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Issue 10

Sounds Like GGS!

Issue 10 | October 2020

RCO 1: Coming Soon to a Computer Near You!

It might just have been our most unusual RCO 1 ever. GGS orchestra students performed in Koerner Hall on Sunday, October 4 to a small in-house audience of less than 30 listeners, seated at a distance of course, and you can watch how it all went down when the performance streams on the RCM website Friday, October 30. Pop the corn and pull up your laptop to watch behind-the-scenes footage and interviews as well! 

GGS Orchestra and Opera Manager Kaitlyn Smith masterminded a complicated protocol to keep musicians safe and called in a few pros from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra no less (thanks concertmaster Jonathan Crow, principal cello Joseph Johnson, and bassoonists Samuel Banks and Fraser Jackson!). It was an amazing chance for GGS players to work with the best.  

Throw in matching black face masks, plexiglass dividers for winds and brass, and talented ADP pianist Sae Yoon Chon, and you have what you need to perform Mozart’s “Haffner” Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K.385, and Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73, safely in the time of COVID-19.  

No small feat! And we’ve got your taste of what it was like to be there, with photos, musician interviews, and even a snippet of rehearsal footage. 

Named, distanced seats in the Galleria became the musician-filled staging area: 

RCO Rehearsal
RCO Rehearsal 2

Joe Johnson

TSO cellist Joe Johnson captures the enthusiasm. 

Laura Kuri

First-year BMus trumpet Laura Kuri is excited.

Daniel Dastoor

New ADP violinist Daniel Dastoor shares his thoughts.

Justin Wisner

ADP clarinetist Justin Wisner is glad to be playing again.

Sae Yoon Chon

ADP piano soloist Sae Yoon Chon is grateful to collaborate.

With the outstanding Jonathan Crow in the concertmaster chair and Sae Yoon Chon at the piano, both wearing masks, it was an unusual concerto set up involving 37 GGS musicians, one GGS grad, three Taylor Academy grads and the four TSO ringers. Here’s how beautiful the Emperor Concerto’s Adagio un poco mosso sounded in rehearsal.

With RCO 2 slated for the end of November, Kaitlyn Smith says, we’ll be doing it again. “The entire process was an enriching and enlightening experience for all who were involved. The music was the engine that kept us going and helped us to power through all of the nuances of organizing a concert during a pandemic. It really opened our eyes to what is possible if you can adapt and have safety as your first priority." 

Zoom: Music Muse

We’re all Zoom users these days, meeting, learning and performing virtually, so one young Toronto composer wrote a piece during the pandemic specifically for live remote performance. GGS cellist David Liam Roberts, together with fellow Zyra Trio members violinist Gregory Lewis and pianist Paul Williamson, performed the world premiere of Tristan Zaba’s Dream Streams on August 29.  

Instead of struggling with the inherent delay in live remote performances, Tristan integrates the delay into the musical structure of Dream Streams. Sometimes he rhythmically decouples the musicians from each other, and other times he creates a system of cueing things from player to player.  

“It was a fun and unique experience bringing Tristan’s piece to life, and this was the first and only time I have ever tried to play chamber music over Zoom,” says David Liam. “Of course, most chamber music requires each musician to play together in the same room, so writing a piece for musicians performing together literally hundreds of kilometres away from each other was an ambitious idea.”  

Take a listen:

“For much of Dream Streams, I rhythmically decoupled the ensemble in a manner similar to some of Witold Lutosławski’s aleatoric passages,” says Tristan. “This means one musician was often instructed to play a repeating passage for a specified amount of time, with another player simultaneously playing a solo line which doesn’t synchronize with the underlying texture in any specific way. 

“Another important aspect of the piece is a system of cuing things from player to player. Much of this involves telling a musician to begin playing a specific part after they hear another musician finish playing another specific part.” 

Tristan had support from the SOCAN Foundation to compose and arrange the performance of Dream Streams with David Liam, Paul and Gregory, all friends he met while studying in Winnipeg. Paul and Gregory are currently working toward Artist Diplomas at The Colburn School in Los Angeles and Tristan completed his master’s in composition back in June at University of Toronto. 

Tristan and Zyra Trio livestreamed a concert of solo works along with Dream Streams on August 29, and David Liam gave a second world premiere that night: the stunning For the Lost to be Found by Abu Dhabi-born and Ottawa-based composer, violist, and multi-disciplinary artist Nawfel Djari

Watch the full concert here