Session/Séance 2g: MusCan Panel 1. Thursday/jeudi 25 May 2017. 2:00PM - 3:30PM, EJB 217.
Chair: ROBIN ELLIOTT (University of Toronto)
1. Fostering a Dialogue on the Changing Narrative of Canada’s (Sesqui)Centennial Opera, Louis Riel
Taryn Jackson / Sarah Koval, University of Toronto
We are producing a scholarly podcast to complement the Canadian Opera Company and National Arts Centre's production of Harry Somers’ Louis Riel (2017). Originally composed for Canada's centennial, Riel features timeless themes and tensions that have resonated throughout Canadian history. We will foster multi-faceted dialogue between diverse voices through interviews with Johannes Debus and Peter Hinton, original conductor Victor Feldbrill, performers past and present, and several Métis and First Nations scholars. This podcast will review the history of the Red River Rebellion and the sentencing of Louis Riel as a traitor, trace the opera’s performance history, and, most importantly, interrogate the ways this story has been used as a nationalizing tool, perhaps without acknowledgement of its authorial ownership by the Métis nor the complex history between the Métis and European settlers. Even today, Riel and its titular hero form the operatic centerpiece of the nation’s birthday, despite the apparent reconciliatory strides made in the past fifty years. Staging an opera based on Métis history poses new challenges in 2017, and the latest director, Peter Hinton, aims to consciously engage with the current political climate of Canada – in particular the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We will investigate the ways in which Hinton’s goal might be realized, and then review the opera after its premiere, both in the podcast and at an upcoming dialogic symposium, Hearing Louis Riel. This paper will summarize reflections from our research, consciously reconsider the work’s origins, and negotiate the burden of cultural appropriation inherent in the opera.
2. Music, Nation and Celebration: A Critical Dialogue with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Canada Mosaic Initiative
Nick Godsoe, University of Toronto
On November 10 2016, the Canadian government announced a landmark $7.5 million-dollar contribution to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra to spearhead a “national celebration of Canada’s diverse musical landscape” as part of Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations. The TSO greeted the tremendous potential of this funding opportunity with an appropriately ambitious vision, promising “unprecedented” programming of Canadian music throughout 2017 that will feature the nation’s musical past, present and future. Partnerships and co-commissions with forty orchestras from coast to coast aim enliven this national musical celebration in the most realistic and affirmative sense. The TSO’s Canada Mosaic initiative offers a point of entry to question some broader issues with regards to the state of Canadian music as well as the symphony orchestra’s ability to foster national unity and celebration in the twenty-first century. After providing a more thorough context of the Canada Mosaic initiative, this paper will question the initiative’s effectiveness in satisfying its government-assigned mandate. This critical perspective will shed light on how this may be moving Canadian music forward in certain ways, while at the same time echoing issues that have long faced Canadian orchestral music practice. Ultimately, this paper will allow for a more refined understanding of the – perhaps unbalanced – relationship between music and nation in times of celebration.
3. Commemorating Canada’s 150th: Collaboration Between Composer and Theorist
Joe Argentino, Memorial University of Newfoundland
In order to commemorate Canada’s sesquicentennial the National Arts Centre’s orchestra and dance company com- missioned Andrew Staniland to write a one-act ballet. Music theorist Joe Argentino and composer Andrew Staniland collaborated on the creation of this ballet in a new and unique manner. They discussed the structural organization of the pitch content of the ballet throughout the compositional process (usually music theorists study the works of composers after they are written – often posthumously). This collaboration – as far as is known – is unique within the discipline and can serve as a model for other composer/theorist collaborations. This presentation will feature a complete overview of the collaborative process, including the parameters of this unique working arrangement as well as an analytical overview of the ballet.