6 years ago

Volume 4 Issue 2 - October 1998

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  • October
  • Toronto
  • Theatre
  • Choir
  • Arts
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  • Classical
  • November
  • Orchestra
  • Contemporary

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IS pp ' 'qa t' '!F"PP 7 •qs I I ' MARY LOU FALLIS AS JENNY LIND AT OLD ST. LAWRENC~: AN HISTORICAL RECREATION continued from page 4 What began as phonecall will become reality on October 22. Mary Lou Fallis, in a gown designed by Opera Atelier designer, Dora Rust D'Eye, with violinist, Mark Fewer, pianist, Peter Tiefenbach, clarinetist, Max Christie and tenor, Michael Colvin, will recreate Lind's momentous visit. (Not coincidentally, the event takes place on the exact date of Lind's second concert!) I caught up with Mary Lou Fallis on the phone at the end of a weekend of rehearsals and the eve of her departure by train for her weekly two days in London Ontario where she has just become an assistant professor of voice. "I feel good about teaching now at this stage of my life and my career," she says. "I have things to offer now that I didn't when I was younger." (The weekend's rehearsals, by the way, were for performances of her original "Primadonna" show, which she has been asked to revive this year, beginning with the Heritage Theatre in Brampton on • USlC liN THEI ternoon 101st CONCERT SEASON 1998-1999 Friday, October 2 and continuing in the spring in western Canada and the United States. The "Primadonna" revival is due primarily to a Performance that she gave at the National Association of Teachers of Singing conference in Toronto last July. In November she will be doing her "Ms. Moiart" ,show with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Jenny Lind fits neatly in between. Mary Lou was the eldest of six children born into one of the two musical Fallis families in Toronto - her cousin, David ~ Fallis was born into the other. While her parents both sang in the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, she credits her grandmother with really getting her going musically. Her grandmother, herself an excellent organist, who played all over Ontario and even conducted the Toronto Symphony a few times, gave her piano and singing lessons on Saturday mornings, continuing the day with lunch at the Swiss Chalet's flagship store on Bloor Street across from the Royal Conservatory and then a matinee concert. As a teenager Mary Lou studied voice at the Royal Conservatory with Helen Simmie and came under the influence of Lloyd Bradshaw, who encouraged her to pursue a singing career. She went on to study voice at the Faculty of Music at U. ofT. under Irene Jessner, who was also Teresa Stratas and Mark DuBois' teacher. At this same time she also sang in Elmer Iseler's Festival Singers. In the midst of this intense musical activity she married Toronto Symphony bass player, Peter Madgett, and soon after, on the invitation of Professor Ezra Schabas, returned to "the Faculty" to do a master's degree in performance under Maureen Forrester, whose energetic balancing of career and family was something of an inspiration. THURSDAYS AT 1:30 PRE-CONCERT LECTURES INCLUDED Faculty of Music Piano October 8, 1998 Presented by AMATI QUARTET STRING QUARTET March 18, 1999 Season Subscription .00 Tickets 923-7052 LAUGHTON & O'MEARA TRUMPET & ORGAN February 4, 1999 Concert Series Sponsor jONOROLA THE KIWANIS MUSIC FESTIVAL OF GREATER TORONTO is proud to announce Early Music Classes! Classes include String, Woodwind, Vocal, Harpsichord and Pipe Organ Solos as well as String and Woodwind Trios and Ensembles. Be sure to get those entries· in by the deadline of October 16, 1998! For more information, please call (416) 487-5885 ALL THE KING'S VOICES conductor David J. King, has also become the choral Music Director of the EMPressions. This 25 member show-choir performs selections from Broadway musicals. Singers are welcome to try out. Call (416) 248-0410 AMATI QUARTET presents "all in the family" three concert series beginning on Sunday, Oct. 18, at 2 pm. This performance at Eden United Church, corner of Winston Churchill and Battleford, in Mississauga will feature the 1998 Mississauga Arts Council "emerging dance talent "award winner, Belinda McGuire and Suzanne Shulman, flute. Come and enjoy outstanding chamber music and intermission refreshments! For more information phone 905-848-0015 TORONTO'S ONtY COMPREHENSIVE MONTHLY CLASSICAL & CONTEMPORARY CONCERT LISTING SOURCE

PHOTO FLASHBACK: (from the murky depths of our contact sheet archives ... ) Clockwise from bottom left: 1. Nathaniel Dett choristers, including Measha Gosman (top) and Suba Sankaran (bottom). 2. Nathaniel Dett Chorale artistic director and conductor, Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, in action at his new choir's preview concert, Wednesday, September 23, at The Multicultural History Society of Ontario Building, Queen's Park Crescent. 3. Chorister, Ben Stein with Salome Bey. 4. Amici. From left: cellist, David Hetherington and pianist, Patricia Parr with guest soloist, Jean Stilwell in a broadcast studio at CFMX's new headquarters on Queen Street East during their daring liveto-air CD launch on September 22. 5. Amici members Joaquin Valdepenas, Patricia Parr and David Hetherington. 6. In the audience: CFMX's Catherine Belyea with Amici board member, John Loosemore. After theM. Mus. she studied with Ms. Forrester's teacher, Bernard Diamant, and won the CBC Talent Festival and got to the fmals of the Metropolitan Opera Company auditions. One of the many things she was doing in the early part of her career was singing in the chamber music ensemble, Camerata, which was very active in the Stratford Festival's summer music festival. Festival director, Peter Taussig, invited her to write a comedy show about singers for a five night afterhours run. Never afraid of work, she accepted, albeit with some trepidation - after all, she had never done anything like it before. The show, "Primadonna", was an unqualified success, selling out all five performances, receiving rave reviews from both the Star and the Globe, and garnering invitations to do the show elsewhere. One such invitation was from the T.S.O. for a date eighteen months down the road. "The show" says Mary Lou, "began to have a life of its own and · my career did a big veer to the left!" That "left-veering" career has gone on to produce "Mrs. Bach" in 1985, "Ms. Mozart" in 1991, and a show, produced at the Shaw Festival, about Canadian singer, Emma Albani, in which her life is relived from the vantage point of her apartment in heaven! It's n,ot hard to see where the appeal of the Jen~y Lind project is for an artist who along with an acute sense of community and service seems to thrive on the creation of imaginary worlds in which to perform! When I was at the Nathaniel Dett Chorale Preview Concert and reception, conductor, Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, gave Mary Lou a heartfeh acknowledgement and thankyou for encouraging him to take the big step of establishing a choir dedicated to the performance of Afro-centric music. She had met Brainerd through Lloyd Bradshaw, who was conducting the Hart House Chorus. Blyden-Taylor was his assistant, and Mary Lou was often a soloist with the group. It was much later; however, when they were co-chairs of the Toronto Arts Council, that Brainerd shared with her his vision of a choir like the Nathaniel Dett Chorale. She thought this a good idea, not only because it would fill an unfilled musical niche, but also because it seemed like the, perfect vehicle for Blyden­ Taylor's musical instincts and energy. She encouraged him to make his dream a reality. My last question to Mary Lou Fallis was if she had any other "irons fu the fire" (It would have shocked me igf she'd said no!) "I wasn't going to mention it, but I am co-owner with Stuart Laughton of Opening Day Records" was her reply. The challenge she says is to compete, with very limited resources in a field dominated ' by much, much larger companies. Opening Day's approach is to be "artist-driven rather than market-driven", working with their artists to produce the recordings the artists wish to produce. They have met with remarkable success, having received some great reviews, and, of course, having sold more than a few CDs. Other irons in the fire? Look · for a profile of her on the CBC's Fifth Estate later this 1 ' fall, and listen for "the primadonna's diary" on Shelagh Roger's Take Five, on Fridays, starting October 16. , All that I can add to this brief account is that she seems able to engage with everyone with remarkable openness and generosity. She may be the prima donna on stage but in her life she is Mary Lou, warm, energetic, committed: loved by everyone whose life she has touched. TORONTO'S ONLY COMPREHENSIVE MONTHLY CLASSICAL & CONTEMPORARY CONCERT LISTING SOURCE

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