Volume 26 Issue 2 - October 2020

thewholenote

Following the Goldberg trail from Gould to Lang Lang; Measha Brueggergosman and Edwin Huizinga on face to face collaboration in strange times; diggings into dance as FFDN keeps live alive; "Classical unicorn?" - Luke Welch reflects on life as a Black classical pianist; Debashis Sinha's adventures in sound art; choral lessons from Skagit Valley; and the 21st annual WholeNote Blue Pages (part 1 of 3) in print and online. Here now. And, yes, still in print, with distribution starting Thursday October 1.

paired with something we wouldn’t have understood as operatic

without one of the kinds of storytelling OA does best – finding

moment-by-moment storylines in lyrical musical things, and

unlocking them vocally, physically, dramatically and visually.

Saints and sinners has an inbuilt operatic arc to it. Saints and more

saints? Maybe not so much. But these are not ordinary times.

Opera Atelier’s decision, as far back as last fall, to move this spring’s

scheduled Resurrection into streaming-friendly Koerner Hall, with its

re-expandable live-audience potential, looks prophetic now. In reality,

they mostly have Hamilton to thank for taking over OA’s Ed Mirvish

Theatre home base for an unspecified amount of time. Just how

unspecified, none of us knew.

Owen Sound

“With all the changes to the timing and the piece itself, we [Measha

and I] decided the best way to finish up is to get on a plane,” Huizinga

explains. “I have been working on it for months and months – so

many calls and Zooms, I’m exhausted. “Get on a plane, make my way

there. Because I can and because I must. I’m the kind of artist who

likes to dive head first right in, and I am still relatively new at writing

for voice. And of course I am not done here yet!”

He’s not complaining about the change to the deadline or scope of

the piece. They are matters of fact. “I know the world is completely

flipped upside down and thrown in the washing machine and

someone added the wrong kind of soap,” he says. “But this is the time

we have to tear open the door and play wherever we can, whether it’s

on our driveway or in a beautiful concert hall, or at six degrees celsius

in an Owen Sound garden as the sun sets, because music is something

people need to lean towards when things are harsh.”

The words tumble: “Like here, in Owen Sound. We have a really loyal

audience coming out and helping us and it was so obvious last night

– there was this moment following the beautiful long applause after

the final piece, where everyone stood up out of their lawn chairs and

realized how special it is to just hear music travelling through the air

towards their ears. We need this, David. There are many of us who have

literally spent our lives finding music. So we have to just go find it.”

For Sweetwater this season, that vision has taken the form of

a string quartet (Huizinga himself along with close colleagues

Marc Destrubé, violin, Keith Hamm, viola and Judy Hereish, cello)

“bubbling” for a week together in an old house in downtown Owen

Sound – sounds of music from four centuries being tried out, drifting

through wide-open windows to the ears of neighbours and passers

by; then four days of crisscrossing Owen Sound and Meaford for

pop-up concerts at pavilions, historic homes and museums, gazebos

and gardens, a bandstand, and the Owen Sound Farmer’s Market.

And in the the evenings between, the garden concerts with their

glorious sunsets where, at the end of it all, a live audience – no

streaming – stands up from their chairs to listen to quiet air, washed

clean by music.

Halifax

This is the second time Huizinga and Brueggergosman have worked

face to face on the project. The first time, in late February, after signing

on to the project, she visited him in California where he’s spent the

last year, right after taking the project on. “My cabin in the woods –

that I’m renting – has luckily survived the fires. You could say I was

evacuated,” he says, “but I had already put into place a master plan to

get to Canada and quarantine and follow these two streams.”

For their first face-to-face collaboration, they went to Big Sur.

“Kind of amusing now,” Huizinga says. “Going somewhere ‘remote’ in

order to work. Back then it was called a retreat, now it has a different

name.” After COVID hit, he says, the project took a back seat for a

couple of months, and then Opera Atelier came back to us with a lot

of changes, and ideas and thoughts, and of course the new deadline.

Again there’s that matter-of-factness to it all. “I kind of see the

Opera Ateliers as the stars of this pandemic,” Brueggergosman says.

“They at least rallied to provide sustenance to their artists. Always

saying they know it’s not enough, but if we circle our wagons together

in the same direction, we might just come through this on the right

side of history, on the right side of what it means to be essential as an

“I kind of see the Opera Ateliers as the stars of this

pandemic. They at least rallied to provide sustenance

to their artists. Always saying they know it’s

not enough, but if we circle our wagons together in

the same direction, we might just come through this

on the right side of history, on the right side of what

it means to be essential as an artist, understanding

that the world in crisis needs beauty.”

— Measha Brueggergosman

artist, understanding that the world in crisis needs beauty. Dedication

to that, to excellence, can be its own pandemic.”

She’s always been a fighter, Brueggergosman says, “but in order

to be a fighter you need to have an enemy and, for me, artists have

found that the classical music industry has never been, well, forward

thinking. Right? We’re just not wired that way. It’s not what we do. We

are holders and keepers of the grail. We are responsible for this repertoire

we keep alive through our interpretation and our artistry.”

As she sees it, the industry has always been inadequate in its multipronged

approach. “It has abandoned service, which is its real point,

for spectacle,” she says. “And that’s why we, as artists are fighting for

our legitimacy, because we turned ourselves into circus animals and

not community rallyers, which is what we are supposed to be for. And

TORONTO

BACH

FESTIVAL

Announcing a

season of five

online concerts and

events beginning

November 2020

TORONTOBACHFESTIVAL.ORG

thewholenote.com October 2020 | 11

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