Monthly Archives: January 2016

From the Annex Quartet: Czech, Canadian and German compositions

by guest writer Julie Berridge

On Thursday February 4, the Annex Quartet plays compositions by Czech, Canadian and German composers.

We’ll first hear a composition by Janáček’, who is considered one of the most important Czech composers, described as a “child of the Czech national revival”. When the success he sought from the mainstream eluded him, Janáček’ turned to folk music and nationalistic folklore for inspiration. He was interested in the harmony of all sounds and translated many different sounds into musical notation which he would then incorporate into his compositions.

Janáček’ composed Quartet No. 1 in The Kreuzter Sonata in 1923, when he was 69. “The Kreuzter Sonata”, is a Tolstoy novella that was named after a Beethoven sonata. Tolstoy’s story is about a man who in a fit of rage, murders his adulterous wife. The wife’s lover is a violinist. At some point the two illicit lovers play Beethoven’s sonata, which like the story is filled with ecstasy, desire, and rage. Using rapid repetitive patterns, compelling rhythms, and a variety of amplitudes and durations, Janáček moves us through the Tolstoy story.

R. (Raymond) Murray Schafer was born in Sarnia, Ontario on July 18, 1933. Almost 20 years later, he entered the Royal Conservatory and University of Toronto to study piano, composition, and musicology. Becoming disillusioned with university studies, he left formal study for Vienna and then England. After he returned to Canada, he produced the Ten Centuries Concerts, and taught at Memorial University and then Simon Fraser University where he set up the World Soundscape Project through which the relationships between people and their acoustic environment were studied.

In the 80s and into the 90s, Schafer composed a number of commissioned works, one of which String Quartet No. 5 (Rosalind) which was commissioned by Stan Witkin, a Toronto business man for his wife Rosalind in 1989. Schafer says of the composition,

“My intention was to write a work that expressed the normal existential shifts of mood we all experience every day. One moment I am happy, the next reflective, then I am hungry or I get a headache. And yet we are usually incapable of detecting the exact instant when the change occurs. That is the kind of music I wanted to write — music that moves the listener from one state to another without the listener detecting when or how the changes take place”.

Felix Mendelssohn, composer, pianist, organist and conductor was born in 1809. Mendelssohn’s first public concert appearance is thought to have taken place when he was just 9 years old. He wrote 12 string symphonies between the ages of 12 and 15, and he wrote his first full orchestral symphony when he was 15.

Mendelssohn composed the String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13, shortly after the death of Beethoven and several illusions to Beethoven’s later quartets can be heard in the quartet. But where Beethoven is introspective, Mendelssohn is passionate. Of this quartet, Mendelsohn wrote “You will hear its notes resound in the first and last movements, and sense its feeling in all four”.

Join us on February 4, 2016 to hear all of these pieces performed by the Annex Quartet!


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Annex Quartet

Last year the Annex Quartet played for one of our outreach dates at Northern District Library and we are happy to have them play this year on our main stage as part of our Discovery Series. This professional performance series features emerging Canadian artists.

The Annex Quartet was founded in 2008. The members are based here in Toronto and the quartet is named after our Annex neighbourhood. Two of the original 4 founding members still perform as part of the quartet, Yunior Lopez (viola) and Peter Cosbey (cello).

The quartet explores a wide variety of music genres, including jazz and blues alongside traditional classical music. In early 2012, they embarked on their project called The Roaring Twenties, an exploration and revival of the music of the 1920s. The project developed into their debut album that was released in 2013. They currently have a second cd in production.

For our concert on February 4, 2016, the Annex Quartet will treat us to some Janacek (Quartet No 1, Kreutzer Sonata), R. Murray Schafer (Quartet No. 5, Rosalind) and Mendelssohn (Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 13, Ist Es Wahr? (Is It True?)).

To read more about the quartet or to listen to some of their music clips, visit their website at

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Andriana Chuchman

As part of our Discovery Series, Music Toronto brings a vocal recital to our stage each year. This season we have the pleasure of presenting Canadian soprano Andriana Chuchman on January 21, 2016. With our Discovery Series, we feature Canadian artists – providing performance experience for artists and concert opportunities at a reduced price for audiences.

Surrounded by music for most of her life, Andriana and her sister would sing Ukrainian folk songs to entertain family and friends. Andriana’s parents sent her for voice training with Ruth Ens before she entered high school. As a teen, she performed in school productions, sang with a harmony group, and studied trumpet, ballet, and Ukrainian folk dance. She went on to study at the School of Music at the University of Manitoba and continues to make her home in Winnipeg with her husband.

Andriana hit the opera media spotlight two years ago when she made an unexpected early debut at the Met. Scheduled to debut in February of 2014 in “The Enchanted Island”, she was called upon to replace Anna Netrebko on short notice for a couple of performances of “L’Elisir d’Amore” when Ms. Netrebko was stricken with the flu.

We are very happy we were able to book her Toronto recital debut just before all of that happened! To learn more about Andriana and to see her very busy schedule, visit her website at To hear her live in Toronto accompanied by pianist Craig Terry, join us on January 21st!

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JACK Quartet

January 14, 2016 brings the first concert of the season in our Contemporary Classics series.

Our Contemporary Classics series is comprised of 1 contemporary concert from each of our Quartet Series, Piano Series and Discovery Series. In addition to the JACK Quartet, this season’s Contemporary Classics includes the Annex Quartet (February 4, 2016 Discovery) and Duo Turgeon (April 5, 2016 Piano). You can still book a subscription package to attend all three! Visit our box office link here

In association with New Music Concerts, we will present the JACK Quartet featuring violinists Christopher Otto and Ari Streisfeld, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Kevin McFarland. If you are wondering where their name comes from, just take a closer look at the first initials of each of the performers. They all met at Eastman where they were students and were involved in a new music ensemble called Ossia. In addition to performing as the JACK Quartet, all 4 are members of the Ensemble Signal, which also performs and records contemporary music.

The JACK Quartet work closely with living composers when they can. Their concert with us on January 14th will feature pieces by John Luther Adams (The Wind in the High Places), John Zorn (The Remedy of Fortune), and Iannis Xenakis (Tetras (1983)). They will also perform Angelorum Psalat (1415) by Rodericus arranged by JACK Quartet member Christopher Otto.

There will be a pre concert chat with New Music Concerts as well as some conversation from the stage during the show about the pieces with Music Toronto’s Composer Advisor, Jeffrey Ryan.

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