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

Tonight: It's a marriage of older and newer, local and international as Soundstreams turns 30

By John Terauds on October 11, 2012

Toronto soprano Shanon Mercer (shown here in Queen of Puddings’ Beckett! Feck It!) shows off her flair with new music tonight at Koerner Hall (John Lauener photo).

Soundstreams turns 30 tonight with a musical bash at Koerner Hall that promises to showcase what the music presenter does best, highlighting Canadian talents as equals to the world’s.

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

Toronto soprano Shannon Mercer is the vocal star in a musical cast full of appeal, including percussion master Ryan Scott, the Gryphon Trio, Nexus, flutist Julie Ranti, the Virtuoso String Orchestra (a high-powered group that includes many members drawn from Toronto’s best professional orchestras, whose concertmaster is the busy Benjamin Bowman) and David Fallis’s new-music-focused Choir 21.

The evening’s conductors are Fallis and Joaquin Valdepeñas, best known as the Toronto Symphony’s principal clarinet.

The musical celebrations spill out into the lobby, with the world premiere of Omar Daniel’s Prologue, Entr’act and Postlude to grab the attention of people who would otherwise be catching up on each other’s gossip and adventures.

The main programme blends older favourites with new compositions.

The oldest, Steve Reich’s Clapping Music (a duet for four hands) predates Soundstreams by 10 years (Nexus will also perform a newer piece by Reich, Mallet Quartet, from 2009).

The string viruosi, augmented by the Gryphons, take on three movements from Canadian composer Paul Frehner’s Berliner Konzert, a 2009 response to the 20th anniversary of the reunification of Germany.

The biggest international name on the programme is Estonian Arvo Pärt, whose 12-year-old Orient & Occident is tackled by the Virtuoso String Orchestra (the East-meets-West theme comes from the text of a creed shared by both Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches).

The party on stage is capped by something from R. Murray Schafer: The Love that Moves the Universe, a musical setting of portions of the Paradise canticle from Dante’s Divine Comedy — with the singers and instrumentalists appropriately arranged in a circle.

Two young composers get world premieres with the help of Mercer, the Virtuoso strings and Ryan Scott: Analia Llugdar’s Sentir de cacerolas (The Sound of Pots), a piece inspired by the kitchen-pot marches in Buenos Aires 10 years ago, which had clangorous echoes in the streets of Montreal last year during the student protests; and The Mountain Spirit, by Fuhong Shi.

Fuhong Shi

Shi studied composition at University of Toronto, making many friends in the new music community — links that continue to bring her creations to our part of the world despite the fact that she is now in her third year as a composition professor (and coordinator of the first international composition workshops in China) at the Central Conservatory in Beijing.

Shi says her music is evolving into a more tonal idiom that integrates more of the traditional sounds of China.

“The vocal part in this piece is inspired by Chinese opera music in both the vocal part and the accompaniment,” she explains. This creates a juxtaposition of a fast-moving, highly rhythmical accompaniment over a long, slow melody, she says.

The main image in the new piece comes from a young girl. “The accompaniment follows her quick footsteps to create the mood,” Shi explains.

“All my pieces are related to the I Ching, the universe and nature. The human mind and spirit are there, too,” explains the composer. “Now, I’m focused very much on the innermost self,” thanks to her own personal emotional evolution, she says.

“I am the Mountain Spirit,” she says of the pure and simple young girl suffering from unrequited love in an old Chinese poem by Yuan Qu that inspired this piece. It is a poem that has been set to music many times before, including in popular music.

“My writing is more like drama, it is a monologue of the Mountain Spirit,” Shi adds.

Mercer has carved out an interesting career that includes a lot of work at both ends of the Western spectrum: Early and Baroque music and new music.

She says this isn’t as unusual as it may sound. “There’s often a facility, versatility and flexibility that comes with singing Early and Baroque music that you can apply to new music,” the soprano explains.

“You have to have a strong technique and confidence,” Mercer says. “Good composers know how to write for the voice.”

Tonight’s concert is but one stop in a busy new-music month for Mercer, who leaves this weekend for a European tour of Svadba/Wedding with Queen of Puddings Music Theatre that includes stops in Dublin, Paris and Belgrade.

For all the details on tonight’s programme, click here.

Even better than a hand of applause is a sample of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music, from a University of Texas at Austin recital:

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

SCRUTINY | Bravissimo Bids An Operatic Fond Farewell To 2017

By Joseph So on January 2, 2018

What’s that famous Christmas song lyrics that goes something like “The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful…”? If you substitute fire with opera, it pretty much sums up the scenario last evening at Roy Thomson Hall, with Bravissimo! Opera’s Greatest Hits bidding a fond farewell to 2017.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

SCRUTINY | Salute to Vienna A Musical Welcome To 2018

By Joseph So on January 3, 2018

Toronto's Salute to Vienna tradition endures with popular opera/operetta arias, elegant waltzes and rousing polkas, elegant classical ballet, swanky ballroom dancing, and as many corny jokes from the maestro as one can bear. What’s not to love?
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

SCRUTINY | Mozart In The Middle Of Winter Never Fails

By Arthur Kaptainis on January 11, 2018

One of the good things about January in the GTA is the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s annual Mozart festival. It got off to a spirited start Wednesday in Roy Thomson Hall under the direction of our winter Mozart-meister, Bernard Labadie.
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.