Bramwell Tovey and the Vancouver Symphony were in town last night for a one night stand at Roy Thomson Hall. My reason for going was primarily to see Marion Newman sing Ancestral Voices; a work composed for her by Tovey. It’s the composer’s contribution to the sesqui and it deals with the Dominion of Canada’s troubled relationship with the original peoples of this land. The four movements trace an arc from an imagined pre colonial “Arkady” cleverly using a Keats text that deals with a clearly not Canadian imagined state of nature through to Charles Mair’s The Last Bison; a very early warning of what happens when Man and Nature get out of balance. Then comes the most chilling part; an excerpt from a letter in the government archives about residential schools”…separate, isolate, educate; dominate, assimilate; Sow the seeds and forcibly, effectively; Kill the Indian in the child.” It concludes with fragments of letters from Harper and Trudeau cut with parts of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples.
Every time I go to Roy Thomson Hall, as I did last night to see the TSO perform Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, I have to recalibrate for the acoustic. It’s just much quieter than the Four Season’s Centre and, indeed, many other venues. This has the advantage that coughing is largely inaudible but also that even a large orchestra playing full bore doesn’t exactly blow one’s socks off. So, perhaps it wasn’t a surprise that I was more struck by the meditative aspects of this score than its moments of high drama such as the chorus of demons. I’m pretty sure this was just the acoustic because conductor Peter Oundjian was certainly going for maximum effect in those sections. Continue reading
There a few things coming up in Toronto over the next week or two that might be worth a look.
Tomorrow at noon in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre Lauren Segal and Robert Gleadow accompanied by Sandra Horst are giving a free concert featuring Dvořák’s Gypsy Songs, de Falla’s Siete canciones populares Españolas, Ibert’s Chansons de Don Quichotte and Vaughan Williams’ Songs of Travel.
I was talking to Leslie Barcza of barczablog at a concert yesterday. He asked me what I was most looking forward to in the upcoming season and I was a bit stumped for an answer because there’s lots of good stuff in Toronto this season but nothing that really sets my pulse racing. Finally I answered with the TSO’s Dream of Gerontius, which, it turns out, is not exactly high on Lesley’s bucket list. This led to a brief discussion about how origins affect our reactions; that is until the actual concert interrupted our talk.