7 years ago

Volume 6 Issue 7 - April 2001

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  • April
  • Toronto
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  • Choral


NOT SO BLEAK ABOUT BANDS I read with interest Mr. Carl V. Ehrke's letter "A stand on bands." I admit there is cause for concern but I am not perhaps as gloomy as he sounds. Here in Ottawa I went to a production last year at one of the High Schools of Cole Porter's "Kiss Me, Kate" with a 38-piece orchestra of students including one young lad playing a double bass, not an electric bass! And imagine, students performing, quite enthusiastically, I might say, a musical that is 52 years old! Lisgar Collegiate here in Ottawa has had a school orchestra and school band since before the first world war. I heard the orchestra two years ago - around 55 members at the time. Maybe Mike Harris has killed it since then! I know of course, that Mr. Ehrke is probably referring to "community" bands, and here, DISMISSIVE, DEMEANING ETCETERA Dear WholeNote I'm sure I am not alone in wishing you could find a less dismissive and demeaning 1 heading than "Etcetera" under which to list lectures, conferences and workshops. If such events belong in your publication at all, they should be presented with at least a modicum of respect for the effort entailed in organizing them. And where there is a direct link to particular concerts or other performing events listed elsewhere in the magazine, that connection should be made clear. After all, like your magazine itself, the "etceteras" are a necessary part of what it takes to sustain a lively musical culture in our city. Sincerely, S.B.Lee, Scarborough (We agree about the importance of "the etceteras", which is why we include them free. What would you prefer us to call them? Ed.) OUR READERS WRITE I have to agree, that membership consists mainly of the "over 50" set and is slipping. Fifty-eight years ago I was playing in a community band in a large Ontario city, and we were playing music then that the young people would NOT even look at today. A van Suppe-like overture called "Berlin in Smiles and Tears" (I have never heard it since), "In a Monastery Garden", "Selections from 'Chu Chin Chow'", "The Glow Worm" by Paul Lincke and lots of Sousa marches, (because the leader of the band himself dated from the First World War). That band in that city no longer exists. Music has changed a lot since my early days. My daughter teaches After reading the last few issues of WholeNote l felt the need (so made the time) to reflect on comments in WholeNote about the state of musicians today. Howard Cable said [in WholeNote, September, 2000] "To be a musician means adapting to new trends and tastes all the time ... and making the most of opportunities .... " This amazing man of 80 years is now working to improve school music programs. What a guy! And Sterling Beckwith, another visionary, stated in last month's issue, " ... culture is not something that you take for granted or something you use as a weapon to put other people down but something that needs to be built." We ourselves must take note of and offer solutions to the problems we face. Are our school music programs, musicians and 46 wholenote APRIL 1, 2001 - MAY 7, 2001 music in a private school (not in the Ottawa area). She has to give them scaled down versions of stuff like "The Star Wars Theme" and other trash from the movies to help them connect. But she throws in a lot of legitimate music too, and in general they like it. You have to remember that the kids she is teaching now are the children of Gen-Xers, grandchildren of BOOMERS, and attitudes and tastes have changed drastically. (She has one peculiar problem - the kids will play flutes, clarinets, trumpets and alto saxes, but WILL NOT take up the lower instruments - ergo, no tenor saxes, no trombones, no horns, no euphonium or tubas!} But the bright side is there are a lot of young people RISING TO THE CHALLENGE live concerts dying a slow death? Has music failed to touch people in everyday life? Are live performances only for the bourgeois audiences who subsidize the arts with huge donations, giving themselves great tax deductions in the process? Are the present "seniors" the last "live" audiences we have, many of whom go only to matinees for fear of youth at night? Where in our "modern" world can we as artists go? What is our future? Perhaps the solution lies in our own vision and motivation. We need to see the whole "picture" and adapt to new opportunities. The media are already doing this . TV ads use "popular" music to attract that large body of "boomers" and their few children. This is now "classic pop"! Are we able to attract this next generation of "seniors" to our live performc ances with or without their HAVE YOUR SAY WlwleNote invites reader response 011 these and a11y other topics of interest. Readers are also i11vited to participate i11 our ONLINE FORUMS ai Or send letters by mail to: The WholeNote, 60 Bellevue A venue, Toronto MST 2N4; by e-mail to: or by fax to: 416-603-3787 here in Ottawa involved in music, especially in choirs, and that includes young men. Just recently l went to a concert by the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra playing music by Morel, Bizet and Cesar Franck, and I was pleased to see a lot of teenagers in the audience. In the orchestra itself there is a significant number of students from the University of Ottawa, especially the strings. The U. of 0. has an excellent band and symphony orchestra, but that, of course, is the university level and those students and their families are paying their way! I agree with Mr. Ehrke that it is an ongoing problem and we oletimers should keep on top of it. Community music, especially the town bands, is too precious to let die. We know, don't we. Dan Leeman, Ouawa family, or are they already lost to TV, the internet or other "temptations"? What can we do? I think we need to use "middle brow" tactics to offer these people opportunities to participate and enjoy music making and endeavours that will remain with them forever. Perhaps more workshops, open rehearsals and "draws" for free tickets, lessons, etc. I'm sure we can think of creative ways to inspire the life of musicians and increase our audiences. Why not dedicate a concert to a cause and/ or offer tickets to local schools and charities? Even invite students and amateurs to perform with professionals! l challenge you to send some of your ideas to this "great idea" magazine so that we can all reap the benefits of your insight. Culture is, after all, "something that needs to be built". Our lives depend on it! If we build it, will they come? David J. King (David J. King is a musician, teacher and conductor of All the King's Voices, the EMPressions Show Choir and the Willowdale United Church Choir. Between rehearsals, concerts, tours and singing, as a soloist or with the Elmer lseler Singers, he and his wife, Averil, herself an avid amateur singer, raise two young boys.)

APRIL 1, 2001 • MAY 7, 200 ·1 wholenote 47

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