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Anne of Tim Hortons

Anne of Tim Hortons

Globalization and the Reshaping of Atlantic-Canadian Literature
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Anne of Tim Hortons: Globalization and the Reshaping of Atlantic-Canadian Literature is a study of the work of over twenty contemporary Atlantic-Canadian writers that counters the widespread impression of Atlantic Canada as a quaint and backward place. By examining their treatment of work, culture, and history, author Herb Wyile highlights how these writers resist the image of Atlantic Canadians as improvident and regressive, if charming, folk.

After an introduction that examines the current pla …

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In Search of Alberto Guerrero

In Search of Alberto Guerrero

edited by John Beckwith
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook

In Search of Alberto Guerrero is the first full biography of the influential Chilean-Canadian pianist and teacher (1886-1959), describing Guerrero’s long career as virtuoso recitalist, chamber music collaborator, concerto soloist, and teacher. Written by composer John Beckwith, who was a student of Guerrero, the book blends research and memoir to piece together the life of a man who once insisted he had no story.

Guerrero was part of the intellectual scene that introduced Chileans to Debussy, …

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Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter 4, In Search of Alberto Guerrero by John Beckwith

“A Great Piano Town”: The Five Piano Ensemble

The Swiss-born pianist and teacher Pierre Souvairan, a leading figure in the Toronto musical scene starting in the mid-1950s, used to say that the city as he found it when he arrived was a “great piano town. “ Before, during, and after World War II, Toronto offered a notable roster of senior piano instructors. At the Toronto Conservatory of Music, along with Guerrero, were Margaret Miller Brown, B. Hayunga Carman, Reginald Godden, Viggo Kihl, Weldon Kilburn, Lubka Kolessa, Ernest Seitz, and Paul Wells--Mona Bates ran a highly successful independent studio. All had distinguished credentials and produced outstanding pupils; several (particularly Godden, Kolessa, and Seitz) were, like Guerrero, active on the concert stage and in broadcasting. Pianists outnumbered other instrumentalists several times over in conservatory enrolments, and the city's reputation as a centre of piano manufacture, while starting to decline in favour of the radio and the phonograph, was still formidable (Heintzman and Mason & Risch, the two major firms, lasted into the early 1950s). The leading international piano soloists all included Toronto in their tour itineraries (Vladimir Horowitz made virtually annual appearances in Massey Hall during my student years, for example).

A curious phenomenon was the popularity of multiple piano concerts. Piano duo teams were of course common, not just in Toronto, with their arrangements from all areas of music literature. But how many cities in that era managed to cultivate both a five-piano ensemble and a ten-piano ensemble? Guerrero's long-time association with the former, in a period when he was also mounting intimate performances of off-beat solo repertoire, is a striking parallel to his emphasis on zarzuela composition simultaneously with his groundbreaking new-music efforts in Chile years before: producing music for wide popular appeal and for connoisseurs did not represent an either-or choice for him; both were desirable and important.

The Five Piano Ensemble made its inaugural appearance in 1926, and lasted until at least 1940. The Ten Piano group came into existence in 1931 under Mona Bates's direction, seemingly as a rival effort. Both teams had strong support from Toronto piano dealers, the former from Heintzman and Company and the latter from the T. Eaton Company, local representatives of Steinway and Sons. The appearance of a large assemblage of grand pianos on stage was arresting, the locales were huge (Massey Hall, Varsity Arena, and even the city's largest sports venue, Maple Leaf Gardens), and the repertoire of the Five Piano group featured spectacular arrangements of popular piano favorites such as Chopin's Polonaise in A-flat, and of orchestral standbys such as Strauss's Blue Danube Waltz and Chabrier's España: it was all well calculated to help sell instruments. A lengthy magazine article describes one of the first concerts and includes a striking photo of the group.

This event took place at Massey Hall on 27 April 1927. The performers were Nora Drewett de Kresz, Reginald Stewart, Viggo Kihl, Ernest Seitz, and Guerrero; Ernest MacMillan conducted. As became standard programming procedure, a series of arrangements was interspersed with solos by individual members. In this all-Chopin program, the arrangements included the two most popular Polonaises--in A-flat, Opus 53, and in A (“Military”), Opus 40, no. 1--and Guerrero's solos were the Impromptu in F-sharp, no. 2, Opus 36, and the “Black Key” Etude in G-flat, Opus 10, no. 5. For a concert in the same hall on 2 November 1927, the arrangements (should one rather call them projections?) were again all of piano originals, the only quasi-exception being Paganini's La chasse (originally arranged--for one piano only--by Liszt); solo offerings included Rachmaninov's Prelude in g, Debussy's Minstrels, Chopin's Waltz in e, op. posth. , and A Mountain Brook by the then-novel composer Cyril Scott. For Schumann's Carnaval, a reviewer noted,”[the five pianists] opened in unison, and also gave the closing march in majestic unison, and took turns in playing the other short sketches. “ Later concerts were not conducted.

At Varsity Arena on 22 October 1928, Scott Malcolm and Reginald Godden replaced Kihl and Drewett, and the program included La campanella (Paganini-Liszt) and the Chabrier. At Massey Hall on 23 November the same year, Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody no. 15 and the ballet music from Rosamunde by Schubert were the featured group numbers. After their 15 March 1929 concert, which included Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, the Scherzo from Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream music, and Strauss's Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz, a reviewer stated that the ensemble “has now become an institution in Toronto, and a popular one judging by the enthusiasm of the large crowds which attend its concerts. “ After the group's concert of 22 November the same year, the Conservatory Quarterly Review noted that “the Five Piano Ensemble . . . has evidently come to stay,” and quoted a Globe review of the event: “Repetitions, recalls and encores were past counting. The. .. synchronizing was extraordinary throughout. “

In Eaton Auditorium on 5 May 1932, four members of the ensemble (Guerrero, Nora Drewett, Scott Malcolm, and Viggo Kihl) joined a small string orchestra in a performance of the Vivaldi-Bach Concerto in a for four keyboards and strings; the conductor was Géza de Kresz.

The same four, joined by Godden, appeared in Maple Leaf Gardens, on 27 November 1935, with a larger component of transcriptions in their program: the Beautiful Blue Danube again, Tchaikovsky's “Waltz of the Flowers” from The Nutcracker, Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio espagnol, two Liszt pieces, and a five-keyboard version of Cyril Scott's arrangement of the Invention in F Major by J. S. Bach. As composed by Bach, this glittering little piece lasts about thirty seconds in performance; one imagines it on this occasion as the inflation of an inflation. (Less than a week previously, Guerrero had played the complete cycle of Bach's Inventions and Sinfonias in a recital at Malloney's. Somehow he managed to compartmentalize his opposing roles as Bach purist and multi-piano team member. )

The ensemble had given another concert in the Gardens on 24 April the same year, and in 1936 they were again heard twice, in Varsity Arena, the dates being 5 May and 9 November. On 5 May and 8 September 1938 they appeared at Varsity Arena, both times with the Toronto Philharmonic, the orchestra of the summer Promenade Concerts. The conductor, Reginald Stewart, was a member of the ensemble. On 5 May he led a performance of the Vivaldi-Bach Concerto in a, with his colleagues Godden, Malcolm, Seitz, and Guerrero, and then joined them in a group without orchestra (the Bach-Scott Invention in F, Liszt's arrangement of Schubert's “Hark, Hark, the Lark,” and Stravinsky's “Danse infernale”). At the 8 September concert, the Ensemble replaced an indisposed guest soloist on two days' notice, and offered two pianos-only groups, highlighted by the Mendelssohn Scherzo and Weber's Invitation to the Dance. A further concert in Massey Hall took place on 24 November 1939. For an engagement in London, Ontario, on 14 February 1940, the ensemble members were again Godden, Guerrero, Malcolm, Seitz, and Stewart, and the program included arrangements of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in d, the “Polovtzian dances” from Prince Igor by Borodin, and Debussy's orchestral Nocturne no. 2 (Fêtes). This is the latest date for which I have located documentation.

Guerrero was the one constant member of the ensemble throughout its approximately thirteen-year existence, which may indicate that he played a leadership or organizational role. The scores of the ensemble's arrangements have not so far come to light, if in fact they were ever notated. Intriguing questions remain: who was the arranger? Was the repertoire selected and arranged by some mutual process, or did Guerrero or one of the others make assignments? And was MacMillan involved at the start in arranging for the ensemble as well as conducting it? The ensemble and its brief popularity amount to an underexplored episode in the music annals of Toronto, in which Alberto Guerrero was closely involved.

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Just a Larger Family

Just a Larger Family

Letters of Marie Williamson from the Canadian Home Front,1940–1944
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook

The Second World War had been under way for a year when Marie and John Williamson welcomed two English brothers to join them and their two children in their small house in north Toronto for the duration of the conflict. Marie wrote over 150 letters to the boys’ mother, Margaret Sharp, imagining that she could make Margaret feel she was still with her children. She shepherded the boys through education decisions and illnesses, eased them into a strange new life, and rejoiced when they embraced …

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Just a Larger Family

Just a Larger Family

Letters of Marie Williamson from the Canadian Home Front,1940–1944
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

The Second World War had been under way for a year when Marie and John Williamson welcomed two English brothers to join them and their two children in their small house in north Toronto for the duration of the conflict. Marie wrote over 150 letters to the boys’ mother, Margaret Sharp, imagining that she could make Margaret feel she was still with her children. She shepherded the boys through education decisions and illnesses, eased them into a strange new life, and rejoiced when they embraced …

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Scandalous Bodies

Scandalous Bodies

Diasporic Literature in English Canada
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Scandalous Bodies is an impassioned scholarly study both of literature by diasporic writers and of the contexts within which it is produced. It explores topics ranging from the Canadian government’s multiculturalism policy to media representations of so-called minority groups, from the relationship between realist fiction and history to postmodern constructions of ethnicity, from the multicultural theory of the philosopher Charles Taylor to the cultural responsibilities of diasporic critics su …

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Trans.Can.Lit

Trans.Can.Lit

Resituating the Study of Canadian Literature
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

The study of Canadian literature—CanLit—has undergone dramatic changes since it became an area of specialization in the 1960s and ’70s. As new global forces in the 1990s undermined its nation-based critical assumptions, its theoretical focus and research methods lost their immediacy. The contributors to Trans.Can.Lit address cultural policy, citizenship, white civility, and the celebrated status of diasporic writers, unabashedly recognizing the imperative to transfigure the disciplinary an …

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Speaking of Power

Speaking of Power

The Poetry of Di Brandt
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : canadian, literary

Speaking of Power: The Poetry of Di Brandt introduces the reader to the lyric power and political urgency of the poetry of Di Brandt, providing an overview of her poetry written during a prolific and revolutionary twenty-year period.

Beginning with her early poetic inquiries into the dynamics of gender, religion, and the politics of language, Brandt examines the use and abuse of power as a cultural issue, emphasizing cross-cultural and domestic relationships. Particularly engaged with questions …

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Excerpt

because we cannot meet on father ground by Di Brandt

since we cannot meet on father ground

our father's land as sister & brother ever

let's imagine a new place between us

slightly suspended in air but yet touching

earth an old tree house full of weather

or an ark its ancient hull gleaming

remembering the rains let's gather our

belongings & our children & meet at the

river this will be a new country love &

crossing the field to greet you i will lay

my old weapons down & wait if you are

there with me under the harvest moon

we will look in each other's eyes without

speaking our hands will shake & the great

wooden door will begin creaking open at

last since we cannot meet

Excerpt from the Introduction by Tanis MacDonald

The importance of Di Brandt's poetry to Canadian literature cannot be overestimated. Her work broaches complex and volatile subject matter, and is valued for her assertion that poetry must be, at its core, concerned with the political power of language. Acclaimed for her lyric sensibility and rebellious inquiry into the power of language, Brandt explores cross-cultural concepts of justice and the ecopoetic relationship between land and spirituality. Her stylistic and formal innovations distinguish her as part of a group of women writers that began working with feminist poetics in the 1980s, searching for ways to write the female body, and challenge Western literature as a patriarchal tradition. .. .With their arresting line breaks and demanding syntax, Brandt's poems have an insistent, oracular quality that pulls the reader into an inquiry about the power of speech in Western civilization. Although much of her poetry is intentionally disquieting, the disturbance Brandt creates is never gratuitous; for her, writing poetry means nothing less than discovering where the power in language is located. Politics, in Brandt's poetry, may be defined as a series of decisions about who has the privilege of speech and who does not ultimately, who lives and who dies.

Demonstrating a willingness to let the silence speak as a critique of institutions that perpetuate oppression, Brandt's poetic inquiry has grown into an urgent discussion about the future of the planet, wrought through her concern with a corporate, and often corporeal, abuse of power. Her ethics of interconnection emphasize that no action or word can exist in brutal isolation or untouchable transcendence, and assert that the fabric of individual existence is deeply interdependent upon all forms of life on earth. Brandt's concept of her double identity, as poet and critic, as Mennonite and feminist, as mother and daughter, performs its own interconnections, and grants her access to a grand vision of beauty and regenerative hope. Brandt's work is best read as a lyrical arc rather than individual poems, for each of her concerns resonates with an adjoining issue: feminism with religion; belief with language; power with gender. The poems selected for this collection emphasize the connections between people, between love and loss, between anger and grief, between personal accountability and collective adversity. By clarifying these complexities without simplifying them, Brandt's poetry sings with a voice that is pressured by desperate circumstances but predicates a better world with its ecstatic music.

 

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Watermelon Syrup

Watermelon Syrup

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Lexi, a young Mennonite woman from Saskatchewan, comes to work as housekeeper and nanny for a doctor’s family in Waterloo, Ontario, during the Depression. Dr. Gerald Oliver is a handsome philanderer who lives with his neurotic and alcoholic wife, Cammy, and their two children. Lexi soon adapts to modern conveniences, happily wears Cammy’s expensive cast off clothes, and is transformed from an innocent into a chic urban beauty. When Lexi is called home to Saskatchewan to care for her dying mo …

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