Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Too much cyclical time?

This past weekend, I saw Amici play Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time.  This is a challenging, yet beautiful piece of music, and I generally seek it out whenever I know it is being played.  (However, I did pass on a chance a few months ago to see Jonathan Crow play the piece in Kingston, since I then learned he would be the guest violinist with Amici in Toronto, which was an event not to be missed.)  It was great, though I realized that I thought the piece ended with the clarinet playing impossibly high and fading into nothingness, but it is actually the violin.  (Probably a good thing, as I am not sure a clarinet player, even as good as Joaquin Valdepenas, could sustain that note.)

I was talking with a friend before the show, saying that this would be the 4th time for me seeing the piece, but I couldn't recall the details of the second time.  I poked around in my collection of programs and learned that I had seen Amici playing the piece in Toronto in Walter Hall in 1994!  In addition to Joaquin, David Hetherington was with the group, but they had a different pianist 23 years ago.  This is actually Amici's 29th year as an ensemble, which is itself pretty incredible, and I'll try to make one or two concerts next year on their 30th anniversary tour.

Just to contrast how professional and/or slick they have become over the years, here are the covers of the two programs.

This set me off on the path of searching my memory to contrast Toronto from 23 years ago to today (I left right before amalgamation, but also before the 1995 Quebec referendum).  While I naturally prefer older Toronto, since it corresponds to a time in my life I was younger and less disillusioned.  I think it is probably fortunate that I was only in Toronto for a year and I did stay fairly close to campus.  This way I haven't completely choked off the Toronto of today with nostalgic memories, since there are plenty of neighbourhoods (particularly in East York) that I didn't visit at all.  I'm quickly reaching the point where I will have lived in Toronto three times longer than on my first stay.  I would say it is time to bury the past, but I actually do need to hang onto it a bit longer -- at least until I finish Straying South (which is set in the 90s) and then my novel, Northern Lattitudes (ditto), if I think I'll ever actually make real progress on this, presumably after I wrap up Straying South.

I guess I'll close out this mini-meditation on how some events do seem somewhat cyclical by noting that I have a chance to (somewhat) redeem myself with my daughter.  Last year, I missed going to her art show at school, so I will make sure I make it this year, even if I have to leave work a bit early.  I really did feel quite guilty last year (even though no one had put it on my calendar), and I can't let that happen again.

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