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June, 2006 - Nr. 6


The Editor
Zum Vatertag
Die gute Tat
Canadian Rhapsody
KW & Beyond
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Against Psychiatric Drugging
Countdown to Summer!
Planet in Focus
Ben Hepner at TSO
German Shorts at WWSFF
Kyoto Agreement Belittled?
CNE 2006
Music - Music - Music
In My Travels
Heidelberg Village
Herwig Wandschneider

Music – Music - Music

  The spring season reverberates with music. Choirs give concerts; big orchestras have one last mad fling before the summer brake and a new season begins. We anticipate the opening of the new opera building in Toronto and cannot wait to listen to an entire Wagner Ring Cycle, or can we…? Anyway, if you do not have tickets yet I think you are too late anyway. It is a cultural obligation to some to sit through dozens of hours of the COCs daring Wagner production.

However, there is still the lighter fair of say Lloyd Webber’s Song and Dance, first shown to audiences in London’s West End in 1982, to much acclaim. It has been shown in several countries since then, also in Germany, but premiered in Toronto only recently.

Even though the material is slightly dated this is a good feeling to re-experience. Besides our version was updated with hip-hop in the second part. We love evergreens and hits of the past. They are familiar, comfortable, proven, and thus will be successful again. This is a good thing when you sink a lot of money into an old building that had outlived its usefulness a long time ago and only offered offence to delicate noses when greats like Chick Corea came to town. His fans will sit through anything to hear him perform so they can " beg, borrow or steel from the master", as the largely musician audience told me.

But that musky odour has given way to fresh air and new décor and opened its doors with Song and Dance, a smash hit again. The run was almost instantly extended by 3 weeks, even though Rex Harrington pulled a muscle at opening night, he could not even come out for a curtain call, and had to be replaced. The fabulous Evelyn Hart however had enough pull to get people to come, as did Louise Pitre of Abba Fame. We also saw her in Annie get your gun and were smitten with her polish and professionalism, her verve, her energy.

In Song and Dance she has the entire first half of the evening to herself on stage. She sings, she changes, sings and changes again and again… We follow her through a life of unsuccessful relationships. She is smart, she is good looking, but she is not very savvy when it comes to choosing the right man. We feel for her, even when se comes across almost too perfect, too polished. But we do not care. She is Louise Pitre and we adore her. This is an ideal vehicle for her. She can be the force of nature that she is, just a bit bigger than life itself. But by now we almost wish to see her in a long drawn out epic story that requires her to be quiet, sad, reflective, giving, tender, even demure.

O, she has moments like that too, but they are almost too quickly over and overpowered again by a blast of Pitre.

Perhaps it is not fair to say this even after the fact, but the dance sequences in the second part of the show were a lot more differentiated in temper and style, in emotional output, in choreography. Perhaps it was not Pitre but the direction that was given that would have made it a bit more real and truly alive, more interesting to watch.

I guess I was looking for depth, but that of course is silly…. in a story about relationships in this day and age?!

Forgive my disenchantment. I really think it mostly very entertaining. It is just that every once in a while I am expected to show some professional depth myself.

So there you have it. I tremendously enjoyed Rex Harrington’s roguish charm, even though he was a bit out of shape, he still has got it! He is an ideal partner for even the best of ballerinas, but the solo parts can be treacherous, as they were that fateful night.

The younger ensemble dancers were simply fabulous. Peppery and enthusiastic they did not strain to keep the beat, any beat, tap, ballet, hip-hop, jazz, you name it! That paired with the elegance and effortless smoothness of Evelyn Hart, who appears to be forever young, is an exceptional experience and worth the money of admission alone.

So watch out for great performances at The Music Hall. It has turned into a very chic venue!

Just think where you will park along the Danforth. It can be a bit tricky.

Beethoven rises again

The Mendelssohn Choir performed a last seasonal concert in Roy Thomson Hall and offered Beethoven. I never say no to Beethoven, especially if it is the Ninth Symphony. The Ode to Joy has me obligated to hear it again and again. I simply cannot get enough of it. It hits me were I live, and when I am not quite there it gets me there.

This time the performance was even more powerful than I remember. Beethoven’s intentions, his anguish and his triumph over his despair became so obvious. This is music for our times, truly. You see, here is the depth I was looking for!

There were 2 other concert entries, all dealing with the subject of love, one of them by a younger modern composer. While the music was great it cannot live up to Beethoven, in fact, I find it almost unfair to couple other composers into such a concert.

Watch out for more Beethoven next season. The Toronto Symphony is offering all 9 symphonies! See you there?

Joy with German Choirs

The Männerchor Harfentöne

We do have them; quite a few actually, there are so many as to necessitate an umbrella organisation. And even though most of them have shrunk in size and grown in age, they still sing with an abundance of joy. Maennerchor Harfentoene has been one of my favourites in the past and even though the choir appears to have also shrunk in numbers a bit the Alfred Schormann & Linda Marcinkussound is still good and full and round. The bass voices I always so admire are still there, and so are the tenors and baritones. A frail Alfred Schormann conducted the choir with his usual certainty and style and of course the theme was spring.

It was the end of the concert season when the choir invited to its annual event in St Patrick’s Church, Downtown Toronto, 2pm, hoping to catch the churchgoers after lunch in the area. I was disappointed to see such little response. The church only filled up a bit more half way through the concert. Everywhere I go I hear that audience in our ranks have shrunk, obituary notices arrive in abundance in the office, too many to mention.

A bass soloThis concert was truly lovely. The choices of songs were delightful. There were some known songs and some not so known ones, there were folk songs and then there were the classics. Even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was commemorated with 2 selections from the Magic Flute and Ave Verum Corpus from a requiem.

Manfred Petz introduces the Edelweiss Choir

Soloist Gretl SchauerThe Edelweiss Choir appeared to fill out the program nicely. They sang the tender loving songs of their country with such deep feeling it was touching, and there is something about a jodler that creates the most unusual feeling of euphoria.

Susan Brown & the Männerchor HarfentöneSoprano soloist Susan Brown performed with her crystal clear voice the most beautiful selections to pull on our heartstrings: Schubert’s Heideroeslein and Die Forelle. Later on she delivered Bach’s Bist Du bei mir. Her voice is so ethereal, she sometimes almost sounds like a member of the Vienna Boys Choir.

Linda Marcinkus accompanied as always on the piano.

Applause to the Choirs & Soloists

I wish more people could have heard this lovely concert and I do want to ask members of our community to make an effort in the future. It is important to keep these things alive.

Flowers for the Ladies





Visiting with Manfred PetzIf we do not it is going to be all over soon. Besides, don’t you like singing yourself? In many cases there is an opportunity to sing together with the choirs a few selection, which creates the perfect balance for flowing something beautiful into ourselves and flowing something beautiful out.

Why don’t you bring a friend from another background? Music knows no borders. One does not have to understand the language to enjoy music and song. It is the easiest thing to share with a friend, even if that friend is from another culture. So come Christmastime and we have another series of concerts from our community choirs, please come and join in the festive season. You will be glad you did for more reason then one!

Cultural Merger

The Historical Society of Mecklenburg Upper Canada managed a smart move and joined forces with The Harmonie Choir, which once was a big and mighty entity in our ranks, yet has shrunk to a handful of still enthusiastic folks.

The Harmonie Choir sings

As are the members of the Historical Society. I dare not guess the average age, but it is likely over 70. It is so nice to see everyone come out and join in the fun of celebrating spring that was the motto of the day in May.

Interview & encouragement by Christian KleinPresident Christian Klein had co-ordinated the program and after a welcoming speech by him and Rosl Schwab, President of the Choir, he had people read poems like Liselotte Bollman, Klaus Barniske and Maria Schoenboeck as well as myself, sing a song, as did Günter Rausch, who performed "Als ich gestern einsam ging" von Herman Loens.

Liselotte Bollmann, the poetMaria SchönrockGünter Rausch & Mrs. Hebke

We listened to the choir and to the conductors children make earnest efforts to play various instruments. It was much like visiting Oma and Opa with the grandchildren and having them perform, maybe for a small reward. Christopher and Benjamin Heinzle have the benefit of their father’s expertise; he runs a music school in Richmond Hill.

Playing their instruments





And when it was time to sing along in a potpourri of songs the eyes of all where shining, pride of being able to remember the lyrics without having to read them off the provided sheet music was apparent.

Here too do we see a strong decline in participating, but what is left is held together by music. Those that came participated vigorously and we commend them and thank them for keeping our traditions alive! SFR.


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