2 years ago

Volume 26 Issue 3 - November 2020

  • Text
  • Recording
  • Artists
  • Concerts
  • Musicians
  • Choir
  • Orchestra
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • Musical
  • November
Alanis Obomsawin's art of life; fifteen Exquisite Departures; UnCovered re(dis)covered; jazz in the kitchen; three takes on managing record releases in times of plague; baroque for babies; presenter directory (blue pages) part two; and, here at the WholeNote, work in progress on four brick walls (or is it five?). All this and more available in flipthrough HERE, and in print Tuesday Nov 3.

NEW MUSIC Exquisite

NEW MUSIC Exquisite Departures in trying times DAHLIA KATZ Jackie Richardson (left) and Divine Brown the music video there will be a quote from the songwriter displayed onscreen that “connects the dots between the artist’s feeling about the song, and what we are about to see.” The entire show lasts approximately 65 minutes and Marcus’ hope is that “audiences will feel that they are watching something of high quality that speaks to this moment, and that will resonate as much as, or even more deeply, than people gathering at Koerner Hall.” Tickets for UnCovered: Notes From The Heart will be timed for a specific day and hour in order to create a sense of “liveness” for everybody watching, something very important to the team. On top of that, there is a menu of Expanded Experiences available to add on from pre-show Zoom chats with artists to Deep Dive Dinners including a catered meal and a facilitated philosophical group discussion, to fully customizable group experiences, “all to help create that feeling of gathering together because we can’t do so in person.” I asked Marcus if he felt this experiment was opening the door to something that could keep happening post pandemic. “I don’t know,” he said. “What is keeping me grounded at this time is to believe that there is a gift of experimentation right now. We are very privileged that we are not in crisis, that we are getting to play. I’m sure we’re not nailing it across the board. I think some experiments have worked out better than others, but whether it was Porchside Songs this summer, or moving programs nationally online, or UnCovered, these are interesting … Maybe we’ll just return to the way we were, but maybe the silver lining of having to pivot and work in a different way is going to uncover something for us that helps to inform the way we want to return and the way we can actually do our work even better.” Porchside Songs, for example, entailed pocket concerts played by two or three top-notch artists who could travel around the city with a makeshift audio kit, and provided what Marcus calls “a key example of illumination” – the balance at the heart of the company’s mandate, between artistic content and community building. “The artists were all great,” he said, “but what made these intimate concerts such a beautiful and powerful experience was seeing how communities, whether street neighbours or a group of friends, were being brought together by an event that had music and storytelling at its centre.” UnCovered: Notes From The Heart streams online from November 11 to December 6. For further information, to buy tickets, or arrange a group event, see the company’s website: Jennifer Parr is a Toronto-based director, dramaturge, fight director and acting coach, brought up from a young age on a rich mix of musicals, Shakespeare and new Canadian plays. ANDREW TIMAR Method for the Madness Toronto weather the third week of October is still comfortably moist and mild. In the park across from my midtown street, mature deciduous trees are still tenuously holding to a blend of burgundy, flaming red, orange, yellow and green – a reminder of the kind of weather that used to signal the fall live music harvest in the times before. Sadly all live concert bets are off during this last quarter of the current year, but The Music Gallery (MG), proudly billing itself as “Toronto’s Centre for Creative Music,” is an example of an organization that continues its programming by all available means. Going on 44 years, presenting and promoting “leading-edge contemporary music in all genres,” the MG has its current sights set on an ambitious project involving 15 musicians, six video artists, plus audio and video mixer technicians. Receiving its webcast premiere on November 20, Exquisite Departures is curated by Tad Michalak; the work is part of the MG’s Departures Series which Michalak has been running since 2014. Tad Michalak The Exquisite Departures title and structure derive from what began as a 1920s Surrealist game – and which is variously seeing new life these days as a way of bringing creative methods to distance madness. As described in “Exquisite Corpse” and Other Coping Strategies in the July/August 2020 WholeNote, the basis of the original Dadaist game was for players in turn to write something, folding the page to hide part of what they had written before passing it on to another player who would have to continue it without seeing all of it. The (sometimes) enriching fun came when the whole thing was presented, with the missing parts revealed. And also recently in The WholeNote, in Lessons Learned from the CEE’s COVID-Era Experiences, David Jaeger reported on a Canadian Electronic Ensemble project titled “Pass the Track” –devised by the six-member CEE in response to not being able physically to meet to make music. Using a process similar to exquisite corpse, Pass the Track relied on a process of layering audio tracks digitally sent from one CEE member to another, each adding another audio layer. It was KATIE JENSEN 12 | November 2020

The Exquisite Departure 6 track map. all mixed and edited by the CEE’s Paul Stillwell who also enhanced two of the pieces with captivating digital animation. (For more details please visit Tad Michalak All of which, taking the long way around the barn, brings us to the upcoming MG Exquisite Departures. Its curator, Tad Michalak, has been producing and promoting live music concerts in Toronto since 2005 under Burn Down the Capital and other monikers. I explored his new work with him mid-October on email and over the phone. “I’ve definitely been feeling the loss of live music in a pretty big way … obviously,” he began ruefully. “Everything I had planned for this year was postponed in stages, and as the months rolled on – cancelled. It’s very challenging to see everything you’d been working on dumped in the trash.” With his live music productions eliminated, Michalak did what others have also done out of necessity: pivoted online. The result: a prime example of audience engagement during a pandemic, for experimental artists and organizations with the artistic resources to support them, in this case the MG. The 15 musicians chosen by Michalak reflect the vibrant improv music scene active around the MG, the instruments as varied as the backgrounds of the musicians themselves. They range, in no particular order, from percussionist Germaine Liu, cellist Amahl Arulanandam and flutist Alia O’Brien, to Colin Fisher on electric guitar, tar player Araz Salek, Cheldon Paterson aka Slowpitchsound on turntables/electronics, and Allison Cameron on electronics/toys/ukulele. For the complete list please visit the One of the project’s lesser-known and perhaps newest instruments, played by Mira Martin-Gray, is the no-input mixer. While most users try to avoid noise when mixing, no-input mixing takes a contrary approach, exploiting residual noise inherent in every mixer, and using it to generate and manipulate sound, thereby transforming a systemic weakness into a musical strength. The Map Michalak devised a template to be used by the musicians at the multiple Exquisite Departures recording sessions that took place at the MG in September. The scope of his creative decisions goes far beyond the purview of a typical curator, and thus is worth a closer look. He explained, “The musicians were given a written ‘track map’ I prepared that indicated which of 15 time slots they had to perform within. Where musicians have staggered entries relies on a formula dictating at what intervals musicians join the track, plus the overall duration of their segment.” 20/21 Extraordinary Music Extraordinary Times All Broadcasts FREE to Watch Cello Masterworks – Oct.29.20 feat. David Hetherington, cello Broadcast from Koerner Hall Love Songs co-presented with Tapestry Opera – Nov.28.20 feat. Wallace Halladay, saxophone and Xin Wang, soprano NMC 50th Anniversary Commissioning Series – Dec.06.20 feat. new works by: Kotoka Suzuki, Eliot Britton, and James O’Callaghan 416 961 9594 November 2020 | 13

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