8 years ago

Volume 5 Issue 5 - February 2000

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  • February
  • Toronto
  • Theatre
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  • Choir
  • Jazz
  • Singers
  • Glenn
  • Gould
  • Violin

Peter Tiefenhach Pianist

Peter Tiefenhach Pianist at heart Interviewed by Allan Pulker Peter Tiefenbach, known to many as host of CBC Radios The Arts Tonight and Radio Concert Hall, left the CBC two and a half years ago to resume his musical career. Accompanist to Maureen Forrester, Isabel Bayrakdarian and Mary Lou Fallis (Primadonna and Primadonna on a Moose); featured performer at last summer's P.E.I. Indian River Festival; composer; broadcaster; singer; teacher, .... his versatility is extraordinary. · This season he has already created the role of Johann SebastianBach in Christopher Dawes' new play, Two Musics in Mind; performed with Amici in an all French program; and accompanied baritone Brett Polegato and soprano Sally Dibblee. February 5 he will reunite with Mary Lou Fallis for a concert. In March he will perform in the Music Umbrella Series before touring again, to westem Canada, with Mary Lou Fallis. And in May he will sing in a concert of music for men s voices with the Sine Nomine Ensemble for Medieval Music. He is on the faculty of the Glenn Gould Professional School, where he is a vocal coach and teaches a course in orchestral reper.toire. He is Director of Music for First Unitarian Congregation, is host of the Toronto Symphony Orchestras Classic Intros and sings bass in the Exultate Chamber Singers. A Juno Award nominee, he has recently composed works for the Gryphon Trio, Chorus Niagara, the Saskatoon Children s Chorus and the Peterborough Singers. WN: Your range is amazing. Tiefenbach: I didn't set out to be versatile, but did learn early that I was not comfortable being pigeon-holed. It helped being an undergraduate at St. Olaf College in Minnesota where they actually encouraged and supported students to try different things. This probably left its stamp on me permanently! But the field of music is so vast you do have to master one area of it to gain understanding. WN: Which musical area would you be most loath to lose? Tiefenbach: The piano, definitely. I can't remember a time when I didn't play the piano. I started at three and a half, began lessons at four and a half and have been at it constantly ever since. WN: You say mastering one aspect of music in order to understand it. But how does that work for the composers relationship with audiences who are not usually well-trained musicians? Tiefenbach: This is not a new problem. Since the first performance of Salome in 1903 accessibility has been an issue in 20th century music. Accessibility is usually linked to musical language, but I think what makes for inaccessibility is not language but the absence of narrative. There are works by composers like Lutoslawski, Berio and Dutilleux that have really moved me even though the musical language they use is not at all traditional. There is something so compelling about Berio's Sinfonia, for example. WN: You grew up in the west. How and why did you choose to live and work in Toronto? . Tiefenbach: I came to Toronto in September 1986 after study in London England, and by the end of 1986 I got a job as music director at Willowdale United Church. In 1987 I participated in the Musical Performance and Communication Program that was sponsored by the Royal Conservatory and the Ontario Arts Council. It was a very good entree to music in Toronto, because it introduced me to many other musicians. Someething that came directly out of the MPC program was Trio Mio, with which I did school tours all across Canada. I also worked with an improv comedy troupe, had two church jobs, composed and worked with Murray Schafer on his Patria 2, 3 and 5. I>OJf'T :J>O IT YO'Uil8ELF! NOW ACCEPTING CLIENTS/ Contact in Confidence Chuck Homewood Let CADMUS Communications handle media publicity for your next concert ... so you can concentrate on making music. Tel: (416) 777-9392 Fax: (416) 203·8981 e-mail: ~~ tfie sounc£ post Canada's String Shop Previous clients include Caribana, First Night, Mayworks, John Alcorn, Lillian Allen, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale and Song Cycles (Toronto's choir on bikes) . violins, violas, cellos & bows expert repairs & rehairs strings & accessories at guaranteed lowest prices Canada's largest stock of string music fast mail order service all prices in CDN $-Not a US$ price in the store! 93 Grenville St., Toronto MSS 1B4 tel (416) 971-6990 fax (416) 597-9923 14 Fifth Steeet To eo VIto 1 sla"d OV\taeio CaVIada M5J 2B9 Tel: .416 203 0789 Exq•dsite Bows t-laVIdmade iVI the F

WN: Next month you're perorming in a Music Umbrella Series concert. I understand that's a bit of a reunion. Tiefenbacb: That too, grew out of the MPC Program, where I met Carol Savage (the other Music Umbrella co-founder). It has been fun to watch the series develop, especially because the programming has been extremely innovative. WN: And the Sine Nomine Ensemble in May. How did you get connected with them? Tiefenbacb: The one musical thing I do just for myself is the bass section of the Evensong Choir at St. Thomas's Church. The section leader is Brian Martin, who plays lute and sings in Sine Nomine. Andrea Budgey (co-artistic director of Sine Nomine) also sings in that choir and Jay Lambie, who sings tenor in Sine Nomine, sings in the Exultate Chamber Choir. WN: Why did you take the job with the CBC in 1994? Tiefenbacb: It was offered to me, and I knew that ifl didn't take it I would always wonder what I had missed! The first six months were terrifying ... I had very little radio experience. I met many fascinating people, including composers like Lutoslawski, Berio and Penderecki, all of whom I interviewed. I got to hear many wonderful concerts. But I really began to feel my own music was becoming sidelined. So I left. WN: What makes you most and least hopeful about the future of music in Toronto? Tiefenbacb: When I left the CBC in the summer of 1997 what really impressed me was the amount of music being produced in Toronto. The WholeNote, of course, is what has made it possible to be aware of the totality. But not just quantity, I see a lot of very interesting work being done now, inter-genre work - like Trish O'Callaghan singing Franz Schubert and Leonard Cohen on the same program, or Andrew Burashko and Phil Dwyer's concert next Sunday. Less hopeful? the Mike Harris government. Ontario has the lowest per capita provincial spending on the arts. The Ontario Arts Council's budget has been cut by 40%. ... . • Grandest Holiday String Music Sale in the City! Season's Greetings from Shar Mmic- Toronto. Canadas Finest String Shop. Wishing you a season of music and joy. Les salutations de fa saison de Shar Musique- Toronto. L 'entre prise de Ia musique Ia plus fine du Canada vous souhaitant une saison de Ia musique et delajoie. Lowest ever sale prices for December and very special in-store discounts! Special priced outfits, bows and cases. 20% off all sheet music. 10% off all strings and more. Free giveaways with certain purchases! Best tit:ne all year to buy! Be sure to visit us this season! Open Mon. - Sat. 9-6 Thurs. until 8 pm. Call for special holiday hours. §eJ'"!h:Z=Cce~es James Sugg, voice teacher When I called Professor James F. Sugg to arrange the interview, he laughed. "Please, call me Jim. I'm not famous," he protested. "My students would come back with a gold medal, or they'd get admitted to some prestigious school, or get a role with an internationally-known opera company. and there might be a note at the bottom of the article, '... studies with James Sugg ... • Now, if I'd murdered one of them, as I was occasionally tempted to do, then I would been Several days later I am received cordially at their Dundonald Street apartment by Jim and Blacky the cat. Jim brings me a ginger ale. Me: How did you start? Jim: I've taught singing for 22 years. A teacher can inspire. I used to say I could teach a doorknob to sing - that was during my arrogant phase, I don't say that anymore. A student has to have some feeling for singing, a love for it, a modicum of talent. ... I had more than a modicum of talent, only I lost the beauty. You have to be technically able to sustain hours of singing. After 12 years absence, I decided to take up singing again, with absolutely the right attitude the second time. I had been reading Ayn Rand, Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and I decided, I want to learn to sing before I die. Me: To learn to sing? Jim: Yes, "learn to sing", not "be a singer". There is no career after forty. My voice was a skeleton, from pushing and singing things I never should have sung. Me: A result of bad teaching? Jim laughs: Yes, I made some bad choices. But I made them very carefully! Me: And the second time around? Jim: I looked for a teacher, and in time I found two wonderful teachers. Annette Havens in New York City was one - "an exercise is a piece of music and a piece of music is an exercise" she Continued, next page 26 Cumberland, 2nd Floor. Tek 1-416-960-8494 Free Parking! Makers of line historical keyboard instruments (416) 538·3062 www.inlerlo&comi-llpschd/

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