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The Music Scene Vol. 1 No. 1

by Wah Keung Chan Thursday, October 17, 2002

Economic crises in orchestras and in the recording industry dominated the news last year. The events of September 11 had an impact on the industry worldwide. However, a look at our online database of classical music events (from across Canada) and the list of new recordings show that music making is still alive.

Some highlights from last year stand out. A concert featuring Tan Dun conducting the Montreal Symphony Orchestra as part of McGill''s MusiMars at a sold-out 600-seat Pollack Hall proved that contemporary music can sell. It also showed what is good and bad about today''s music. While I cannot hum any parts of Tan Dun''s cello concerto, I found the work riveting. Like finely crafted writing, the enticing opening was sustained throughout with a continuous stream of ideas that caressed my sensibilities. Great compositions in the past had a vision of the whole, which in the hands of a skilled conductor is shape in a sustained musical line. The key lies in the linking of the sections of the composition, an element that is true for music as well as for the literary and performing arts. It is a simple concept that was, alas, forgotten by twentieth-century composers in their rush to create the next new musical idea.

The first Jeunesses Musicales Montreal International Music Competition in voice was a success. Canada did particularly well with three of the top four prizes, showing that our singers are developing into excellent musicians. Musicianship won out as Measha Brueggergosman took home the top honours with the most intelligent and musically convincing interpretation. Vocally, singers could learn a lot from the South Korean contingent; they had the most refined technique, with four of their five singers among the best voices in the competition. Indeed, three Koreans made it to the final ten, but in the end did not place high because their singing seemed to lack emotion.

Have the three tenors sung their swan song? This was the question after this summer''s World Cup of Soccer. If we could present a Canadian Three Tenors, we would see onstage Ben Heppner, Richard Margison and Michael Schade. This September, Schade is the featured cover artist in this first issue of The Music Scene, a special English-language issue of La Scena Musicale, serving southern Ontario and western Canada.

Both The Music Scene and La Scena Musicale are brought to you by the dedicated team of staff and volunteers of La Sc?ne Musicale / The Music Scene, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting classical music. Our other activities include the award-winning free classical music website LSM Online <scena.org>, The Student Writing Contest, and the "Bring a Teen" outreach program.

When we introduced the bilingual magazine La Scena Musicale six years ago, our aim was to create a national magazine that would do its part to unify the music community and bring a new public to classical music. Our method was to be available and the focus was at once local, national and international. La Scena Musicale has always been available in the province of Quebec and in Ottawa, and in music schools and record stores across Canada. Our national summer festival issue (June) has twice been distributed in the major cities in Canada. The yearly growth of LSM from a 2-page newsletter to a 24-page magazine in its second year to the latest 80-page magazine shows that there is a continuing interest in our cultural vision.

Like La Scena Musicale, The Music Scene is distributed free of charge, and the hybrid glossy/newsprint format was chosen as a cost-effective way of reaching the largest possible audience. We are proud to present a magazine that has something for all readers, from novices to experts. Furthermore, our calendar is one of the most detailed resources in print and on the Internet. Among our new features, we present an "Introduction to Music" column (on clapping) and a column "Maestro''s Choice" (Yannick N?zet-S?guin tells us why Mahler''s Third turns him on).

We hope that you will enjoy this first issue of The Music Scene, and that we will keep contact with you as a regular reader. We continue to work to improve every aspect of our features and services. Our readers'' feedback is crucial, and we invite you to fill out the readers'' survey at the back of the magazine, which will earn you a chance to win a collection of CDs and an espresso machine.

Have a great 2002?2003 season!

(c) La Scena Musicale