A Gay Wedding Celebration – A Trimuph for the Arts

On Valentine’s Day, Helmut Reichenbächer and John Stanley got married. This wedding was an affirmation of 20 years together. There was a private ceremony, lunch and dinner for close family and friends. It’s the middle part of the day I want to talk about.

Both men are patrons of the arts in a very big way. I always run into them at performances. Not surprisingly, they put on a concert at the Glenn Gould Studio with a very showy group of singers and musicians (listed at the end of this blog). What a grand way to celebrate a marriage, coupled with a love of the arts.

More to the point, John commissioned a world premiere from composer Alexina Louie dedicated to Helmut. Filigree for oboe and piano, performed by Keith Atkinson, oboe, and Robert Kortgaard, piano, was a virtuoso tour de force and an absolute delight.

I really connected to Filigree. When my late father turned 90, I commissioned a song cycle from the late composer Srul Irving Glick in his honour. If I ever win the lottery, I’ll remount Songs for Isaac.

The point is, Helmut and John’s concert featured a new work for the repertoire. In the Renaissance, patrons commissioned music and visual arts all the time. If more people did that, the arts could really become a centre piece of the significant events of our lives.

Congratulations to Helmut and John. Thank you for the brilliant concert and the new work. I wish you many more happy and “art-ful” years together.

(The concert featured Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano, Brett Polegato and James Levesque, baritones, Jean Stilwell and Laura Tucker, mezzo-sopranos, pianists Stuart Hamilton, Robert Kortgaard, Serouj Kradjian, Stephen Ralls, Peter Tiefenbach and Bruce Ubukata, Keith Atkinson, oboe, Camille Watts, flute, produced by the CBC’s Neil Crory.)

Aradia Ensemble – “Handel’s The Dublin Messiah”

Over the centuries, Handel’s Messiah has become individualized, depending on the conductor’s choices of what to include and what to leave out. Thus, it is a valuable exercise to experience the original 1742 version that was performed in Dublin as a charity concert.

The Dublin Messiah has now become part of the Toronto holiday tradition courtesy of the Aradia Ensemble, the superb, small scale, early music group headed by conductor Kevin Mallon.

Mallon’s Messiah is a compact baroque jewel, featuring four soloists, 14 choristers and 14 musicians. The modest forces allow for every word and musical note to be savoured.

As a conductor, Mallon has detailed the performance in micro-fashion so that the music is filled with colour and nuance from both the singers and the orchestra. Soprano Virginia Hatfield, countertenor Scott Belluz, tenor Joseph Schnurr, and bass-baritone Giles Tomkins all gave expressive performances.

The Aradia Ensemble’s Dublin Messiah is a very moving experience, and definitely is a must hear for next season.

The Dublin Messiah
Aradia Ensemble
George Frideric Handel
Kevin Mallon
Performed by Virginia Hatfield, soprano, Scott Belluz, countertenor, Joseph Schnurr, tenor and Giles Tomkins, bass-baritone
Glenn Gould Studio
Dec. 17, 2011