7 months ago

Volume 27 Issue 3 - December 2021 / January 2022

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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.

“The practice of the

“The practice of the time was for performers to improvise their own ornaments and scholars today debate endlessly as to exactly how that was done. This concerto shows how Bach himself did it!” written two weeks apart in 1726, with the organ playing the solo line. Twelve years later, Bach repurposed these movements to form his Keyboard [Harpsichord] Concerto No. 2 BWV 1053, but with upgrades. Changes to the harmony and refinements of the counterpoint and voice leading are all consistent with Bach’s greater experience as a composer, but most significantly, he wrote far more florid versions of the melodies.” Michael will play these later versions as his Da Capos [repeats of the opening musical material] in movements one and three. “The practice of the time was for performers to improvise their own ornaments and scholars today debate endlessly as to exactly how that was done. This concerto shows how Bach himself did it!” For these performances, Michael has created an entirely new score and parts to match his own vision for this reconstruction of a bassoon concerto with oboe d’amore obbligato (to be played by principal oboe, Sarah Jeffrey). I can attest to it taking him most of these past seven months. As I write this, he’s just finishing the string parts. (Adversity to advantage, once more!) Audience members who want to hear this piece again should come back to the TSO in February when pianist Angela Hewitt will play it as the Keyboard Concerto No.2. There will be a lot of familiar tunes on this program, but none more immediately recognizable than the famous Air on a G String, the second movement of Bach’s Orchestral Suite No.3. “Its simple melody provides a lovely interlude amidst some otherwise complex textures,” notes Jonathan. The Brandenburg Concerto No.2 BWV 1047 is a riot of sound. The four soloists, (violin, flute, oboe and piccolo trumpet) toss phrases around, imitating and interrupting each other as if in competition for the listener’s attention. “It’s an especially difficult piece for the trumpet because it hangs around in the very highest range of the instrument,” observes principal trumpet, Andrew McCandless. “Just hitting all the notes can be a major achievement, but then the sound can also be quite penetrating up there. One time, when I was asked to play this, I showed up at the first rehearsal to find my stand positioned off to the side – well away from the other soloists. I was told this was because the trumpet is always too loud. I told everyone, If any of you have to tell me to play softer, I’ll donate back my entire paycheck. No one said anything and I got paid. For me, this is an elegant ensemble piece. I try to blend like I’m Sarah’s oboe duet partner. Principal oboe Sarah Jeffrey agrees, “My very favourite role in the TSO is being featured alongside my esteemed colleagues and best friends. In this concert, I not only get to back up Michael in an obligato role, but really mix it up with my other friends for the Brandenburg 2. We often hang out together and it’s going to be like one of our animated dinner conversations.” After a 30-year “career” of listening to my colleagues of the Toronto Symphony, I continue to be impressed with and inspired by how good they are at what they do. To develop their level of skill requires dedication akin to an Olympic athlete and their teamwork rivals any sports franchise. Add to that their strong social bonds and you have the magic that will be on full display January 7, 8 and 9, 2022 at Roy Thomson Hall. Gary Corrin was appointed principal librarian of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in January 1992. IN WITH THE NEW Music for Change Kronos and Tagaq return to 21C WENDE BARTLEY “It’s not so much a place I go to as a place I come to. It’s a freedom, a lack of control, an exploration, and I’m reacting to whatever happens upon the path.” Tanya Tagaq (quoted in WN May 2016) Five years ago at the 21C Music Festival, the Kronos Quartet introduced their Fifty for the Future project, performing four of these works including the world premiere of Snow Angel-Sivunittinni (meaning “the future children”) created by the exhilarating and ferocious Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq. Spread over five years, the project commissioned 50 new works by 25 women and 25 men for string quartet, all designed to introduce future string quartets to the diversity of contemporary musical ideas. In The WholeNote article I wrote for the May 2016 issue, David Harrington, first violinist of the quartet, described Tagaq’s voice as sounding “like she has a string quartet in her throat.” This year’s edition of the 21C festival brings these two forces of creative fortitude back together once again, giving us a retrospective look at the Fifty for the Future project in the form of a live film documentary. On January 18, the multimedia performance piece A Thousand Thoughts, presented in partnership with the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, combines live music and narration by Kronos with archival footage and filmed interviews with various artists, including Tagaq. It offers us an intimate look at the Kronos initiative to build this free library of 50 contemporary works which are available for download on their website. Another layer of the quartet’s commitment to young performers will be a two-day mentorship with students from the Glenn Gould School, culminating in a concert on January 20 titled Fifty Forward. On January 21, Kronos will perform their concert Music for Change with repertoire chosen to express their current artist vision, as articulated by Harrington. “Everything we do as citizens, as human beings, is a statement about how we want the world to be. Increasingly, I feel my role as musician is to point in constructive musical and cultural directions as we attempt to help Tanya Tagaq repair the torn fabric of our 20 | December 2021 and January 2022 20 | December 2021

LISA SAKULENSKY The Kronos Quartet with special guest Tanya Tagaq at 21C in 2016. Dinuk Wijeratne society.” Several works on their program point to key moments of the civil rights movement: Zachary J. Watkins’ exploration of the moment just before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, along with other works that reference the music of Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson and Jimi Hendrix. The two guest performers joining Kronos on the stage are also the creators of their works being premiered: Tagaq and Aruna Narayan. Narayan will perform on the sarangi, an Indian bowed instrument she learned to play from her internationally renowned father, Ram Narayan. Tagaq’s performance will be an arrangement she created with Kronos of her piece Colonizer that was recently announced as one of the pieces included on her forthcoming album Tongues to be released on March 11, 2022. The original version of Colonizer arose during an improvisation that happened while performing with the Nanook of the North film as she overlooked New York City’s Columbus Circle, a traffic circle that has at its heart a monument to the colonizer Columbus himself. On the Tongues album, Tagaq has created two mixes of Colonizer, and describes on her Twitter feed that the piece is a “reflection on accountability and action.” In this collaboration with Kronos, we will experience a unique and original remix which promises to be an fiery indictment of colonizer culture. Niagara Symphony Orchestra, January 16 Following along with this theme of creating new arrangements is a new version of an older piece by composer Dinuk Wijeratne. This Sri Lankan-born Canadian composer is known for his boundary-crossing works, collaborating with symphony orchestras, tabla players and DJ artists. In 2014, he was commissioned by TorQ Percussion to create a concerto for percussion and wind ensemble titled Invisible Cities. Now the Niagara Symphony has invited him to create an orchestral arrangement of this piece to be performed on January 16. The original work was inspired by selected short stories of Italo Calvino, the author of the book by the same name. The book contains fragmentary prose poems describing 55 imaginary cities narrated in the voice of the explorer Marco Polo during a conversation with emperor Kublai Khan. In the 2014 version, Wijeratne selected five of these cities to create a five-movement composition, each one exploring different aspects of musical colour and rhythm: musical symmetry, Gamelan-inspired timbres, Sengalese rhythms, South Indian rhythms, and a dip into the mathematical world of fractals. With the possibilities offered by a full orchestra, the 2022 orchestral version will be an adventurous expansion into new timbral terrain. Emergents I, Music Gallery, December 14-17. During the month of December, the Music Gallery’s Emergents program curated by Sara Constant is offering a four-part series, titled possible worlds, dedicated to the theme of musical world-building. The kickoff event on December 14 will be a community-focused workshop in guided improvisation using graphic scores and conduction led by saxophonist and instrument maker Naomi McCarroll-Butler. This evening is geared for people interested in collective music-making who come from different artistic backgrounds and all levels of musical 21/22 Crossing Over Concert Season Announcement Welcome back to live music. NMC is thrilled to embark upon a bold new era of channeling the limitless power of music to traverse all boundaries: between musical traditions, between humans and technology, even between music and memory. 416 961 9594 Not Alone – Oct.28.21 Aulos – Nov.11,18,25.21 50th Anniversary Distanced Commissioning Series: John Oswald – Feb.17.22 Difficult Grace: Seth Parker Woods in Concert – Mar.10.22 Imagined Sounds – Apr.10.22 SWARA Sutras – Apr.30.22 All concerts at 8pm December 2021 | 21

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