Archive for the ‘RCM TEACHING’ Category

A Jurassic Moment

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The Blue-Eyed Lass, Scottish Trad

Well, last week was March Break here in Ontario, and it seemed like half the city cleared out, sensibly heading someplace warm or maybe hitting the slopes north of the city. Me? Between meeting with students and a few gigs around town, I had just enough going on that I stick around and revel in how much less traffic there was in getting around town. I ended up having some fine adventures in-town, including this Jurassic moment out in The Junction!

I had been tipped off the day before that a couple of the buildings out in The Junction were coming down, including the old, abandoned GE factory and NRI (National Rubber Institute?) where I had tagged along with members of TLR camera club. I had joined them and played flute in the cold while they wandered around taking photos and documenting massive interior spaces.

Dinosaurs of the manufacturing era, I’m glad that these buildings have been documented in sight and sound as they meet their demise: these warehouses each have their own characteristics, personality…and lifespan, it would seem. NRI is like an contemporary version of the slow-moving herbivore like the Brontosaurus, especially when compared to the stealth and deadly accuracy of the T-Rex pictured above. This Trawna-saurus Rex is kinda cute, though, don’t you think?

This image reminds me of that scene in Jurassic Park, you know, where the dinosaur peers eerily into the car of our hapless heroes. The sounds that this dino made were absolutely awe-inspiring, and if you listen carefully, there is one particular moment towards the end where a wall comes down, the cascade of bricks completely engulfing this old Scottish Air.

Where one might imagine the sound of a building being being torn down as ugly or just plain noisy, this recording reveals that the sounds of demolition can be endlessly nuanced and even beautiful in their own way. The flute offers contrast, and adds to the poignancy of the moment where our urban landscape changes dramatically. For the better? For the worse? Depends on who you talk to, of course.

Recorded on a second floor area of NRI as the adjacent section was being torn down, I returned a few days later at dusk, just to check in on my old friend. As I tried to get my bearings in the fading light and clambered over large mounds of bricks and metal, I suddenly realized that the space where this recording was made – that whole section of the building – had vanished.

Where I had stood and played my flute no longer existed.

So, how was your March Break?

Not-So-New Kid on the Block

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Greensleeves, Traditional

There’s nothing quite like a fresh sheet of ice!

It’s nice to see that some things don’t change! Welcome to the University of Toronto’s Varsity Arena, the ‘old kid on the block’. Newly integrated into U of T’s renovated Varsity complex, this wonderfully storied building, replete with its fold-down red and blue wooden benches, is nestled in a city block that has undergone a massive transformation in just a few a few short years.

The ROM’s Crystal, along with the RCM’s incredible new flagship where I had just conducted my first lessons of the new year, next door at 273 Bloor Street together with the renovated Varsity site amounts to an urban version of extreme makeover!!

The city was quiet this day, and, as mentioned, I had just finished meeting some of my terrific Saturday students at the RCM TELUS Centre for my first lessons of 2009. Wandering down a deserted Philosophers Walk, brilliant with its fresh snow and sunshine, I wandered into this hallowed space, wondering, first of all if the arena might be open, and, second of all if I would make it for the 7 a.m. scrimmage here the next morning which I have enjoyed on numerous occasions; some people sleep in on a Sunday morning, but what’s with that when this large ice surface beckons?

Here is the first of several takes of Greensleeves recorded that day in different settings, played on a simple wooden flute that Santa had brought me! I enjoy getting to know and sharing my large collection of historic and world flutes with students, but this is my very first single-keyed flute - slightly undersized in the key of F, it has some beautiful tones and clearly has some age, judging by the glowing patina. If only old flutes  - or historic buildings, like this venerable arena - could tell stories, just imagine what they would have to say!

Not bad acoustics for an old rink!

Urban Bansuri

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Raga Shivranjani, Banusri

About 5 weeks ago I dropped by the busy worksite of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandira just north of Pearson International Airport to see if I might don work boots and lend a hand, and was welcomed onto the site with a wonderful, friendly and informative tour. This temple, a cultural & architectural jewel – and very much in the news with its grand opening just last weekend – is simply indescribable. Although only able to catch the festivities after sundown, I was impressed by the incredible enthusiasm and excitement still in the air. (more…)

Palestrina on the Beach

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Trinity College Chapel

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Berbiguier, Etude

How sweet is this? Listening to Palestrina by the lake!

Music History Instruction at the RCM’s Mississauga location could not possibly be any more delightful than this totally chilled class ‘en plein air’ and completely away from the hustle and bustle of the city; extension cords courtesy of Canadian Tire and on-line resources provided by NAXOS.

What would Palestrina have thought? I’m sure that absolutely dumbfounded and with a silly grin on his face, he would have silently nodded his wholehearted approval! (more…)

A Garden of Sound

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Carnatic Violin

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The Royal Conservatory of Music has a western campus, the historic Cawthra-Adamson Estate in Mississauga, which is a wonderful location for music-making. Early summer sees the landscaped grounds transform into a verdant, Eden-like setting. (more…)

Gariboldi Goes Green!

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Gariboldi

Here is a view of the SaskPower building in downtown Regina, a 1960’s classic. This angle – from my exam room in the historic Hotel Saskatchewan – captures the whimsy of an architectural timepiece, and I was given the nod by security to record briefly during my tea-break. The lobby, festooned with ‘Green Energy’ literature, features vintage mosaic detailing, and a sizeable tiled fountain that can be heard in the background for this playing of a RCM Grade 2 study by Gariboldi.

Thanks to everyone at SaskPower for the warm welcome!

Nirvana at the RCM!

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Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, sure, but Kurt Cobain?!? Even I was caught off-guard as I walked into the Royal Conservatory of Music to meet with students.

On the heels of the massive MTNA Teachers Conference held just a couple of weeks ago here in Toronto, and inspired by that morning’s sweeping keynote speech delivered by Bramwell Tovey with it’s particular emphasis on the lost art of improvisation in the classical music tradition, (more…)

Collaborative Conference

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Sheraton’s Urban Sanctuary

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Canadian Composer’s Forum

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Kalimba Workshop

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NOTE: The conference was a huge success, non-stop workshops, clinics, masterclasses and performances for five days straight, not to mention so many wonderful colleagues to meet and get to know – I am still recovering!! (more…)

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