Ludwig Van Toronto's Daily Arts & Culture News

FILTER NEWS BY

REPORT | Open Letter From Indigenous Classical Music Gathering Calls For Change

Violin by Ri Butov (CC0C/Pixabay)
Violin by Ri Butov (CC0C/Pixabay)

The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is currently hosting the third iteration of the Canadian Indigenous Classical Music Gathering (ICMG), led by faculty members Cris Derksen and Eliot Britton.

The first ICMG in 2019 gave rise to Indigenous Musical Sovereignty, a statement that takes ownership of Indigenous art — as opposed to “Indigenous-inspired” art by others. “We seek an end to those musical works by outsiders that shock audiences and re-traumatize our most painful experiences,” it reads. “To non-Indigenous composers who seek to tell “Indigenous-inspired” works: be honest with yourself and ask why you feel compelled to tell this story and whether you are the right person to do so.”

The statement came after several high profile cases of artists claiming dubious Indigenous ancestry in Canada.

Based on the proceeding of the last ICMG, held in December 2021, an Open Letter was published on social media on August 9. Signed by the attendees, Andrew Balfour (Cree), Cris Derksen (Cree-Mennonite), Jeremy Dutcher (Wolastoq), Michelle Lafferty (Tłı̨chǫ Dene), Beverley McKiver (Anishinaabe), Melody McKiver (Anishinaabe-Lithuanian-Scottish), Jessica McMann (Cree), and Sonny-Ray Day Rider (Blackfoot) the document calls for changes that will create more room in the classical music world for Indigenous artists, and a better future for Indigenous young people, in particular.

There were several areas of concern that the writers of the letter discuss.

  • Collaborations: Collaborators are valued, but must understand that working on Indigenous-funded projects means leaving key decisions and credit in the hands of Indigenous artists.
  • Appropriations: Indigenous stories are best told by Indigenous artists.

Several of the issues the letter points out, while seen through the lens of an Indigenous identity, are also applicable to many others on a broader basis. Essentially, they look to break down the very real barriers that prevent participation in the world of classical music.

  • Disability and Mental Health Issues: Recognition of the generational toll of the residential schools and systemic oppression when dealing with Indigenous stories and artists.
  • Ageism: The reality is that many Indigenous artists begin their careers well into adulthood, and not as a result of a system of education that begins childhood, which adversely affects their career trajectories.
  • Classism: Expensive private lessons, not accessible to most people, are still the gateway to a career in classical music, not to mention the cost of instruments.
  • Racism: The music community should reflect the community we all live in.
  • Homophobia, transphobia and sexism: Recognition of the persistence of stereotypical expectations based on gender and colonialism.
  • Location: There should be as much opportunity for kids in Tuktoyaktuk as there is in Toronto.

The open letter can be read in full here.

#LUDWIGVAN

Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE.

THE SCOOP | TD Music Connected Play The Parks Concert Series Expands To 13 Cities

A man playing violin outdoors
Public domain image

Play The Parks comes back to Toronto’s outdoor spaces starting today, August 15, continuing until September 30. The annual series has been produced by the Toronto Downtown Yonge BIA community for about a decade.

This year, Play The Parks, a free music and concert series that showcases local artists, has expanded to 13 cities across Canada. Presented by TD Music Connects and Canada’s Music Incubator (CMI), the free concert series will feature more than 100 diverse from Black, Indigenous, Chinese, South Asian and 2SLGBTQ+ communities. Canada’s Music Incubator (CMI) is a Toronto-based national not-for-profit organization providing mentorship and other professional development services to emerging music entrepreneurs.

“Curating live sponsored performance opportunities for emerging artists is an extension of CMI’s professional development mandate to help them develop sustainable businesses,” says Jesse Mitchell, Director of CMI Live in a release. “The TD Music Connected Series’ national expansion of Play The Parks not only helps to accomplish this, but also works to bring many communities together while showcasing cultural and musical diversity.”

The new cities in the Play The Parks program this year include: Victoria, BC; Vancouver, BC; Surrey, BC; New Westminster, BC; Edmonton, AB; Calgary, AB; Winnipeg, MB; London, ON; Brantford, ON; Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON; Barrie, ON; Sydney, NS; and St. John’s, NL.

During the pandemic, Play The Parks ran as a virtual event in Calgary as a collaboration between Calgary Parks, the National Music Centre, the CMI, and TD Music Connected Series. Six artists pre-recorded performances from parks across Calgary.

The concerts will take place across dozens of parks throughout the municipalities. The line-up includes:

  • Cynthia Hamar, Métis singer-songwriter with four folk studio albums;
  • Chad Price, 2022 CBC Music Searchlight Grand Prize Winner;
  • Jing Xia, professional guzheng artist, teacher and scholar;
  • Ellen Farrugia and the Surrey City Orchestra String Trio.

For the complete line-up of cities, parks and artists for the 2022 Play The Parks live program, visit the website here. Toronto concerts are listed here.

#LUDWIGVAN

Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE.

THE SCOOP | Royal Canadian Mint Honours Pianist Oscar Peterson

L-R: Phyllis Clark, Chair of the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) Board of Directors, Marie Lemay, RCM President and CEO, The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Kelly Peterson, Céline Peterson and Norman Peterson unveil a commemorative $1 circulation coin honoring Oscar Peterson at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, ON (August 11, 2022). (Photo courtesy of the RCM)
L-R: Phyllis Clark, Chair of the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) Board of Directors, Marie Lemay, RCM President and CEO, The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Kelly Peterson, Céline Peterson and Norman Peterson unveil a commemorative $1 circulation coin honouring Oscar Peterson at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, ON (August 11, 2022). (Photo courtesy of the RCM)

The Royal Canadian Mint has honoured late Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson’s memory with a commemorative circulation coin that was unveiled in Toronto on August 11.

“The Mint is passionate about celebrating stories of exceptional Canadians on its coins, and I am delighted that Oscar Peterson, the first Canadian musician to appear on a circulation coin, is being celebrated as one of the world’s most respected and influential jazz artists of all time,” said Marie Lemay, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint in a release. “Mr. Peterson’s music and legendary performances have brought joy to millions of music lovers in Canada and around the world, and we are proud to honour him, through this coin, for his exceptional contributions to Canadian music and culture.”

The coin was designed by Ajax, Ontario artist Valentine De Landro. De Landro is an illustrator, designer and noted comic book artist. He depicts Peterson playing the piano with those famous hands, with the two closing bars of his Hymn to Freedom flowing from them.

Peterson began with classical music on the piano growing up in Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighbourhood, first learning from his father and sister Daisy. He went on to a storied career as an acclaimed jazz pianist, leaving a legacy of over 400 recordings, eight Grammy Award wins, a Juno for Best Jazz Album, and a place in Canada’s Music Hall of Fame. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. Peterson died in 2007 at the age of 82.

The honour follows the release of the documentary film Oscar Peterson: Black + White last year.

“Throughout Oscar’s career, he received many awards and honours, each of which meant a great deal to him. During the nearly fifteen years since his passing, there have been more. All of them humbling. All of them a source of pride. The addition of this commemorative circulation coin bearing his likeness is something neither he nor I could ever have imagined,” said Kelly Peterson. “Knowing that Canadians now, and for generations to come, will hold this coin and be reminded of Oscar Peterson or be inspired to learn about him for the first time evokes emotions challenging to describe. I am deeply, profoundly honoured. Oscar was a great pianist and composer. He was a staunch advocate for human rights. Above all, he was always a proud Canadian. As his music is timeless, so too now will he be a part of the Canadian consciousness forever.”

The Oscar Peterson coin has a limited mintage of 3 million coins, and 2 million will also feature a purple accent — purple was his favourite colour.

You can wait to receive one as change eventually, or order it from the RCM online here.

#LUDWIGVAN

Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE.

LEBRECHT LISTENS | John Adams Rattles And Rolls Like New Music

Composer John Adams (Photo: Vern Evans)
Composer John Adams (Photo: Vern Evans)

John Adams (Alpha)

★★★★☆

🎧  Amazon | Apple Music

When did John Adams become John Adams? Around 1995, according to his own narrative, when he broke with repetitive minimalism and found a more variegated expression. The turning point was an orchestral work called Slonimsky’s Earbox, written soon after the contentious opera The Death of Klinghoffer, and paying homage to one of the quirkiest characters ever seen in a concert hall.

Nicolas Slonimsky was a Russian-Jewish polymath who made himself useful to Serge Koussevitsky and Leonard Bernstein by re-barring complex scores that they could not beat unaided. The Rite of Spring, on their recordings, is taken from Slonimsky’s score. Among other talents, he could play a Chopin nocturne by rolling a citrus fruit up and down the black keys. Old Nick — he died in 1995 at the age of 101 — was a one-off, an endless source of fun. His friends (I was one) find it touching that Adams chose to name a piece in his memory.

How original is the work? Transitioning out of minimalism, Adams relies rather heavily on Stravinsky. Both the Rite and Le Chant du Rossignol pump iron in this score, but no matter. It rattles and rolls like new music, and Paavo Järvi and the Zurich Tonhalle play it with infectious enthusiasm.

The other main piece on this fairly short album is also a tribute: My Father Knew Charles Ives. Adams has described it as, “a Proustian madeleine with a Yankee flavour”. Psychoanalytic is the word he was looking for. This hypnotic piece is a WASP American’s search for connections with the nation’s cultural founders. If Adams met Ives, both would feel instant affinity. And, those off-key New England marching bands he quotes are forgivably authentic, even in a Swiss rollout. I like this piece more than almost anything else Adams has written for orchestra.

To read more from Norman Lebrecht, subscribe to Slippedisc.com.

#LUDWIGVAN

Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE.

SCRUTINY | Production Values Lift Gould’s Wall Above The Ordinary

L-R (clockwise): Roger Honeywell; Lauren Pearl; Conductor Jennifer Tung & musicians (Photo: Dahlia Katz)
L-R (clockwise): Roger Honeywell; Lauren Pearl; Conductor Jennifer Tung & musicians (Photo: Dahlia Katz)

Tapestry Opera: Gould’s Wall. Composed by Brian Current; Libretto by Liza Balkan; Directed by Philip Akin. Aug. 4 – 12, 2022, 8:30 p.m. Royal Conservatory of Music Atrium. Tickets here.

Many are the chances taken and boundaries breached these days in the name of opera. Tapestry, a Toronto company that treats innovation as its stock-in-trade, has combined something like psychoanalysis with rock climbing in Gould’s Wall, which is nearing the end of its run in the Atrium of the Royal Conservatory of Music. A divertissement for the eye if not the ear, the piece will surely be remembered as a hit, though not for what an opera traditionalist would regard as the right reasons.

The subject is Glenn Gould, played with surprising visual verisimilitude by the tenor Roger Honeywell. With a cap, rumpled trench coat and open-fingered gloves, he is a constant if relatively static presence on stage, sometimes standing, sometimes seated in his famous folding chair. The natural invitation is to regard the strictly nonlinear libretto of Liza Balkan as a stream of consciousness and the vast sandstone west facade of the old RCM building as a metaphor for the mind of the pianist (who remains, of course, the most famous alumnus of the institution).

Various characters sing from the windows and balconies of that wall, at the behest of director Philip Akin, but the central figure is Louise, an aspiring pianist who invokes Gould’s spirit and becomes something like his alter ego, joining the pianist in the opening minutes in an adversarial exchange with The Teacher, and later engaging Gould on subjects as relevant as audience applause and as trivial as the menu at Fran’s restaurant.

The main exploit of Louise, however, as played by aerialist-soprano Lauren Pearl, was to climb the wall and swing from window to ledge to window, singing all the while. With a harness and safety cord, of course, but in a manner that looked positively death-defying, and was often uncomfortable to watch. The purpose was to create another metaphor, for struggle and achievement. The effect as experienced from a balcony level seat was anything but abstract.

The Canadian cast projected sturdily, though with amplification, the high-altitude Atrium (in effect, the space between Koerner Hall and the original Conservatory building) not having been designed with acoustics in mind. Baritone Justin Welsh as The Teacher and mezzo-soprano Andrea Ludwig as Gould’s unduly solicitous mother (“be careful of germs”) made strong impressions.

Lauren Pearl, Roger Honeywell and Jennifer Tung in 'Gould's Wall' (Photo: Dahlia Katz)
Lauren Pearl, Roger Honeywell and Jennifer Tung in ‘Gould’s Wall’ (Photo: Dahlia Katz)

But, this was no night of bel canto, composer (and conductor) Brian Current preferring a declamatory style. Much of his turbulent instrumental music (for five pianos and an ensemble of 13 on the lower level) was made of restlessly climbing scales that evoked the hallway hubbub of the Conservatory, but seemed only fitfully connected to the elements of pathos in the text. Credit Current with not succumbing to the temptation of using the Goldberg Variations or other bits of Gouldiana as easy soundtrack material. Yet, it was surprising not to hear any traces in the score of the music the pianist loved so well.

As for the text, there were a few references to well-known events in Gould’s life. “The Brahms was a fiasco,” say some mean-spirited onlookers, obviously talking about the infamous 1962 performance with Leonard Bernstein of this composer’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Other scenes seemed to be imaginary, such as the encounter with another young piano student (The Girl, played affectingly by Alice Malakhov) who seeks Gould’s advice [see note below].

Balkan and Current manage a tone of apotheosis in this final scene, but for much of its 55 minutes the opera portrays the title character as fragile, indecisive and beset by cares. This does not correspond to the brilliance and defiant spirit of Canada’s favourite musical son or, it must be said, to the profile of a major character in any opera with a serious claim to repertoire status.

A mixed evening, then, especially for opera fans, but a theatrical undertaking worthy of Tapestry in its audacity and technical panache. Possibly this is all Gould’s Wall needed to be. The spectators on Wednesday evening, including many who bought standing room, certainly expressed approval.

It should be noted that Maniac Star, the RCM, Toronto Summer Music and the Glenn Gould School (where Current is director of the New Music Ensemble) all got credit as production collaborators.

The last performance of Gould’s Wall is on Friday.

UPDATE — Liza Balkan writes: “The penultimate scene in the piece involving the young girl is in fact not fictional. This encounter was discovered in The Great Gould, by Peter Goddard, published in 2017. I was fortunate enough to have had a conversation with the late Mr. Goddard, wherein we chatted about this young girl — now an older woman — and he gave me his blessing to use the story in our operatic meditation. As a very young girl, she did in fact call Gould on the phone  requesting his help with a piece of music. He did agree. I took a small amount of artistic licence. One example: it wasn’t Mozart that she had ‘issues’ with, but rather, Beethoven!”

#LUDWIGVAN

Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE.

THE SCOOP | The DORA Awards Return In Person To Celebrate Toronto’s Performing Arts In September 2022

Dora Mavor Moore Award

The 42nd Annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards ceremony will be held in person at the legendary Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre (EWGTC) in Toronto on September 19. The announcement was made by TAPAS, the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts.

The Dora Awards celebrate Toronto’s rich theatre, dance and opera scene with 46 award categories across 7 distinct divisions.

“The 42nd Annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards celebration is a big moment for all of us in the performing arts community in Toronto,” said Jacoba Knaapen, Dora Awards Producer and TAPA Executive Director in a statement to media. “TAPA enthusiastically welcomes a return to in-person on-stage award presentations for the first time since 2019. We can’t wait to take the stage again on September 19th to celebrate, inspire and entertain.”

More than a statue…

This year, the award will include not only the iconic statue, but a $1,000 cash prize for each individually-named recipient. The money is coming from The Pat and Tony Adams Freedom Fund for the Arts. The Fund was set up by a couple who were fans of the performing arts, with the monies set aside to support various artists and their projects.

“The Pat and Tony Adams Freedom Fund has made an extraordinary financial donation of $35,000 to be allocated across all Dora Divisions in the Dora categories that recognize an individual. I am moved by this act of generosity, and the Board of Directors is deeply grateful for this gift that will impact 35 individuals,” said Chris Goddard, P.A.I.S. (Performing Arts Information Services) Board President.

“Toronto has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to theatrical talent, and the pandemic continues to pose unique challenges for those who work in live performance. This year, we are thrilled the fund is able to do more to support individual artists at the Dora Awards,” said Shari Hollett, administrator of the Fund.

Dora Mavor Moore (Images courtesy TAPAS)
Dora Mavor Moore (Images courtesy TAPAS)

About the Dora Mavor Moore Awards

The Doras are named for Dora Mavor Moore (1888-1979), a woman who played a pivotal role in establishing Canadian professional theatre in the early 20th century. The Dora Mavor Moore Awards were founded on December 13, 1978.

The Doras are Canada’s largest and oldest arts awards program, and are granted on a gender inclusive basis. The general divisions consist of: General Theatre, Independent Theatre, Musical Theatre, Dance, Opera, Theatre for Young Audiences and Touring.

  • On September 19, the live celebration will start at 7:30 p.m., with live updates on the Dora Twitter account.
  • The After-Party celebration will commence directly after the awards ceremony in the one-of-a-kind Cascading Lobbies of the Elgin Winter Garden.
  • The awards show creative team includes Emmy, Gemini and Dora-nominated writer Diane Flacks, theatre director, actor and writer Ed Roy (to direct), and multi-award-winning lighting and production designer Andrea Lundy.

Tickets to The 42nd Annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards will go on sale starting on Monday, August 29 at 11:00 a.m., right after the live press conference announcement. Tickets will be available at ticketmaster.ca or at The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre box office.

#LUDWIGVAN

Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE.

FEATURE | Five Violins With A Story To Tell

Partial view of a Stradivarius violin (Public domain image)
Partial view of a Stradivarius violin (Public domain image)

Historically, the violin has emerged as an instrument with a legendary mystique. There are supernatural stories about ghostly violins, and deals made with Beelzebub to play like a virtuoso.

But, when it comes to the violin, there’s no need to add the otherworldly dimension to the mix. From the storied ateliers of Antonio Stradivarius and others in the 18th century, venerable violins have endured through wars, revolutions, and much more to continue to bring joy to audiences to the present day.

Here are five violins who’ve seen their share of ups and downs over the centuries.

The Red Violin

The Red Violin, an instrument whose story is fictionalized in the movie of the same name, is also known as the 1720 Red Mendelssohn Stradivarius. It was crafted by Antonio in Italy in 1720, and its colour, a burgundy red, is simply due to the varnish Stradivarius used on it. From that point, nothing is known about its history for about two centuries. It turns up mysteriously in Germany in a photograph dated 1928, where it is in the possession of Lilli von Mendelssohn, the great-granddaughter of the composer Felix Mendelssohn. It was later sold in 1945 to an American business tycoon, and was put up for sale at an auction in 1990. There, it was purchased for violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn, who has been playing violin since age 3, by her grandfather when she turned 16 for $1.7 million. Pitcairn is one of the soloists who performed in the movie’s soundtrack.

The Titanic Violin

When the RMS Titanic sank into the North Atlantic during its maiden voyage in April 1912, it created a legend as the tragedy unfolded. Part of that legend is the that the band played on to keep people’s spirits up as the giant liner sank after its collision with an iceberg, and according to many accounts, that’s true. Maria Robinson gave the instrument to her fiancé Wallace Hartley as an engagement present, and there’s an inscription on the tailpiece reads, “For Wallace, on the occasion of our engagement, from Maria”. The instrument had been constructed in 1910 in Germany. Hartley was a musician who had played around the city of Leeds, which is likely where he met Maria. He had previously worked as a musician on the RMS Mauretania. He became the bandleader on the Titanic, and was set to return to get married in June. Hartley’s was one of only three of the musician’s bodies that were recovered. The violin was discovered in a satchel marked with his initials, and returned to Maria. When she died, her sister gave the violin to the Salvation Army, where it was passed on to a violin teacher. After another owner or two, it was rediscovered in an attic in the UK. Today, the violin is on display at the Titanic Museum in Tennessee.

The Lipinski Stradivarius

The Lipinski Stradivarius was crafted by the master in 1715 during his so-called golden period. Its first owner was virtuoso Giuseppe Tartini, who is said to have written his “Devil’s Trill” sonata for it. The violin was next owned by Karol Lipinski, who played it during a successful career from 1818 until 1861. From that point, it disappears from record for about a century, until it was sold to Richard Anschuetz, a pianist who bought it as a gift for his wife, Evi Liivak. The two performed together extensively, with Evi at the Strad, until the late 1980s. After disappearing from view until 2008, the violin was loaned to Frank Almond, concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, by an anonymous donor. After a concert in Wisconsin in 2014, Almond was attacked in the parking lot by an armed robber who had clearly studied his movements and routine for some time. Police found the case several hours later, and a $100,000 reward was offered for information. Within a week, three people are arrested in Milwaukee. The violin was recovered a few days later, and returned to Almond’s care.

1734 Hercules Stradivarius

Antonio Stradivarius crafted the Hercules violin in 1734 in Cremona. Its first recorded owner is listed as Josef Séméladis, and then it later passed through a series of collectors, until 1895, when it found its way to virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe. Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe, (born 1858) also owned a Guarneri. He’d often leave the Stradivarius in its case while he played the Guarneri on stage. It was stolen from the green room at the Imperial Theatre in St Petersburg in 1908 during a performance. Mysteriously, it turned up in Paris years later in 1925. It was bought for Alsatian violinist (and later conductor) Carl Münch, who was then concertmaster at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, by his wife. Polish violinist Henryk Szeryng borrowed the Hercules from Münch, and later bought it in 1962 for $40,000. In 1972, he donated it to the City of Jerusalem. It is now played by the concertmaster of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

1713 Gibson ex-Huberman Stradivarius

Crafted in 1713, its first recorded owner was Hippolyte C. Silvestre, a fellow instrument maker, in the 19th century, and was subsequently owned by a series of collectors until Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman acquired it in 1911. The instrument was stolen not once, but twice, from Huberman. It vanished from his hotel room in Vienna in 1919, but was returned anonymously a few days later. In 1936, it went missing from his dressing room while he was performing on another violin. The second time, it was lost for nearly 50 years. On his deathbed, a musician named Julian Altman confessed to buying the stolen violin for a mere $100. His widow turned it in to Lloyd’s auction house, where she collected a $263,000 finder’s fee. It was sold to English violinist Norbert Brainin. Today, it’s used by US violinist Joshua Bell, who first saw it on a chance visit to a violin store just before a performance. A cool $3.5 million later, and the instrument was in his hands. “It usually takes at least a month to get used to a violin. But I was so enamoured I just said, ‘I’m playing it tonight!’” he said in a 2018 interview. “And I’ve had it ever since.”

#LUDWIGVAN

Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE.

THE SCOOP | Fall for Dance North 2022 Brings New Works At Old Prices

Image courtesy of Fall for Dance North
Choreography by Dianne Montgomery (Photo: Erica Cheah)

Fall for Dance North returns to Toronto’s stages in 2022 with a multidisciplinary program of mixed and full-length dance performances, live music, and a new film series. The festival will take place from September 17 to October 8, 2022, with ticket prices fixed at $15 for all seats and performances.

“This year’s annual festival represents a particularly thrilling evolution of FFDN, as we return to our signature venues at Meridian Hall, Theatre at the Creative School, and The Citadel for indoor performances, while also continuing to expand our organization’s footprint in Toronto and beyond,” says Ilter Ibrahimof, FFDN Artistic Director in a media release.

“We are immensely proud of this edition’s vibrancy and diversity, which features a fulsome representation of performance genres — including tap, jazz, hula, contemporary circus, traditional Indigenous, ballet and screendance — created and performed by more than 200 acclaimed dancers, choreographers, directors, and musicians from across North America. We are elated to once again come together to celebrate a joyous mix of high-quality, accessible performance in a variety of inspiring environments, in collaboration with our longtime programming partners across Toronto.”

Image courtesy of Fall for Dance North
“Zipangu” dancer Gesilayefa Azorbo and orchestra (Photo: Ceinwen Gobert)

Highlights

ARISE: 2022 Signature Programme

  • A commissioned work from renowned tap dancer Dianne Montgomery;
  • A traditional Indigenous Hawaiian performance from Ka Leo O Laka | Ka Hikina O Ka Lā;
  • A shared world premiere with Soundstreams of a new short film by award-winning actor and director Michael Greyeyes with live orchestral accompaniment;
  • The FFDN premiere of Canada’s National Ballet School, showcasing 110 ballet students in a monumental work by choreographer Jera Wolfe.
Zack Martel and Santiago Rivera (Photo: Bruce Zinger)
Zack Martel and Santiago Rivera (Photo: Bruce Zinger)

More dance

  • Night Shift, produced and co-presented by Citadel + Compagnie: world premieres by nine emerging dancemakers from Toronto over three nights of in-person performances at The Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance.
  • The Heirloom Outdoor Performance Series will travel across Ontario from Sept. 17-25 & Toronto’s Evergreen Brick Works on Sept. 20;
  • Jazz-themed double bill presentation, Margarita & Family of Jazz, showcasing the work of FFDN’s 2021/22 John and Claudine Bailey Artists-in-Residence Natasha Powell and Kimberley Cooper, with their respective companies Holla Jazz (Toronto) and Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (Calgary) on Sept. 30 to Oct. 2;
  • The Canadian premiere of a full-length performance from Phoenix-based Indigenous dance collective, Indigenous Enterprise, on Oct. 7-8.

New: 8-Count

A short dance film series titled with live, in-person screenings

  • Featuring world and Canadian premieres by director/choreographers Loughlan Prior (New Zealand), Zui Gomez (New York) and Roshanak Jaberi and Karen Kaeja (Toronto)
  • Betty Oliphant Theatre (Sept. 23) and the Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre at York University (Sept. 24).

PLUS: free in-person and digital events throughout the festival, including the FFDN podcast Mambo, a social dance evening, talks, free concerts and more.

FFDN tickets and information here.

#LUDWIGVAN

Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE.

THE SCOOP | Toronto Mendelssohn Choir: New Works, Old Favourites & Expanded Choir For 2022-23

L-R (clockwise): TMC Artistic Director Dr. Jean-Sébastien Vallée (Photo: Tam Photography); Composer-in-Residence Dr. Shireen Abu Khader (Photo courtesy of TMC); Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (Photo courtesy TMC)
L-R (clockwise): TMC Artistic Director Dr. Jean-Sébastien Vallée (Photo: Tam Photography); Composer-in-Residence
Dr. Shireen Abu Khader (Photo courtesy of TMC); Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (Photo courtesy TMC)

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir announced new works and initiatives, along with treasured favourites, for their 2022-23 season.

The season’s repertoire will include Joby Talbot, J.S. Bach, David Lang, and, it goes without saying, Felix Mendelssohn. Programming includes a focus on reaching a wide audience, and representing local communities.

“We are elated to be back in full force and bigger than ever.” says Artistic Director Dr. Jean-Sébastien Vallée in a release. “Between thrilling masterworks, an expansion of the choir, and venues like Roy Thomson Hall and Koerner Hall, it is a season of grandeur, creativity, and unprecedented growth.”

The Toronto Mendelssohn Singers

This season introduces TMC’s new 24-voice professional ensemble, the Toronto Mendelssohn Singers in two concerts.

  • The Pilgrim’s Way: Centred on Joby Talbot’s Path of Miracles for a cappella voices, a musical meditation on the Camino de Santiago, along with work by inaugural composer-in-residence Dr. Shireen Abu-Khader, under the direction of Jean-Sébastien Vallée. Oct 1, 2022
  • Little Match Girl Passion: David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning piece inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s famous tale is a musical vigil drawing a spotlight on hunger and homelessness in our city, along with excerpts of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, under the direction of Jean-Sébastien Vallée. March 18, 2023
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir with Artistic Director Dr. Jean-Sébastien Vallée (Photo courtesy TMC)
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir at Koerner Hall (Photo courtesy TMC)

Signature Concerts

  • Mendelssohn’s Elijah: With the University of Toronto’s MacMillan Singers, and world-renowned bass-baritone Russell Braun, led by Maestro Jean-Sébastien Vallée. November 2, 2022 at Roy Thomson Hall
  • Festival of Carols: The TMChoir and the TMSingers conducted by Jean-Sébastien Vallée, featuring organist Dr. Isabelle Demers, and a new work by our inaugural composer-in-residence Dr. Shireen Abu-Khader. December 6, 2022
  • Bach’s Mass in B minor: TMC under the direction of maestro Jean-Sébastien Vallée in Bach’s masterpiece. March 28, 2023

Community Events

  • TMChoir Community Choir Festival (February 4, 2023)
  • The annual Choral Conductor’s Symposium and concert (May 2-6, 2023)
  • Several community engagement activities led by Dr. Jamie Hillman, the 22/23 Associate Conductor and Director of Community Engagement

As one of Canada’s oldest and largest choral organizations, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir includes more than 100 experienced (and auditioned) volunteer choristers along with the 24-person professional Toronto Mendelssohn Singers.

Tickets for the TMC 2022/2023 Concert Season are available now here.

#LUDWIGVAN

Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE.

REPORT | Teens, TikTok, And Orchestral Music

TEen listening to music
Image by Gerd Altmann (CC0C/Pixabay)

Teens on TikTok are streaming orchestral music, and leading what some are calling a revival of the art form.

During the worst of the COVID pandemic, musicians were forced off stage and online, where their creativity flourished. Over the last two years, in particular, TikTok, the favourite of the under-25 set, has become a pathway to discovering new music, and it turns out today’s Gen Z is coming to appreciate orchestral music more and more.

Research by the UK’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and others has also shown a surge in interest in classical and orchestral music in general among people under 35, and even under 25. About a third of classical music streamers were 18 to 25 according to one survey, with double-digit growth over just a few short years.

It only makes sense they’d be finding out about it on their favourite platform, TikTok.

What is this TikTok, you ask?

For the uninitiated, TikTok is a social media platform where users can upload short videos set to music. It has emerged as the platform of choice for people under 25, and is a close second to Instagram for those in the 25 to 34 group. According to the stats:

  • 73% of TikTok’s global audience of over 1 billion falls between the ages of 18 and 34;
  • That breaks down as 42% between 18 and 24, and another 31% between 25 and 34.

The growth spurt in orchestral music is due entirely to the ingenuity of TikTok creators, who have taken the medium and invented their own ways of enjoying music, including orchestral genres.

It’s not your grandpa’s classical music, in other words, at least not all the time.

There are videos of original music that have made internet stars out of artists playing at home. Musicians like Australian Portair have gone viral with videos that depict more than the music. Portair’s video playing an original composition called Gloaming Hour as the sun set outside his studio racked up more than 5.4 million views.

@portairmusic

Such beautiful afternoon light #sunset #piano #pianotok #musiciansoftiktok #fyp

♬ Gloaming Hour – Portair

Others create their own visuals to the library of classical music available on the platform. Challenges can draw in even more new music lovers. A classical music challenge on TikTok in 2021 drew in just under 740 million views.

Even if the original music isn’t classical music, strictly speaking, orchestral arrangements have become one of the platform’s more popular genres. So popular is it, in fact, that Warner Classics and TikTok are releasing an album in August 2022 titled TikTok Classics – Memes & Viral Hits. It will feature 18 of the platform’s most popular tracks, given an orchestral treatment, and played by the Babelsberg Film Orchestra of Germany. The result is a combination of pop with a layer of lush orchestral work that brings out the classic harmonic and rhythmic structures underpinning the contemporary music.

Singer-songwriter Alice Merton, whose track No Roots was rearranged and re-recorded for the project, commented in a media release. “It’s great to combine the worlds of classical music and pop music. Listening to No Roots in a new musical context is inspiring. I’m excited about the project, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it comes to life.”

“Warner Classics is proud to be able to realize “TikTok Classics — memes and viral hits” together with the TikTok team. Arranged and produced to the highest standard, these songs known and loved by TikTok users, are presented in a different — orchestral — style. We want to showcase the possibilities, range and epic sound of a symphonic orchestra in a new context, encourage closer listening and share our passion for orchestral sound with the TikTok community” says Markus Petersen, SVP Global Operations & Business Development, Warner Classics.

It’s not your grandmother’s classical music — but it may just be your teen’s.

#LUDWIGVAN

Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE.

daily news straight to your inbox by 6 am

company logo
Terms of Service & Privacy Policy
© 2022, Museland Media, Inc., All Rights Reserved.