For over twenty years, every Thursday at noon during the school year (with exception of four dates, when the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto takes over), people gather from the community— in and outside of the faculty, right down to the lower basement. Through the grey doors, they grab a program and greet one another, with quiet curiosity and excitement.
The TNS has always been a free series, and it draws from the entire faculty for variety and diversity. It is a vehicle, an opportunity, to invite the community in, no strings attached. In emergency cancellations, the faculty makes its best effort to present a substitute to continue its commitment to its loyal audience. In fact, no one can remember a dropped TNS in last ten years.
In its yearly cycle, the TNS includes two concerts featuring the upcoming opera productions (this year, it’s Don G, and Gershwin’s Of Thee I Sing), two programs showcasing the best student chamber ensembles, a feature recital for the Jim and Charlotte Norcop Prize in Song & Gwendolyn Williams Koldofsky Prize in Accompanying, one recital by the winner of the DMA Recital Competition, and a New Music Festival Presentation. The rest is a mixed bag, chosen by the Concert Committee and they certainly do keep things interesting!
But what about Tuesdays? Tuesdays are for (wait for it): the Voice Performance Class series! It began in 1994, with the arrival of Prof. Lorna MacDonald. The Voice Department has always had an excellent reputation, and students wanted to perform — as much as they could. The clever professor found out that noontime on Tuesdays was reserved for meetings, and therefore no classes were scheduled aha, Walter Hall is free! Prof. MacDonald reserved the slot and began a series of presentations where students can sign up to perform, with the blessing of their teachers.
After the birth of Tuesday Voice Performance Class, the department further evolved to present additional performances to the public, including Vocalis: Graduate Singers Series. Now in its third year, Prof. Wendy Nielsen decided to push Vocalis a bit further out. This year, the concerts are curated by sessional faculty members, and they are paired up with external departments: Italian, French and German, and beyond. This project delves deeper into the poetry of the songs, and with the generous support of Diane Henderson, Vocalis is presented in outside venues, for a nice change of pace.
Classical fans may remember that YouTube clip of Joshua Bell playing in the subway in Washington, D.C., for free. It may feel somewhat weird to encounter excellence without a dent in the pocket. But hey, this is Toronto, and it does happen. Faculty of Music created open doors through these lovely offerings — and there is still so much more going on. Compared to the price of a movie night, it is certainly a great bang for the buck to check out a concert @ the Faculty of Music.
The Faculty of Music welcomes Torontonians and guests to check out the events calendar online, which is frequently updated, and Notes 2017-2018: Season of Events, is available as a PDF; free events and other ticket-related information are summarized on p. 24-29.