THE SCOOP | Toronto Celebrates Glenn Gould In Honour Of His 90th Birthday

By Anya Wassenberg on August 30, 2022

Glenn Gould
Glenn Gould

Iconic Canadian pianist Glenn Gould would have celebrated 90 years of age on September 25, 2022. While the noted classical musician, composer, conductor and broadcaster left the earthly plane nearly four decades ago, a series of free events presented by the Glenn Gould Foundation will showcase his work and contributions to the world of music.

Glenn Gould was known as a singular personality as well as talent, often called eccentric, and a musical genius by most standards. His 1955 recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations is said to be the bestselling classical solo album of all time, and has been added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, and his recording of the first Prelude from Book I of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier was launched with the Voyager 1 Space probe in 1977.

He was also a tech pioneer who quit his performing career in 1964 to pursue using technology to perfect and record — something that was virtually unheard of at the time.

Here’s a look at how you can get in on GlennGould@90 in Toronto.

  • Glenn Gould Street Tribute! September 17 | The Glenn Gould School’s 2021-22 Quartet-in-Residence, The Dior String Quartet, Noa Sarid (violin), Tobias Elser (violin), Caleb Georges (viola), and Joanne Yesol Choi (cello), will perform 5 pop-up concerts of Gould’s favourite pieces in various downtown locations.

Day of Gould Celebrations

The following events take place September 24 at the Isabel Bader Theatre.

  • Film Screening & Panel Discussion 11:00 a.m. — The Russian Journey, a documentary by director Yosif Feyginberg about then 24-year-old Glenn Gould’s 1957 concerts in Moscow and Leningard, featuring Mstislav Rostropovich, and Vladimir Ashkenazy. A panel discussion on global cultural diplomacy follows the film.
  • Concert 1:30 p.m. — The World Premier of The Lord of Toronto, His Pavin, a piece specially commissioned for cello and piano, and dedicated to Glenn Gould by Canadian composer and cellist Daniel Hass. Daniel Hass and pianist Kevin Ahfat will also perform Bach’s Sonata in G-minor for Cello and Keyboard, BWV 1029.
  • Artificial Intelligence Demo 2:45 p.m. — Developed by Yamaha Japan, Dear Glenn is an AI deep-learning technology that, having analyzed Gould’s style, can deliver a performance in virtually any repertoire, even those Gould never performed in his lifetime. A Canadian premiere.
  • Panel Discussion: The Implications of Artificial Intelligence for the Future of Music and Human Creativity 3:15 p.m. — Edward Jones-Imhotep, Director of the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, and Akira Maezawa PhD (Informatics), Yamaha researcher in music information retrieval and statistical audio signal processing, among others, discuss the implications.
  • Presentation: Glenn Gould’s Technology Legacy…Classical Music Meets TikTok 3:45 p.m. — Popular TikTok cellist and performer Andrew Ascenzo demonstrates how classical music can be a part of the TikTok universe.
  • Film Screening The Goldberg Variations 4:30 p.m. — A screening of the 1981 film by Bruno Monsaingeon about Gould’s re-recording of the Goldberg Variations. Introduced by Pulitzer-Prize winning critic Tim Page.
  • Concert: Leila Josefowicz 7:30 p.m. — The Canadian-American violinist, known for championing new work, plays Matthias Pintscher’s La Linea Evocativa: A Drawing for Violin Solo and Bach’s Partita for Violin Solo No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004.

Announcement of the 14th Glenn Gould Prize Laureate

The announcement takes place Sunday, September 25 at noon, on what would have been Gould’s birthday. In celebration, the 17-year-old violinist, pianist and conductor Alma Deutscher conducts The Glenn Gould Festival Orchestra in a concert of her own music. The concert is free, but tickets should be reserved in advance.

GlennGould@90 at TIFF Cinematheque

On September 27, in partnership with the Toronto International Film Festival, there will be series of film screenings and more.

  • Glenn Gould NFB Film Shorts screenings at 12:00 PM (free) | Glenn Gould – On the Record (1959), directed by Wolf Koenig and Roman Kroitor; Glenn Gould – Off the Record (1959), directed by Wolf Koenig and Roman Kroitor; and Spheres (1969), an animated short by Norman McLaren and René Jodoin set to the music of Bach performed by Glenn Gould.
  • Slaughterhouse-Five (1972) at 3:45 p.m. | Glenn Gould’s first film score to the anti-war film based on Kurt Vonnegut’s book of the same name.
  • Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould (1993) 6:30 p.m. | Directed by Francois Girard and starring Colm Feore as Gould. The event begins with a live piano performance and includes a post-screening Q&A with Francois Girard.

Tickets to all film screenings can be reserved in advance here.

Full program details here.

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