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Volume 7 Issue 1 - September 2001

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  • September
  • Toronto
  • Sept
  • Theatre
  • Arts
  • October
  • Quartet
  • Jazz
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  • Orchestra

COVER STORY, CONTINUED

COVER STORY, CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13 •:• SPECIAL FEATURE: COMPOSER TO COMPOSER and at any nme. So while the SLQ most difficult element to weave into has played Wigmore and Camegie music. Murray is in my opinion the R. MURRAY Hall, and the Paris Opera, it has also ~mposer most successful at incorporplayed school auditoriums across attng ~umour since Josef Haydn." SCHAFER Canada, the US, and even South It's the same with all the music America. A children's concert I we learn, Haydn to Schafer. Our first INTERVIEWED BY PAUL STEENHUISEN attended in a community centre gym approach is to tackle the piece's main in Ottawa, part of the 2000 Ottawa character. I know some groups work For more than 30 years, renegade Chamber Music Festival, was as the other way, getting everything in Canadian composer R. Murray engaging as those I heard at the Jane tune first, but we always try first to Sc~~er has been writing his 12-part Mallett Theatre in 1996 or at Tabaret enter the emotion .. It's an evolution. Patna cycle. Patria (meaning Hall during the 2001 Ottawa Festival. W~ don't just prepare, get it right and "homeland") traverses space, time, The SLQ at their best always go m front of an audience. Perform- ~m to me to go beyond interpreta- ance in front of an audience, to find tton to something like ownership. out what does and doesn't work, is Canadian. To me, Schafer's work Composer, Patrick Cardy, whose preparation. That's why I have aipropagates awareness of the vast Zodiac Dances the SLQ performed at ways been surprised by Glenn Gould. intellectual and natural richness of Ottawa this past summer, agrees. "I For us there are three elements-- the world, so it was with pleasure have seen them late in the rehearsal composer, musicians and audience." that I accepted the opportunity to talk with him, composer to composer. process, thinking about literally every Nowhere is the SLQ's special Our primary subject was his note; they give this energy to every- rapport with its audiences clearer than most recent Patria piece, The Palace thing they do. And they get better as in the theatrical physicality of first oft~ Ci~r Plwenix (Patria 8), they live with a piece. I was there violinist, GeoffNuttall, ranging from which will be premiered September when your photographer was. He fiery intensity to casual nonchalance 13 through 16, 2001, at Wolverton wanted something energetic, so they with "an airy, vocal freedom, exhibltplayed the Schafer Third String ing a distinct personality lacking in Hills on the Oak Ridges Moraine. A fantasy based in reality, the story of Quanet, which has been in their many better-known soloists" as Alex The Palace of the Cinnabar Plwenix repertoire for some time. It was Ross puts it. It is an ability to harness is set in China during the T'ang absolutely riveting ... internalized, a seemingly limitless technique to a Dynasty (618-907). Emperor Wei completely spontaneous and fresh." soaring musical imagination. And it Lu bemoans the disappearance of the I asked Shiffman about the helps makes possible ensemble perf- Cinnabar Phoenix, and with it, the Schafer Third. It's a particular ormances that are right on the edge. loss of peace and harmony. favourite" he said, "a masterpiece, so Music Toronto's Jennifer The Emperor and his court moving and entertaining, even after Taylor had this to say: "People are have made their annual-pilgrimage to 20 years." It was their first Schafer immediately drawn to their energy the Lake of Dragons with the hope and they tried to reach him when and ~xuberance. I would also say that the Sunken Palace and the ~earning it. "We were going to play it specifically about the Music Toronto Cinnabar Phoenix will appear once m several concerts-in Europe and audience that we have been watching again and restore harmony. really wanted his input but we just and hearing them since 1992 when didn't connect. So, off we went. " they first performed for us, so we In promotional materials for the piece, Delayed at the airport twice, it think of them as our own. I'm sure you 're quoted as saying "This is my was the day of the concert when they you've heard informally that everyone Fa/staff". What do you mean? arrived in Paris. "When we got to our calls them "the kids", and I gather It's a reference to Verdi's orily hotyl, " Shiffman recalled, "the clerk they've even got over resenting that. endu~g comic opera; The Palace of told me my uncle was waiting. Well, This is sort of home base for them the Onnabar Plwenix is lighter and my one uncle, as far as anyone knew, and we've loved seeing them gro~. more tuneful than soine of the other had no taste for Paris - Las Vegas It's fun to watch their high octane Patria pieces, possibly the Ilghtest. maybe, but not Paris." The "uncle" energy draw everybody in the H~w would you describe the piece? turned out to be Murray Schafer, who audience into the performance." Is zt opera? Music theatre? had tracked them down and flown to There won't be any Schafer I call Patria "music dramas". They be with them. "We were blown or Haydn at either of their two have a lot of dramatic elements that away, took the train together to the concerts in Toronto on Oct~ber 4. most oper~ doesn't have - spoken location, had a meal and a rehearsal. Their contemporary piece is material, and theatrical effects that He liked what we had done." Miracles in Mud, compo~ by Stanare not really part of the domain of Shiffman remembers the ford colleague, Jonathan Berger. opera. Although, there is more audience response. "It was spectacu- They will also play Tchaikovsky's continuous singing in Cinnabar than Jar to see a contempOrary piece of String Quartet # 1, from their new some of the others. Perhaps this one music so capture the imagination of CD, scheduled for release next is closer to opera, but I don't like the audience. We got calls asking us month. that term. I find it very confining. to change programs to include it." This twelfth anniversary of their If we lived in Europe and got commissions for opera from the time we Their affinity for Schafer's beginnings in Toronto opens the music continues. In summer 2000 thirtieth season for Music Toronto were 35 years old, we'd probably they prerri.iered 4:40, for string who, according to Lesley Robe~n, have written operas, but thank God quartet and orchestra, with the CBC "were unfailingly supportive" and nobody ever commissioned one, so I Vancouver Orchestra and have also whose quartet-in-residence appointdid what I wanted to do. performed other of his string quartets. ment afforded the SLQ opportunity What makes Schafer special, for significant development in their Do you feel that you 're developing a according to Shiffman, is his sense of prodigious musicianship and remark- new genre? humour. "Humour is probably the able audience rapport. 14 Wholehote SE PTEMBER 1, 2001 OcTOBER 7, 2001 ?"d knowledge in a story that despite ~ Its breadth remains uniquely ':1 Q Certairily some of the pieces are. I u ~ i:; ~ don't think this one is, I think it's more conventional, but Princess of the Stars is outside of the traditional genres, as are The Greatest Slww Ra, and The Wolf Project- they'r~ way way outside. Was it a pre-compositional decision to make this piece lighter? Yes, it.,fits the cycle. The nadir of the whole cycle is Ra (Patria 6), and Hysterium (Patria 7), which are the heaviest and the most difficult. After those I wanted to have 3 lighter pieces, almost as if through some kind of levitation you'd entered a world of fairy tales. Cinnabar is one of those, along with The Enchanted Forest and The Spirit Garden. All 3 are closer to being family pieces. So the whole cycle lws a· shape? Yes. Not as a practical performance sequence. It's not possible. Princess of the Stars occurs at 5 o'clock in the morning; Ra runs 11 hours, all night long; The Wolf Project runs 8 days. Each work is totally self-contained, · but there is a shaping in my own mind-- certain recurring themes, contexts and characters. The main theme is of a man and a woman searching for one another, after being broken apart at the very beginning. The Princess of the stars descended to earth and was wounded by Wolf. She escapes, and moves through various cultures and various societies under the earthly name Ariadne, constantly pursued by Wolf, who wants to apologize. It's orily when he does this finally, and renounces his savagery that the Princess is able to return to the stars. That's the theme that unites the two. Wolf and Ariadne reappear in the various pieces in many different guises, travelling to many parts of 'the world- A(\cient Egypt, Crete, Medieval Europe, modem metropolis, and in this case China, in order · to explore some of the philosophical ideas in that part of the world.

- As well, there are material relations between the pieces. Though musically they are quite different, there's a Pania "row" in all of them. Not all the music is based on it, but a lot of it is. It's an all-interval tone row, on which the whole of Princess of the Stars is written. In addition to exploring different pans of the world in the Patria pieces, and a different time period/ philosophical setting for each place, each work is multi-sensory - "a feast for the senses, "you called it. Yes, they all are, in one way or another. In Ra every scene uses a different incense, and each god has a different perfiune. Some of the other works, including this one, have food involved. There is a "Banquet of Celestial Harmony" in Onnabar for the court and audience. To have the audience watch while the puppets eat their food (laughs) would be unfortunate. It's not going to be a feast, but we will have something for the audience, eating their morsels synchronized with music. It's part of a much much larger idea that I've always had, that I nied to use in the . Spirit Garden, for the many courses to all correspond to pieces of music specially composed, and the program would explain the correspondence -­ flying in the face of universal muzak. And breaking down the audience/ peiformer barrier. · That's true. In all the pieces, one way or another, the audience is involved. In The Enchanted Forest, they accompany the children through the forest to protect them. In Qnnabar, there isn't a great deal, other than the banquet, oh, and the fact that every time the Emperor speaks, the a).Jdience is to stand up and bow. I don't know if they actually will, and if they don't maybe the emperor won't speak; but it's just a few linle things, to make them feel that somehow they're not just sitting slothly in their fauteuil digesting their dinner. .David Tamblyn 14 F ifth Street Torot\to .::Tsla"d O"tario Cat\ada M532B9 Tel. 416-203-0789 ••• COMPOSER TO COMPOSER CONTINUED FROM PAGE Ceremonial involvement ... ? Yes. in this case, it's fairly light, but it's definitely present In other Patria works, the involvement Is. very ceremonial and ritualistic, but in this work I'd say modestly present. A family work, you said ... I think so. First of all, it involves puppets. When I first thought of the work it felt as though this incredibly magnificent T' ang dynasty of China would need impossibly huge resources -- chariots, pagoda boats, millions of warriors, and an orchestra of 5000! So I reversed the thing, and miniaturized the characters instead -- distant, remote, dignified -- a light -hearted, ceremonial presence near the water, and there's action in the water and on the water -- dragons, and people who do tai-chi on the water. It's defmitely festive. lWzy outdoors? I like working outGoor~. I wanted a pond. With the mirtiaturization, a small pond al:)out 100 metres long. I looked around Toronto, without finding anything quiet or remote enough. Eventually I found this. Private property, about 200 acres. Is the piece site-specific? Yes. It might be able to be recreated indoors, if the lake compo- . nents.were filmed, but that wouldn't be as interesting. That might be something for after I'm gone. You live and work in a rural setting, placing many of your peiformances diredly on the land, in the trees, on or by a lake, yet a large ponion of the people who come to hear your work live in an urban environment. Is there a panicular idea you would like them to leave with? We don't have the respect for nature and the environment that is necessary if humanity is going to survive at all. Anything that incorporates natural elements into the work is important. With the "enchanted forest" after the performance people talked and talked C:.xq,.isite Bows · t-la t\dmade il'\ the Fre t\c h T .. a ditiot\ about the incredible moment when the clouds parted and the wolf howled - this could never be choreographed, but we created the opportunity for it! If you know your environment, it's likely that things will happen ... as the soothsayer says, the wind in the trees and the way the leaves are being blown will indicate how the plot is going to develop. And with Princess of the Stars, she is imprisoned in the bottom of the lake - if the princess is in the lake, you're not going to pollute it, are you? That may be what native people evei)'Where in the world had in mind, why they were such good ecologists, because the land was full of spirits, and if you damage it, you may disturb the tree gods, and the gods of the land and water. With the current rate of land development and environmental erosion in Ontario, the trees of this peiformance landscape could be replaced by condos, the water a hazard, the air unbreathable. How do you respond? More needs to be done. Artists can participate, but many don't. They certainly aren't required to, but even those that do perhaps don't understand that you have to go WITH nature. There's no point taking pictures of trees and putting then: on the intemet, you have to work With nature itself. Whether or not my outdoor works endure, as Whitby becomes the core of an expanding Toronto, I don't know. Regardless, many of the Patria works are engage, which used to mean "in a political sense", socialist. There's a message implicit in all of my outdoor pieces. There's a world out there that we're neglecting at our own peril. And it's a very beautiful world.·, Quentin Playfair ~~ 0 Details: Thursday·Sunday, September 13-16, 7:30 p.m. (sunset) on a pond at Wolverton Hills, 196 Waite Road, Pontypool, 90 minutes north-east of Toronto (north of Hwy. 351115 interchange off Hwy. 401 ), and 40 minutes west of Peterborough. Tickets: for adults, and students, available by calling (705) 876-6323 or 1· 800-814-0055. In the event of rain, an additional performance will be given Monday, September 17, Artistic team: R. Murray Schafer, Robert Oesrosiers, Chris Clifford, Oavid Powell, Jerrard Smith, Ann Powell, Oiana Smith, Alex Pauk, Billlishman, Richard van Heuvelen. Performers: Alex Pauk, Jane Archibald, Eleanor James, Eric Shaw, Gregory Dahl, Joel Katz, La Jeunesse Choir, Liu Fang, George Gao, Fujiko lmajishi, Robert Aitken, Stuart Laughton, Bob Becker, Ryan Scott, Joe Macerollo. For more information, visit www.patria.org For advance study; see: T' ang dynasty I Chinese philosophy. Don't forget, this is an outdoor performance! Chairs and bleachers are provided, or you may sit on the grass. MAKER OF VIOLINS, VIOLAS & CELLOS Toronto Canada (416) 466-1389 email qpsd@idirect.com PHILIP L. DAVIS Luthier fomrerly witll J.J. Se/wooer: FranMurt. J{est Germany A FJne Selection of Small and· Full Sized Instruments and Bows • Expert Repairs (416) 466-9619 67 Wolver1eigll Blvd .. 1bronto. 9nl. Canada. M4J 1 R6 SEPTEMBER 1, 2001 - O CTOBER 7, 2001 Wholenote 15

Volumes 21-24 (2015-2018)

Volume 24 Issue 8 - May 2019
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