the grand backdrop of the American West, the film recounts a year in the life of a stoic, stubbornly independent widow – Frances McDormand, in a beautiful performance of understated grace and sensitivity – who, having spent her adult life in a now-defunct company town, repurposes an old van and sets off in search of seasonal work. In this richly textured feature, Zhao establishes herself as one of contemporary cinema’s most clear-eyed and humane chroniclers of lives on the American margins” (from the New York Film Festival program note). I wonder if Einaudi’s vision of the West will be more like Aaron Copland’s or Ennio Morricone’s. In a 2009 interview – Patrick Lyons pointed out in an article for Bandcamp – the then-19-year-old Nicolas Jaar listed Erik Satie and Ethiopian jazzer Mulatu Astatke as his primary influences – heady stuff for an electronic music “it” kid whose early singles and remixes were marked by a precocious blend of dance rhythms and avant-garde approaches to structure and melody. “In the decade since, Jaar has ridden his omnivorous appetite to far-flung corners of ambient, house, psychedelic, jazz, drum & bass, noise, reggaeton, industrial, and more.” And now, he’s composed the soundtrack for Dea Kulumbegashvili’s Beginning, a Georgian film selected by the Cannes, Toronto and New York film festivals. The New York Film Festival program notes: “Her striking feature debut uses rigorous, compositionally complex frames to tell the devastating story of a persecuted family of Jehovah’s Witness missionaries from the perspective of a wife and mother. Beginning announces a major new arrival on the world cinema scene.” Viggo Mortensen stars in his directorial debut, Falling, a film he also wrote. A veritable polymath, Mortensen (who speaks seven languages) is a painter, a poet, a photographer, a publisher – he started Perceval Press with some of his Lord of the Rings earnings – and a musician. He composed and performed Falling’s piano score with occasional help from Buckethead. Peter Debruge wrote in Variety that Falling is “more deeply felt than your typical American debut… unpretentious and perfectly accessible to mainstream audiences… Drawing on his own upbringing while touching on universal themes of family and loss, Mortensen reimagines the relationship with his parents – doting mother, difficult father – through the protective filter of fiction.” 12 | September 2020

QUICK PIX A young woman in post-partition India struggles to balance family duty and personal independence in A Suitable Boy, Mira Nair’s six-part adaptation of Vikram Seth’s bestselling novel. Anoushka Shankar’s infectious contribution to the soundtrack intrigues. Versatile American pianist and composer Dustin O’Halloran records for Deutsche Grammophon, has an ambient orchestral project on the side, is a member of A Winged Victory For The Sullen, and with his co-composer, Volker Bertelmann (aka Hauschka) was nominated for several awards for the score to Lion. That’s enough to get my attention and put Francis Lee’s Ammonite on my radar. Another film selected by Cannes this year, Ammonite stars Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan as two lovers in 19th-century Dorset. From Peter Debruge’s Variety review: “Not since the summer of 2003, when François Ozon unveiled Sapphic sizzler The Swimming Pool at the Cannes Film Festival, has the French director seduced audiences quite as brazenly as he does in Summer of 85, which was also set to premiere at Cannes, before the global coronavirus outbreak forced the cancellation of the 2020 edition.” Ozon talked about Jean-Benoît Dunckel’s score in an interview with Félix Lefebvre:”I wanted music that was sexy, romantic and nostalgic; something that would remind us of the 1980s and the beginnings of electronic music. All these aspects can be found in Jean-Benoît’s music. I have always enjoyed the work he did when he was in the band Air. And it turns out that in an interview where he was asked to give the title of a song he liked when he was young, he’d answered: Stars de la pub, [an 80s hit pop song], saying that it was a really well-produced song. I took this coincidence as a sign because it was also one of my favourite songs when I was a teenager. So I contacted him, and I explained that I wanted to use the very song he’d mentioned in my film. I gave him the script, from which he composed themes without having seen the images. It’s quite extraordinary because during the editing process we used the melodies exactly as they were written.” Based in the UK, Hutch Demouilpied is a composer, sound designer and musician whose work has been praised by The Guardian and Variety. Her latest feature, Limbo – about a promising young Syrian musician stuck on a remote Scottish island Anoushka Shankar contributes to the soundtrack of A Suitable Boy while he awaits his asylum request – is Mark Sharrock’s “funny and poignant cross-cultural satire that subtly sews together the hardship and hope of the refugee experience.” When Festival head Thierry Frémaux announced Limbo‘s selection for Cannes this year, he described it as “Wes Anderson by way of Scotland.” The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 10 to 20. Please check for further information. Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote. While you’re waiting... Who said “There must have been a moment, there must have been some time when you said I’ve got something here.”? (Vol 8 no 4, page 6) Vol. 6 no. 6 Vol. 7 no. 4 Vol. 8 no. 4 Vol. 9 no. 4 Vol. 10 no. 7 BROWSE 25 YEARS AT KIOSK.THEWHOLENOTE.COM September 2020 | 23 September 2020 | 13

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