Toronto Hot Docs Film Festival features “Integral Man” this week about the late Jim Stewart a successful mathematician who spent a decade and a small fortune building Toronto’s Integral House, considered by many one of the city’s best performance spaces.
“After Euclid, Jim Stewart is the most published mathematician in the world”, says the Hot Docs description. Integral House reflects his two obsessions, curves and music. It is a stunning architectural gem of subtly curved wood and vast, evocative spaces.
The WMCT held a memorable concert in Integral House in 2014 to raise funds towards its 10th Career Development Award, which was a live competition won by Charles Richard-Hamelin.
Shannon Mercer, soprano, and Steven Philcox, piano, performed.
The WMCT was truly saddened to hear of the passing of Professor James Stewart, an avid lover of classical music and generous donor. We were indeed fortunate to have our fundraiser at his home, Integral House, last May. It was a very unusual and spectacular venue, and a wonderful concert in support of a significant event in the history of the club – the 10th presentation of the Career Development Award in 2015. Our sincere condolences to James Stewart’s family and friends.
They flex wood into curving shapes and fill that space with glorious sound.
Sitting in the performance space of Integral House as soprano Shannon Mercer sings and Steven Philcox collaborates, you know that this is beauty.
Oak fins, planes of concrete and 180 degrees of glass look out to the blue sky and the Don Valley where spring has yet to arrive.
And then there is the music.
Shannon Mercer, soprano, and Steven Philcox, piano, bring enchantment with a program she describes as: “a combination of serious and fun”. She sings in five languages. Mozart’s German moves into Villa-Lobos’ Spanish and then to Welsh Folk Songs and American parody – pickles, hot dogs and “meow”. The acoustics are fabulous, holding and releasing the sound – Shannon’s animated expression, clear diction, and soaring melodies supported by Steven’s elegant piano playing. The architecture and the music together create great art.
This Sunday afternoon concert is in Integral House, one of the most stunning modern residences in Toronto, home of James Stewart, mathematician, professor and classical violinist. It is named for the mathematical integral symbol; Stewart was enormously successful writing calculus textbooks. Completed in 2009, it is an architectural feat that combines home and performance space.
Eighty “lucky souls” are here to support the 10th presentation of the Career Development Award, the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto’s major prize, supporting young Canadian classical musicians embarking on their professional careers. Financial returns today provide funding for a live competition in Toronto a year from now when three young Canadian musicians will perform in Walter Hall, U of T, for cash awards and a Music in the Afternoon recital. And for today, the audience enjoys the great beauty, while playing a role in ensuring the beauty continues.