La Scena Musicale

Monday, 31 March 2008

Today's Birthday in Music: March 31 (Haydn)

1732 - Josef Haydn, Rohrau, Austria; composer

Wiki entry
Facts & Information

Excerpt from Die Schöpfung (The Creation) (Natalie Dessay & Laurent Naouri: Collegium Vocale de Grand Ensemble Orchestral de Paris - Festival de Saint Denis, 2005)

Divertimento octet for baryton, two violins, viola, cello doublebass, and two horns in A major Hob X :33. Finale: Allegro

Cecilia Bartoli sings Haydn's cantata "Arianna a Naxos".

Deutschland uber Alles: The National Anthem of Germany was composed by Joseph Haydn. It is a part of his Kaiser Quartet

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Sunday, 30 March 2008

Save CBC Radio 2 Battle Heats Up

The battle to save CBC Radio 2 is heating up. In Saturday's Globe and Mail, the CBC took out a full page ad to defend its recent decision to change CBC Radio 2's programming (See the ad here). The Facebook Save Classical Music at the CBC group has responded by questioning where the CBC got the money ($30,000 according to Mary Soderstrom's blog) to take out an expensive ad when it claimed just days ago that due to lack of funds, they are cutting the CBC Radio Orchestra (See's spotlight for the news articles). The Facebook group's next action is to mount an email letter campaign from March 30 to 31st. See . Here is what they wrote including a list of cuts CBC has been making to its Radio over the last few years:

Here we go again, folks. It sure appears we've made our voices heard. Columnists in the major papers are taking note and taking sides. And the CBC execs themselves sense the threat to their schemes, taking out a full-page ad in the Saturday Globe in rebuttal to our criticism. We're going to keep the pressure up.

EVERYBODY: Write an email outlining your outrage over the changes happening to Radio Two. be as personal as you can. If you need inspiration, we've got a list of issues below, and many people have posted create feats of rhetorical splendour back at the Save Classical Music at the CBC site. Write your quick email tonight to Richard Stursberg and CC it to all the people we mention below plus any journalists you can think of. We expanding things this time to board members and members of parliament. Write you letter before the end of the day on Monday. Let's make another huge statement, folks!

LIST OF ISSUES AND EMAIL ADDRESSES (Thanks to Margaret Logan for compiling all this!)

1. The CBC Young Composers Competition has not been held since March 9, 2003. It, as well as the CBC Young Performers Competition, have been suspended for the past four years. The Canada Council provided the funding for the $10,000.00 grand prize.
2. CBC erased the classical music budget for CBC Records in February 2008, precisely on the eve of their first Grammy win by Canadian violinist James Ehnes and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra under Bramwell Tovey on the CBC Records label. Many artists, such as Measha Brueggergosman, launched their careers on a CBC Records label recording.
3. The commissioning budget previously devoted to commissioning new works from composers is now spread out to cover jazz, pop musicians, and some unspecified amount of contemporary music.
4. CBC cancelled Two New Hours, a multiple-award winning program that was aired for two hours a week in the incredibly prime time slot of Sundays 10pm to midnight. This program was dedicated to the music of living Canadian composers. It was cancelled in March 2007 in its 29th year.
5. CBC cancelled The Arts Report. The late Val Ross, an arts columnist for The Globe and Mail, lamented the loss of this particular radio segment, saying that it kept her in touch with important cultural developments across the country.
6. CBC cancelled Music For A While, which aired classical music daily from 6pm to 8pm. It has been replaced by Tonic, a jazz program which also features hip-hop, soul and world music.
7. CBC cancelled In Performance the flagship Classical concerts program. It was replaced by Canada Live, which has an uneven and unpredictable offering of funk and R and B bands, jazz, Middle eastern fusion music, throatsinging...
8. The proposed cuts for the Fall of 2008 represents further reductions in classical music content, eliminating classical music 6am to 10am and 3pm to 6pm.
9. The new hosts are not musicologists and have little depth of knowledge to share with radio listeners. Howard Dyck, for example, who is no longer hosting Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, is an Order of Canada recipient, a conductor and the recipient of numerous honourary degrees for his contribution to music in Canada. See Larry Lake, former host of Two New Hours, is a Toronto composer, performer and broadcaster. He is Artistic Director of the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, the oldest active live electronic music group in the world, now in its 35th season. Other hosts whose, such as Tom Allen, Eric Friesen, Rick Phillips are also giants in the field of music broadcasting.
10. The axing of the CBC Radio Orchestra: North America's 70 year old last remaining radio orchestra and platform for countless premieres of new Canadian compositions
11. Gone are Music & Company - Tom Allen's morning show, Here's to You - Catherine Belyea's (Formerly Shelley Solmes') all-request show, Studio Sparks - due to the venerable Eric Friesen's "retirement", and Disc Drive - Jurgen Gothe's popular drive-home show after almost 30 years. These changes come on the heels of last years round of cuts to vital programs such as Danielle Charbonneau's much-loved Music for Awhile; Larry Lake's new composer showcase Two New Hours; Symphony Hall - Canada's live orchestra recording showcase; The Singer and the Song - Catherine Belyea's excellent Classical vocal program; Northern Lights - the overnight Classical program beloved by Night Owls everywhere; The reformatting of In Performance- a primarily classical live performance show into the much-reviled Canada Live - a uniformly non-classical and completely unfocused hodge-podge of World music, soft pop, and sort-of Jazz; and the controversial replacement of veteran Howard Dyck from Saturday Afternoon at the Opera after many years of great service.
12. The CBC axing the Radio Orchestra one day citing lack of resources, and the next day buying hugely expensive full-page ad in the Globe and Mail to convince us how wonderful everything is going to be in their Brave New World.

Send your letter to Richard Stursberg, head of English services at CBC, condeming any of the issues above, or, preferably, one of your own. Demand his resignation for single-handedly destroying 70 years of a carefully evolved musical ecology at CBC Radio 2.

cc: ALL the following individuals:
1. CBC President Hubert Lacroix
2. CBC board chairman Timothy Casgrain through his assistant Kathleen Martin
3.. Board members Peter Herrndorf
4. and Trina McQueen
5. Stursberg's Executive Assistant, Cathy Katrib-Reyes KatribC@CBC.CA
6. Lacroix`s Chief of Staff Francine Letourneau
7. Exec in charge of CBC Radio, Jennifer McGuire or
8. Radio 2 Programming chief or
9. Peter Steinmetz, Chair of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame
10. Josee Verner, Minister of Heritage
11. Prime Minister Stephen Harper
12. Liberal Heritage critic Mauril Bélanger
13. NDP Heritage critic Charlie Angus
14. The major newspaper journalist of your choice - local is best!

Cc: KatribC@CBC.CA;;;;;;;,;;;;;;

Note! Your email client may require commas rather than semi-colons.

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Today's Birthday in Music: March 30 (Traetta)

1727 - Tommaso Traetta, Bitonto, Italy; composer

Wiki entry

Anna Bonitatibus sings "Di quest'aura" from Traetta's opera Armida

Excerpt from Treatta's opera Antigona (Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, June 2004)

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Saturday, 29 March 2008

Today's Birthday in Music: March 29 (Walton)

1902 - William Walton, Oldham, England; composer

Biography and more
Article (La Scena Musicale, Jan. 2002)

Violinist Kyung-Wha Chung plays Walton's violin concerto, 3rd mvt. (special concert celebrating the 80th birthday of the composer; André Previn conducting)

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Friday, 28 March 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: March 28 (Ramey, Serkin)

1942 - Samuel Ramey, Colby, U.S.A.; opera bass-baritone

Wiki entry

Samuel Ramey as Zaccaria in Verdi's Nabucco (Paris, 1995)

1903 - Rudolf Serkin, Eger, Bohemia; pianist

Wiki entry
Short bio/pictures

Rudolf Serkin plays Beethoven - Waldstein Sonata, 3rd mvt. (1965)

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Thursday, 27 March 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: March 27 (Rostropovich, Labadie)

1927 - Mstislav Rostropovich, Baku, Azerbaijan; cellist and conductor

Wiki entry
Slava (La Scena Musicale, May 2007)

Rostropovich plays Bach Cello Suite No.1 - Allemande

1963 - Bernard Labadie, Québec City, Canada; conductor (Les Violons du Roy)

Short bio/pictures
Interview (La Scena Musicale, Sept. 1997)

Bernard Labadie conducts Pieter Wispelwey and Les Violons du Roy in Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major, 3rd mvt.

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Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Alfred and the fruitcakes

I first realised there was a problem with Alfred Brendel when, a decade ago over dinner with the Menuhins, he muttered 'you made an intellectual of me,' and turned his head away.
I knew what he was on about, just about. Some time before, I had written a playful op-ed dividing pianists into two categories, eggheads and fruitcakes. The first are balding brainboxes who commune with Schopenhauer in their down time. The other category is full of nuts like Vladimir de Pachmann, who carried a smelly sock that he claimed belonged to Chopin, and Vladimir Horowitz who only gave recitals at 4pm and lived on a diet of Dover sole.
On balance, I reckoned, Mr B belonged to Category A. Apparently, he has never forgiven me.
Last weekend in a Guardian quiz, he was asked: 'What is the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?' Alfred Brendel replied: 'Cerebral pianist (Norman Lebrecht).'
Well, I guess no critic gets it right all the time, but when an artist cites Stendhal and Bunuel as his leisure pastimes and Peter Brook as his most admired living person, it might be reasonable to suggest that he has a whiff of bookishness about him, no matter how wacky an eccentric he would like to seem.
Even in his last season of playing concerts, I don't see Mr B coming on stage in a polka-dot tie and tutu. He is certifiably sane and fit for purpose, which is more than can be said of one or two younger colleagues. He is also unbendingly serious in his approach to music.
I am truly sorry for having cut him to the quick. I certainly didn't mean 'intellectual' in the English, pejorative sense, meaning someone not fit to be seen on BBC television.
Alfred, this is an apology. If you promise to play another couple of years, I'll upgrade you in my next piece to fruit-and-nut. Deal?\
Source: Artsjournal


Royal Opera House in HD: Frederick Ashton's Sylvia

Given the wildly successful Metropolitan Opera at the Movies venture instituted by the visionary Peter Gelb in December 2006, other opera companies are jumping on the bandwagon. La Scala and San Francisco Opera have started their own series at selected movie houses in Europe and the U.S., and Opera Australia is rumoured to get in on the action soon. Sadly none of these shows are available in Canada.

But not to worry – the venerable Royal Opera House (Covent Garden) is bringing its products to Canadian movie theatres. In a joint venture among Royal Opera, Opus Arte, and Digiscreen, the best of opera and ballet from ROH are making their way to the Empire Theatre chain across Canada. It begins this coming Sunday (March 30), with a showing of the late Sir Frederick Ashton’s Sylvia, starring the recently retired Royal Ballet prima ballerina Darcey Bussell. It will be followed by the terrific production of Carmen (April 19) starring the fabulous Anna Caterina Antonacci in the title role, and new tenor sensation Jonas Kaufmann as Don Jose. Other productions in the initial offering include three more ballets – Romeo et Juliette (May 24), Tales of Beatrix Potter (June 7) and The Sleeping Beauty (July 21). It appears that ROH is bringing its most popular and accessible shows, with the best singers and dancers, to its line-up. I have seen the Carmen and it really is a great performance - Antonacci and Kaufmann burned up the stage! It is not to be missed.

Yesterday I attended the press screening of Sylvia at the Empress Walk Theatre in North York. Like the Met shows, this ROH performance is in HD, although unlike the Met, everything in this line-up is pre-recorded. In fact this performance of Sylvia is several years old. Choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton first conceived this work for the Royal Ballet in 1951 as a one-act ballet for Margot Fonteyn. It was last performed in 1965. Shortly before his death, Ashton expressed the wish to revive this ballet. Royal Ballet's Christopher Newton recreated the ballet based on photographs and sketches in honour of Ashton. Now the role of Sylvia was taken by Royal Ballet's most famous ballerina, Darcey Bussell.

Set to a score by Leo Delibes, Sylvia is your typical Romantic ballet. Shepherd Aminta is in love with Sylvia, who accidentally kills him with an arrow meant for the God Eros, who in turn shoots an arrow into Sylvia. The upshot of this is her falling in love with the dying Shepherd. Meanwhile, the lecherous Orion kidnapped Sylvia for his harem, but she escapes. Eros brings Aminta back to life and the two lovers are re-united. The 1951 version by Ashton was only one act, but later he expanded it to three short acts. The screening yesterday was short and sweet, lasting only two hours, even with a 20 minute intermission. For the opera fans among us, this intermission is for wimps since we are used to sitting through long operas, like the marathon six hours of Tristan und Isolde the previous week, but never mind....

Taped some years ago, Bussell was at the height of her powers here as Sylvia. Her dancing has clarity, precision, and a luminosity that is of the highest order. Partnering her is the Aminta of Roberto Bolle, a fine dancer though somewhat below the level of Bussell. Thiago Soares is a macho Orion, while Martin Harvey is a rather precious Eros. Graham Bond's conducting is good if a bit anonymous, perhaps to be expected in this genre of ballet. The sets and costumes are expectedly sumptuous. Unlike the live Met telecasts which are by satellite and thus subjected to the vagaries of weather and other factors, these ROH shows are pre-packaged in hard discs sent to individual theatres. As a result, the picture and sound are flawless.

If there is one criticism, it is the dim quality of the picture. I am told that this is due to the limitation of the projection equipment. Still, I wish someone can explain to me - if a regular movie can be so bright that it is blinding, why are these telecasts , whether it is the Met or the Royal Opera, so dim? I was told by a theatre manager last year that the technology will catch up and everything will be different in a couple of years. For me, it can't happen soon enough. For now, we should be grateful that we can see these performances without having to travel acrosss the Atlantic. Yes, the lack of "real time" and intermission features mean it is less exciting than the Met telecasts. In fact, the performances offered by ROH are all available on DVD, but there is something to be said about seeing it in a huge screen that most of us cannot duplicate at home! So for now, I will be happily attending these shows.

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Today's Birthdays in Music: March 26 (Boulez, Backhaus)

1925 - Pierre Boulez, Montbrison, France; composer, conductor

Wiki entry
Grove bio & more
Boulez in Conversation (La Scena Musicale, Nov. 2002)

Pierre Boulet conducts his Le soleil des eaux (Elizabeth Atherton, BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, Barbican Hall, London, 2005)

1884 - Wilhelm Backhaus, Leipzig, Germany; pianist

Wiki entry

Wilhelm Backhaus Plays Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 - 2nd movement (Vienna Philharmonic, Knappertsbusch conducting, 1962)

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Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: March 25 (Bartók, Toscanini)

1881 - Béla Bartók, Nagyszentmiklós, Hungary; composer, pianist, ethnomusicologist

Wiki entry
A Composer at the Next Station (La Scena Musicale, Sept. 2004)

Bartók - Piano Concerto No. 3 (Part 1). Andras Schiff at piano, City of Birmingham Orchestra, Simon Rattle, conductor (1997)

1867 - Arturo Toscanini, Parma, Italy; conductor

Wiki entry
Toscanini online

Toscanini conducts the NBC Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, 1st mvt. (Carnegie Hall, 1952)

Overture to Verdi's La Forza del Destino (Toscanini conducts the NBC Symphony Orchestra, 1944)

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Monday, 24 March 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: March 24 (Malibran, Luxon)

1808 - Maria Malibran, Paris, France; opera mezzo-soprano and composer

Wiki entry

Cecilia Bartoli on Maria Malibran (more Bartoli than Malibran)

1937 - Benjamin Luxon, Redruth, England; opera and concert baritone

Wiki entry
Short bio/pictures

The Marriage of Figaro, Act 2: Benjamin Luxon as the Count (with Te Kanawa, Cotrubas and von Stade; Glyndebourne, 1973)

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Sunday, 23 March 2008

Met in HD: Tristan und Isolde

The current run of Tristan und Isolde at the Met has had more than its share of high drama, and not always the desirable kind. It all began with the indisposition of Canadian tenor Ben Heppner. This was supposed to be the much anticipated reprise of his Tristan, one of his most celebrated roles. And he was paired with soprano Deborah Voigt in her first Met Isolde. With these two great singers, supported by Wagnerian luminaries Matti Salminen and Michelle DeYoung, it was a highly anticipated event.

But things did not go smoothly from the start in this ill-starred revival. Heppner was feeling unwell throughout the rehearsal period, suffering from chills and fever. Doctors in New York misdiagnosed it as a "simple" case of virus. According to news report, he flew back to Toronto to undergo tests at the North York General Hospital. He was subsequently diagnosed as having a blood-borne infection that has abscessed in his pelvic region, requiring heavy doses of antibiotics and a surgical procedure to drain the infection. Heppner is still scheduled for the remaining two performances this coming week, although the chance of his singing is unknown. He was replaced in the orchestra rehearsal and the final dress by another Canadian, tenor John Mac Master, who was picked to sing opening night. I heard the broadcast on Sirius Radio. Reportedly suffering from allergies, Mac Master struggled in the middle and lower parts his voice, particularly during the lengthy Act 2 Love Duet. He was able to summon sufficient resources and sang an honorable Act 3. In the end, he had to face, undeservedly, boos from a few members of the Met audience at the final curtain. However, it should be noted that the second solo curtain call, he was met with only cheers.

Given the unfortunate reception for Mac Master, the Met management felt it necessary to find another cover. American tenor Gary Lehman, who has had Wagner experiences but had not sung Tristan previously, was quickly pressed into service. He sang the second performance and was well received by the audience. Like a comedy of errors, it was Voigt's turn to get sick. She walked off the stage during the Act 2 Love Duet due to stomach upset. The curtain came down the the performance resumed shortly with her cover, American soprano Janice Baird. Baird is a well known Wagnerian in Europe and is scheduled to sing Brunnhilde for Seattle in summer 2009. Both leads had a success in the second performance, but the drama didn't end there. The staging of the opening of Act 3 has Tristan prostrate on a raked stage with his head pointed downstage. In the third performance, a malfunction of the stage machinery sent Lehman into the prompter's box, close to the open flame which was part of the staging. The performance came to a grinding halt. Lehman was not hurt and the performance resumed in about 8 minutes with no further incident, thankfully.

With the string of mishaps, the fourth performance yesterday, telecast in movie theatres worldwide, understandably put the production team and the more knowledgeable members of the audience on edge. I am happy to report that everything came together and the result was a terrific performance witnessed by a large international audience. Deborah Voigt appears to have regained a few pounds of the huge amount of weight she had lost. While not everyone agrees that weight and voice have any direct relationship, all I can say is that in her case, she sounds better than she has been since her gastric bypass surgery two years ago. For my money, her modest weight gain now may well have contributed to her improved vocal estate and overall stamina in this punishing role. The voice is better supported, and the top firmer and less shrill. The first of her two high Cs in the beginning of the love duet was particularly strong. Throughout the opera, she sang with gleaming tone, in crystal clear German (unlike the mushy German of Michelle DeYoung, the Brangaene), only tiring during the Liebestod. That last ten minutes found her struggling with flat intonation, particularly near the end, when she fought hard to stay on pitch and largely not succeeding. This is forgivable given the overall quality of her performance. Her acting was more involved than I had previously experienced. She was partnered by American tenor Robert Dean Smith, who has a notable career in Europe, including Bayreuth, in the heldentenor fach. Scheduled to make his Met debut as the Kaiser in Die Frau ohne Schatten in 2009, this performance marked his unscheduled debut, and it was an auspicious one. His Tristan combined beauty of tone with impressive stamina, unflagging in his vocalism throughout the lengthy delirium scene in Act 3. His acting was less interesting, but given he had no rehearsal, it was understandable.

The rest of the cast was strong. Eike Wilm Schulte sang firmly as Kurwenal; Michelle DeYoung an unusually youthful Brangaene, more sisterly than matronly. She started tentatively and sounded underpowered, but quickly warmed up to give an estimable performance. And it was a pleasure to hear the magnificent "black bass" of Matti Salminen as King Marke. It appears age is finally catching up with this great singer, evidenced by an incipient slow vibrato that has crept into his voice. But he is still head and shoulders above the others. James Levine has been much praised in Wagner and for good reason - his conducting has all the power and sweep one has come to expect and he managed to make the five and a half hour opera go by in a flash.

Now to the production itself. I saw this in the house some years ago with Heppner and Eaglen; and that run was subsequenly telecast and released on DVD. I have to say I am not too fond of the Dieter Dorn-Jurgen Rose production, which I find idiosyncratic and visually unsuited to the video camera. With this new attempt which draws upon new HD technology, some of my original complaints have been dispelled. Canadian Barbara Sweete, hired by Peter Gelb to do the telecast, liberally employed split screens and multiple images. It has the effect of creating movement in the opera where there is none. Remember we are dealing with an essentially static work, accentuated by a minimalist, highly formalized production. Sweete succeeded in introducing a certain visual variety. When the multiple images first appeared in Act One, I found the effect striking. But by Act Two, its frequency had increased to such an extent that it was almost distracting - a case of too much of a good thing perhaps. Unlike others who have commented negatively on this, I *liked* the concept of multiple images when it is used judiciously, and in a way that does not impede the drama and the overall context of the piece. Given this technique is still in the experimental stage at the Met, some of these issues will likely be resolved out in future telecasts. On this occasion, there were breathtakingly beautiful moments throughout - particularly memorable was the closeup of the two lovers on a dimly lit stage during a quiet moment near the end of the love duet. Moments like that are simply not accessible to the audience in the theatre, no matter how powerful the opera glass! In the theatre when I last saw the production, the two lovers were seen in silhouette, given the back-lit stage. There was simply no visual nuance possible. In fact, one critic (who shall remain nameless) made the nasty remark that the silhouettes of Heppner and Eaglen looked like two large sacks of garden leaves! What I am driving at is that this production poses special challenges for the live audience and the TV camera. Given the constraints, I thought the videography of this telecast was superb.

Technically, this performance as seen at Cinema 6 at the Sheppard Grande represented the first time that the satellite transmission was flawless - no frozen picture, no distorted sound, just five and a half hours of pure enjoyment. If I were to quibble, strangely the sound in Act 3 was much louder than Acts 1 and 2, and near the upper limit of human tolerance. Other than that, I have no complaints. So kudos to the Met and Sheppard Grande. Let's hope this continues!

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Today's Birthday in Music: March 23 (Minkus)

1826 - Léon Minkus, Vienna, Austria; violinist, composer (ballet music)

Wiki entry
Short bio

Excerpt from La Bayadère (Opéra de Paris)

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Saturday, 22 March 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: March 22 (Rosa, Mödl)

1842 - Carl Rosa, Hamburg, Germany; conductor, violinist, impresario (Carl Rosa Opera Co.)

Wiki entry
Carl Rosa Opera Co.

1912 - Martha Mödl, Nuremberg, Germany; opera soprano and mezzo-soprano

Wiki entry
N.Y. Times obit 2001
In Memoriam

Martha Mödl as The Countess from Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades (1981)

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Friday, 21 March 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: March 21 (Bach, Mussorgsky)

1685 - Johann Sebastian Bach, Eisenach, Germany; composer and organist

Wiki entry
Detailed bio

Glenn Gould plays J.S.Bach Piano Concerto No.7 in G minor BWV1058

Extract from The St. John Passion (1971 - Munich Bach Choir and Orchestra, conductor Karl Richter; soloists Kieth Engen, Siegmund Nimsgern, Peter Schreier)

1839 - Modest Mussorgsky, Karevo, Russia; composer

Wiki entry

Evgenij Kissin plays "The Great Gate at Kiev" from Pictures at an Exhibition

Ukrainian bass Mark Reizen makes his 1st act entrance as Dosifey, leader of the Old Believers, in Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina (1950s Mosfilm production)

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Thursday, 20 March 2008

Today's Birthdays in Mucic: March 20 (Gigli, Melchior)

1890 - Beniamino Gigli, Recanati, Italy; opera tenor

Wiki entry

Gigli sings "Celeste Aida" (Rome 1946)

1890 - Lauritz Melchior, Copenhagen, Denmark; opera tenor

Wiki entry
Bio & more

Lauritz Melchior sings Walther's Prize Song from Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1939)

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Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: March 19 (Maconchy, Reger)

1907 - Elizabeth Maconchy, Broxbourne, England; composer

Wiki entry
Our Finest Lost Composer

1873 - Max Reger, Brand, Bavaria, Germany; composer

Max Reger Institute

Reger's Suite for Viola, 2nd movement (Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists)

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Tuesday, 18 March 2008

No prizes for coming third

The German magazine Partituren has asked 52 critics to name their current hottie. Top of the singers is Juan Diego Florez, best composer is Hans Werner Henze and fastest up-and-coming is Gustavo Dudamel. No surprises, there.
But when it comes to favourite orchestra, a large majority of critics plump for the Freiburg Baroque ensemble, followed at some distance by the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie of Bremen. In third place, with just three votes, stands the Berlin Philharmonic, supposedly champions of the world.
Well, a poll is a poll is a good way to fill six pages. But what jumped out at me from this survey was the breakdown which showed that critics who live in Berlin voted more than 2-1 for Freiburg against their local ensemble. These are people who hear Rattle & Co perform week in, week out. They don't seem too impressed. Perhaps they ought to tell us why.
Elsewhere in the mag, there is a long piece of hagiolatry on Herbert von Karajan by one of his misty-eyed biographers. Say what you like about the K brand, but in his time no German magazine would have dared to place his orchestra third to some baroque outfit and a chamber phil - not without Herbie's lawyers having the issue injuncted before it hit the newsstands. Those were the days...
Here's the survey, for those that read German.
Source: Artsjournal


Roma Triumphans

Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal/Christopher Jackson
Atma SACD22507 (61 min 34 s)
***** $$$

Roma triumphans est un recueil de motets (mis à part un Gloria de Benevoli et un Offertoire de Giorgi) composés entre la fin de la Renaissance et la fin du baroque. Les premiers chantés a capella, les derniers accompagnés d’un continuo sobre et subtil (théorbe, violoncelle, orgue positif), ils ont été captés à l’Église de la Nativité de la Sainte-Vierge à La Prairie. L’acoustique offre une réverbération rendant la compréhension du texte un tantinet ardue, mais aussi une somptuosité telle qu’on tombe néanmoins sous le charme. Il faut dire que les troupes de Christopher Jackson maîtrisent parfaitement leur art et font honneur aux œuvres présentées.

-René Bricault

Buy this CD at

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Today's Birthdays in Music: March 18 (Rimsky-Korsakov)

1844 - Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Tikhvin, Russia; composer

Wiki entry

Extract from Sheherazade (Kirov Orchestra, Valery Gergiev conducting, c. 2003)

Olga Trifonova sings the Queen of Shemakha's aria "The Hymn to the Sun" from Le Coq d'Or (Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre de Paris)

Rachmaninov playing his piano arrangement of "Flight of the Bumblebee" by Rimsky-Korsakov (1929)

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Monday, 17 March 2008

Breaking News- Montreal Reverses Decision on Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur

The City of Montreal has announced today that it will continue to ensure the programming la Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur. See below for the press release. Consequently, according to Marie-Chantal Leclair, founder of the Facebook group to save the CHBP, Tuesday's schedule protest will no longer be necessary.

Official statement: MONTREAL, March 17 - At the end of a meeting with the representatives of the Québécois Council of music, the mayor of Montreal, Mr. Gérald Tremblay and Mrs. Catherine Sévigny, advisor associated with Culture and the Downtown area, reiterated the intention of the city of maintain the accessibility of the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur. They also gave assurance that the programming of the venue will be maintained. "I am sensitive to the concerns of the cultural community and the importance which it has for this place of diffusion. We will take all the time required to examine [the issue] with all the stakeholders, and more particularly with the Quebec Music Council on how we can ensure the continuity of the mission of the Chapelle", declared the mayor Gérald Tremblay.

Original French language news release:

MONTREAL, le 17 mars - Au terme d'une rencontre avec les représentants du Conseil québécois de la musique, le maire de Montréal, M. Gérald Tremblay et Mme Catherine Sévigny, conseillère associée à la Culture et au Centre-ville, ont réitéré l'intention de la Ville de maintenir accessible la Chapelle du Bon-Pasteur. Ils ont également donné l'assurance que la programmation de la Chapelle sera maintenue. "Je suis sensible aux préoccupations du milieu culturel et à l'importance qu'il accorde à ce lieu de diffusion. Nous allons prendre le temps nécessaire pour examiner avec toutes les personnes intéressées et plus particulièrement avec le Conseil québécois de la musique de quelle manière nous pouvons assurer la pérennité de la mission de la Chapelle", a déclaré le maire Gérald Tremblay.

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Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur : la protestation se poursuit mardi

Le mouvement pour sauver la Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur (CHBP) se poursuivra mardi 18 mars à 11 heures avant la cérémonie de remise du Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal 2007 qui vise à reconnaître annuellement l’excellence d’une production ou d’un événement réalisé sur le territoire de la Ville de Montréal. La manifestation est dirigée par Marie-Chantal Leclair dont le groupe « Sauvons la programmation de la Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur » sur Facebook s’est enrichi de 800 membres en 5 jours. Ceux qui ne sont pas membres de Facebook peuvent visiter le site de La Scena Musicale et commenter le sujet.
Le groupe a implanté vendredi dernier la base de sa protestation en attirant 100 personnes à une rencontre entre les représentants de la Direction du développement culturel de la Ville de Montréal et les membres du Conseil québécois de la musique (CQM) qui ont tenté de renverser la décision d’annuler la programmation à la Chapelle du Bon-Pasteur. Les membres du CQM ont refusé à l’unanimité cette coupure de budget dans un équipement qui fonctionne très bien et qui offre au public tous les styles musicaux, ainsi qu’une ambiance qu’on ne retrouve nulle part ailleurs. La prochaine action prévue par le CQM est une rencontre officielle avec le maire Gérald Tremblay pour présenter son point de vue.
Détails de la protestation :
Prochaine action : MANIFESTATION
MARDI 18 MARS, dès 11h, à l'entrée de l'Hôtel Sheraton Centre-Ville, 1201 boul. René-Lévesque Ouest.
Cette manifestation se déroule dans le cadre du dîner du Conseil des Arts de Montréal, afin de sensibiliser la population, le milieu musical et culturel ainsi que les élus et les médias.
Informations détaillées sur Facebook et sur le site de La Scena Musicale :

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Today's Birthday in Music: March 17 (Jacquet de la Guerre)

1665 - Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Paris, France; composer and harpsichordist (baptized March 17)

Wiki entry
Baroque Women

"La Flamande" and "Sarabande" from Suite in d minor (1707) by Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre

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Sunday, 16 March 2008

Chapelle du Bon-Pasteur Protest Continues Tuesday

The movement to save the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur (CHBP) will continue on Tuesday, March 18 at 11 AM at the downtown Sheraton Hotel in Montreal before the Montreal Board of Trade's luncheon celebrating the Conseil des Arts de Montréal's 2007 Grand Prix which recognizes the best arts organization of the year. The demonstration is being led by Marie-Chantal Leclair whose FACEBOOK group "Sauvons la programmation de la Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur!" has grown to over 800 members in 5 days.

Last Friday morning, the group organized its first grass-roots protest drawing about 100 to a meeting between Montreal Cultural Services officials and members of the Conseil québecois de la musique (CQM), which has also mounted its own efforts to reverse the decision to cancel programming at the Chapelle du Bon-Pasteur. The consensus of the CQM members at the meeting was that they did not accept the idea of cuts to things that are extraordinary, and that the CHBP was extraordinary in the way it functions and in it presents diverse musical styles to the public. The CQM's next step is a formal meeting with Mayor Gerald Tremblay to present its case.

The details of the protest are:
  • Prochaine action : MANIFESTATION
    MARDI 18 MARS, dès 11h, à l'entrée de l'Hôtel Sheraton Centre-Ville, 1201 boul. René-Lévesque Ouest.
    Cette manifestation se déroule dans le cadre du dîner du Conseil des Arts de Montréal, afin de sensibiliser la population, le milieu musical et culturel ainsi que les élus et les médias.
    More info at Facebook.
> For more about the developing story, visit

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Met in HD: Peter Grimes

The Met in HD season continued yesterday with a telecast of a new production of Peter Grimes. It replaced the 40-year old, completely realistic Tyrone Guthrie production that had served the Company well over the years. Some of my most memorable opera-going experiences involved that old production - Vickers as Grimes and Johanna Meier as Ellen Orford in 1984, and later performances involving Anthony Rolfe-Johnson and Ben Heppner. But stylistically the Guthrie production was really showing its age, so it was time that the Met retired it with a new one. The originally announced Grimes was tenor Neil Shicoff, whom I believe has sung it in Vienna. But somewhere along the way, Shicoff was replaced by the young American tenor Anthony Dean Griffey. Since I had not seen Shicoff as Grimes I can't say with authority, but frankly I can't imagine that he would be better than Griffey, who as far as I am concerned, was born to sing this role. I saw Griffey as Lennie in Of Mice and Men at Glimmgerglass in 1997, and I count that as one of the most transcendent operatic experiences of my life.

So it was with great anticipation that I attended the show yesterday. In a nutshell, the musical values were equal to, if not surpassing, my expectations. Griffey was magnificent as Grimes. Having seen Vickers in this role, I must say the Canadian set the standard by which I measure all subsequent Grimes. Griffey is certainly more youthful, more likable and less menacing - less savage - than Vickers. Griffey's high, clear, sweet tenor is simply a joy to the ear, his top more secure than Vickers, and head and shoulders above that of Robert Brubaker who sang it in Toronto a few years ago. Griffey's Grimes reminds me more of Heppner than Vickers's - beautifully sung and affectingly acted, and unusually sympathetic for an anti-hero.

Partnering Griffey was soprano Patricia Racette as Ellen Orford. Having seen her in a half dozen roles - among them Blanche, Tatiana and Elisabetta, I must say Ellen is probably her very best role. She totally embodies the character - I like her quiet strength and her humanity. Again, a rather youthful character that plays well against Griffey's youth. Vocally, other than a loss of focus at the extreme top once or twice, Racette sang wonderfully, her Embroidery Aria was exquisite.

The third principal, Balstrode, was assumed by baritone Anthony Michaels-Moore. I was slightly disappointed by him. I find an older singer works better in this role, in the mode of a Thomas Stewart for example. Physically and dramatically, Michaels-Moore lacked a commanding presence and vocally he didn't make a big impression. He was outsung by another baritone, the debuting Teddy Tahu Rhodes, whose golden-voiced Ned Keene and handsome stage presence oozed charisma at every turn. Grimes is really an ensemble opera, with some wonderfully detailed characterizations. Standouts in this production included Felicity Palmer, who sang strongly and was perfectly cast as Mrs. Sedley. Also excelelnt was the Auntie of Jill Grove, and John De Carlo as Swallow. The quartet for the women was a highlight of the performance. Donald Runnicles proved masterful on the podium, his conducting was a perfect balance of power and lyricism, achieving great clarity in the orchestration. The Storm music in Act One was incredible (if only it were matched by the action on stage, but more about that later). And I must say I haven't heard the Met chorus sounding so good in a very long time. For years, this chorus - particularly the women - had been the Achilles heel of the Company. With the arrival of Donald Palumbo, it has slowly but surely undergone a significant and long overdue transformation.

With its superb musical values, this Grimes would have been definitive if only the production itself measured up. I am sorry to say that it did not. Set designer Scott Pask's unit set is basically a soaring wall of wood panels that moves upstage and downstage, a structure that serves all three acts. It is placed quite far downstage throughout the opera, leaving a relatively small staging area, creating (perhaps deliberately) a claustrophobic and oppressive feeling. The problem with this design is its two-dimensionality. Despite the basic realism inherent in the structure, there is little that is truly realistic in the way it is used. During the storm scene for example, there is no suggestion of wind nor rain - not one person get wet! No howling of wind, no ruffled dresses. It stretches the imagination that this "wall" represents the town hall, the pub, and Grimes hut - it's really quite confusing for those new to the opera. The suggestion of scene change comes really only from the text and not from what one sees on stage. The singers and the large chorus are clustered close together up front, or perched behind various windows and doors on the multi-level structure - visually it creates a flatness that is much like a typical broadway musical, ultimately robbing the piece of its potential dramatic power. I couldn't help but compare the Doyle production with the excellent Tim Albery production for ENO that was also staged in Toronto several years ago. The latter has much more clever use of multimedia tricks to suggest the storm, and the staging for Grimes' hut - and the tragic fall of the apprentice - is much more effective. From this regard, the Doyle production falls flat, literally and figuratively. The saving grace is that the strong music values makes one overlook the design shortcomings. Perhaps some of the directorial and design elements could be altered for future revivals, although I am not holding my breath.

On to the telecast itself. Shown in only two cinemas at the Sheppard Grande - and the second cinema was not full - the size of the audience was probably the smallest of all the Met telecasts so far at this venue. It was hosted by Natalie Dessay, who spoke with an accent, but she was totally intelligible. And frankly, it was a nice break from the over-exposed Renee Fleming. The interviews were pretty much standard fare - principals, director, and designer. The most interesting segment was a live relay to Aldeburgh, England - Britten's hometown - where 250 people were watching the live telecast. The transmission itself had two very minor glitches - frozen picture, each lasting about two or three seconds, one occuring at a crucial moment when Grimes struck Ellen. The audience let out a collective gasp but fortunately the transmission resumed. There were the usual ads for upcoming telecasts, and understandably Ben Heppner's name was nowhere to be seen, now that he has officially withdrawn from the March 22 performance. Let's hope the Met finds a decent replacement for Heppner. We will soon find out in a week's time!

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Today's Birthdays in Music: March 16 (Ludwig, Berganza)

1928 - Christa Ludwig, Berlin, Germany; opera and lieder mezzo-soprano

Wiki entry
Brief bio/pictures
Looking Back (La Scena Musicale)

Christa Ludwig sings "Der Abschied" from Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde (Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Leonard Bernstein)

1935 - Teresa Berganza, Madrid, Spain; opera and concert mezzo-soprano

Wiki entry
Official website

Teresa Berganza sings "L´amour est un oiseau rebelle"(Habañera) from Bizet´s Carmen (Paris Opéra Production, 1980)

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Saturday, 15 March 2008

Met Tristan und Isolde Suffers Second Setback

Deborah Voigt is the latest star to fall sick in the Metropolitan Opera's current production of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. According to the Associated Press, soprano Deborah Voigt left in the middle of the second act Friday night because of a stomach ailment and was replaced by understudy Janice Baird.
Voigt sang the opener but didn't sound at her best Friday and had trouble with the high notes during the first act.
"She was very heroic," Met general manager Peter Gelb said. "She told me before the second act began that she was feeling sick this morning but she didn't tell us because she didn't want to disturb us. She wanted to be very supportive of Mr. Lehman."
After the first act, Voigt spoke with Gelb and said she was ill.
"We agreed she would start the second act and see how it went," Gelb said.
Baird, Voigt's cover singer, was put on alert during the first intermission, which lasted about 10 minutes longer than usual, and by the start of the second act was standing by.
Voigt signaled near the beginning of the second-act love duet that she couldn't continue and hurried offstage. Music director James Levine kept conducting. Then the curtain came down, Lehman started singing and the orchestra stopped.
An announcement was made that Voigt suddenly had taken ill. Baird got into the costume that Voigt had been wearing and replaced her about 10-15 minutes later. Baird and Lehman received enthusiastic applause at the end of the act.
The production opened on Monday, March 10 with Canadian tenor John Mac Master taking over for an ailing Ben Heppner, who announced that he was still indisposed through the March 22 Simulcast.

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Today's Birthdays in Music: March 15 (Strauss, McPhee)

1835 - Eduard Strauss, Vienna, Austria; conductor and composer

Wiki entry
Brief bio/picture

Polka "Without Brakes" by Eduard Strauss (Vienna Philharmonic, conductor Zubin Mehta, New Year's Concert 2007)

1900 - Colin McPhee, Montreal, Canada; composer and ethnomusicologist

Wiki entry

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Friday, 14 March 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: March 14 (Telemann, Strauss)

1681 - Georg Philipp Telemann, Magdeburg, Germany; composer

Wiki entry
Detailed bio

Allegro from the Trio Sonata in D minor by Telemann, performed by Voices of Music ensemble

1804 - Johann Strauss I, Vienna, Austria; composer, conductor, violinist

Wiki entry

Johann Strauss - Radetzky March (Carlos Kleiber - Vienna Philharmonic, 1992 New Year's Concert)

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Thursday, 13 March 2008

Today's Birthday in Music: March 13 (Wolf)

1860 - Hugo Wolf, Windischgraz, Austria; composer (lieder)

Wiki entry
1911 Britannica bio

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf: Song from Wolf's Spanisches Liederbuch (1958 film)

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Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Breaking News: Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur Sit In

According to the Montreal New Music Scene  Facebook Group, a sit in is being scheduled for Friday morning, March 14 at 9:30, centre pierre-péladeau hallway, to help save public music at Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur. The sit in will coincide with a meeting between parties to discuss the situation. 

Original French language news release:

Sachez que ce vendredi matin, au salon orange du Centre Pierre-Pél à 10h, certains membres du CQM rencontreront des dirigeants de la Direction du développement culturel de la Ville de Montréal, ceux-ci ont accepté de venir rencontrer les membres du CQM afin de discuter de l'avenir de la C.H.d.B.P. La rencontre leur servira à mieux cerner les intentions de la Ville et à comprendre ce qu'ils entendent par partenariat.

ON ORGANISE UN SIT-IN sur le lieu même pour montrer que cette histoire nous touche! Idéalement, pendant la rencontre, il devrait y avoir une foule de jeunes et de moins jeunes dans le hall qui attendent avec impatience le dénouement de cette affaire! Faites tout ce que vous pouvez pour y être présent, car un sit in à 20, c'est pathétique, mais à 200... Oh là!

Vendredi, 14 mars rendez-vous 9h30, Centre Pierre Péladeau, hall d'entrée, 300, boul. de Maisonneuve Est, Montréal.

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Today's Birthdays in Music: March 12 (Arne, Knappertsbusch)

1710 - Thomas Arne, London, England; composer ("Rule, Britannia!")


Thomas Arne's Rule Britannia (BBC Promenade concerts 1993: Della Jones, John Tomlinson, BBC Symphony Orchestra, cond. Barry Wordsworth)

1888 - Hans Knappertsbusch, Elberfeld (Wuppertal), Germany; conductor

Wiki entry

Knappertsbusch conducts the finale of Beethoven's 9th Symphony (Berlin Philharmonic, 1942 or 1943)

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Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Commentaires, Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, Reactions

Le milieu montréalais de la musique réagit à la décision de la Ville de Montréal de mettre fin à sa programmation de concerts à la Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur à compter de l’été 2008. Ajoutez vos commentaires à la fin.

The Montreal music community is starting to react to the cancellation of the artistic programming at the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, which we reported on on March 10. Add your comments at the end of this page.

La Chapelle Historique du Bon Pasteur fête cette année ses vingt ans. La Ville de Montréal souligne cet anniversaire en mettant fin à sa programmation! Ce manque de vision me choque profondément. La Chapelle du Bon Pasteur est un endroit magique, où tant le public que les artistes sont accueillis avec une chaleur rare de nos jours. Ce n’est pas simplement un « lieu de diffusion », avec des « équipements techniques », mais véritablement un écrin pour la culture. On y sent une âme, concept qui bien sûr laisse froid nos décideurs à la Ville.
Dans la note envoyée par la Ville aux organismes culturels hier, on fait mention du travail colossal de Monsieur Guy Soucie, directeur de la Chapelle Historique du Bon Pasteur depuis vingt ans. Guy Soucie est l’âme de la Chapelle. C’est grâce à lui si on aime tant ce lieu. Que deviendra la Chapelle sans capitaine à la barre?
Pourquoi défaire ce qui a pris vingt ans à construire? Pourquoi, lorsqu’on a construit un trésor, on met la hache dedans?
Et de grâce, ne me parlez pas d’économies! Le budget dont on parle ici n’est rien, dans l’ensemble des dépenses de la Ville. Ce dont vous faites l’économie, Messieurs Dames à la Ville, c’est de vision et de courage.
Bien à vous,
Lise Beauchamp
C'est avec stupéfaction que j'apprenais la décision de la ville de Montréal de mettre fin à la programmation de la Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur.

Depuis plus de 20 ans la Chapelle tient un rôle essentiel dans la vie musicale montréalaise. Dans une acoustique exceptionnelle, on y présente de la musique de chambre de toutes les époques, de la musique baroque à la musique contemporaine en passant par le jazz. Sa programmation GRATUITE est outil de démocratisation essentiel pour la musique de concert.

Alors que Montréal se targue d'être une Métropole culturelle, ce geste est un non sens auquel je ne trouve pas d'explication.

J'ai eu le grand plaisir au cours de jouer à plusieurs reprises à la Chapelle. Plaisir de jouer dans un lieu si propice à l'écoute, et à la complicité avec le public. Plaisir de pouvoir y proposer des programmes audacieux, sans compromis. J'ai eu aussi l'immense plaisir d'y entendre de formidables musiciens de Montréal bien sûr, mais de partout au Québec et de l'étranger.

Je demande donc que Montréal reconsidère sa décision et continue de financer la programmation de la Chapelle.

Je vous invite à vous joindre au groupe SAUVONS LA CHAPELLE sur Face Book

Marie-Chantal Leclair
Directrice artistique
Quasar quatuor de saxophones

Montréal, le 13 mars 2008

Monsieur Gérald Tremblay
Hôtel de ville de Montréal
275, rue Notre-Dame est
Montréal, Qc

Monsieur le Maire,
Je réagis à l’annonce du changement de vocation de la chapelle historique du Bon Pasteur et souhaite vous démontrer à quel point il est important que cette vocation demeure et que la Chapelle puisse fêter son 20e anniversaire la saison prochaine par une saison importante fort bien remplie…. et tout ça pour 250 000$ !!
Il y a plus de vingt ans, le Conseil des arts de la Communauté urbaine de Montréal dont j’étais alors Secrétaire générale et directrice commandait à la firme Pluram une étude sur l’état du réseau des salles de spectacles et de concerts sur son territoire. Le constat avait été fait que les habitants de l’Île de Montréal devaient se rendre au centre-ville pour profiter des séries de concerts organisés par les quelques sociétés déjà bien ancrées dans l’histoire de notre ville et la raison était la suivante : les compagnies de spectacles ne veulent pas élire domicile dans les banlieues faute de lieux adéquats, salles de répétitions et autres, et faute de salle de spectacles digne de ce nom. Fort des conclusions de cette étude, le Conseil des arts de la Communauté urbaine de Montréal a pérennisé son programme de soutien à la tournée sur son propre territoire, programme que nous appelions alors Jouer dans l’Île et qui est devenu le Conseil des arts en tournée. De son côté, la Ville de Montréal a développé plus avant son concept de réseau des Maisons de la culture que vous connaissez aujourd’hui. Tous les habitants de l’Île de Montréal, sans distinctions, profitent de ces deux programmes et vous devez en être félicités.
La vocation des Maisons de la culture était double, dans notre esprit : la première, développer la culture dans la population. Cela voulait dire développer l’envie de voir la production des artistes contemporains par la fréquentation de spectacles de théâtre, de musique, de danse, par la fréquentation d’expositions de peinture, de sculpture, par la fréquentation de certains films non présentés dans les cinémas commerciaux. Et ce, dans leur environnement immédiat c’est-à-dire dans leur propre quartier. La deuxième vocation était de présenter des jeunes artistes en début de carrière et leur permettre ainsi de combler le temps d’arrêt qui existe dans leur vie professionnelle, à la fin de leurs études dans nos conservatoires et universités, au moment où ils commencent leurs activités professionnelles mais ne sont connus ni du public ni des organisateurs de spectacles et de tournées.
Cet arrêt est encore plus navrant en 2008 à cause du nombre sans cesse croissant de jeunes qui sont intéressés par les disciplines artistiques qui graduent des conservatoires et universités et qui prétendent à un travail rémunérateur dans ce secteur d’activités. Ils n’ont pas de lieu où
présenter leurs concerts. Certains jeunes musiciens ont même senti le besoin de se constituer en société musicale afin de s’assurer eux-mêmes la possibilité de commencer une carrière musicale après quelques années de vaches maigres. C’est ainsi que sont nées plusieurs sociétés actuelles de concert de musique baroque, entre autres. Et les Maisons de la culture sont pour elles un lieu de diffusion de début de carrière. N’oublions pas que les Maisons de la culture ne sont pas des lieux spécialisés. Elles ont une programmation diversifiée théâtre, musique, danse et arts visuels et, par conséquent, ne peuvent pas accueillir tous les jeunes et surtout pas tous les concerts de tous ces jeunes.
Lorsque la Ville de Montréal a consenti à ce que la Chapelle historique assure une plus grande possibilité de diffusion pour les jeunes musiciens (et les moins jeunes, il faut bien le dire) en devenant un lieu de diffusion réservé à la musique classique, nous avons applaudi à tout rompre. Plusieurs jeunes ont pu commencer leur carrière à la Chapelle parce que son directeur a vu juste et leur en a donné la chance. Depuis quelque temps, les étudiants du Conservatoire y jouent pendant la phase de restauration de l’immeuble qui sera inauguré dans les mois qui viennent. J’ai pu y découvrir des talents immenses impossibles à repérer s’ils ne peuvent jouer quelque part et être entendus. Aujourd’hui, ils n’ont plus à y venir puisqu’ils sont maintenant dans les circuits officiels et jouent dans la cour des grands.
Il ne faut donc pas retirer à ces jeunes, à nos jeunes, la possibilité de jouer à la Chapelle mais leur en ouvrir de nouvelles. Il faut aussi conserver la qualité « musicien professionnel » de son directeur ou de sa directrice qui doit s’investir dans la vie musicale montréalaise et internationale afin de repérer ces jeunes et souvent ces moins jeunes que nous ne pouvons entendre autrement. Je pense à l’intégrale des Sonates de Beethoven que Christian Leotta nous a présentée il y a quelques années. Cette série de concerts (8) n’avait pas été à l’affiche depuis les années 50 alors que Wilhelm Kempf logeait à l’affiche de Pro Musica, à la salle du Plateau. Je pense à Ponticello, ce quatuor de jeunes violoncellistes montréalais qui commencent une carrière internationale. Ils ont joué à la Chapelle. Il leur faut une salle de concert intime, doté des équipements essentiels à toute vie professionnelle de concert. Il leur faut les conseils d’un professionnel doté d’une bonne expérience de cette vie musicale professionnelle avant de passer dans les mains d’un agent de tournée.
Et parlons donc du public qui a la chance de les entendre gratuitement. Jusqu’à ce que je prenne ma retraite, je ne mesurais pas à quel point cette gratuité est importante pour ceux qui comme moi n’ont pas travaillé dans un monde hautement organisé syndicalement. Je n’ai pas la capacité financière de payer les billets des concerts que j’entends à la Chapelle.
Enfin, j’ai beaucoup de difficulté à penser que la diminution des frais encourus par l’organisation des concerts de la Chapelle est la cause de ce changement de régime. Tout d’abord parce qu’il est évident que la réorganisation proposée ne justifiera pas une diminution de budget mais exigera une augmentation du budget actuel. Certains modèles sont déjà dans certains esprits : l’Espace libre qui, à ses débuts en 1980, abritait trois compagnies de théâtre, Carbone 14, le Nouveau Théâtre expérimental et Omnibus. Elles ne sont plus que deux depuis que Gilles Maheu et Carbone 14 ont quitté l’Espace libre pour assurer en 1995 la direction de l’Usine C qui comporte plusieurs salles et qui a une programmation diversifiée mais qui reste toujours dirigée par une seule compagnie et son directeur. Il s’y trouve toujours deux structures administratives, celle de l’Usine C et celle de la compagnie de Gilles Maheu. Autres exemples : la Maison-Théâtre, l’Agora de la danse et autres lieux de diffusion spécialisé ont de fortes équipes de gestion qui n’ont pas de lien avec la gestion des compagnies qui font partie intégrante de ces lieux. Serait-ce le modèle que vous envisagez ? Si oui, le budget de la Chapelle devra être augmenté.
Pour gérer ce lieu à plusieurs petites compagnies, il faudra envisager l’engagement d’un directeur ou d’une directrice des opérations du lieu afin que les directeurs des compagnies à qui vous confierez la Chapelle puissent continuer à faire le travail qu’ils font actuellement dans des conditions souvent fort pénibles puisqu’ils n’ont pas les moyens financiers d’engager le personnel requis par leurs propres activités administratives. Et c’est toujours cet aspect que l’on sacrifie quand on travaille dans des petites compagnies. Et ne pensez pas que les compagnies mettront en commun leurs effectifs administratifs. L’expérience nous a prouvé que cette formule n’a d’avenir que lorsque les budgets respectifs sont élevés.
Alors je vous demande pourquoi complexifier la structure actuelle de la Chapelle. Ce n’est certes pas pour augmenter le nombre d’activités. Il ne peut pas y avoir plus d’activités à la Chapelle qu’il y en a aujourd’hui. Ce n’est certes pas pour diversifier la programmation. À l’analyse, la programmation de la Chapelle couvre à peu près toutes les formes de musique de chambre. Serait-ce pour diminuer la musique de chambre et augmenter les musiques du monde ? Elles sont déjà bien servies par les Maisons de la culture. Serait-ce pour donner un lieu de plus au Festival de Jazz ? C’en est trop.
Monsieur le Maire, vous vous devez de conserver la Chapelle dans sa vocation actuelle. Elle est pleinement justifiée dans le contexte de la chimie musicale de Montréal de même que dans le contexte de l’administration de la vie culturelle de Montréal. Il ne faut pas modifier des opérations qui se portent bien et même très bien. Il ne faut pas arrêter la programmation de la Chapelle. Elle vous coûte moins que rien. Si quelques compagnies souhaitent avoir un lieu, il faut ajouter au parc de petites salles que nous avons déjà, pas en retrancher.
Et que l’on permette au directeur actuel, Guy Soucie, de concrétiser la programmation du 20e anniversaire de la Chapelle avec un budget augmenté pour bien marquer votre souci de permettre aux jeunes musiciens de pratiquer leur art dans les conditions les plus professionnelles qui soient dans leur ville, sur la rue Sherbrooke.
Dans l’espoir que vous donnerez suite à toutes les protestations du milieu musical et culturel que vous saurez faire vôtres, je demeure

Lyse Richer
Vice-présidente de Chants libres
Musicologue et pianiste
c.c. les membres du comité exécutif de Montréal
les maires et mairesses d’arrondissement
les conseillers de l’arrondissement Ville-Marie
Journal La Presse
Journal Le Devoir
Directeur La Chapelle historique du Bon Pasteur

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Today's Birthday in Music: March 11 (Cowell)

1897 - Henry Cowell, Menlo Park, USA; composer, musical theorist, pianist

Wiki entry
Subversive prophet (article 1997)

Keith Kirchoff plays Henry Cowell's "Tiger" (University of Oregon, 2003)

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Monday, 10 March 2008

Montreal to Cancel Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur Programming, Calls for Proposals

Claiming the need to slash its budget, the City of Montreal has decided to cancel the music programming for the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur once its current season concludes this summer. The Montreal music community was informed of the decision this afternoon through an email requesting proposals to keep the venue and its Fazoli piano and harpsichord available to the musical community. La Scena Musicale learned of this news only through an email from the Conseil québecois de la musique calling on its members for comment; although La Scena Musicale is an integral part of the Montreal musical community, we did not receive the email directly. A search of the City of Montreal's announcements, shows that the decision to cancel the venue's programming, couched in a press release calling for proposals, was never officially announced.
Cette annonce est liée à la décision de la Ville de mettre fin à sa programmation de concerts à la Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, à compter de l'été 2008.

"Compte tenu d'une situation budgétaire extrêmement serrée, toutes les activités municipales sont scrutées de très près : la décision concernant la programmation musicale à la Chapelle a été prise dans ce contexte", a déclaré Madame Catherine Sévigny, conseillère municipale associée à la culture et au centre-ville. "Toutefois, il est clair que la Chapelle est un lieu unique et remarquable, qui doit demeurer à la disposition de la communauté musicale montréalaise, d'où notre intérêt à discuter des avenues qui peuvent assurer l'utilisation de cette salle de musique".

This claim of "extremely tight budget" comes ironically on the same day that Montreal Mayor Tremblay revealed that the Montreal Symphony Orchestra's new endowement fund will be $60 Million as reported by Arthur Kaptainis in this morning's Montreal Gazette. One wonders how much the City will contribute towards the $60M.
Earlier this year, the City also announced $1M to support the MSO's international marketing. One also wonders whether the $250,000 saved on the Chapelle du Bon-Pasteur was diverted to the orchestra.

Montreal's Chapelle du Bon-Pasteur was opened in 1988 and has served as a venue for free classical music concerts open to all citizens, young and old, rich or poor, thanks to the tireless efforts of the venue's director Guy Soucie. When reached this afternoon, Soucie expressed sadness at the program's closing. He revealed that the program's $250,000 budget goes towards paying the venue's staff as well as cachets for artists. As a City employee, Soucie will be reassigned next year in the city's bureaucracy. However, the program's closing is a bitter way to celebrate the renovated venue's 20th anniversary.

According to the City's email, the deadline for proposals is April 28 in order for the City to decide the venue's ultimate fate
by May.

Réponse à l'annulation à la Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur / Reactions to Chapelle du Bon-Pasteur Cancellation
> Facebook group : Sauvons la programmation de la Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur!

Spotlight: Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur
La Scena Musicale has created a spotlight page to follow this developing story.