DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Opera Airline Icarus a metaphor for our love of thrills and fear of the unknown

By John Terauds on April 16, 2012

Last year's Italian premiere of Brian Current's Airline Icarus.

No part of human culture is an island, which is why there’s such a close link between our era’s unshakeable faith in scientific progress and technological innovation.

It’s no surprise that today’s composers feel similarly compelled towards the new, the unexplored, the unusual.

In his recently published memoir, Unheard Of, Toronto composer John Beckwith mentions at least a half-dizen time how he tried to not repeat himself in a new work. It’s a mantra for most contemporary composers.

It’s also something I’ve heard many times from the musicians devoted to commissioning and performing new music.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds

But there are two prices to pay for this fetish for the new, I think: Superficiality on the part of the coposer, and alienation on the part of a potential audience.

To prove that point, I’d like to point to two of the most widely embraced of today’s composers, both basking in a bright and creative autumn: Arvo Pärt and John Cage. They were great innovators in their youth, then settled down in middle age to work over their favourite compositional ingredients over and over again.

It has given them an opportunity to realise how much musical variety can be gleaned from very few notes, and it has given their audiences an opportunity to catch up with, and learn to appreciate, their aesthetic.

This, of course, is anathema to anyone looking for the thrill of teetering on the bungee-cord precipice of the leading edge. Art is meant to shake up, to provoke, to open previously unknown paths.

We are, as a culture, obsessed with the new, but it takes on the shallowest scratch on the surface to discover that what we all seek is comfort and continuity — flowers, sunsets, barbequed ribs, cheesecake and a bit of Mozart.

So what does a composer do? Either give in and write film scores, or concert pieces at which serious critics will turn up their noses or bravely go where their instincts and sense of adventure lead them. It’s a crazy tightrope that, most days, is actually quite thrilling to walk.

All of this turmoil an turbulence is, interestingly enough, contained in Toronto composer Brian Current and librettist Anton Piatigorsky’s opera, Airline Icarus — our collective love and fear of flying captured in music.

Here it is, introduced by Current, then presented in an Itlian performance over three video clips:

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

THE SCOOP | Alexander Neef Extends Contract With COC And Posts Modest Surplus

By Michael Vincent on October 17, 2017

The COC extends contract for General Director Alexander Neef through 2025/26 and posts a modest $11,000 surplus.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

Q&A | 24 Questions For James Rolfe

By Ludwig Van on October 16, 2017

Renowned Canadian composer James Rolfe sits down with Ludwig Van for a Q&A pondering life, music, and happiness.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

THE SCOOP | Massey Hall Unveils Phase II Of Renovation Plans With Two New Concert Spaces

By Michael Vincent on October 19, 2017

The Corporation of Massey Hall & Roy Thomson Hall has release details today on Phase II of the massive revitalization project aimed at bringing Massey Hall into the 21st century.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.