Friday, July 1, 2011

Montage #12 – Canada Day

En français:

Frequently referred to as "Canada's birthday", Canada Day marks the joining of the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the “Province of Canada” into a federation of four provinces (the Province of Canada being divided, in the process, into Ontario and Québec) on July 1, 1867. Canada became a kingdom in its own right on that date, but the British Parliament kept limited rights of political control over the new country that were shed by stages over the years until the last vestiges were surrendered in 1982 when the Constitution Act patriated the Canadian constitution.

This year, Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa will include the Royal Newlyweds, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (HRH Prince William and his bride, Catherine), on their first State visit anywhere outside the British soil since their marriage a few weeks ago. Maybe I’ll sneak out and go to Parliament Hill to try and get a glimpse of them…

To celebrate Canada Day, I prepared a montage of music featuring Canadian compositions and performers. As ITYWLTMT regulars will attest, scarcely a montage goes by without its fair share of “Canadian content”. As recently as last week, we featured works by French-Canadian composers, and we regularly feature Canadian orchestras and performers. But for this podcast, every selection has a Canadian connection:

This montage is no longer be available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address:

pcast012 Playlist

Canada Day can’t officially begin without a rendition of “O Canada”, our national anthem. I found today’s selection on a web page of national anthems from around the world, performed by the US Navy Band:

Next, we turn to two compositions by foreign composers who chose to make Canada their home: Antoine Dessane (born in France, and one of French Canada’s earliest composers) and Healy Willan (born in the United Kingdom, and an influential composer of church and secular music in English Canada).

The Dessane selection was taken from a CBC recording dedicated to the musical heritage of French Canada, which also features another selected work by Roger Matton, a tribute to the Acadian community (L’escaouette). The Acadians represent a community of French settlers in what is now New Brunswick, who were deported by the British authorities in the mid 1700’s because they refused to recognize the British Crown. (Read more at ). Acadians were scattered across North America, but managed to migrate back to Atlantic Canada over several decades – not without establishing communities elsewhere, most notably in Louisiana (hence, the Cajuns).

Among the performers featured today, I have included James Ehnes, the world-acclaimed Canadian violinist, in an excerpt from his recent release of concertos with the Vancouver Symphony. Erich Korngold is an Austrian-born composer who emigrated to the United States, where he was a well-established film composer (in the vein of Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Newman). For the third movement of his violin concerto, he borrows from the score he wrote for the 1937 feature “The Prince and the Pauper” to stunning virtuoso effect.  A complete performance of the concerto can be found on our YouTube channel, performed by Hilary Hahn and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under Kent Nagano. Maestro Nagano is our Canadian connection, as he is the current Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. The link to the performance is:

Another “inevitable” guest performer to our Canada Day montage is Glenn Herbert Gould, playing selections from his “signature” piece, Bach’s Goldberg Variations. I recently posted a lengthy article on Gould and the Goldberg variations on my TC blog, with links to complete performances ( The selections featured here are taken from his Salzburg Festival performance of August 25th, 1959, released posthumously by Sony Masterworks.

When it comes to Canadian Jazz and Blues performers, the names that come to mind include Oscar Peterson and Moe Koffman. I chose two selections from Peterson’s Canadiana Suite, recorded live in Tallinn, Russia on November 17, 1974. From Moe Koffman, his signature ballad “The Swinging Shepherd Blues”.

I also included a couple of selections from two CBC recordings: one by the (now disbanded) CBC Radio Orchestra in Vancouver and the other by the string ensemble I Musici de Montréal (whose founder, Yuli Turovsky, recently announced his decision to step down due to poor health). Both pieces are Canadian compositions (one by Jean Coulthard, the other by Bruce Mather) that have a distinctly European flavour to them.

What Canada Day celebration would be complete without a fireworks display? This one is no exception, courtesy of Igor Stravinsky and the Montreal Symphony.

Happy Canada Day (and for Québec residents, good luck with your “July moves”!)

I Think You Will Love This Music Too.

[ITYWLTMT wishes to remind that embedded links and their content are provided here for musical enjoyment, and can be experienced on your PC without downloading required if you have access to the Internet. (Downloading files for use on your personal digital companion is generally possible, depending on the site.) Because we are not managing third-party web content, ITYWLTMT does not guarantee the currency of the link – all we can guarantee is that the link worked “as advertised” at the time of the original blog post. Please enjoy!]

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