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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 13, No. 8 May 2008


by Wah Keung Chan / May 11, 2008

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What better way to forget the long winter than to spend the spring and summer months combining fresh outdoor air with beautiful tunes offered by Canada’s many music festivals. For the twelfth straight year, La Scena Musicale, Canada’s most wide-reaching and well-respected classical music and jazz magazines, will once again celebrate the summer season in music. Our festival coverage began last month with our first International Festival Guide. This month, we feature our annual national focus on over 120 Canadian jazz, world and folk music festivals (plus twelve of the earlier classical music festivals). Next month, our June national issue will be dedicated to over 90 classical music festivals, plus for the first time a Guide to Canadian arts festivals.

It was last year that we launched our special jazz focus issue as a means of drawing our readers’ attention to the wealth of Canadian summer jazz festivals staged across the land. This month, our resident jazz editor Marc Chénard and his team have put together a feature on jazz orchestras. Starting with our lead story on the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra by Paul Serralheiro and a companion piece by Chénard on other groundbreaking ensembles, our writers have also chipped in with some personal top jazz festivals picks (see p. 17). You’ll also find record reviews of bands playing at one or the other of the 40-plus jazz festivals hosted in our country (see our extensive jazz festival calendar listings in these pages).

The sweeping changes to the role of classical music at the CBC are cause for concern to everyone in Canada’s artistic community. An outpouring of general dissatisfaction has come from across the country to protest the bleak future of CBC’s record label, the sudden dissolution of the 70-year old Vancouver-based CBC Radio Orchestra, as well as the radical changes to Radio Two programming. Michael Vincent examines these issues in-depth on p. 16 and tracks the fallout of these most unfortunate developments.

Also this month, we have asked some of Canada’s most esteemed conductors to share their thoughts on the legacy of Herbert von Karajan, a subject that has garnered a great deal of attention this year, the centenary of his birth. While his influence on the world of orchestral performance and the classical music recording industry is practically unchallenged throughout history, his ties to the Nazi party during the early part of his career has raised some eyebrows and heated a debate on the issue.

Laurier Rajotte investigates this year’s edition of the highly prestigious Montreal International Musical Competition, which focuses on piano. Given the competition’s track record of producing internationally acclaimed artists, we can certainly expect to hear some extraordinary performances. René Bricault catches up with director Michel Lemieux and conductor/arranger Simon Leclerc as they discuss the challenges and rewards of converting Starmania, a well-established rock opera, into a classical setting for Quebec City’s 400th anniversary celebrations.

As Mother’s Day approaches, we celebrate this special time by featuring Giacomo Puccini and his timeless opera, Madama Butterfly, presented this month by Opéra de Montréal. The story is, of course, one of the great tragedies of the operatic canon, but also tells of a mother’s ultimate sacrifice. Don’t forget that LSM’s next fundraiser is opening night of Butterfly on the 24th! Call 514-948-2520 for tickets and more information about this great event.

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