Browsing: Interviews

“Classical music is a music of details. The more we advance in our musical learning, the more we become a looking glass, and this, to eventually learn how to forget.” Vincent Bélanger’s album Pure Cello is above all else a vision. It questions the essence of music, surpassing the borders of a musical culture too often standardized, even imprisoned by a restricted mindset. “I wanted each work to be unique,” the musician states. “If it’s done honestly, if it’s done well and the details are there, people will like it. Do it with honesty. And present your work to the…

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Montrealers have almost certainly heard of the Grande tournée, brainchild of Cirque Éloize. This innovative, festive project celebrating Montreal’s boroughs is free and aimed at all ages. For 19 weekends, the Grande Tournée brings Montreal’s parks and alleyways alive with circus performers, ­magicians and local artists. Jean-Philippe LaCouture, event director and producer for Cirque Éloize and Maxim Bonin of Les Chats de Ruelle (“alley cats”) tell us how it all came together. “The commission in charge of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations has a mandate to highlight Montreal talent, and they suggested a project that wasn’t the one we submitted, but…

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The Rolston Quartet are riding the crest of the wave they caught last September, when they won the 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition. Winning that competition has propelled them toward a promising professional career, thanks, in part, to the support they are receiving from the Banff Centre, which runs the triennial international contest. Barry Shiffman, BISQC’s executive director, outlined some of the benefits that come from being a BISQC laureate in an interview from his office at Toronto’s Glenn Gould School, where the Rolstons were born in 2013. Three of the four current members – Luri Lee (first violin),…

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“It’s 2017!” is the new ­benchmark expression of ­disapproval for antiquated modes of thinking and doing, and we need only to look at the success of Marina Thibeault’s debut album Toquade to recognize that the viola has a voice ­autonomous from its petite counterpart and that henceforth all viola jokes must be met with exclamations of the date rather than laughter. They’re just not relevant anymore,” says Thibeault. “They’re like the embarrassing jokes that your uncle tells.” Reaching the top four Classical albums on iTunes on the day of its release, Toquade is but the cherry on the top of…

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For Canada’s Sesquicentennial celebration, Ottawa’s 8th annual Music and Beyond Festival boasts a star-studded slate ­including Sarah Chang, Measha Brueggergosman, and Garrick Ohlsson, among other local and international favourites. From July 4 to 17, festivalgoers will enjoy a truly multi-disciplinary menu of classical music with artistic collaborations that include dance, visual art, poetry, comedy – even yoga for those who are feeling more adventurous. Of the 75 concerts and events scheduled, one of the most anticipated guests is surely the Kronos Quartet, who will perform at Dominion-Chalmers United Church on July 5. For over forty years, the string quartet has…

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“We’re able to take many more risks.” To foster artistic experimentation, begin recognizing Indigenous culture, support emerging talent, treat artists less prescriptively – these are some of the new guidelines for the Canada Council for the Arts as it emerges from years of austerity and undergoes a “historical moment,” in the words of director Simon Brault. Taking stock halfway through his mandate at the head of the CCA, which he has directed since June 2014, Brault highlights the following achievements: adopting of a new funding model, an Indigenous arts funding program, and the “CCA’s big comeback on the international scene,…

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On October 29, 1967, at the closing ceremony of Montreal’s World Fair, a.k.a. Expo 67, Commissioner General Pierre Dupuy concluded his speech with these telling words: “My report is this: mission completed!” A half-century later, this assessment still stands: the event fulfilled its mission to celebrate mankind in its diversity. For 184 days, Montrealers, Quebecers, Canadians, Americans, and tourists from distant lands could visit the world in one train ride, the Expo Express, that linked one peninsula (Cité du Havre) to two islands (Sainte-Hélène and Notre-Dame). During one magical season, a little over 50 million visitors set foot on its…

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When Barbara Smith and Blanche Israël greeted me at the NYO’s downtown Toronto office, they had a weary-yet-determined air – familiar to any arts administrator labouring over a cherished project. “We’re getting down to the wire,” they explained, citing less than a month until the National Youth Orchestra begins its 2017 season and welcomes 92 talented young ­musicians, chosen from over 500 applicants, into its training program. I commented that it’s an exciting time. “Well okay, if you say so!” they chuckled dryly before admitting that it is indeed an exciting time. The orchestra will soon embark on the Edges…

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PREVIEW: of the new MasterVoices concert presentation of Babes in Toyland by Victor Herbert (Carnegie Hall, New York City, April 27, 2017 at 7 p.m.); and INTERVIEW: with MasterVoices’ musical director Ted Sperling. Long before Sondheim walked on the dark side with Into the Woods, or Disney began issuing its franchise line of tailored fairy-tale musicals, composer Victor Herbert and his Broadway posse had raided the nursery cradle, character-snatching a mother lode of Mother-Goose autochthons to populate the monumental 1903 operetta, Babes in Toyland. They’re all there – Mary Quite Contrary, Tom Tom the Piper’s Son, Little Bopeep, Jack, Jill,…

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REVIEW: of the new Simone Dinnerstein classical album Mozart in Havana; and INTERVIEWS: with pianist Simone Dinnerstein (and with pedagogue and activist Solomon Mikowsky). What happens when a nice girl from Brooklyn, a bad boy from Salzburg, and a precocious passel of Cuban children of the Revolution all get together? If the parties in question are acclaimed pianist Simone Dinnerstein, composer Wolfgang Mozart, and the members of the Havana Lyceum Orchestra, the answer is Mozart in Havana – Dinnerstein’s new album, debuting April 21 from SONY Classical, and destined to be one of the most talked-about classical recording drops of…

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