Women's Musical Club of Toronto

When Mariam Batsashvili performed for the WMCT in April, many patrons were interested in purchasing a CD – but she hadn’t released a disc yet! Well, the waiting is over, and the first piece on her Music in the Afternoon concert is also the first piece on her debut with Warner ClassicsBénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude.

The project, described in this Globe & Mail article, involves a newly commissioned suite of piano quartets by 14 Canadian composers, each inspired by a particular region of Canada, a national concert tour throughout the 2018-2020 season, and a specially designed website that showcases audience-generated artwork inspired by the musical commission.

Violinist Elissa Lee won the WMCT U of T Entrance Scholarship in 1993; cellist Rachel Mercer won the first WMCT Centennial Scholarship in 1997, and pianist Angela Park won in 2000. EMIC performed for Music in the Afternoon on May 7, 2015.

Walter Homburger, who died on July 25, at the age of 95, was a Patron of the WMCT, and an Honorary Advisor to the WMCT Foundation.  He assisted his wife Emmy, a former president of the Club, in coordinating the Centennial Celebration Concert, whose financial success resulted in the establishment of the Foundation. The WMCT and Foundation community join in sending Emmy, and her family, our deepest sincere condolences.

Mr Homburger’s first years in Canada (1940-41) were spent in internment camps in Quebec and New Brunswick, together with other European Jewish refugees who later made unprecedented contributions to Canadian life.  Musicians in this group included musicologist Helmut Blume, violinist Hymn Bress, historian Helmut Kallmann, CBC producer Franz Kraemer, and pianist (often heard at the WMCT) John Newmark.

He began his professions, of brilliant orchestra manager, consultant, impresario and artist manager, by borrowing enough money to bring Lotte Lehmann for three lieder recitals in Eaton Auditorium in January 1947.  He promoted a succession of extraordinary artists (including Glenn Gould, Victor Braun, and Jan Rubes), and his term as managing director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (1962-1987) set new standards.  He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1984.

In 1993 he came out of retirement to manage the developing career of WMCT Career Development Award winner James Ehnes. In 1999 to mark his 75th birthday Ehnes and Yo Yo Ma performed a recital at Roy Thomson Hall.  He was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement in 2010.

A memorial event will be announced at a later time.

For further obituary notices see:

President of the WMCT 2001-2005, and chair of the 110th anniversary season celebrations, Danuta Buczysnki has received the Lieutenant Governor’s Distinguished Service Award as a ROM volunteer.

The Lieutenant Governor’s Distinguished Service Award is the highest honour that can be bestowed on a ROM volunteer. Danuta Buczynski has been a dedicated ROM volunteer since 1987. Over the past 30 years she has immersed herself in the life of the Museum, both as a DMV member and a member of the ROM Board of Trustees. Danuta served as President of the ROM Reproductions Association, Co-Chair of the ROM Governance Committee, and participated in numerous other committees, including the Collections, Engagement and Research Committee, the Bishop White Committee, the Textile Committee, and the DMV’s Centennial Fundraising Committee. She is also a long-time Royal Patrons Circle member and Currelly Legacy Society member.

WMCT supported cellist Fiona Robson as a Chamber Music Institute Fellow of the 2019 Toronto Summer Music Academy. WMCT Archivist Susan Johnston (left) attended one of her reGENERATION concerts performances.  Fiona was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada in 2016.

L’Atelier Grigorian, supporters of the WMCT Tuning Your Mind pre-concert lectures, will be leaving Yorkville in mid-June, continuing only as an on-line business at grigorian.com

From the Facebook page: ” From now until mid-June, our entire stock will be on sale and everything must go. Since most of our stock is a single copy of each item, these will be our last copies of thousands of rare, popular and otherwise unavailable titles.”

Review by Joseph So published on Ludwig-van

Her master class at UHS

The day before her Music in the Afternoon recital, Mariam gave a master class for advanced piano students at Unionville High School for the Arts. She listened to three young performers, then offered guidance and advice. One of them wrote:

“Learning under the tutelage of a great pianist is always a pleasure, but my master class with the fantastic Mariam Batsashvilli was an entirely different experience altogether. Her deep understanding of music and effortless charm made for not only one of the best lessons I’ve ever received, but also one of the most enjoyable. Her insights about my piece, Liszt’s Sonetto 104 del Petrarca, were profound and unbelievably helpful, whilst being delivered lightheartedly with both humility and a great sense of humor. My gratitude to Ms. Batsashvilli for coming and offering her expertise and both the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto and the Arts Unionville program for offering me this incredible opportunity is ineffable; it is truly an experience that I won’t forget.​”

The class attended Walter Hall on April 4, and offered some feedback:

“I am beyond grateful to have been given this opportunity. I thoroughly enjoyed the programme and the musical nuances that Mariam brought to life – it was as if the audience was part of the story woven in her music. Her interpretation of Liszt is awe-inspiring, expressive and sensitive. Combined with her technical brilliance, it made for an unforgettable concert. Thank you for this amazing experience!”

“I enjoyed Mariam’s expression for each piece she played. She was able to capture the mood and feeling of a character… it felt like she was telling a story in her pieces. Her technique was so effortless, clean and smooth, I really liked the soft trills and the crisp turns from the impeccable articulation she used.”

Students from Unionville H.S. and Cawthra Park Secondary School were in the overflow audience.

A few months after receiving the 10th WMCT Career Development Award, Charles was the silver medalist and winner of the Krystian Zimerman award for the best sonata, at the International Chopin Piano Competition in 2015. He has just issued a CD of Chopin concertos, with Kent Nagano and the OSM.

The CD received immediate attention in the UK. Classic FM, the most important classical radio station in London, has chosen it as its Album of the week! Starting April 15, tracks from the album will be played every day on the station which has 5.3 million listeners tuning in every week. 

From the April 2019 review by Alex Baran in Wholenote Magazine:

“Charles Richard-Hamelin’s recent recording Chopin: Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 (Analekta, AN 2 9146) is an exhilarating encounter with these two items of standard repertoire. There is a freshness in this performance that owes everything to its collaborators. Kent Nagano and the OSM are deeply aware of how much Chopin has vested in the piano’s role. Their ability to morph into something purely ethereal for the slow movement of Concerto No.2 is magical. The balance and unity across the ensemble, in this and similar passages, support the piano exquisitely. So much of the piano part in this movement is in simple octaves, albeit often very ornamented and fast. Richard-Hamelin performs it with absolute fluidity, as if it were an extended keyboard recitative. The time signature seems to dissolve, leaving only a hint of anything resembling a beat as the soloist and orchestra flow toward some distant ending.

The essence of dance that is inherent in Chopin’s writing saves the pianist from a conflictual role with the orchestra. The two are instead a pair of dancers elevating the solo instrument above the ensemble…. Hamelin and Nagano have delivered such a transcendent experience that [any] criticism seems somehow lost if not irrelevant in the overwhelming beauty of this performance.”

Tomorrow is concert day, and that means program booklets, the banner, and lots more. It’s also Launch Day for the 122nd Season, 2019-2020, and that means brochures, subscription forms, and lots more. Diane, Jerri and Julia show they have the right stuff!

Blake (WMCT CDA 2018) and Charles (CDA 2015) are among the nominees for solo/chamber album of the year.
Complete JUNO 2019 list.

See the RCM listings for February 3, Sunday afternoon performances, by Blake at 1pm and Charles at 3pm.