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Volume 29 Issue 1 | September 2023

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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.


ANDREW ADAMS Brian Current (2016 AMP Laureate) – among other things. “Jewish music is a known entity. It has absolutely known modes. Then there are Yiddish songs, there are Sephardic songs. There is klezmer … biblical themes or stories about the Jewish people. There are so many things that are legitimately Jewish music.” Ultimately, it all comes down to “fostering greater intercultural understanding through music.” And each prize package, valued at an exceedingly generous 0,000 CAD, is a great motivator en route to achieving that goal. Included is a cash prize of ,000 CAD, a premiere of the prize-winning work at the AMP Gala Concert, at least two subsequent international performances, a professional recording of the work for future commercial release, and publicity support. Further, the AMP Performance Fund supports ensembles in presenting public performances of winning works. Becoming an Azrieli Music Prize winner, a laureate, is a careerboosting, if not outright life-changing, experience. Some of the extraordinary prize-winning works over the years end up in the orchestral repertoire, like the oratorio The Seven Heavenly Halls, by Brian Current, first winner of the Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music. Some even win a Juno, like Arras (for fourteen musicians), by Keiko Devaux, first winner of the Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music. According to Jason van Eyk, the Foundation’s Manager, Music, Arts and Culture, there has been a marked evolution and growth since the AMP’s inception, including “a 150% increase in the number of applicants and 145% growth in the number of countries represented.” (If you want to do the math, the first competition drew almost 100 applications from over ten countries.) There have also been improvements in gender diversity. This all bodes well for the future of the AMPs, as does the fact that the last few Galas were livestreamed by and viewed by close to 60,000 people in 65 countries! As a philanthropist, Sharon Azrieli’s good work at the Foundation earns plaudits. As a soprano and a cantor, she also continues to enjoy the applause of appreciative concert audiences and synagogue congregations; sometimes both at the same time. This was the case during her most recent concert in Cluj, Romania, where she sang a cantorial concert in the city’s only working synagogue. “l needed to say kaddish for my father, and there was nobody to lead the service. So I ended up leading the service for them, and it ended up being just a lovely experience.” Winding up our conversation, I asked her one of those “Who’s your favourite child?” kind of questions: of all the musical genres, Kelly-Marie Murphy (2018 AMP Laureate) Today, Current serves on the Jewish Music Jury and is a liaison for that jury to the AMP Advisory Council; Murphy is on the newly formed International Music Jury. “Both are excellent jurors and bring not just their plentiful talent, experience and expertise to their roles, but also their unique perspective as past Laureates”. (Jason van Eyk, Azrieli Foundation) which one speaks most deeply to her heart? Her answer surprised me. With a sigh followed by a hearty laugh, she replied, “Israeli folk song. Don’t forget I was raised on Israeli folk songs. I love [them]. I bet you can imagine me singing some of them.” And I could. So, is there a genre she has yet, and would like, to tackle, say for example, country music? I asked, and that answer surprised me even more. “I can’t believe you asked that … It’s so funny because I was just about to record a country song.” It was for a movie she was about to appear in, she explained, but which got kiboshed due to the actors’ strike in Hollywood. She wouldn’t name the song because she still plans to record it and wants it to be a surprise. “But I’ll tell you something. It is a country song that is in the Lydian mode. If you can figure out which one it is, then call me.” Any guesses? And what about opera? Azrieli was very candid. “It’s a young person’s ‘sport,’” she said. “It’s like being a figure skater … so physically hard on the body … there is an age limit for opera and I think I’m nearing the end.” And then she quoted Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler. “It’s an issue of ‘you got to know when to fold ‘em.’” Hmmm. Maybe the next Azrieli prize will be a “Jewish” country music commission. With her joie de vivre, I wouldn’t put it past her. Some dates to watch Sharon Azrieli September 2023: Screening of Irena’s Vow at the Toronto International Film Festival (Sharon Azriel plays the role of “Helen”) October 2023: Quebec Philharmonic Orchestra, Beethoven Symphony No. 9 Azrieli Music Prizes October 6, 2023: Album release, New Jewish Music Vol. 4 October 15, 2023: Sharon Azrieli performs the European premiere of 2022 AMP Jewish Music laureate, Aharon Harlap’s, Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee (Philharmonia Orchestra, Cadogan Hall). The prize-winning works by both other 2022 Laureates, Rita Ueda and Imam Habibi, will also be performed. November 2, 2023: 2024 AMP Laureate Announcement Event: details to be announced. ALEX DEAN Sharna Searle, a former WholeNote listings editor, trained as a musician and lawyer, and currently works as a freelance writer, editor and proofreader. 14 | September 2023

SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES A TRUE REUNION Tafelmusik welcomes back Bruno Weil Compiled and edited by MJ BUELL Tafelmusik at the Klang und Raum Festival, in Irsee, Germany (2006) SIAN RICHARDS “When I heard that Tafelmusik was opening its 2023/24 season with Beethoven symphonies conducted by Bruno Weil and in celebration of its 45th anniversary season, it sounded like a reunion that I could not miss,” writes Christina Mahler, Tafelmusik principal cellist from 1981 to 2019. Christina Mahler “Tafelmusik’s collaboration with Bruno Weil started in the early 1990s with an annual invitation to play at his music festival in Bavaria: Klang und Raum (Sound and Space). As the festival’s orchestra-in-residence for 19 years, we ended our summers in southern Germany with Bruno and his family. This relationship has greatly shaped our orchestra and helped extend our repertoire into the 19th century, because Bruno wanted to explore the classical and Romantic music periods with Tafelmusik on period instruments. Playing Romantic music on period instruments was a fairly new concept at the time, and we were able to learn and explore alongside each other. “Bruno has said that he especially loves to play Beethoven with Tafelmusik, which makes a lot of sense to me. Beethoven is a composer who makes you work. His life was hard, with many dramatic challenges. He had a fiery, earthy and willful temperament, which comes through in his music. Playing his works on period instruments gives a clearer understanding and experience of what Beethoven wanted to say. Once we learn about the composer, use the instruments of the time, and learn about the specific styles of the period, the music becomes much more powerful. Winds and strings find their original balance. “Bruno has offered us many beautiful insights. As he has said, working with Tafelmusik means exploring Beethoven as if it was newly composed music. Approaching the music as Baroque musicians, we had to expand our palette, flexing and toning our muscles to re-learn this new style. It was an exciting process for everyone including the festival’s audience. Our annual stay in Germany often ended with the making of one or more recordings. Then, returning to Toronto, we were ready for our opening concerts, sharing our repertoire discoveries with our home audience. “It is such a thrill that Bruno is coming back to collaborate with Tafelmusik after these awful years of COVID drought. He will bring his family and some friends from our Klang & Raum years to Toronto, and it will feel like a true reunion. “When I joined Tafelmusik in 2004, it was my incredible good fortune to be welcomed into the musical relationship between Tafelmusik and Bruno Weil, and into the middle of the Beethoven symphony recordings” says Cristina Zacharias, Tafelmusik violinist and Artistic Co-Director. “I knew I was lucky, but I didn’t understand at that time just how rare such relationships are in the orchestral world. The atmosphere in our work together was characterized by trust, exploration and a relentless commitment to the music in front of us. The performances that resulted from this collaboration are among the most special in September 2023 | 15

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