After renewing my membership for St.Alban’s in Seaton Village, I was initially disappointed to learn that the pool was drained; however my gloomy mood lifted when I was invited to record rather spontaneously in this evocative space just before the pool was re-filled following its annual maintenance.
After the requisite Telemann Fantasia – contrapuntal writing in combination with the live acoustics being perfect for bringing out the vertical harmonies – I had fun with a jazzy play-along CD over the in-house sound system.
It is this Invention by lesser-known composer Jehan-Ariste Alain (1911-1940), however, that seemed to best capture the magic of this reverberant space.
“Life leaped in him”, said Bernard Gavory of Jehan Alain in the book he wrote about his dead friend, but he went on at once to add: “He is happy and sad, ascetic and sensual”, thus underlining all that was contradictory about him. Jehan Alain’s admiration for Jean Cocteau was in no way fortuitous. Persuaded that “irony, humour, these alone make life bearable”, he concealed under a lively and light-hearted exterior a being with a very rich inner life, moved by great generosity of spirit. [Source: ClassicsOnLine]
For further reading, here is an alternate site for Alain.
St. Alban’s Boys & Girls Club, a part of Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada (and in turn part of a global affiliation of Boys and Girls Clubs) is perhaps at first glimpse a kind of 1950’s throwback, however it is very much a vibrant hub of the community. Since it first opened in 1949, St. Alban’s has stayed very much in step with the times, responsive to the needs and interests of modern Toronto, offering extensive Family and Youth Outreach Programmes.
I can’t wait for the pool to re-open later in the month, and maybe to return to record some more during rec swim for a little added ambient sound!