I /vars Taurins !vars Taurins, the other day, and share some of his memories. I began by asking him if he had felt 20 years ago that this is the way his musical life would evolve: that he would be known pri).llarily as a choral conductor. "Depending on where I am, I'm seen in a different light," he said, "either as a vidlist, .sym- · phony conductor or choral conductor. But I'll say one thi.ng: I've always had a fascination with the voice." This fascination led him to taking on the directorship of the choir, after the orchestra had experimented with collaborations with various existing Toronto choirs in the late 1970s. "I've had to fight tooth and nail to keep the choir within an organization that couldn't quite afford one for a long time. There were many highlights in those early years: our first Dixit Dominus and especially the first Bach motet that we performed. We had a feeling that something special was happening." Recordings slowly started to materialize, including the CBC recording of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas in the early 1990s, then later recordings of the choruses from Handel's Messiah and the complete Bach Motets. "CBC's involvement has been crucial, allowing the choir and me to spread our wings and take risks." Taurins refers to many high points, concerts, recordings, guest conductors (the likes of Gustav Leonhardt, Ton Koopman and Andrew Parrott), but interestingly, enough it's the day-to-day musicmaking that moves him the deepest. "It's a humbling thing to have a chorister come up and say 'thanks for a good rehearsal. I've had a helluva day, but my spirits were lifted'. I love that. I love working on the tiny details, plugging away and enjoying the little moments of revelation that can come at the strangest times." The anniversary program includes Baroque works, as well as repertoire by Debussy, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Willan.and a brandnew piece by Canadian composer lmant Raminsh. ·:· CONCERT Nons ·:· CHORAL SCENE On a personal note, like Frank Nakashima I had the privilege to sing with the choir. My sojourn was from 1989-1995 and I have fond memories of so many aspects of the music-making with Tafehllusik. These include fabulous repertoire: Purcell's Fairy Queen and Dioclesian, Bach's Mass in B Minor, Christmas Oratorio and several cantatas, Mozart's Requiem and Mass in C Minor and many, many other fine programs, including tqe nowfamous annual Messiah performances, one of which always features Taurins' alter-ego, George Frederick Handel himself. The memories include !vars' wide frames of reference in rehearsal, from Mahalia Jackson and Harry Belafonte to Woodstock from the Peanuts comics and Lt. Furillo from Hill Street Blues ("he's intense, but quiet") to pasta machines and toiletpaper in the trees. It sounds wacky, but those images have inspired the choir over the years to make a vibrant and unique sound. So You Want To Do Something You Did In High School, Huh? •!• •!• •!• Muscles sore? Wind gone Can't play ball anymore? Remember singing? Call John Kirk at 905-707-7099 For more information on this newfound hobby In collaboration with Counterpoint Community Orchestra, ""n .~rr1.n .. , .. , . .-'; A. _.! ..·
•:• CONCERT FEATURE: NuMuFest: the Penderecki -connection by Allan Pulker The Penderecki String Quartet was founded in Poland in 1986 with the encouragement of the preeminent Polish composer, · Krzysztof Penderecki. Fifteen years later it has successfully gone through several changes in personnel and now consists of Jerzy Kaplanek, first violin, Jerem:x Bell, second violin, Christine Vlajk, viola and Paul Pulford, cello. The Quartet is in the Toronto spotlight this month because of its Nov 19 NuMuFest concert. Quartet-in-Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, the ensemble tours North and South America, Europe and Asia. Memorable recent Toronto appearances include a 1999 performance of the music of Ellen Taafe Zwillich and Jacques Hetu for SoundStreams, and an intense noonhour concert Oct 4 this year at. the Glenn Gould Studio (which is when our cover photo was taken). The Quartet was a natural choice for New Music Concerts' Nov 19 concert because of their dedication to contemp0rary music. Violist Christine Vlajk voiced this commitment in a recent interview. "We all believe in giving a voice to the composers of our time." She spoke about how playing this music demystifies it, and the challenge and pleasure of "decoding" the highly personal musical language of individual composers. . True to this deep-seated commitment, not only does the Penderecki Quartet commission and perform new music, they keep the works they have performed in their repertoire and they record them. . About half of the fourteen CD's ljsted in their discography are by - contemporary· Canadian composers - Glenn Buhr, Omar Daniel, Harry Freedman, Srul Irving Glick and s.tn \,. f!: ..• \. 14 Fifth St..eet To.-o"to Jsla"d o .. tal'io Ca .. ada M532B9 Tel. 416-203-0789 Randolph Peters. They have also recorded several CDs by major 20th Century composers, such as Shostakovich, Britten, Schnittke and, of course, Penderecki. A key work on their Nov 19 program will be the world premiere of Ceremonial Dances for string quartet and piano by Toronto composer (and TSO clarinetist), Raymond Luedeke. , "It is very nice working with them" he said, "because they are so dedicated and absolutely want to get it right.. .. When it wasn't obvious how to do something they kept at it until they found a way. They are absolutely dedicated to finding out what the music has to say and they want to say it." Lawrence' Cherney, artistic director of SoundStreams praises their willingness to take risks with . works and composers not well known, and generally to tackle the new. "They have never said no to me," he said, "and for that they deserve a lot of credit! It is wonderful to know there is a quartet out there that you can count on to tty something no one has · ever done before." (Another work on their Nov program is Croissant by Canadian composer, Gilles Tremblay, whose choral work, vepres de la Vierge will be performed the night before by the Elmer Iseler Singers and the Ars Nova Choir from Denmark, in SoundStreams' contribution to NuMuFest. Bearing the name of a living composer is a strong contemporary mandate, but the Penderecki are also exceptionally well grounded in the music of the past. Christine Vlajk's comments on the music of Bela Bart6k, for example, revealed something about this when she spoke about observing the way he gives integrity to a composition by taking a single interval from 6.xq .... isite Bows t-fa.,dmade ;., the F,.e.,ch Tl'aditio" 0 thematic material and using it to build new thematic ip.aterial later in the work. "He is the composer who has deepened my understanding of music the most." Brahms is another composer whose work has touched the quartet deeply, she said, with his almost orchestral approach to the string quartet, "the grand themes with their intense "motoric" accompanying figures and the multi-voiced harmonies demanding double and triple stopping." The breadth of their repertoire also infoffi\S the design of their concert programs. One reviewer wrote, "How do you get from Mozart to Beethoven? If you're the Penderecki String Quartet, through Shostakovich.'. .. Pairing the Mozart and Shostakovich works was a stroke of brilliance .... " Vlajk compares it to planning a meal - the magic of juxtaposing the more with the less familiar is that it can help people to be more open to the new. In mid December the Quartet commences its latest recording project, the six string quartets by Bela Bart6k: This project has been facilitaJed by a donation of CDN ,000 given by three donors from California's Napa Valley, where the Quartet has been giving concerts for the past ten years for Chamber Music in Napa Valley. This concert association has enjoyed a unique partnership with the California-based Anderson Vineyard. An electrifying candle light performance last spring of Bart6k~s music in an underground champagne-aging cellar owned by Anderson precipitated the generous support. The Quartet tours again in March and April, ending in Toronto with a performance for Music Toronto at the Jane Mallett Theatre on April 11. Premiere The music of Penderecki will be as prominent as his name at NuMuFest. Nov 23 the Esprit Orchestra with Simon Fryer, Roman Borys and Paul Widner present the North American premiere of his Conceno Grosso for 3 Solo Cellos. In summer 2000 in Banff; Simon Fryer was atterding the wedding of fellow cellist Shauna Rolston. Penderecki was there to conduct a performance of his Credo, and Fryer, who had recorded the composer's Capriccio, spoke to him, asking what he was working on. Penderecki told Fryer about his ·concerto grosso. Fryer suggested a Toronto performance and Peuderecki had his publisher, Schott, send the score. Fryer approached Esprit's Alex Pauk about performing the work. Pauk was enthusiastic; Roman Borys, who had worked with Penderecki at Banff, and Paul Widner, who is known for his expertise with contemporary music were invited to join the project and the rest, as they say, is history. Cellist Fryer is enthusiastic about the work: "The piece is wonderful. His [Penderecki's] language has changed. It' is much more har- . monious, and he has made the most of the darkness of the sound of three cellos." It is also a substantial work, about 25 minutes long. There are some interesting coincidences surrounding this performance. Han-Na Chang, who was in Toronto in mid October to perform with the TSO was one of the soloists in the work's world premiere in Tokyo last June. This meant that Fryer and his two colleagues were able to talk to her about it and to get some very timely help, including the correction of several tempos that had been incorrectly indicated on the score they were using. It is also interesting that November 23, the date of the concert, is Pendereeki' s birthday. PHILIP L. DAVIS Luthier formerly wiU1 J.J. Schroder: Frankfurt. Uest Germany A Fine Selection of Small and Full Sired Instruments and Bows • Expert Repairs (416)466-9619 67 UtJ/verleigh Bl1'