TAFTO 2011 Contribution: Mark Clague

When times are tough is when we most need our friends.

In the concert world, we tend not to think of friends or friendship. We are professionals, whether musicians or administrators. Our audience is made up of patrons, who support the institution’s music making through ticket purchases, donations, and maybe volunteer service. Patrons are ‘friends’ of the ensemble to be sure, but in the abstract, impersonal sense.

TAFTO 2010 Contribution: Roger Bourland

I had looked forward to this evening for a long time. Rufus Wainwright was going to join me for dinner and an LA Philharmonic new music concert. On the bill was John Adams “Short Ride in a Fast Train,” Igor Stravinsky’s “Requiem Canticles,” and Lou Harrison’s “Symphony on G.” I had never met Rufus, but he agreed to join me on a free night. He was to arrive by train, so I made reservations at Traxx at Union Station for 6 pm.

TAFTO 2010 Contribution: Scott Spiegelberg

There is value in repetition. This was a difficult lesson for me to learn, both as a child when I discovered that I was expected to practice my music lessons every day, and as a teacher when I had to repeat a lecture point because some students didn’t understand what I was saying. This lesson was made easier when I realized that even if the exact same notes were played, or the exact same words said, I made new meaning. I heard new things in the notes or felt new things in my lips and fingers as I repeated Clarke technical studies over and over. My students (hopefully) understand more about suspensions when I say again how to prepare the dissonance, especially if they weren’t listening the first time!

TAFTO 2008 Contribution: Chris Foley

Toronto, April 14, 2003. The entrance to the large factory space at Cherry Beach Sound in Toronto’s docklands has been renovated with various vintage items of Arctic travel and resembles a museum of exploration as much as an alternative opera venue. The audience (slightly frigid as a result of an unseasonably cold April) passes through the long atrium and arrives at the starkly lit entrance to the performance space as if entering into another carefully constructed reality. The occasion is the premiere of Linda C. Smith’s Facing South, an opera (based on a libretto by Don Hannah) that looks at Robert Peary’s quest for the North Pole, and has been commissioned, workshopped, and produced by Tapestry New Opera Works, an opera company whose mission is to create new works for the operatic stage.

TAFTO 2008 Contribution: Charles T. Downey

Half of my job as a teacher is simply to put young ears and eyes in contact with classical music and art. In my experience, if you can do that with a modicum of knowledge and enthusiasm about the subject and then just get out of the way, the aesthetic experience does the work of conversion in most cases. Although the background can be handled in a classroom or in a conversation with a friend, the real magic has to happen live, with the visual sparkle of paint on canvas or the crackle of musicians in unified attack in the concert hall.