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Volume 28 Issue 4 | February - March 2023

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Volume 28 no.4, covering Feb, March and into early April '23! David Olds remembers composer John Beckwith; Andrew Timar reflects on the life and times of artistic polymath Michael Snow; Mezzo Emily Fons, in town for Figaro, on trouser roles, the life of a mezzo-soprano on the road and more; Colin Story on the Soft-Seat beat; tracks from 22 new recordings added to our Listening Room. All this and more.

The WholeNote VOLUME

The WholeNote VOLUME 28 NO 4 FEBRUARY & MARCH 2023 IN THIS EDITION STORIES AND INTERVIEWS Wendalyn Bartley, Stephanie Conn, Paul Ennis, Jennifer Parr, David Perlman, Lydia Perović, Colin Story, Andrew Timar CD Reviewers Stuart Broomer, Max Christie, Sam Dickinson, Daniel Foley, Raul da Gama, Janos Gardonyi, Richard Haskell, Scott Irvine, Tiina Kiik, Kati Kiilaspea, Lesley Mitchell- Clarke, Cheryl Ockrant, David Olds, Ted Parkinson, Ivana Popovic, Cathy Riches, Terry Robbins, Michael Schulman, Andrew Scott, Sharna Searle, Bruce Surtees, Andrew Timar, Yoshi Maclear Wall, Ken Waxman, Matthew Whitfield Proofreading Paul Ennis, John Sharpe Listings Team John Sharpe, Gary Heard, Colin Story Design Team Kevin King, Susan Sinclair Circulation Team Jack Buell, Carl Finkle, Vito Gallucci, James Harris, Bob Jerome, Anita Lal, Miquela Leahy, Marianela Lopez, Chris Malcolm, Sheila McCoy, Lorna Nevison, Janet O’Brien, Tom Sepp, Lianne Tan, and Dave Taylor . UPCOMING DATES AND DEADLINES Weekly Online Listings Updates 6pm every Tuesday for weekend posting for Volume 28 No. 5 APRIL - MAY 2023 Publication Dates Friday, March 24 (digital) Tuesday, March 28 , (print) Print edition listings deadline 6pm Tuesday, March 14 Print advertising, reservation deadline 6pm Tuesday, March 14 Printed in Canada Couto Printing & Publishing Services Circulation Statement - Dec 7, 2022 9,000 printed & distributed Canadian Publication Product Sales Agreement 1263846 ISSN 14888-8785 WHOLENOTE Publications Mail Agreement #40026682 WholeNote Media Inc. accepts no responsibility or liability for claims made for any product or service reported on or advertised in this issue. COPYRIGHT © 2023 WHOLENOTE MEDIA INC But first, a couple of definitions, and a hypothesis Food desert: an area or community lacking adequate access to affordable, healthy, fresh food, due to factors such as lack of available options for both purchase and transportation, economic “redlining”, monoculture, etc. Arts desert: an area or community lacking adequate access to affordable space (to live and to work) and to resources for live performance, exhibition, rehearsal, artistic education, cultural enrichment, and/or community participation in the arts. Hypothesis: These two areas are related through systemic practices that allow, and even encourage, large scale for-profit consolidations of “public goods” (from food to real estate), over long term sustainability. In both cases, “desertification” is irreversible without addressing the root causes. Looking across a big lake or two Sometimes to see our own city (and what ails us) a bit more clearly, it helps to start by looking across a big lake (or two). This next quote caught my eye when I was googling desert definitions. “The term ‘arts desert’ makes me just a little bit crazy. It’s not about areas where art does not exist. It’s about areas where art does exist, but it’s underfunded, it’s under-resourced, it’s under-organized. And those reasons have to do with poverty, they have to do with racism.” The speaker is Jennifer Coleman (senior program officer for the Cleveland-based Gund Foundation), and I found the quote in a story on Ideastream Public Media – a website which aims, among other the other areas of public good it covers, “to connect with Northeast Ohio’s Jennifer Coleman vibrant arts and culture scene, via news and storytelling on TV, radio and digital platforms.” In turn, that story led me to the website of another Northern Ohio organization, Heights Arts, (based in the city of Cleveland Heights). Heights Arts seeded itself during a city-wide visioning process in the very early 2000s. “A group of Cleveland Heights residents became deeply involved in the visioning meetings,” the Heights Arts website explains. “Heights Arts was founded on the premise that capitalizing on our community’s rich artistic resources could positively impact all aspects of community life: community-building, economic development, education, and public spaces … as we began to tap into the creative spirit of our community.” Food for thought. FOR OPENERS Some Things That Caught My Eye CALLS FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST DESERTIFICATION: causes, impacts, and remedies Beginning in April 2023, The WholeNote is launching an exploration in all our media of ways to increase the visibility and viability of the arts in so-called “arts deserts” across Ontario. If you, as an individual or community organizer, are interested in participating or would like more information about the initiative, please contact David Perlman, or 416-323-2232 x28 8 | February & March, 2023

Collaborative life on the choral scene Choirs were the first music sector to be choked off during the pandemic, and for the same reasons have been the slowest to re-emerge – but, from the things I see, they are doing so more energetically and more collaboratively than ever before. Which is good news when one considers that choral music is the bedrock of community participation in music life – bridging audience and performance in a way no other form of music can. Here’s a taste: Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s Exchange: Community Singing Festival. On February 4, the TMChoir hosted three high school choirs, plus their friends and families, for a one-day non-competitive singing festival and showcase presentation at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, the TMChoir’s home base “to celebrate our ability to sing together again, in a day of collaboration, learning, and community connection.” The invited schools reflect the sweep of the outreach they are doing: Agincourt Collegiate Institute (Scarborough); O’Neill Collegiate and Vocational Institute (Oshawa); and Mayfield Secondary School in Caledon East (one of two Arts Schools serving Peel Region). Add to that the recent reinstatement of the Toronto Mendelssohn Singers as the TMChoir’s 24-voice paid professional core, and the organization’s capacity for tackling chamber choir repertoire takes them far beyond the large-scale oratorios and Masses that were the raison d’etre for its founding in 1894. And speaking of non-competitive one day singing festivals, this year’s Ontario Senior Treble Festival, (the first since 2020!) is titled “Sending You Light” and is hosted by Young Voices Toronto, bringing together choristers in the senior ensembles of the Bach Children’s Chorus, Chorus Niagara, the Hamilton Children’s Chorus, Mississauga Children’s Choir, Oakville Choir for Children & Youth, the Toronto Beaches Children’s and Youth Chorus, the Toronto Children’s Chorus and Young Voices Toronto. Guest conductor this year is Kellie Walsh. Kellie Walsh Walk Together Children, at Christ Church Deer Park on March 4, may sound familiar. It is the second iteration of a concert curated in 2018 by Antiguan-born soprano Denise Williams, with the aim of bringing together the music of Toronto’s African, Jewish and Muslim diasporas. “Most of the artists – representative of the three diasporas – and the choir (the Jubilate Singers conducted by Isabel Bernaus) are the same as in 2018,” Williams told me. “We have incorporated a lot of the repertoire from 2018. This one will have more selections by the choir, more Denise Williams that integrate the soloists with the choir, many more contemporary selections that are by Toronto composers, and we are specially pleased to welcome multi-instrumentalist Waleed Abdulhamid, who represents both African and Muslim heritage.” Her sense of what constitutes “diaspora” has shifted, though, more than the construct for the event: “I see things more and more as involving cultural migration and integration as well. Toronto’s already multicultural mosaic continues to diversify but also to blend cultural identities as well. As I see it, two most recent historical globally impactful events – George Floyd and the pandemic – have increased understanding, unity, and cooperation among cultures, further dissolving the walls of division.” The related events that will take place are, from a community arts perspective, as important as the concert: on February 19, a community forum with the choir, Williams, and some of the other featured soloists, at the Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation (NUUC); and, as part of Black History Month, a workshop-presentation for students at Rosedale Heights School of the Arts on February 10. AMINA ABENA ALFRED Tuesday, February 28 at 8 pm Angela Cheng Thursday, March 30 at 8 pm Gryphon Trio May 6, 20, June 3 Celebration of Small Ensembles Tickets: 416-366-7723 option 2 27 Front Street East, Toronto | February & March, 2023 | 9

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