The most exciting development in 15 years in the music series at Stratford Festival was the way Victor di Bello, recently appointed director of music, described the plans for the 1969 season. For those who are interested in grand opera and jazz, this description my seem a trifle exaggerated.
"We did not drop opera," di Bello stated, "We are doing The Satyricon, based on the book by Petronius, with music by Stanley Silverman. Silverman describes it as something between grand opera and musical comedy; but he is very interested in bridging the gap between pop music and the so-called classical.
"Nor was it a matter of wanting to eliminate jazz. We tried to get Jerry Mulligan but that did not work out. I feel Stratford should be showing people what's happening in music, and for many people that is the pop and folk field: so it seems to me we are fully justified in introducing a sampling of this."
That sampling will include one of Britain's celebrated rock groups, Procol Harum, which has been employing Bach themes in its pop repertoire. The group will join forces with members of the Stratford Fesitval Orchestra in an all-Bach program, which will open the Sunday afternoon series on July 6.
It will also include folk singers Joni Mitchell, Ian and Sylvia and Gordon Lightfoot in a special-events series in the Avon Theatre on July 10, 11, 17, 24 and 31.
The last two programs will feature pianist Peter Serkin in a new concept of recital programming: and something called contemporary trends, that will include a new work of music-theatre by Murray Schafer, apparently a mixed-media effort.
Schafer's presence is evidence of a new emphasis upon artists-in-residence. He will be the composer, and the list will include conductor George Schick of the Metropolitan Opera; violinist David Nadien, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic; violinist Charles Libove, leader of the Beauw-Arts Quartet; oboist Ray Still of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Silverman will be on hand as consultant.
Despite the new trends, emphasis on classical music will be even greater than in the past, as Stratford makes a bid to establish the music season as a true festival within the framework of the Festival. Two orchestras will be featured, instead of the one which did double duty for the opera and the concerts.
The Stratford Festival Orchestra musicians will be responsible for Sunday concerts, Saturday morning programs and a new series of Wednesday-Friday concerts (Wednesday afternoon and Friday evening, presenting the same program) from the middle to the end of July.
The music season will open on Friday, July 4, with the premiere of The Satyricon, followed that weekend by the opening of the Saturday and Sunday series, each of eight concerts.
Besides the Procol Harum, the Sunday series will feature a concert version of Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio, with Leopold Simoneau and Colette Boky; a Viennese program, starring cellist Leonard Rose and pianist Eugene Istomin; the National Youth Orchestra of Canada; guitarist Julian Bream; soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf; Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar.
The Gaurneri String Quartet will open the Saturday series with an all-Beethoven program.
Other Saturday guests will include the Beaus-Arts Quartet; the Orford String Quartet; a guitar recital by guitarists of Bream's master class; and Shankar in a new talk. The other three programs in the series, with members of the Stratford Festival Orchestra, will each feature a new, commissioned Canadian work.
Finally, to make music an almost daily occurrence - presumably in case drama lovers should develop a taste for music - there will be two series of Music at Midnight at Rothmans Art Gallery - one to feature contemporary works; special, free Mozart concerts on the Island; weekend performances by military service bands; starring the Royal Canadian Regiment Band, London, Ont.
And, as an afterthought, non-scheduled appearances of the Bavarian Lager Beer Band at the mezzanine bar of the Avon Theatre.
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