Volume 26 Issue 2 - October 2020


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.

the Box Concerts’ intended audiences, though, but from passersby

caught unawares – people out walking their dogs or going for a run

– who stop to listen. “A couple of times, those people who weren’t

expecting to hear the live music stayed afterwards,” Tennekoon says.

“One gentleman was in

tears because he hadn’t realized

how much he’d missed

having live performances,

until he was able to experience


To my knowledge, no

(visible) tears were shed at

the performance I attended,

but Tennekoon’s passionate

delivery was certainly

worthy of such a response.

He opened the concert with

a joyfully expressive rendition

of “Il mio tesoro intanto”

from Mozart’s Don Giovanni,

smoothly gliding through the

aria’s complicated coloratura

passages. During both this

aria and during Donizetti’s

“Una furtiva lagrima”, I was

impressed by his dramatic

presence and vigour, despite

his being somewhat stuck

behind the microphone

stand – one disadvantage

of the small Box Concert

stage, and the necessity of

creating audible acoustics

in an unpredictable outdoor


Tennekoon was equally confident with the musical theatre repertoire,

following his opera selections with three well-loved show

tunes. The romantic “Younger than Springtime” from South Pacific

was especially fitting in the outdoor setting, and Tennekoon’s tender

interpretation made the afternoon breeze of early fall feel slightly

warmer. He next performed “Bring Him Home” from Les Misérables,

mastering the song’s powerful dynamic shifts and finding beautiful

suspension in the song’s iconic closing high note. The last selection

of the afternoon was “Maria” from Leonard Bernstein’s West

Side Story, and although Tennekoon’s delivery was solid, it was here

I most noticed the Box Concert’s absence of live accompaniment.

Tennekoon performed each song with a pre-recorded piano track, but

the normally impassioned “Maria” felt sparse without Bernstein’s rich


Even with this limitation, the Box Concert I attended was a heartening

success, with residents requesting an encore, and lingering

after the performance to thank Tennekoon for bringing live music

to their doorstep. The concert was a joyful half-hour escape into the

world of musical storytelling via the human voice, an experience I’ve

deeply missed over these past months. And although the pandemic

inspired this series, I believe the Box Concerts will have staying power

as a new style of performance beyond COVID-19. Tapestry Opera and

Soulpepper have demonstrated the possibilities for live music in easily

accessible, outdoor public spaces, and I hope to see them continue this

innovation in future.

Box Concerts, presented by Tapestry Opera and Soulpepper

Theatre, were performed at GTA hospitals, retirement and long-term

care facilities, and private homes until October 1. For more information

about the series, visit tapestryopera.com/performances/boxconcerts.

Marie Trotter is a Toronto-based writer, avid theatregoer and

occasional director. She studied Drama and English at the

University of Toronto with a focus on directing and production,

and recently completed her MA in English Language and

Literature at Queen’s University. This concert report appeared

first in HalfTones, The WholeNote’s mid-cycle e-letter.


thewholenote.com October 2020 | 23

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