Archive for May, 2007

Werther’s World

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Su Wu Tends Sheep

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Dialogue with Demolition

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Werthers Original

Well, it included a cycle to Markham with my bubble-wrapped hard-drive safely stowed in my gunny-sack, but my data recovery is now under way. On my return I had a glimpse here through the hoarding to the site of a building, now vanished except for this mysterious doorway. I discovered that, incredibly, beyond the doorway is a most extraordinary, cavernous chamber with the most incredible acoustics to explore since the start of UrbanFlute!

The first piece, recorded in this underground space, is featured in the new RCM Flute Syllabus Grade 8 Studies, and is a western transcription of a traditional Chinese Bamboo Flute melody depicting a captured warrior, banished for a winter in the remote steppes of China. The second piece, Holst’s Jupiter, was recorded as the original building was in the midst of being demolished.

And the third piece I recorded in the stairwell at CBL after dropping off my hard-drive Despite the warm welcome that I reeived at CBL, it was still like a waiting room for expectant fathers. As I nervously anticipated news on how my data recovery was going to turn out, I helped myself to a candy from a bowl on the counter, Werther’s , one of my favorites… (more…)

Sonata for Flute and Jackhammer

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Gershwin Prelude

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Stairway to Heaven

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Recently I performed with colleagues in the concrete shell of the Royal Conservatory of Music’s new Koerner Hall, as part of a ‘Hard Hat Concert’ and catered thank-you lunch for the construction crew on the site. It was probably in part the rather unusual repertoire of the event (Bach, Wagner, Led Zepplin?!) that prompted NYC’s PLAYBILL Arts to pick up the story shortly after it appeared in the Toronto Star under the light-hearted title: ‘Sonata in C for Flute and Jackhammer’.

St. Bart’s Sanctuary

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The Swan

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Deep Midwinter

On a bitterly cold day last December, I stopped in quite spontaneously to warm up at Saint Bart’s in the east end, enroute to record at the Riverdale Zoo’s old Monkey House. The welcome I received was just what I needed this particular day!
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College Street Busking

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Chinese, Traditional

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One cold, bright morning back in January, I heard some amazing music through the din of the College street traffic…

Jimmy plays a traditional and ancient, bowed, two-stringed Jinghu and really managed to get around the fretless fingerboard very well despite the chilly weather!

Learn more about World Music at the Royal Conservatory of Music: (more…)

Muir Garden

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At the outset of exploring various aspects of Toronto, and with the unseasonably warm weather extending in to November, I took the opportunity to play outdoors.

I had always thought of this park near Lawrence and Yonge as the Rose Garden, however, as I looked about for a spot to play, I came upon this plaque, which immediately confirmed a musical significance to the location. (more…)

Russell Hill Road Elegy

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A couple of months ago and not far from this house, I discovered wonderful acoustics in one of Toronto‘s historic Water Filtration Buildings. There does seem to be increasing awareness about preservation, so to come across this wonderful old home right in the same neighbourhood – in the midst of being torn down – came as a shock.

If given the opportunity, I have no idea what I would have played as an ode to an historic house like this, ripped from the fabric of our downtown core. Perhaps Massenet’s Elegy: (more…)

Persian Pipes

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Busking culture in Toronto seems even more diverse and accomplished these days, and Yonge and Bloor can be a hotspot.

As you will hear, this piper, Curly, is a fine player, with a handsome, mellow-sounding set of antique, hand-carved pipes from Persia. (more…)

Toward the Taj

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CPE Bach

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My recent discovery of a massive, deserted warehouse in the northeast part of Toronto was like finding the pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow!

Part of the original inspiration for Urban Flute springs from an early influence: Flutist Paul Horn’s ‘Inside’ series.* Specifically his recording from within the Taj Mahal left an indelible impression on me, not to mention his musical ‘conversations’ with the Orca Whales on the second LP.

* NOTE: The day after posting this entry – completely out of the blue – I was tipped off about this extraordinary podcast profiling Paul Horn: www.paulhornmusic.com/ (more…)

Buster Keaton Redux

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Andersen Etude

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Buster Keaton, or maybe it was Charlie Chaplin…one of them did that famous stunt hanging from the hands of the clock tower.

In the early stages of Urban Flute, as I scouted out sites to record in, I was drawn to spires and towers (including the Clock Tower at the Summerhill LCBO) – places that offered a vantage point & unique historical ambience. (more…)

Return to Mary Mag’s

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Weinzweig Duo

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I was delighted to have an opportunity to return and offer prelude music for a service at the historic Cathedral of Saint Mary Magdalene, minus the snow as pictured here! Flute and Oboe meld beautifully in this most evocative space – Vicki Hathaway, Oboe. (more…)

Ode to Saint Cecilia

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Mozart

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A recent window-dedication was a special occasion to celebrate the life of a dear friend and avid musician. The window depicts Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music, and appropriately there was wonderful music, as well as readings…

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Prepared-Piano a Sellout Event

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John Beckwith celebrates his 8oth!

New Music Concerts second-last concert was a sell-out event, and there was great excitement about lesser-known repertoire: ‘sixteenth-tone’ music may finally have come of age!

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‘I feel the air of another planet.’*

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…Happy Birthday, John!

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‘Cello fans: the last NMC concert on Sunday, June 3rd is a must-see, featuring a World Premiere by Brian Current and Berio’s Sequenza XIV for Solo Cello…an international line-up: (more…)