Views
7 months ago

Volume 27 Issue 3 - December 2021 / January 2022

  • Text
  • December
  • Quartet
  • Jazz
  • January
  • Musical
  • Toronto
  • Symphony
  • Theatre
  • Arts
  • Composer
  • Thewholenotecom
Many Happy Returns: the rebirth of Massey Hall -- from venue to hub; music theatre's re-emergence from postponement limbo; pianist Vikingur Ólafsson's return visit to to "Glenn Gould's hometown"; guest writer music librarian Gary Corrin is back from his post behind the scenes in the TSO library; Music for Change returns to 21C; and here we all are again! Welcome back. Fingers crossed, here we go.

BEHIND THE SCENES

BEHIND THE SCENES Adversity to Advantage “Bach Among Friends” GARY CORRIN “..., but Bach didn’t write a Bassoon Concerto!” That was the reaction of the Toronto Symphony’s principal bassoonist, Michael Sweeney, as he related the story to me in May of this year. I’d had a similar reaction somewhat earlier when the TSO’s concertmaster, Jonathan Crow, emailed me a photo of a CD jacket listing “Johann Sebastian Bach, Rediscovered Wind Concertos” and asked, “How possible would it be to get the parts for any of these?” Something unusual was in the works. As principal librarian of the Toronto Symphony, I’ve often thought that I have the greatest job in the world for gaining an appreciation of music. After researching, sourcing, acquiring and preparing those printed pages from which every musician on stage reads (a process that usually takes place over several months), I hear all the rehearsals (where the tricky spots are worked out) and then the concerts. Of Gary Corrin course, my listening takes place over the sound monitor in the TSO Library, while I’m working on music to be performed in the months ahead. Best of all, I get to know the players. They all need to practice those printed pages, so everyone comes to the library. As I’m listening, I don’t just hear an instrument, I hear a person. It’s a COURTESY TORONTO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Bach among friends: gathered on the Grand Staircase in the west lobby of Roy Thomson Hall. Back row (left to right): Sarah Jeffrey (oboe), Leonie Wall (flute), Andrew McCandless (trumpet), Jonathan Crow (violin), Michael Sweeney (bassoon) Second row (left to right): Kelly Zimba Lukić (flute), Joseph Johnson (cello) Front row (left to right): Amalia Joanou-Canzoneri (violin) and Chelsea Gu. fantastic experience and I often ponder how I might share it with our audience. This is a story about several of those players, their friendships, and their regard for one another. It’s my privilege to tell it – mostly in their own words. In any normal year, the TSO would announce its events for the coming season in February. The 2021-22 rollout was delayed as we, like every arts organization, strategized around pandemic-gathering restrictions. “How many musicians will we be able to put on stage?” “Will we even be able to host a live audience?” “How long should the concert be?” “Intermission?” and “What if the guest conductor from Europe can’t get into the country?” These were the overriding questions of the time. In the midst of it, Jonathan Crow came up with an idea that turned adversity to advantage. “The idea of a smaller-ensemble, player-led “All Bach” concert at the TSO grew out of the extraordinary success of the Vivaldi, Four Seasons project in the previous year,” explained Jonathan (over the phone while on his elliptical machine – evidently time management is among his many super powers). “But instead of just one soloist – me – I wanted to showcase several members of our orchestra. After all, they’re some of the best on their instruments in the world. Nothing had really been decided when the pandemic shut everything down, preventing any of us from gathering to perform – so the whole program went into a holding pattern.” The concert will also feature Chelsea Gu, the Grand Prize winner of the Play Along with Jonathan Crow Challenge, a collaborative initiative between Toronto Summer Music and the TSO. “The challenge got an enormous response from the community,” Crow says. “We had over 70 entries with ages ranging from seven to 80. There 18 | December 2021 and January 2022 thewholenote.com

are several winners, who will be featured at both TSM and TSO events. [Violinist Lincoln Haggart-Ives will play with Jonathan on the February 6, 2022 TSO Young Person’s Concert.] [But] Chelsea’s submission so impressed the jury that it was obvious we needed to include her in the evolving Bach program.” Chelsea Gu is no ordinary nine-year-old. She speaks in complete sentences and with humility and purpose that would be admirable in a person of any age. “I was already playing the piano, but wanted to try the violin too. I had started taking lessons with Amy Canzoneri [a TSO violinist] in February of 2019, but then COVID prevented us from meeting in person. We continued on Zoom. Amy is very strict about the fundamentals of playing in tune, with precise rhythm and with a beautiful tone. I love that kind of detailed work.” “I knew right away that she is extremely gifted,” says Canzoneri. “She absorbs concepts quickly and loves to practice. Her musical instincts come from her heart. It’s a great joy to teach her!” Chelsea continues, “My Dad brought home some CDs that Amy recommended and I got to know the “Bach Double” [Two-Violin Concerto, BWV 1043] from the recording by David and Igor Oistrakh. When I saw the contest to play this piece with Jonathan, I just decided it was something I wanted to do.” A lot of us may look back and ask ourselves, “What did I accomplish during the pandemic?” Chelsea Gu can say, “I started playing the violin and got good enough to play with the Toronto Symphony.” (Adversity to advantage!) I like to take at least partial credit for Joseph Johnson becoming principal cellist of the TSO. He and I were at the Grand Teton Festival together and he was scheduled to play a concerto for two cellos with Lynn Harrell. The page turns in the part were impossible, so my first contact with Joe was when he asked me to split the original two-stave part into two single-staff parts. The performance was remarkable, as was his leadership of the cello section, so I suggested to Joe that he might consider our principal cello position, which was open at the time. At the end of his audition in Toronto, the committee stood up and applauded. Joe can be a late-night practicer and one evening, after a concert, he was setting up in our dressing room to run through a solo recital he was to perform the next day. Only the two of us were around, so I asked, “Is this the dress rehearsal and can I listen?” He agreed and I seated myself two feet in front of him, watching every detail of his playing. There was never any concern about simply playing the correct notes; He was searching, striving for precise sonorities and inflections – and I sat mesmerized, awash in his sound. In a lifetime of musical experiences, this is one I shall always remember. Joe will begin the TSO’s Bach program with the Prelude from the Cello Suite No.1. Talent runs deep at the TSO. While still a student at McGill University, our second flutist Leonie Wall won the principal flute job at the Orchestre des Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal. She was also a winner of the prestigious New York Flute Club Competition just before joining the TSO in 2004. Notes Jonathan, “Leonie and Kelly [Kelly Zimba Lukić, principal flute] are always working to achieve a balanced and flexible sound in our flute section and the Brandenburg Concerto No.4 brings that teamwork to the front of the stage.” “I just love this piece,” says Leonie. “After such a long separation from my colleagues, it’s wonderful to have this opportunity, especially as a second flutist, to perform in such a prominent ensemble role.” Kelly adds: “Ten years ago, I heard the Pittsburgh Symphony perform the complete Brandenburg Concerti. It was a revelation to hear the instruments stand out in this context. I thought to myself, I hope I’ll get to play these someday. I’ve played two before, but not four, and it will be especially meaningful to play with Leonie.” Next on the program will be Michael Sweeney’s mysterious Bach bassoon concerto mentioned earlier. “This music exists in two versions in Bach’s collected works, neither of which is a bassoon concerto,” explains Michael. “It first appears as three separate movements in two different Cantatas [BWV 169 and 49] that were Upcoming Concerts Save these dates! • January 23, 2022 • April 10, 2022 • June 5, 2022 In person at Trinity St. Paul’s. Tickets go on sale online December 6, 2021 at: www.offcentremusic.com Glionna Mansell Presents 21 A Music Series unlike any other www.organixconcerts.ca 12:30 - 1:30 pm Free-will Offering (suggested Donation) Kingsway Series Concerts TH DECEMBER 15 Hanné Becker Lunch Time Concerts Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic, 3055 Bloor Street West - Toronto ND DECEMBER 22 David Alexander Simon All Saints Anglican Church, 2850 Bloor Street West - Toronto TH JANUARY 5 Adrian Ross All Saints Anglican Church, 2850 Bloor Street West - Toronto TH JANUARY 19 Peter Nikiforuk All Saints Anglican Church, 2850 Bloor Street West - Toronto TH JANUARY 26 Alexander Straus-Fausto Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic, 3055 Bloor Street West - Toronto SPECIAL PRESENTATION SERIES Wed. June 29 2022, 7:30 pm Sophie-Véronique Cauchefer-Choplin Timothy Eaton Memorial Church 230 St. Clair Ave. West - Toronto General Admission: $ 45.00 Tickets and Information: organixconcerts.ca 416-769-5224 Mobile Call/Text:416-571-3680 thewholenote.com December 2021 and January 2022 | 19

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)