3 years ago

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.

Array Space resident

Array Space resident artist SlowPitchSound Array Space resident ensemble Thin Edge New Music Collective expanded our community even more. We’re at the centre of various artistic scenes which spin around the space.” To give a sense of the full scope of Array Space activity, Schotzko names some of the groups that use it. “Our current resident artists/ ensembles include many established and emerging music groups. I can think of Canadian Creative Music Collective/CCMC, Thin Edge New Music Collective (TENMC), Invocation (produced by Jay Pollard), Frequency Freaks Modular Synthesizer Workshops, Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan, The Glass Orchestra and SlowPitchSound.” And there are other regular users who call Array home, in addition to numerous occasional renters: the Toronto Improvisers Orchestra, Art of Time Ensemble, Soundstreams, the dance improv series coexis- Dance (which collaborates with the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto), the community theatre company The Purple Stage, and Straeon Acting Studios. It’s the Space itself, Schotzko says, which has allowed Array to support a wider array of artists, and a more diverse group of musical genres, music and affiliated art forms – more so than the Array Ensemble and the contemporary music program stream alone can do. On the issue of diversifying Array’s own programming, and responding to current social issues in the field, Schotzko is quite candid. “First of all I have to be extremely aware that I’m yet another white guy artistic director. Therefore I have to work extra hard to make sure that when I’m looking for projects, for composers – for music – that I consciously step outside what I already know.” “Speaking specifically about contemporary classical music, there are so many fabulous women composers from Canada and across the world that at this point it’s just absolutely absurd when women composers don’t make up at least half of anyone’s overall programming.” “Western classical music has historically not supported artists of colour,” he says. “At this point there are relatively few BIPOC composers and music-makers working in the genre. There are many [BIPOC music-makers] working in other genres, but I don’t see how the Array Ensemble as a group of classically trained musicians can bring something to their music that’s beneficial to it – and this is our failing. “We need to play the work of BIPOC composers – and they have always been there – but we also need to make sure that programming their work is relevant to them and doesn’t just benefit us. Because in so many ways I feel like the classical music ensemble is the irrelevant part of that equation.” I asked him how he intends to meet the challenges – perhaps traps – of tokenism, gatekeeping and virtue-signalling. “In all honesty I’m not sure if I have a ready answer to that,” Schotzko replies. “I don’t think I’m going to know that until I mess up royally and get called out on it. When that happens, I have to try to listen and learn from my mistakes. I’m trying hard to check my privilege. I’m very lucky in that I’m married to an activist feminist professor who’s very good at checking my privilege (and her own). She’s used to dealing with these issues in her classroom, so she’s way ahead of me here.” The immediate future I ask about challenges facing Array in the immediate future. “The challenges are financial … aren’t they always?” comments Schotzko. “On one hand we don’t have to figure out how to produce events this year, since we can livestream them and do it well. The biggest question mark is that we just don’t know the extent to which we can rent out the Space, and count on that revenue stream.” Array recently ran a successful fundraiser with sustainability in mind, he says. “Our community really came together with support. We’re trying to build a buffer in this way, since the next year is such an unknown.” Credit should also go, he adds, to the federal government and to the additional funding programs the Arts Councils have added to help during lockdown. “We hope these exceptionally vital supports from both private and public sectors will allow us to ride out the storm.” In terms of new programming directions this season, Schotzko says he has turned to other curators with expertise in practices outside his own. “Michael Lynn has curated his concert series Audio Pollination at Array for many years. He’s reaching out to a diverse range of co-curators with the goal to move Audio Pollination from a user of our Space to being an official program of Arraymusic,” he says. “I’m also excited about the other major series being added called Situated Sounds. It’s curated by visual/installation/sound artists Mehrnaz Rohbakhsh and Kristina Guison. They’re joining us as artistic associates this year, officially part of the Array programming team. The new series will be announced more fully in the coming weeks, but it will be focused on site-specific sound and installation works from a wide range of Toronto artists.” So with the fall season right around the corner and venues still locked down, what’s immediately in store for the Array Space? “Let me answer that beginning with rentals,” says Schotzko. “Assuming Ontario maintains the current reopening momentum, we could be able to offer rentals starting in October, but on a very limited basis. Plans have not yet been finalized and I’m electing to be conservative, but it may work on a single client per full-day-only basis, perhaps capped at four people at a time. The following day will then be ‘dark’ so we can thoroughly sanitize everything.” In terms of Array Ensemble concerts, they are planning to announce their season in phases, allowing them to move dates around if needed. “I would be very pleasantly surprised if we could have a live audience in the Space this year. I hope I‘m wrong ... but at this point I’m anticipating livestream-only programming in the near future. While we all miss playing for a live audience, our three-camera studio setup allows us to create high-quality concert videos.” Schotzko concludes on a hopeful note. “I have hope that we can all positively engage with and overcome the issues we’ve been talking about: upheavals due to the pandemic and also social justice and equality in the arts. I don’t just want to survive only to return to the status quo. I want our institutions to survive and be better.” Andrew Timar is a Toronto musician and music writer. 20 | September 2020

CHORAL SCENE Achill Choral Society, in happier days. Just a bit different as choirs forge ahead BRIAN CHANG The Canary Pages choral directory in this issue has been a fixture of the May WholeNote for the past 17 years. Until this year, that is, when the magazine decided to hold it back to September, given the climate of uncertainty that has gripped the choral community since March. Better late than never: the directory remains welcome a reminder that hundreds of choral organizations across Ontario sustain and uphold communities that celebrate art and beauty from the largest cities to the smallest communities throughout Ontario. March feels a long time ago now. Seasons shuttered, theatres closed, rehearsals stopped, and as the shutdown continued, choirs started thinking towards the fall and onwards. If you look at the language amongst the Canary profiles, there’s new terminology that has become standard – postponed, indefinite hiatus, online rehearsals, Zoom, suspended, TBD. The good thing is, the choirs and the people who make music are still around. In my last column, I investigated some of the opinions and information being shared by organizations like Chorus America, Choral Canada and Choirs Ontario, speculating on what the future might hold for choral life. Months later, as the start of the 2020/2021 season looms, much of the uncertainty remains, across our artistic communities. But our resilient communities are forging ahead, adapting as they go. This month I got in touch with three: Upper Canada Choristers, Reaching Out Through Music, and Achill Choral Society. Laurie Evan Fraser. “We have been in regular contact with Public Health to ensure we are taking appropriate steps to keep everyone safe, and our board has developed protocols for rehearsals and performances in accordance with Public Health directives.” Importantly, Evan Fraser notes, “The fact is, singing with a mask is not a problem.” Upper Canada Choristers are revisiting the programming they initially planned for performance in the spring, revisiting the same repertoire they initially planned for, with some adjustments. “The concert we originally had planned for last May was a departure from our usual format,” says Evan Fraser. “It would be performed without intermission, would have narration and unusual visual elements, and would depict a slice of Latin American culture from pre-Hispanic times to the present. We were excited by the possibilities, but then we had to cancel the concert because of the pandemic.” So, the Choristers had to adjust to something different, as manifested in their upcoming October 2 performance with sister choir Cantemos. Kathleen Allan, Artistic Director & Conductor Laurie Evan Fraser, Upper Canada Choristers Continuing in different ways While many choirs stopped making music together, some continued in different ways. The Upper Canada Choristers have continued to sing with regular Zoom rehearsals including sectionals and fun digital socials. The choir has “recently started singing together outside in small groups, socially distanced and wearing masks. I have personally tried out a variety of masks to see what works best,” shares artistic director 2020/2021 Season Choral creation in a new age September 2020 | 21

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)