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.

Choral Scene

Lessons from Skagit

Valley and Beyond

Choral Music in a

Time of Pandemic



The Gryphon Trio

Our exploration of the Isabel Fall Festival would be remiss without

mentioning an additional two-concert event that is sure to be an

extraordinary occasion. On December 10 and 11 the Gryphon Trio will

present a complete performance of Beethoven’s piano trios, a magnificent

collection of seven pieces comprising three opus numbers, as

well as an eighth in E-flat Major (WoO.38), that are a combination

of virtuosity and sublimity, a classical-era reflection of Bach’s own

expressive characteristics. Widely considered to be Canada’s premier

chamber ensemble, listeners will undoubtedly be delighted by the

Gryphon Trio’s in-depth look at Beethoven and his music as we

continue to celebrate his 250th year.

At a time characterized by societal and political unrest, it can be

difficult to escape the feeling that circumstances are beyond our

control and getting worse, rather than better. Amidst the constant

news updates on COVID-19 case numbers heading in the wrong direction

and a pandemic continuing to spread around the globe, we must

be grateful to have access to such world-class performers as those

found in this year’s Fall Festival at the Isabel Bader Centre. In addition

to providing a balm to soothe our tired and socially distanced selves,

such concerts give us an opportunity to connect on a deeper level than

Zoom, Google Classroom, or any other virtual networking application

can provide. It is up to us to support the organizations with the alacrity

to adapt and embrace the challenges presented in an era that will

certainly be remembered for generations to come.


! OCT 1, 8PM: Tafelmusik.” Mozart Together.” Following many months of isolation and

remote music-making, the musicians of Tafelmusik gather for an emotional return to

the concert stage in this program devoted to chamber music originally intended to

be played in private homes and salon gatherings among friends and family. On display

will be works by titans such Mozart, Beethoven and Boccherini, as well as music by

contemporaries Michael Haydn, Družeckŷ, Sperger and Spohr.

! OCT 2, 12PM and more: Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra. SPOGreatMusic

Podcast. This innovative set of podcasts features such titles as Plagues, Pandemics

and Musicians and Beethoven: The Man and His Chamber Music, ideal for those who

want to hear magnificent music while learning a little bit more about the people,

places and circumstances that led to its creation.

! Orchestre Métropolitain. Livestream of Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 1-8. While

not live in the traditional sense, this magnificent series of socially distanced recordings

was made in the early days of reduced COVID-19 restrictions. With the superb

Orchestre Métropolitain led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, these videos are available to

watch on the websites of Orchestre Métropolitain and Bourgie Hall.

Matthew Whitfield is a Toronto-based harpsichordist and organist.

These are challenging times to be a musician. Empathy and

compassion is a crucial part of a pandemic response, but it is

easily forgotten in the immediate dangers of trying to protect

oneself from an unmasked person, or trying to plan out the next

month’s rent without income from performing. For some, returning

to work, be it the arts or offices or restaurants, isn’t a matter of choice

– it’s the difference between having somewhere to live next month

or being able to afford dinner that day. The arts are workplaces with

livelihoods on the line and right now, we’re all struggling.

For singers and wind musicians in particular, current circumstances

are particularly difficult. Crises are intersecting in our arts communities

at the moment and are demanding ever more complex responses

from the choral world than ever before if we are going to find a way

through. There are real and serious dangers to consider as choristers

return to action.

Speaking with choristers, there is already so much anxiety and lack

of knowledge about how to proceed with doing what we love in a time

of pandemic. So it is additionally hard to find oneself in a community

of interest where, as in society as a whole, some of those voices are

pandemic deniers, vehement anti-maskers, who participate in the

pandemic conspiracies and spout the paranoia of “state compliance”

and our loss of “bodily sovereignty.” The unfortunate truth is that

these people are part of our choirs, part of our choral communities,

and they present dangers.

This month, I’m presenting some of my thoughts on recent scientific

data and what you can expect from digital rehearsals and upcoming

digital concerts.

“We will live in a multiplatform world far

beyond COVID-19, so we will be doing live

performances that will be streamed or

attended in-person.”


Performance listings

(live, livestreamed, hybrid, … free).

Use them.

The beat goes on at thewholenote.com

Tricia Baldwin

thewholenote.com October 2020 | 25

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