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Volume 26 Issue 4 - December 2020 / January 2021

  • Text
  • Choir
  • Composer
  • Jazz
  • Symphony
  • Recording
  • Toronto
  • Orchestra
  • Musical
  • January
  • December
In this issue: Beautiful Exceptions, Sing-Alone Messiahs, Livingston’s Vocal Pleasures, Chamber Beethoven, Online Opera (Plexiglass & All), Playlist for the Winter of our Discontent, The Oud & the Fuzz, Who is Alex Trebek? All this and more available in flipthrough HERE, and in print Friday December 4.

Q & A Beautiful

Q & A Beautiful Exceptions In conversation with JUDITH YAN LYDIA PEROVIĆ DAVID HOWELL One of Canada’s busiest conductors is just back from Hong Kong, where she conducted Don Quixote from a COVID-proof orchestra pit. She spoke with Lydia Perović via Zoom from her home in Guelph. LP: Hi Judith Yan! Oh, what’s that artwork behind you? JY: This here is a print of Jackson Pollock. But then this round one here, this is our favourite. It’s by a Guelph-area artist, Chelsea Brant; we have two of her works. She’s fabulous. And this one over here, that’s by Amanda. [Yan’s partner Amanda Paterson, the artistic director of Oakville Ballet and Oakville School of Classical Ballet] And then there’s the dog, have you met the dog? Mexxie, come here buddy, come say hi! He’s the best. (Mexx the black and white Shih Tzu comes into the frame, checks out what’s going on.) What were the last eight months like for you? I expect you had a busy start to the year, and then mid-March happened! I was getting ready to go to Australia in March. The pandemic came and all of a sudden I had six productions cancelled and two symphony concerts gone: a new production of Sleeping Beauty with West Australian Ballet and Dracula later; the Canadian premiere of Powder Her Face by Thomas Adès at Opera on the Avalon, and a premiere of John Estacio’s Ours at the NAC. A second Sleeping Beauty in Hong Kong, and a very cool production of Gluck’s Orfeo at the Kentucky Opera. My farewell concert with the Guelph Symphony Orchestra, where I’ve spent eight years – I absolutely adore them – also had to go, as did my debut with Saskatoon Symphony. Saskatoon are so forward-thinking and carrying on with programming, but we have decided to postpone due to quarantining rules and the changing regulations about indoor gatherings. So Saskatoonians have been performing before an audience? Ontario is completely closed. I think people will forget why they ever wanted to come to concerts… This experience in Hong Kong completely changed my mind about that. At first I was concerned that audiences may not come back, but in Hong Kong the 500 allowed seats sold out immediately and when the numbers went even lower, they said, OK we’ll open up another 250. And it sold out. Virtual will never take the place of live performance. Hong Kong had of course gone through SARS and already, since February, had strong protocols in place. Art organizations managed to strike a balance: they were concerned about the welfare of people, and also aware of the impact on businesses, and arts are a big part of it. They continue to support the arts and that philosophy feeds into organizations and empowers them. The Hong Kong Ballet I think never stopped moving. (I think that’s their logo this year too: Don’t Stop Moving.) The minute the city said that you can have six people in a space, they rehearsed with six people. At a time! They persevered, they were patient, they kept working, and as soon as the city said they could open, they were ready. That takes courage, and a positive attitude. Was this [Don Quixote] an old contract signed ages ago? No, I was supposed to be conducting Sleeping Beauty and then of course it didn’t happen. But as soon as things started to look positive again, we talked about doing Don Quixote and the contract came. I said to my manager and my partner, wow I can’t believe this is happening. I signed it, we sent it back and every day I thought, this is probably going to be cancelled. But then the flight booking came, and the list of requirements for quarantine. You have to do a COVID test the minute you land, and then on the tenth day of the 14-day quarantine, and if you test negative, you’re allowed to leave the quarantine. And that’s how it happened. The entire orchestra and the dancers, we all tested one more time before beginning the work. What was your life between that March and the Hong Kong trip? I believe you accompanied your partner’s ballet classes from the piano for a while? Oh that! [laughs]. She’s a principal of a wonderful ballet school in its sixth decade, and when the first lockdown happened, we cleared out our dining room and that became the studio. And I said, I haven’t played class in 20 years, but I’d be happy to, and she said, “Sure, that’d be great.” Anyway, I got fired. Supposedly I wasn’t paying enough attention! So I got demoted to tech help. When Zoom goes out on her students’ computers, people call my phone number 6 | December 2020 - January 2021 thewholenote.com

for tech help. Which is hilarious! I think she probably got back at me for playing silly things on the piano. She’s using recorded music now and has her own perfect playlist. What I’ve been actually doing is I’ve been preparing and onlinemeeting with opera companies and orchestras (Kentucky Opera, Opera on the Avalon, Saskatoon Symphony, Hong Kong Ballet) to discuss ways to continue the productions in current circumstances. I’ve been on a granting review committee for Canada Council, on a panel of judges for National Opera Association (opera productions) and in talks with Hong Kong to come up with a viable solution for the orchestra pit. We were the first company to be in the pit since the pandemic. This period will be interesting because it will make many of us – whatever profession we’re in – decide whether this is really what we want to do. How patient are we and how willing to make the sacrifices. And how positive. For example, Opera on the Avalon have done two commissions in the last three years, and they just announced another commission, to premiere in 2022. I love working with OOTA. It’s nice to be able to work in Canada because the majority of my work is not here. More opportunities around the globe, I suppose? Yes. Asia, Australia, US… and nobody ever bats an eyelid that I’m not a man. It’s never been a problem. They just hire you because you’re useful. It’s not a big deal. In Canada, my first appointment was by Richard Bradshaw at the Canadian Opera Company, in 1998 I think. Maestro Bradshaw said once in an interview “I didn’t hire her because she’s a woman, I hired her because …” and then he said Some people will use that excuse, we’d hire more women if they were more competent, and I kind of laugh because they hire incompetent men all the time. some nice things about my work. In 2003, I was hired by Sir Donald Runnicles at San Francisco Opera. So, two men, right? Runnicles didn’t care either that I was a woman, he just hired me. I worked there, Seattle Opera, Polish National Ballet in Warsaw… It’s not always that easy for women conductors, right? I think it’s oftentimes not even conscious discrimination – it’s like hires like, it’s inertia, so of course men will hire more easily other men, but as you say, there are always those beautiful exceptions. That’s well put: beautiful exceptions. It’s been like that for the last 20 years. First with Maestro Pierre Hétu, then Maestro Bradshaw COVID-secured orchestra pit, Hong Kong Ballet VIRTUAL CONCERT SERIES Thur. & Fri. December. 10 & 11, 2020, 7:00 pm Gryphon Trio 6 Beethoven trios in 2 concerts Thur. January 14, 2021, 7:30 pm St. Lawrence Quartet The Dohnanyi Piano Quintet with Stephen Prutsman Thur. February 18, 2021, 7:30 pm St. Lawrence Quartet 2 Beethoven quartets Tues. March 16, 2021, 7:30 pm Vadym Kholodenko Piano recital including Schubert and Rachmaninoff Thur. April 15, 2021, 7:30 pm Castalian Quartet Haydn and Brahms quartets All concerts broadcast FREE online! VISIT www.music-toronto.com for more information on how to watch each concert. thewholenote.com December 2020 - January 2021 | 7 www

Volume 26 (2020- )

Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020
Volume 26 Issue 2 - October 2020
Volume 26 Issue 3 - November 2020
Volume 26 Issue 4 - December 2020 / January 2021

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020
Volume 25 Issue 8 - May / June 2020
Volume 25 Issue 7 - April 2020
Volume 25 Issue 6 - March 2020
Volume 25 Issue 5 - February 2020
Volume 25 Issue 4 - December 2019 / January 2020
Volume 25 Issue 3 - November 2019
Volume 25 Issue 2 - October 2019
Volume 25 Issue 1 - September 2019
Volume 24 Issue 8 - May 2019
Volume 24 Issue 7 - April 2019
Volume 24 Issue 6 - March 2019
Volume 24 Issue 5 - February 2019
Volume 24 Issue 4 - December 2018 / January 2019
Volume 24 Issue 3 - November 2018
Volume 24 Issue 2 - October 2018
Volume 24 Issue 1 - September 2018
Volume 23 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2018
Volume 23 Issue 8 - May 2018
Volume 23 Issue 7 - April 2018
Volume 23 Issue 6 - March 2018
Volume 23 Issue 4 - December 2017 / January 2018
Volume 23 Issue 3 - November 2017
Volume 23 Issue 2 - October 2017
Volume 23 Issue 1 - September 2017
Volume 22 Issue 9 - Summer 2017
Volume 22 Issue 8 - May 2017
Volume 22 Issue 7 - April 2017
Volume 22 Issue 6 - March 2017
Volume 22 Issue 5 - February 2017
Volume 22 Issue 4 - December 2016/January 2017
Volume 22 Issue 2 - October 2016
Volume 22 Issue 1 - September 2016
Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016
Volume 21 Issue 8 - May 2016
Volume 21 Issue 6 - March 2016
Volume 21 Issue 5 - February 2016
Volume 21 Issue 4 - December 2015/January 2016
Volume 21 Issue 3 - November 2015
Volume 21 Issue 2 - October 2015
Volume 21 Issue 1 - September 2015

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)