Yes, New Music is Beautiful (And Fun, Offbeat, Thought-provoking...)

November 12, 2015 | Miriam

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New Music 101For several years, Toronto Public Library has worked with the Canadian Music Centre, Canadian League of Composers and New Music Concerts to put on our New Music 101 series in library branches. These unique and wonderful performances have allowed Toronto audiences to get a taste of some of the excitement of New Music and the talented musicians who perform it. The series always showcases Canadian composers, but has an international scope too as the current concerts show. The sessions are hosted by David Perlman, editor-in-chief of The WholeNote, and combine performance, presentation and discussion.

A few classical music lovers still prefer their composers dead and resolutely harmonic. A counterpoint to that is pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim who has championed new music for at 50 years. As music director at the Chicago Symphony, he made a point of exposing audiences to new music and urges people to listen closely because you will understand the music better and enjoy it!

Keep in mind that Bach was once new, as was Wagner, Ravel, Schoenberg, etc., etc. In the first half of the 20th century, the avant-garde  and modernist composers who are today lionized, often faced public and critical hostility. When Alban Berg's Altenberg songs were performed in Vienna in 1913, a riot broke out. The same thing happened in Paris when Stravinsky's Rite of Spring was performed. Some composers of this period took to providing invitation-only performances. 

Luckily for music lovers, the Toronto Public Library never has private performances and we don't charge, either! 

On Tuesday night, November 17, 7 pm, hear What's in a Fable? at the Lillian H. Smith branch. As Musica Reflecta, Blythwood Winds (pictured below) and narrator Alex Eddington perform pieces by local composers, audiences will be able to explore the dramatic and humorous side of some timeless fables! Prepare to be amazed.  

BLYTHWOOD Lillian Smith

On Saturday, November 21, 2 pm at Northern District Room 200, we host a double recital. Continuum Contemporary Music opens with "Enliven the Ma." The Ma is a uniquely Japanese concept that thrives in all things around and between us. Continuum will draw on Artistic Director Ryan Scott’s research in Tokyo with extraordinary Japanese composers including Toshi Ichiyanagi and Jo Kondo.


The other half of the recital is with the amazing and talented keyboard geeks of junctQín (Elaine Lau, Joseph Ferretti and Stephanie Chua, pictured below) as  they demonstrate extended techniques on the piano through the music of Finnish composer Tomi Räisänen. Whether on a Steinway concert grand or one of their toy pianos, junctQín  is always fun, clever and they make wonderful music. 

JunctQin Northern District

Joseph Ferretti nicely captures the character of new music: “It’s not like saying good bye and starting something new. What we do is called contemporary classical, and it’s just that; classical music, but being composed now.”