7 months ago

Volume 26 Issue 6 - March and April 2021

  • Text
  • Contemporary
  • Orchestra
  • Album
  • Toronto
  • Quartet
  • Ensemble
  • Jazz
  • Composer
  • April
  • Musical
96 recordings (count’em) reviewed in this issue – the most ever – with 25 new titles added to the DISCoveries Online Listening Room (also a new high). And up front: Women From Space deliver a festival by holograph; Morgan Paige Melbourne’s one-take pianism; New Orleans’ Music Box Village as inspiration for musical playground building; the “from limbo to grey zone” inconsistencies of live arts lockdowns; all this and more here and in print commencing March 19 2021.

“The concert was a

“The concert was a different experience for us as our concerts have never been presented from a recording studio,” he said. This season, he explained, was already quite an adjustment: “We have [only] been permitted a small in-person audience in Stratford, and we simply have to imagine the collective attention of our other followers watching from home. For Lost and Found we were, additionally, physically two hours away, even though takeaway meals were being served back in Stratford through our restaurant partner, Revival House!” He has no complaints about Canterbury, though: “We had a great experience – Jeremy Darby at CMC studios is really a fantastic guy to work with and a talented sound engineer. Our videographer, Mike Fisher, also lives in Stratford but does a lot of work at CMC studios. From the technical angle, everything was covered really well and we really enjoyed performing. With a lot less performing work taking place these days, every opportunity seemingly takes on so much more meaning.” Significantly, Chung explained that the protocols the ensemble had been using at Revival House were basically the same as those in CMC studios. “We physically distance ourselves two metres apart and we use pop-up, banner-style clear plastic barrier screens between wind players and singers,” he said. “CMC studios had excellent health and safety protocols and cleaning procedures in place that put us at ease.” Since then, Stratford has returned to the Orange Zone within the Response Framework, enabling INNERchamber to return to Revival House for performances on March 21 and April 18. “Again, a small in-person audience is permitted,” Chung said, “and livestreaming continues for those enjoying at home. Revival House serves meals to those in person, while keeping the takeaway option available for home viewers.” Arraymusic A story in our September 2020 issue, by Andrew Timar, described how The Array Space (which had been transformed into Stephen Hough a livestreaming venue before the pandemic) was at that point ahead of the curve in adapting to COVID protocols. I asked Sandra Bell, Arraymusic executive director, how they were holding up during this latest lockdown. She told me that they were closed for any activity that involves a live audience and that they’re incurring additional expenses for cleaning and PPE. “We are grateful for the support of the provincial and federal governments’ rent and wage subsidies,” she added “and for our landlord’s support. This has allowed us to have staff on payroll and to begin to operate our space. We’re also grateful for the Canada Council, Ontario Arts Foundation and Ontario government for additional funding. We will continue to program, record and stream productions with a very limited number of performers and strict safety protocols, as others are doing. So stay tuned for our upcoming announcement of new programming.” SIM CANETTY CLARKE Music Toronto Redoubtable British pianist Stephen Hough had been slated to appear on Music Toronto’s stage this past January 19, 2021. Instead, he will perform on November 9 – one of five recitals in a formidable piano lineup that also features David Jalbert, Marc-André Hamelin, Benjamin Grosvenor and Vanessa Benelli Mosell for Music Toronto’s 2021/2022 season. In an online conversation in early March on Musical America’s One to One with the magazine’s features editor, Clive Paget, Hough spoke eloquently about the value of the arts in our lives: “If you look back to a year ago when this whole pandemic began, imagine that year without the arts, without movies on the television, TV of course, without concerts, without interaction, without listening to music – we would all be absolutely mad,” he said. “Yes, we need our economy and all that side of life, but without the arts you wonder why we are on the planet at all. “What’s the point of living unless we have that nourishment, and whatever religious side (or not) you see to this, it’s an ecstasy, it’s contemplation, it’s transcendence. And I think we need to get that into the bloodstream of politics, too, so that our politicians say, ‘You know, we need to put money into the arts because the arts give us back more than we could ever give it.’” Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote. 14 | March and April 2021

MUSIC THEATRE The Many Virtues of Necessity JENNIFER PARR Digidance’s upcoming digital broadcast of Joe was produced in 1995 by Bernard Picard for Radio-Canada and features dancers from Jean-Pierre Perreault’s own company alongside artists from Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers and Dancemakers. ©ROBERT ETCHEVERRY This is such a strange time to be writing about music theatre. As I scour the Internet for news of new works and remounts, the contrast with this time last year is impossible to escape. On top of that, as the one-year anniversary of the first pandemic lockdown approaches it feels as if we are collectively holding our breath as we wait to find out if we are actually on the road out of this horrific year, or if a longer period of isolation is first going to be necessary. Not only are live performances still not allowed in Toronto, but (as of March 5) the rules of the current lockdown, imposed in December, also forbid arts companies from even rehearsing to film content to be streamed online (as of March 5). This hits particularly hard when so many companies are using this method to not only survive by creating streaming content, but to share their productions beyond local borders thus extending their reach and their audiences across the country and even around the world. Digidance In the dance world one of the most exciting new initiatives, and on an international scale, is Digidance, a collaboration between four of Canada’s leading dance presenters: Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, Vancouver’s DanceHouse and Montreal’s Danse Danse, that may not have happened without the impossibility of live performance this season. By joining forces, these partners have been able to aim for the top, making it possible for audiences across Canada to watch in their own homes – for an incredibly inexpensive ticket price (starting at ) – the very best from the cutting edge of contemporary dance. both very recent international repertoire as well as seminal earlier works. Digidance launched in February with the online debut of thrillingly kinetic Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite’s Body and Soul, created for the Paris Opera Ballet in 2019. In March, it now takes a step back into dance history with Jean-Pierre Perreault’s Joe, an equally groundbreaking large-scale dance piece from 1984 that took the dance world by storm. From March 17 to 23, audiences can thrill again to the surprising power and noise of this work danced by a company of 32 in overcoats, fedoras and heavy work boots; a work so iconic that it has been compared to a Beatles album, a Kundera novel, or an Andy Warhol print. As with all Digidance presentations, the screening will be supplemented with informative additional content exploring the creation and context of the work ( This is exciting in so many ways: glorious contemporary dance works are going to be seen by a much wider audience than ever before. Opera 5 One of Toronto’s younger indie opera companies, Opera 5, is also stretching its wings and taking flight into new territory with Threepenny Submarine, a collaboration with practical filmmaking and puppetry company, Gazelle Automations – a collaboration that might never have happened without this year’s need to isolate. For the young and young at heart, Threepenny is planned as a series of March and April 2021 | 15

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