A musical March promises many ‘note-able’ moments

The Department of Music in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts is offering the University community a wonderfully diverse musical March, with midday and evening performances featuring everything from classical voice to jazz and improv. 

Here’s an overview of all the "note-able" events:

While the works of the Bard may be most familiar to readers and theatre-goers, William Shakespeare’s texts have also inspired many musicians through the centuries. Young singers in York’s Classical Vocal Performance Program celebrate the playwright’s enduring legacy this coming weekend with For the Love of Shakespeare, an original, staged concert conceived by music Professor Catherine Robbin (right) and accompanied on piano by Raisa Nakhmanovich.

From operatic arias to hit tunes from Broadway musicals, the program offers engaging solo and ensemble pieces that allow the young performers to showcase their talent, passion and vocal powers. They will interpret works by composers ranging from Thomas Arne to Eric Korngold by way of Haydn, Schubert, Berlioz, Bellini, Verdi, Poulenc, Vaughan Williams, Cole Porter, Bernstein and more. Most selections will be sung in English.

Many singers in the show have won honours in local and regional competitions. They include mezzo soprano Laura Kelly, who was awarded the senior scholarship at the Newmarket Voice Festival last November, and soprano Joyce Goh, who won the coveted Silver Tray at the Kiwanis Music Festival of Greater Toronto this past weekend.

The dramatic proposition is that the show’s rehearsal is overheard by a mysterious young man who has fallen for the stage manager. The singers believe he is the son of an opera director whom they hope to lure to attend the concert by elaborate subterfuge. Confusion and hilarity ensue before the inevitable denouement and resolution.

Theatre students under the supervision of theatre Professor Gwen Dobie (right) enhance the concert’s dramatic framework and production values, making the evening an interdisciplinary affair. Joining the 16 singers on stage are two actors, PJ Muirhead and Laurel Brady, from the Department of Theatre. The script was co-written by theatre students Caitlin Fysh and Julia Pileggi. Fysh also serves as director, while another theatre student, Alex Naylor, designed the lighting for the show.

“I’m very pleased the theatre department is involved, and that we can provide this experience for theatre and music students to share their talents with one another,” says Robbin. “I look forward to more collaboration in the future.”

For the Love of Shakespeare will take place March 6 and 7 at 7:30pm nightly in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, 112 Accolade East Building. Admission is $15 or $5 for students and seniors.

For those who would like to get in on the performing side of the equation, music Professor Casey Sokol (right) is hosting an evening of informal musical improvisation in a participatory "open mike" set-up. Observers are also welcome and admission is free. The Improv Soiree takes place March 6 starting at 8pm in the Sterling Beckwith Studio, 235 Accolade East Building.

The 20-voice York University Chamber Choir, directed by Professor Lisette Canton (left) and accompanied by pianist Mélisande Sinsoulier, will present a varied program of choral works spanning four historical periods and five languages on March 10 at 7:30pm in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall.

The choir’s repertoire will include works by Byrd G.P. Palestrina, William Byrd, Thomas Weelkes, Jan P. Sweelinck, Gabriel Fauré, Sergei Rachmaninov, Michael Haydn, Fanny Hensel, Morten Lauridsen and Healey Willan. Tenor John Castillo is the featured student soloist. Professor Canton will pass the baton to graduate students Cheryl Bowen and Jacklin Falconer for this Master’s recital. Admission is free and all are welcome.

Earlier the same day, the award-winning Barry Elmes Quintet headlines the Music Department’s free Jazz at Noon series, performing 12:30 to 2pm in the Martin Family Lounge, 219 Accolade East Building.

Led by Music Department Chair, internationally renowned jazz drummer Barry Elmes (left), the quintet features faculty members Mike Murley (saxes) and Kevin Turcotte (trumpet), with Reg Schwager (guitar) and Steve Wallace (bass). The performance will include compositions from the band’s acclaimed recordings and new material from their upcoming CD release. A Q&A session with the musicians will follow the performance. For more on the Barry Elmes Quintet, see YFile, Feb. 27, 2008.

Other free midday concerts during the month of March include classical instrumental recitals by student soloists on March 9; a classical guitar recital by music faculty members William Beauvais and Brian Katz on March 12; performances of original works composed by students on March 17 and 31, and jazz by the Richard Whiteman Trio on March 31.

For a full listing of concerts presented by the Music Department, click here. For ticketed events, visit the York University Box Office Web site or call 416-736-5888.