2 months ago

Volume 29 Issue 1 | September 2023

  • Text
  • Thewholenotecom
  • Musicians
  • Violin
  • Arts
  • Performing
  • Symphony
  • Musical
  • Jazz
  • Orchestra
  • Toronto
  • September
Bridges & intersections: Intersections of all kinds in the issue: the once and future Rex; philanthropy and music (Azrieli's AMPs); music and dance (TMChoir & Citadel + Compagnie); Baroque & Romantic (Tafelmusik's Beethoven). also Hugh's Room crosses the Don; DISCoveries looks at the first of fall's arrivals; this single-month September issue (Vol. 29, no.1) bridges summer & fall, and puts us on course for regular bimonthly issues (Oct/Nov; Dec/Jan; Feb/Mar, etc) for the rest of Volume 29. Welcome back.

Handling success: As the

Handling success: As the roster of musicians performing at the club and vying for gigs expanded, so did the responsibility of booking shows. By 1989, Ross brought in Tom Tytel, who had recently earned his bartending licence and whose mother was long-time friends with the Ross family, to assist with bartending, evening managerial duties, and, eventually, booking the music. Commenting on his, and The Rex’s, track record for not only consistently showcasing top-shelf music but staying Tom Tytel in business for some three decades, including COVID shutdowns,Tytel disavows any personal agency. “I don’t claim to know music, good from bad, but I do know what works for The Rex. I trust the people to whom Bob introduced me, and I know enough to get out of the way and stay out of all things creative that happen on the stage.” As the decades passed and the former upstairs residence rooms flourished as renovated and revamped boutique downtown hotel suites under the watchful eye of Ross’ son Avi, the club’s booking policy expanded from those initial Heineman/Davis weekend slots, to hosting music seven nights a week, often with two or three bands performing multiple sets a night. The Rex is today valued as much for the social cohesion it facilitates within Toronto’s intergenerational and intersectional jazz community as for the destination performance spot it provides for local and out-of-town musicians, as well as fledgling student ensembles from the city’s neighbouring schools. “It’s a mainstay, for sure,” states saxophonist Mike Murley. “It’s hung in there to not only grow over the years but evolve. I love what’s going on there now as the multi-night performances are somewhat like the old days.” Murley’s “the old days” hearkens back to an earlier time in Toronto jazz when George’s, Meyer’s Deli, Montreal Bistro, Top o’ the Senator, Bourbon Street and the Bermuda Onion reigned supreme. The Rex’s new booking policy has become a creative catalyst for a new crop of younger players who can now bring visiting players to the city for extended engagements. “Having a four-night run at The Rex to workshop the material before recording with Terri Parker’s Free Spirits was really beneficial in terms of preparing the music and getting a sound together,” suggests bassist Lauren Falls. Tom Tytel’s booking credo is that “if you leave the cooks alone, they will make you a beautiful gumbo.” The Rex, whether hosting the annual Coltrane Tribute (nearing its 40th anniversary) or showcasing an ever-new crop of diverse and talented young jazz voices, has no plans to stop cooking up enriching and soulful sounds anytime soon. KARL-LEUNG Andrew Scott is a Toronto-based jazz guitarist (occasional pianist/singer) and professor at Humber College, who contributes regularly to The WholeNote Discoveries record reviews. Teri Parker's Free Spirits at the Rex in 2019. IN CONVERSATION Sharon Azrieli on The AMPs at Ten SHARNA SEARLE Canada’s largest non-corporate funding body, the Azrieli Foundation was established in 1989 by Sharon Azrieli’s late father, philanthropist and developer, David Azrieli, with a mission, according to the Foundation’s website, “to improve the lives of present and future generations through education, research, healthcare and the arts, mainly in Canada and Israel.” Sharon Azrieli JEFFREY HORNSTEIN While Music, Arts & Culture is but one of the Foundation’s eight priority funding areas, I counted a mind-boggling 40-plus Canadian cultural organizations and institutions that have benefitted from the Foundation’s support over the years. Many of these have been covered in the pages of The WholeNote – from the Canadian Opera Company, Sistema Toronto and Jeunesses Musicales Canada, to Concerts in Care Ontario, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Ashkenaz Foundation. (And I have a feeling there are probably another 40 I haven’t heard about.) In 2013, Montreal-born Sharon Azrieli had an idea for a new Azrieli Foundation program – a competition that reflected her love of music and art, and which she knew would become her “bailiwick” at the Foundation. “My first thought was ‘What doesn’t exist?’ she explained in a recent phone conversation. Not wanting to reinvent any wheels, she looked around and determined that in Canada there were already competitions for voice, for violin, for string quartet, and for piano, but that there were none for composition. Thus, playing to her strengths – “What do I know about? I happen to know about Jewish music” – and to her deep ties to both Canada and Israel, in 2014 the Azrieli Music Prizes (AMP) were born. The first two inaugural prizes were The Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music and The Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music, followed by The Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music a few years later. And to mark the upcoming tenth anniversary of the AMP, a fourth prize has been added for the 2024 competition: The Azrieli Commission for International Music. 12 | September 2023

Sharon Azrieli, performing at the October 2022 AMP Gala with Orchestre Métropolitain and Alexandre Bloch, conductor, in the Maison symphonique de Montréal. Azrieli, herself, is no musical slouch. In addition to her philanthropic work, the AMP’s visionary is an operatic soprano, a cantor and a jazz, cabaret and Broadway singer. She also holds degrees from Vassar College (B.A., art history), Parsons School of Design (Associate Degree, illustration), Université de Montréal (M.Mus, vocal performance; Ph.D, music) and a Diploma in Vocal Performance from Juilliard. Clearly, she knows a thing or two about more than Jewish music, … and knows what high standards look like. As a result, the Azrieli Music Prizes are widely recognized as Canada’s biggest (and among the world’s most important) competitions devoted to music composition – synonymous with excellence, prestige and originality. Each round of the prizes has its own specific and unique focus and artistic challenges – this year’s instrumental cycle, for example, is devoted to choral music; all works, in all competition categories, must be for a cappella choir plus up to four additional instruments and/or vocal soloists. Winning commissions, we are told, will display “the utmost creativity, artistry, technical mastery and professional expertise.” On top of that, there’s the tricky business for would-be applicants to the AMP of trying to figure out what exactly is meant by “Jewish,” “Canadian,” and “International” music. The following description, drawn from an article in a recent issue of International Arts Manager, is helpful: “For the purpose of the Prizes, the Azrieli Foundation defines ‘Jewish,’ ‘Canadian’ and ‘International’ music as broadly as possible, taking into account the rich multicultural associations with such terms. These musical categories are deeply interwoven with a diversity of languages, religious practices, social traditions, histories, geographies and related cultural expressions. They embrace genres that are sacred, secular, popular, folk and Indigenous in nature. The Foundation understands Jewish, Canadian and International music to be rooted in diverse customs and traditions, yet also as forward-moving, progressive and dynamic. Thus, it invites composers to explore themes and content drawn from contemporary life and experiences that express not only historic concerns and current conditions but also future aspirations as a means of advancing the art form.” That being said, the Foundation goes to great lengths to clarify that the competition in general, and the Jewish music prizes specifically, are open to people of all ages, genders, faiths, backgrounds and traditions. As Sharon Azrieli has stated in many interviews and articles over the years, “This is one of the most important aspects of both the Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music and the Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music: you don’t have to be Jewish to write Jewish music.” In a 2015 press release from the Foundation, she had some fun with the subject. After saying that “the whole point of the competition is that you don’t have to be Jewish,” she added, “And also, everyone is Jewish. Find your Jewish soul – anybody can be a kvetch!” The converse is also true, she told me. “Just because you say, ‘Hey, I’m Jewish and therefore anything I write is Jewish music,’ … No. Sorry … it does not work that way.” Apparently, they get a number of those applications. Azrieli “loves the question” of What is Jewish music? because she “can actually answer it,” given her background as a cantor, and her doctoral work – finding cantorial modes in the works of Verdi A JOURNEY OF IMMERSION AND CONTEMPLATION DANYLO BOBYK 2023/24 NOVEMBER 2023 THE BRIGHT DIVIDE FEBRUARY 2024 THE ESTONIAN PHILHARMONIC CHAMBER CHOIR DECEMBER 2023 ELECTRIC MESSIAH APRIL 2024 6 PIANOS 12 HANDS VARIATIONS ON GOLDBERG VARIATIONS UNLOCK YOUR ULTIMATE MUSICAL JOURNEY: Subscribe Now and Save up to 40%! The Michael and Sonja Koerner Charitable Foundation The Mary-Margaret Webb Foundation The JB Doherty Family Foundation The Anne-Marie H. Applin Foundation September 2023 | 13

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)