Get-to-know TBSI alum, Matt Antal

Our annual Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute is at the halfway point of an intense two weeks of rehearsals, lectures, masterclasses and more. We recently introduced you to TBSI alum and violinist Michelle Odorico. Today, we would like you to meet violist Matt Antal, who is not only a TBSI alum from 2013, 2014 and 2015, but is a current TBSI participant in the first ever Viola d’Amore workshop with Tafelmusik’s Thomas Georgi.

Matt Antal in the 2017 TBSI Viola d’Amore workshop. Photo credit: Lysiane Boulva

Matt first applied to attend TBSI in 2013 on a bit of a whim just before starting his Masters, and it opened up a whole new perspective towards learning for him. Today, both Michelle and Matt are enjoying successful careers as musicians, including performing with Tafelmusik, and we feel privileged to have been able to play a large part in forming those careers. Matt has written about his experiences at TBSI and TWI below.

Matt Antal, viola (far right), performing with Music Director Designate Elisa Citterio and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Handel Water Music, September 2016. Photo credit: Trevor Haldenby
Matt Antal

I first attended TBSI during the summer before starting my masters in modern viola performance. I had always enjoyed early music, but had never had the opportunity to play a period instrument before, so I really did not know what to expect. Upon arriving, I was immediately immersed into a world full of intelligent people who were friendly and enthusiastic about music — something that is all too rare in my experience.

There is no better feeling than playing music with people that love music just as much as you do. Every single day featured several “mind- blowing” moments, when something I believed to be true my whole life would be disproved, in the best possible way. These moments made me realize how much there is to know and sparked my own desire to discover new topics of my own.

I attended TBSI the following two summers and subsequently TWI the two winters after that, and always looked forward to it as my favourite time of the entire year. I enjoyed not only the music but working with such fantastic teachers and fellow students. So I decided to pursue a Doctor of Musical Arts in early music at the University of Toronto, studying with members of Tafelmusik while gigging around town playing baroque viola almost exclusively.

Join us as we continue to build “baroque for the future” with a charitable gift towards the Artist Training Fund. Your contribution today ensures that musicians like Matt and Michelle have the opportunity to develop into the musicians they are destined to be: well equipped to share their gifts with appreciative audiences everywhere. If you wish to make a charitable gift, please give here.


Matt Antal’s appearances with Tafelmusik

Handel Water Music, September 2016
The Baroque Diva, March 2017

Upcoming Tafelmusik appearances

Mozart’s Piano with Kristian Bezuidenhout, November 2017
Handel Messiah, December 2017

Get-to-Know TBSI alum Michelle Odorico

The sixteenth year of the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute (TBSI) and the sixth year of the Tafelmusik Winter Institute (TWI) are upon us. TBSI and TWI are world-renowned training programs for advanced students, pre-professional, and professional musicians in instrumental and vocal baroque performance practice, led by some of the world’s finest musicians in the field. It is inspiring to look back at a very long list of musicians who have participated in the Institutes over the years. The learning and music-making has enriched the musical lives of students and faculty alike on a level we could barely imagine fifteen years ago.

A baroque dance lesson with TBSI participants led by Opera Atelier’s Co-Artistic Director Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg, 2013. Credit: Mariana Dempster

There are so many stories to share about our alumni. We remember Alberto from Costa Rica, who worked so hard to bring several members of his ensemble to TBSI, taking back what they learned to a culture where opportunities to study baroque music are almost non-existent. Our Australian tours have inspired numerous young musicians to journey to Toronto to work with us at both TBSI and TWI in a cultural exchange that is energizing for all of us. Violist Elmarie came from South Africa in order to take what she learned back to her students, with the aim of creating a period ensemble there.

There are also many participants who have gone on to appear on the Tafelmusik stage, both singers and instrumentalists, including violinist Michelle Odorico. We would like to introduce you to Michelle who has recently done just that, and was compelled to take up a career as a period performer because of her experience at TBSI and TWI.

Michelle Odorico, violin

Growing up in Pickering, my aunt and uncle would occasionally take me to see Tafelmusik performances. I loved going to these concerts and I believe they gave me a strong attraction to baroque music growing up.

After completing my Bachelor of Music from the University of Ottawa in 2012, a friend and I attended TBSI, thinking it would be a fun thing to do. Little did I know that it would be an intensive university course, jam-packed into two weeks. I was overwhelmed with the depth and amount of information, but was completely hooked. What stood out was how the faculty fostered a safe, encouraging, and inspiring environment — their enthusiasm and patience eased the transition to learning a new style of playing. I loved meeting people from all over the world, and being surrounded by the unique playing styles of my peers and mentors.

I knew after TBSI that this was what I wanted to do, and thanks to Jeanne Lamon and Charlotte Nediger, I was able to begin a Master’s degree in baroque performance at the University of Toronto that fall. I returned to TBSI the following summer, and attended TWI from 2013–2016.

I believe that every musician should go to TBSI. Having this groundwork in place helps bring the music to life. I try to teach these principles of baroque playing to my own students, and I see how much they enjoy learning about them.

My ultimate goal as a musician is to be able to use the baroque violin as a way to communicate and connect to others. Because of TBSI and TWI, I have been able to do this much more than I ever could have anticipated.

Join us as we continue to build “baroque for the future” with a charitable gift towards the Artist Training Fund. Your contribution today ensures that musicians like Matt and Michelle have the opportunity to develop into the musicians they are destined to be: well equipped to share their gifts with appreciative audiences everywhere. If you wish to make a charitable gift, please give here.


Appearances with Tafelmusik

Purcell Dido & Aeneas, October 2016
Let Us All Sing!, November 2016
Asia Tour, November 2016
Toronto Education Concerts, January 2017
Visions and Voyages, February 2017
Ontario Tour, March 2017
U.S. Tour, Feb/Mar, 2017
Mozart Mass in C Minor, May 2017

Upcoming Tafelmusik appearances
Handel Alexander’s Feast, February 2018
Beethoven Pastoral Symphony, May 2018
Australia Tour, May/June 2018

Michelle Odorico (violin) with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and  Chamber Choir in Let Us All Sing, November 2016. Credit: Trevor Haldenby

Behind the Musik: Mozart Mass in C Minor

Download the Program Notes | Download the Program Listing

PROGRAM NOTES
By Charlotte Nediger

Haydn Symphony no. 98 in B-flat Major

Johann Peter Salomon

Haydn’s life changed quite abruptly in 1790 with the death of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, his employer for almost 30 years. His son and successor, Prince Anton, had little interest in music and disbanded the court orchestra. Haydn moved to Vienna, and was soon visited there by Johann Peter Salomon, a German-born violinist who had moved to London and established a career as a successful impresario. It is reported that Haydn’s visitor announced himself with the famous words: “I am Salomon of London and have come to fetch you. Tomorrow we will arrange an accord.”

An accord was indeed arranged, and the pair left for London shortly thereafter, on December 15, 1790. In a letter home, Haydn wrote of his arrival:

[After the journey] I am fresh and well again, and occupied in looking at this endlessly huge city of London, whose various beauties and marvels quite astonished me. My arrival caused a great sensation throughout the whole city, and I went the rounds of all the newspapers for three successive days. Everyone wants to know me. I had to dine out six times up to now, and if I wanted, I could dine out every day; but first I must consider my health, and second my work. Except for the nobility, I admit no callers until two o’clock in the afternoon, and at four o’clock I dine at home with Mr Salomon … Everything is terribly expensive here … I wished I could fly for a time to Vienna, to have more quiet in which to work, for the noise that the common people make as they sell their wares in the street is intolerable. At present I am working on symphonies.

Salomon’s series opened in March 1791, two months after their arrival, and several of Haydn’s works were performed with great success. Performances were co-directed by Haydn at the keyboard (alternately the harpsichord or fortepiano, whichever was at hand), and by Salomon at the violin: he apparently stood in the curve of the keyboard instrument. For Haydn the experience of the audience was entirely different from that at the Esterházy court: this was a paying public, keen to be entertained, and vocal in their response. It was usual for the audience to applaud each movement, and to insist upon instant encores of favourite movements.

Haydn was persuaded to stay another year, and he spent the summer months at various country estates, away from the noise of the city. A second concert season followed in March 1792, and this included the premiere of Symphony no. 98. The symphony is often cited as the most personal of Haydn’s London symphonies, probably because it was composed soon after Haydn heard of Mozart’s untimely death. Haydn and Mozart were very close friends, greatly admiring each other’s work. Just before leaving for London, Salomon, Haydn, and Mozart dined together. Haydn’s friend and biographer A.C. Dies recounts:

… at the moment of parting, Mozart said, “We are probably saying our last adieu in this life.” Tears welled in both men’s eyes. Haydn was deeply moved, for he applied Mozart’s words to himself, and the possibility never occurred to him that the thread of Mozart’s life could be cut by the inexorable Fates the very next year.

The second movement is thought to be an homage by Haydn to his friend, opening with a quotation from the Agnus Dei of Mozart’s Coronation Mass, and later quoting a passage from the “Jupiter” Symphony. The final movement of the symphony is noteworthy, both as the longest finale of all of Haydn’s symphonies, and also for the inclusion of passages marked “Salomon solo” (i.e. for solo violin), and for a passage at the end marked “Haydn solo,” a short and witty little solo for the keyboard, described in a contemporary account of the first performance as “a passage of attractive brilliancy.” Audiences called for encores of both the first and fourth movements at the premiere.

Haydn left London to return to Vienna after the 1792 season, returning again in 1794 for one more year. It is a testament to Haydn’s popularity in London that Salomon’s tombstone in Westminster Abbey states simply, “He brought Haydn to England in 1791 and 1794.” The wonderful eighteenth-century music journalist Dr. Charles Burney wrote:

… it is well known how much [Haydn] contributed to our delight, to the advancement of his art, and to his own fame, by his numerous productions in this country and how much his natural, unassuming, and pleasing character, exclusive of his productions, endeared him to his acquaintances and to the nation at large.

Mozart Mass in C Minor

Constanze Mozart

During his employ at the archiepiscopal court in Salzburg, Mozart wrote a great deal of music for the Catholic church. After leaving Salzburg, Mozart wrote only a few sacred compositions: the motet Ave verum corpus, and the incomplete Mass in C Minor and Requiem. Ironically, the two incomplete works are Mozart’s great sacred masterpieces. Both are works of intensely powerful expression, masterful complexity, and sublime beauty. They are large-scale works, and even in their incomplete form give an impression of grandeur.

Although Mozart’s failure to complete the Requiem Mass can be explained by his final illness, the reasons for leaving the C-Minor Mass incomplete remain a mystery. Nor is it known with certainty why he undertook the composition of a full-scale mass in 1782, a year after leaving Salzburg. In a letter to his father dated January 4, 1783, he wrote:

I have truly promised this in my heart and hope to fulfill it … a proof of the reality of my promise, however, is the score of half a Mass, of which I have high hopes.

As to what he promised in his heart, it is thought that it was a vow to perform a new mass in Salzburg if he succeeded to bring Constanze there as his wife: after a difficult courtship they had married in August 1782. Others suggest it was connected with Constanze’s first pregnancy: a son was born in June 1783, but lived for just two months. In any case, the Mass was performed at St. Peter’s Church in Salzburg on October 23, 1783, with Constanze singing one of the solo soprano roles. In the performing score and parts, only the Kyrie, Gloria, and Benedictus are complete. The Credo breaks off after the Et incarnatus est, and the Agnus Dei is missing entirely. The orchestral parts for portions of the Credo are incomplete. It is not known how the 1783 performance was accomplished: whether, for example, parts were actually finished and subsequently lost, or whether Mozart completed the mass with a pastiche of earlier movements. In any case, the music that remains is remarkable. It is written in the form typical of baroque masses, with the text set in separate movements rather than set continuously, as in later masses. At the time of composition, Mozart was intensely studying works by Handel and Bach, and this is evident throughout the Mass, particularly in the choral writing. To this he adds two virtuoso solo soprano arias inspired by Italian opera. The result is a work that is a summation of the eighteenth century, and at the same time the work of a remarkably creative and original mind.

© Charlotte Nediger


PROGRAM LISTING

Directed by Ivars Taurins & Elisa Citterio, violin
Julia Doyle & Joanne Lunn, sopranos
Asitha Tennekoon, tenor
Joel Allison, bass-baritone
May 4–7, 2017, Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning

JOSEPH HAYDN 1732–1809
Symphony no. 98 in B-flat Major (London, 1792)
Adagio – Allegro
Adagio
Menuetto & Trio
Finale: Presto

INTERMISSION

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART 1756–1791
Mass in C Minor, K.427 (Salzburg, 1783)
Mozart Mass edited by Franz Beyer (Amadeus Verlag)

Introducing….the Listening Club

By William Norris, Managing Director

Tomorrow evening, here at our Trinity-St Paul’s home, we’re trying something a little bit different. We have a pilot event of something called the ‘Listening Club’.

It’s intended to be the music version of a book club. There will be some set listening, and then, at the event, we’ll come together to discuss it, all in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. We hope it will give you a chance to debate, discuss and engage with our music in a different way and to learn about it, not just from the hosts of the event (see below) but also from each other.

The event will be led by Dr. Hannah French, who you might have heard recently at one of our pre-concert chats and who also presented BBC Radio 3’s recent programs about us. She’ll be joined by our very own Choir Director Ivars Taurins.

The subject at hand is Bach, and specifically arrangements on his music. During the 80-minute event Hannah and Ivars will be looking at six works, focusing on three themes – Bach the Arranger, Bach the Recycler and Bach the Re-imagined.

As mentioned, this first event is a pilot, to see if the idea works, and if audiences enjoy it. If it does, and you do, then we hope to plan more events for the 2017-18 season, which would, like this first session, all tie into aspects of our season repertoire.

The session is tomorrow, Friday the 21st, at our Trinity-St Paul’s Centre home and tickets are just $25. It’s not too late to join, you’ll just have to make sure you have time to listen to the 6 pieces beforehand!

Find out more / buy tickets 

Against the odds, the show goes on in Antigonish

By Phil Stephens, Interim Associate Director of Philanthropy

Visit St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and you’ll find a small performance space named Immaculata Auditorium, said by CBC producers to be one of the best chamber music spaces East of Quebec. One of Canada’s oldest universities, St. Francis Xavier was founded in 1853, and the auditorium itself was built on campus in 1917. Home to performances and community events for the university and the town for a century, Immaculata remains a significant contributor to the arts and the cultural life of Antigonish.

Over the past year, the Antigonish Performing Arts Series (APA) staff, who program in the space, learned that the funding base provided by the University since 1973 would be entirely withdrawn, effectively ending the performing arts offered on stage there.

APA responded by launching a fundraising appeal to their subscriber base, with the goal of building the resources required to keep the series running for the 2017/18 Season.

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra has played in Immaculata Auditorium as part of the Series in the past, but for our upcoming Eastern Canada tour this fall, it fell off our schedule, for a reason that was not clearly defined during the time that the tour was being built. The rest of the dates filled up, and everything was scheduled out for the orchestra.

Fast forward to March 2017, and the inspiring generosity of the community around APA had successfully raised a phoenix from the ashes, and has bravely embarked on producing one more season in the hall.

Dr. Michael Steinitz

APA Director and St. Francis Xavier physics professor Dr. Michael Steinitz reached out to Tafelmusik’s Director of Artistic Operations and Administration Beth Anderson, with a request to have Tafelmusik participate in a season made possible by the strong bond of community spirit.

“Under normal circumstances, we would have said that the tour was full, but in this case I was touched by their story of resilience and determination. I felt that we could do a lot of good in this situation,” says Beth. “When we approached some of the Tafelmusik musicians (a few of whom will travel with their families) to add one more performance to an already intense tour, their answer was a resounding yes. At this critical moment of re-starting the series, we want to participate in the rally for ongoing support.”

When Dr. Steinitz heard back from Tafelmusik about the decision, his reaction was notable. “YES, YES, YES! We’re flying high since we saw your email, and will do everything to make your stay wonderful. We are very, very excited.”

Tafelmusik performing J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation. Photo credit: Glenn Davidson

Part of the 2017/18 Antigonish Performing Arts Series, Tafelmusik is proud to bring Alison Mackay’s J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation to Immaculata Auditorium on Friday, November 24, 2017, as part of an Eastern Canada tour that also includes Montreal, Sackville, Charlottetown, Wolfville, and Halifax.

To contribute to the APA campaign, please send a cheque made out to “The Governors of St. Francis Xavier University”, with a notation on the bottom saying “for the Performing Arts Series”, to Michael Steinitz at the Physics Department, St. Francis Xavier University, PO Box 5000, Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5. Donations will receive a tax receipt.

Behind the Musik: Bach: Keeping it in the Family

Download the Program Notes | Download the Program Listing

PROGRAM NOTES
By Charlotte Nediger

Johann Sebastian Bach, in 1735, set down detailed observations about his ancestors in his Ursprung der musicalisch-Bachischen Familie (Origins of the musical Bach family). This genealogy traces the family as far back as the mid-sixteenth century. By the turn of the seventeenth century, the musical family was so widespread in the Thuringian region that the name “Bach” had come to be regarded as synonymous with “musician.” From birth, it was assumed that virtually every male member of the family would become a musician, and the combination of inherited talent and training from the earliest age assured their success. Yet, as the increasingly popular bourgeois music culture of the late eighteenth century led to a sharp decline in the importance of leading musical institutions (court orchestras, Stadtpfeifer bands, and Cantoreien), traditional music dynasties such as the Bach family quickly disappeared. In 1843, at the ceremonial unveiling in front of the Thomaskirche of the Leipzig Bach monument donated by Mendelssohn, Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst (the then 84-year-old grandson of J.S. Bach) was the sole representative of a family with a musical tradition of over 250 years.

Bach’s relationship with his sons can best be understood in view of this family tradition. He was keenly aware of his responsibility to pass on his legacy to his children, and was proud to record in a letter to a friend written in 1730, that his children “are all born musicians, and I can assure you that I can already form an ensemble both vocaliter and instrumentaliter within my family, particularly since my present wife sings a good, clear soprano, and my eldest daughter, too, joins in not badly.” Of Bach’s twenty children (seven with his first wife, Maria Barbara, and thirteen with his second wife, Anna Magdalena), ten survived infancy. Of these, four were female and six male. Little is known of the four girls, though the quote above suggests that they were well trained in music. Both of Bach’s wives came from musical families. There is no evidence that Maria Barbara was a practising musician herself, but Anna Magdalena was a very gifted soprano. Already at age twenty she was among the most highly paid musicians employed at the court in Cöthen, and continued singing there after her marriage to Bach. She seems to have left her performing career aside upon the family’s move to Leipzig (thirteen pregnancies in nineteen years may have been a significant factor!), but was one of Bach’s principal copyists, and was clearly actively involved in the children’s musical education. One daughter, Elisabetha Juliana (1728–81), married Johann Christoph Altnikol, a pupil of her father; the other three daughters remained single, living with their mother until her death in 1760. Their brother Carl Philipp Emanuel supported them financially from that point. The youngest daughter, Regina Susanna, outlived all of her siblings, and was supported in her final years through a fund raised by the editor of the Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung,  in honour of her father.

Of the six sons, four became successful musicians: Wilhelm Friedemann (1710–84), Carl Philipp Emanuel (1714–88), Johann Christoph Friedrich (1732–95), and Johann Christian (1735–82). The two middle sons apparently also possessed considerable musical talent, but one suffered from a mental disorder, and the other, as stated by his father, “unfortunately turned out badly,” leaving an excellent post of organist to wander about the country, dying at age 24.

J.S. Bach spent a great deal of time and energy in the education of his sons, particularly in that of his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann. In 1720, he wrote the Clavierbüchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (Little keyboard book for W.F. Bach), a basic course in keyboard playing and composition. Indeed, all of his “pedagogical” works, such as The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Inventions and Sinfonias, the Orgelbüchlein, and the Clavier-Übung, must have been written initially with his sons and other pupils in mind. Their course of study would also have included the analysis and performance of the countless works of other German, French, and Italian composers collected by J.S. through his life. He also took care not to neglect their general, non-musical education. He stated that one of the principal reasons for accepting the post of Cantor in Leipzig was to enable his sons to enroll at the Thomasschule, and more importantly, the University of Leipzig.

Johann Sebastian continued to support his sons professionally until his death, finding positions for them, writing letters of reference, and visiting them whenever possible. C.P.E. and J.C. were to eventually exceed their father in contemporary fame: by 1780, when anyone spoke of “Bach,” it was more often one of these who was intended and not the father. Given his great respect for his family’s tradition, this in itself may have been considered by Johann Sebastian to be amongst his greatest accomplishments.

J.S. BACH OVERTURE, AFTER BWV 194

In 1723, J.S. Bach directed the performance of his Cantata 194, “Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest” (Most desired festival of joy) at the church in Störmhal, a village near Leipzig. The church had recently been rebuilt, with a new organ by Zacharias Hildebrandt, a young graduate of the workshop of the famed German organ builder Gottfried Silbermann. Bach had been asked to approve the instrument, and the cantata was performed at the dedication service. The organ is one of only a few instruments known to have been played by Bach that remains in its original condition.

Cantata 194 opens with a chorus in the style of a French orchestral overture, with a grand opening followed by a faster fugal section. As the chorus sings only in the fast section, and even then is doubled by instrumental parts, Alfredo Bernardini has taken the liberty of transcribing the movement for orchestra alone. He retains Bach’s original scoring, for three oboes, bassoon, and strings. In the opening section, Bach gives the main material to the winds and continuo, with the upper strings interjecting with unison scales as a sort of commentary. When the material returns at the end, he reverses the instrumentation: this time the strings and continuo prevail, and the oboes offer the commentary.

J.S. BACH CONCERTO FOR VIOLIN IN E MAJOR

Although only two concertos for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach have survived, it is possible that he composed others. Both of the extant concertos exist in alternate versions for solo harpsichord, and some of the other harpsichord concertos are thought to have had their origin in lost violin concertos. The violin was certainly one of Bach’s favoured solo instruments: he turned to the violin as a counterpart to the solo voice in countless arias in cantatas and passions. Although primarily a keyboard player, Bach was also a capable violinist and violist, and he understood fully that the violin could be played on the one hand with great energy and virtuosity, and on the other with the most sublime and tender expression. This is witnessed in the contrasting movements of the violin concertos, which have long been a favourite of violinists and audiences alike.

C.P.E. BACH CONCERTO FOR OBOE IN E-FLAT MAJOR

J.S. Bach’s concertos — both for violin and harpsichord — would have been featured regularly at performances of the Leipzig Collegium Musicum, and the soloists in the harpsichord concertos would invariably have been his sons. It is no coincidence, then, that both Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel wrote numerous harpsichord concertos. C.P.E. wrote no fewer than 52 keyboard concertos, spanning his entire career. A few of these exist in alternate versions: at least three each for flute and violoncello, and two for oboe. The two oboe concertos were written in 1765, during his employ at the Prussian court of Frederick the Great in Berlin. It is likely that they were written for a specific player, either one of the court players, or perhaps more likely, a visitor to the court. It seems from the manuscripts that the oboe concertos were composed prior to the keyboard versions.

C.P.E. was in Frederick’s employment for nearly 30 years, and it was not always the most stimulating environment, as the king had rather staid musical tastes and favoured the “galant” style. In retrospect clearly the most gifted of the many musicians at the Prussian court, C.P.E. was nonetheless underpaid and underappreciated. Fortunately, his creativity, strength of character, and determination enabled him to create an impressive body of work despite the limiting environment, and he offers in his music a truly unique voice. He carried this voice to Hamburg, where he replaced Telemann as Cantor and Music Director for the city from 1768 until his death 20 years later. He had three children: one son became a lawyer; the other (named Johann Sebastian, after his grandfather) was an accomplished painter, but his career was cut short by his early death. His daughter did not marry, and C.P.E. had no grandchildren.

W.F. BACH SINFONIA IN F MAJOR

Wilhelm Friedemann held prominent postings in Dresden and Halle, his organ playing renowned throughout Europe. After his father’s death in 1750 he had repeated difficulties with his employers, and spent the end of his life in poverty in Berlin, his aloofness, intemperance, and desultory behaviour earning him few friends. His music is an intriguing reflection of both the strength of his talent and education, and the eccentricities of his character. Whereas C.P.E. blended the baroque style of his youth with the new to forge a unique blend, W.F. tends to shift from old to new, not only between pieces, but often within a piece. This can be heard in the capricious Sinfonia in F Major, composed in Dresden. In writing notes for Tafelmusik’s recording of the work, the musicologist Peter Wollny suggests the influence of Zelenka, and in the “tender” Andante, of Hasse. The trio of the Menuet is a clever canon, with the bass echoing the violins. The unexpected turns in the first movement earned the Sinfonia the nickname of “Dissonance”: the dissonances here are not meant to stir the passions, but rather are full of wit.

TELEMANN SUITE IN D MINOR

Telemann was godfather to Carl Philipp Emanuel, and a great support to him both personally and in terms of his career, so we have included him as an honorary member of the Bach family in this week’s concerts. With Alfredo Bernardini joining us, it gives us the opportunity to perform Telemann’s Suite in D Minor, scored for three oboes, bassoon, and strings. The use of three oboes, rather than the more usual two, offers a wonderfully rich tutti sound, and gives Telemann the chance to explore the contrasting colours of two four-part ensembles: the three oboes and bassoon versus the string ensemble. It was a texture also favoured by J.S. Bach, used in several cantatas (such as Cantata 194, the opening of which begins our concert), and the Fourth Orchestral Suite. In his orchestral suites, Telemann often leaves aside the traditional arrangement of dance movements for a selection of pieces with fanciful titles. In this suite, he retains the dances throughout, but imbues them with a great deal of character, leaving the musicians and listeners to invent the images they depict or the stories they recount.

© Charlotte Nediger


PROGRAM LISTING
Directed by Alfredo Bernardini, Oboe & Cecilia Bernardini, Violin
April 5–9, 2017, Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH 1685–1750
Overture in B-flat Major, after BWV 194/1
Reconst. by A. Bernardini  (Leipzig, 1723)

J.S. BACH
Concerto for violin in E Major, BWV 1042
Allegro – Adagio – Allegro assai
Cecilia Bernardini, violin soloist

CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH 1714–1788
Concerto for oboe in E-flat Major, Wq 165 (Hamburg, 1765)
Allegro – Adagio ma non troppo – Allegro ma non troppo
Alfredo Bernardini, oboe soloist

INTERMISSION

WILHELM FRIEDEMANN BACH 1710–1784
Sinfonia in F Major, Fk 67 (Dresden, 1735–40)
Vivace – Andante – Allegro – Menuetto I/II

GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN 1681–1767
Orchestral Suite in D Minor, TWV 55:d3 (Frankfurt/Hamburg)
Ouverture – Menuet I/II – Gavotte – Courante – Air –
Loure – Hornpipe – Canaries – Gigue


Join us for Bach: Keeping it in the Family at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre from April 5–9, 2017. Tickets are available here.

Opus: Testing – In conversation with Brenden Varty, Patrick Arteaga, and Curtis Perry

In our final post leading up to Opus: Testing — Period Piece, in collaboration with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Musica Reflecta and the Canadian Music Centre,  we would like to introduce composers Brenden Varty, Patrick Arteaga, and Curtis Perry.

The Opus Testing workshop is dealing with objects, and memory. How are you approaching this theme through your music?

Brenden Varty: When I was at home for the winter holidays, I found myself reading a book about ‘Frosty the Snowman’ to my younger brother, who is four—nineteen years younger than me! In the front of the book, I came across the message “To: Brenden—Love: Mom, Merry Christmas!” I must have received this book when I was 3 or 4, and it struck me as a special that I was now reading a book to a loved one who was the same age as I was when I had been given it.

This got me thinking of how the meaning of the book (both symbolically and in regards to the actual story) had changed for me since I was four years old, but was again being received by a different four years old in much the same way as previously. I started to think about how the meaning the book had for me at four years old was almost definitely similar in many aspects, but undoubtedly different in some regards, as the meaning my brother was giving it now.

Of course, the different meanings it has had over time and for different people (me at four and twenty-three, my brother at four—not to mention my mother) is removed from what the object actually is – pressed tree pulp, dyed and bound. These thoughts led me to recognize that all the decorations, movies, and other objects lying around the house that at some point had meant something to me were now being given different meanings, whatever they were, by my younger brother.

It is amazing the sentiments that we can attach to inanimate objects, how they can trigger memories in us, and how we can muse about what they might mean to others.

In my piece, I took the chord progression from Handel’s Concerto Grosso op. 6 no. 11, and wrote my own melody and arrangement to go with it. This serves as the “true form” for the object. The subsequent variation uses re-harmonization techniques and is written in a more modern style which I am partial to, serving as the meaning I might ascribe to an object. The second variation uses aspects from the theme and first variation, and through cut-and-paste and newly composed material, explores the meaning someone else might give the object—there will of course be similarities between two people’s memories of the same object, and so this variation echoes the first variation while being approached in a completely different manner.

What/who did you listen to in preparing to write for period instruments?

BV: To prepare for this composition, I listened to several baroque concertos by Bach and Handel. I wanted to approach this piece conceptually, and so rather than listening to modern chamber works, I decided to explore sounds and textures that I thought fit with my overall concept, while drawing the “nuts and bolts” of the piece from a classic baroque work.

If you could borrow someone’s musical abilities for a day, who would that someone be?

BV: The great New York alto saxophonist and composer John Zorn has been a source of inspiration for me over the past several years. Zorn fits seamlessly into both the jazz and classical avant-garde worlds, and has developed a unique voice within his compositions. His works with chamber ensembles, big bands, string ensembles, and jazz groups all drip originality, and do not often approach extremes that might deter his listeners.


Is there a particular thread running through your recent?

Patrick Arteaga: I am often working towards creating independence between voices while still having them share a contrapuntal co-dependence. For some time I have been achieving this using harmonic concepts that use very systematic approaches, though as I become more comfortable with these processes I find myself applying these systems much more organically as I am writing. Recently my focus has been shifting to include explorations in rhythm, metre and time to achieve greater distances between contrapuntal voices: an instrument may pull out of a texture by breaking out of the collective metre or tempo before re-assimilating or developing new textures based on the new temporal dichotomy. I also find myself simplifying the thematic material that I am working with, often basing a complete piece on a short gesture. The simplified material allows me to apply more distorting processes and to find opportunities to give the performer more expressive space while giving me more control over the thematic development.

If you could borrow someone’s musical abilities for a day, who would that someone be?

PA: Today I’ll be Ry Cooder touring Bugs Bunny’s folk repertoire, or Bugs Bunny touring a Ry Cooder cover band.


Tell us about your interest and existing experiences with period performance (as a composer, performer, and/or listener).

Curtis Perry: I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between new music practices and early music practices. As early music as a re-discovered performance practice movement arguably only gained traction by the mid-20th century, I feel it has come to represent a facet of contemporary music making that was initially overshadowed by trends in serialism, and what I would call the “ripe to decayed” music of composers like Poulenc and Hindemith. Today, whether I hear the “Gouldbergs” or Buxtehude, or maybe the Brandenburgs, I hear an overall sense of lightness and un-encumbrance, because I think the idea of “freedom through strictures” reigns supreme in music the same way “show don’t tell” is the famous dictum in literature. I admire that there’s a code and a regimented obsession over accepted standards and practices for early music performance, and I was delighted to be able to drop myself into a working situation where I wanted to deliberately give performers a lot of choice in the interpretation of the score, while also writing something that cleaves to the strengths of the decisions such performers would be more likely to make.

The Opus Testing workshop is dealing with objects and memory. How are you approaching this theme through your music?

CP: I think that we—as in likely anyone taking the time to read this—live in a decadent age. The Opus Testing call for proposals made note that we live in an era of unprecedented disposability. Somewhat paradoxically, I think that precisely because of these conditions we are living in a baroque period—where the truth seems to run increasingly rare and opulence seems necessary.

But I think it’s the sense of working through all that detritus and acknowledging it and arranging it in a way that makes some kind of sense—and handling it with care—is what makes period performance the ideal vehicle for this theme of objects and memory of lasting value.

I chose my keys simply because they are some of the few objects that have consistently stayed on my body over the past five years or so. The piece runs through a standard three-part structure: slow—fast slow, anticipation—building—release. The current title, The Key Less Turned, is an allusion to The Road Less Traveled, a book by Morgan Scott Peck. In it he offers advice for a fulfilled life. One of the arguments is that “true” love is an action that one undertakes consciously. The original title for this piece was “Let Love Locks Live,” or something like this—unapologetically metaphorical and alliterative. However, that is a terrible title, so I went for something more nuanced. I have three keys on my ring—for my building, for my apartment, and one for my suitcase that I almost never use. So, the piece is a meditation on possibility and on resisting the lure of banal, everyday existence, for the purpose of seeking to know—to know the self and others, in order to better love. In a roundabout way, then, this piece is really about that memory yet to come.

What/who did you listen to in preparing to write for period instruments?

CP: Now, don’t do what I did. And that is not to worry about listening to any period instruments, composers, or performances in particular. I’ve listened to quite a bit of it, and there are only so many ways you can, say, harmonize a descending bass, and so I figured if my memories of my favourite pieces are only vague, then perhaps I might eke my way into something that is not a pastiche and not in homage, but rather, something that is clearly learned from what came before, but also clearly a new thing—just as I suspect might be the goals of early music practitioners. That is a difficult thing to accomplish. I’m not sure if I’ve done it, but that was my goal.

What have you found most surprising about working with this instrumentation?

CP: Of course, I’m going to talk about the most different instrument in this instrumentation as compared to modern ensembles. The harpsichord is not what you might think it is on recalling its pop culture representations. The harpsichord is a bad-ass beast and it will destroy you. I am not ashamed to say I was pleasantly surprised by its power in the first reading of my piece.

Who/What serves as a primary source of inspiration for you these days?

CP: I have started teaching English as a second language in the past couple of years, and I often find inspiration in my students—I have the privilege of working with adults, and I love listening to their stories, learning about cultures, and seeing new perspectives from the students as immigrants and as new Canadians. I don’t know if that manifests in a clear way in terms of creative energy, but I have consistently found working with students to be inspiring.

Is there a particular thread running through your recent compositions?

CP: I’ve only got a couple of other recordings so far, so it’s hard to say. In addition, I think it’s doubly hard to analyze your own work. It’s like understanding your own vocal accent. It takes an outsider. I hope that I might get to the point where somebody writes about my work—even if it’s not received ideally. That would be interesting.

If you could borrow someone’s musical abilities for a day, who would that someone be?

CP: I think I’d like to try borrowing William Byrd’s contrapuntal sensibilities…


Meet the other composers in previous interviews: Roydon Tse & Joshua Denenberg, and Tova Kardonne & Patrick McGraw.

We invite you to join us to hear the results of Opus: Testing – Period Piece on March 26, at 7:30pm. Reserve your free tickets here. Limited tickets available!