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The Glenn Gould International Conference Toronto, 1992

by Roz Gray
Publicist, Glenn Gould Conference

In the autumn of 1977, a twelve-inch copper recording was shrouded in aluminum and sealed into each of two spacecraft which were launched on a journey plotted to take them beyond our solar system. If, half a million years from now, some galactic towtruck operator should retrieve Voyager II and listen to the record, he would hear messages from former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former U.N. Secretary Kurt Waldheim, greetings in a number of our planet's languages, sounds of Earth's natural world and a number of musical selections, including Glenn Gould playing the Prelude and Fugue in C Major from the second book of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier.

Our extra-terrestrial listener would hear a performance by one of the earth's most gifted pianists. What he may never know is that playing the piano was only one of Gould's remarkable talents. In the final scene of Vincent Tovell's video documentary Glenn Gould: A Portrait, director and narrator Eric Till describes Gould's life as "very much akin to a fugue, with its extraordinary overlapping of subjects: the fact that he was as great a writer as he was a pianist; as great a broadcaster as he was a musician and philosopher."

In the same video, Gould describes himself as "stolid, grey, unimaginative, eccentric." Musicians and communicators around the world are hardly likely to agree. Ten years after his death, his recordings, radio documentaries and television specials still excite controversy.

In light of this continuing interest and to mark what would have been his 60th birthday, The Glenn Gould Foundation is mounting an international conference in Toronto from September 23 to 27. Entitled Music and Communication in the 21st Century: Variations on Themes of Glenn Gould, the conference will bring together composers, performers, authors, music educators, critics, scientists and futurists from around the world for four days of lectures, panel discussions, performances, technological demonstrations, exhibitions and a variety of other public events.

Conference opens with video appearance by Glenn Gould

A demonstration of technological advances in video production will allow Glenn Gould to be the first featured speaker of the conference. Glenn Gould, An Original will present Glenn Gould in conversation with Moses Znaimer, President and Executive Producer of Toronto's CityTV and MuchMusic and himself an innovative explorer in music and communication.

Lectures and panel discussions

Composers, musicologists, music anthropologists and performers will examine different aspects of the conference theme in daily lectures and reaction panel discussions from Thursday, September 24 through Sunday, September 27 at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Guest speakers include Joachim-Ernst Berendt (Germany), Lorin Hollander (USA), Tod Machover (USA), Jean-Jacques Nattiez (Canada) and Gerri Sinclair (Canada). Panelists include: Georgina Born (Great Britain), William Buxton (Canada), Motoyukio Nakagawa (Japan), Kwabena N'Ketia (Ghana), R. Murray Schafer (Canada), Jocelyn Stevenson (Great Britain) and Lorraine Vaillancourt (Canada).

The Banff Centre exhibition showcases music and technologies

The Media Arts Program of the Banff Centre for the Arts is preparing a special exhibition for the conference demonstrating how new technologies are changing the way we make and hear music. Included in the exhibition are world premieres of music performances involving computers and audience interaction, a glimpse into the recording studio of the future, and the premiere of a new art work using three-dimensional, "virtual reality" technology. The interactive, multi-media exhibition is being organized with assistance from the Ontario Regional Office of the Canadian Music Centre and will be shown at Metro Hall on September 26 at 1 p.m.

Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne presents new music concert

On September 26, Lorraine Vaillancourt will conduct Montreal's Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne in a concert of works showcasing the potential of music and technology. The concert features compositions by Christos Hatzis, Pauline Oliveros, Kaija Saariho, Zack Zettel and Alain Thibault.

Announcement of the Third Laureate of the Glenn Gould Prize

Created by the Glenn Gould Foundation and administered by the Canada Council, the $50 000 Glenn Gould Prize will be awarded for the third time in 1993. The laureate will be selected by an international jury chaired by Allan Gotlieb, C.C., Chairman of the Canada Council. The jury members will meet in Toronto immediately before the conference on September 27 to announce the winner at a delegates' luncheon hosted by Sony Classical at the Royal York Hotel.

The Inaugural Concerts of the Glenn Gould Studio

The CBC will officially open its new 350-seat radio performance studio and public concert hall in the Canadian Broadcasting Centre in Toronto with a series of three noon-hour chamber concerts. The first, on September 23, will feature works by Gould. The performance on September 24 will present the premieres of works for string quartet commissioned by the CBC from four Canadian composers with whom Gould was associated. Istvan Anhalt, Jacques Hétu, Oskar Morawetz and Barbara Pentland. The September 25 concert will include Dmitri Sitkovetsky's string trio arrangement of The Goldberg Variations, created in memory of Gould. The concerts will be broadcast live-to-air.

Toronto Symphony salutes Glenn Gould

On September 25 at Roy Thomson Hall, the Toronto Symphony will honour Glenn Gould in a concert conducted by Toronto's Samuel Wong. The repertoire will include O Magnum Mysterium: In Memoriam Glenn Gould by Canadian composer, Alexina Louie and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 featuring guest artist André Watts.

World premiere performances of Glenn

Toronto's Necessary Angel Theatre Company will open its 1992/93 season during the Glenn Gould Conference with the world premiere of Glenn, a theatrical portrait of the life of Glenn Gould.

Following the musical structure of Gould's most famous recording The Goldberg Variations, the piece plays with the musical notion of theme and variation. Written by David Young, Glenn will be directed by Richard Rose, Artistic Director of the company. Musical Direction is by Don Horsburgh. Dramaturgy is by Paul Ledoux and D.D. Kugler. Graeme S. Thomson and Charlotte Dean will design the setting, costumes and lighting. Glenn will open on September 26 at Harbourfront's du Maurier Theatre Centre.

The Hunstein Variations

Don Hunstein photographed Glenn Gould for Columbia Records for over 23 years. His cover photographs on many Gould recordings are among our most powerful visual images of the pianist's unique personality. The collected photographs will be on display for the first time during the conference. The exhibition will open September 23 at Roy Thomson Hall and has been made possible with the co-operation of Sony Classical and the corporate patronage of SunLife of Canada.

The Glenn Gould Exhibition

The National Library of Canada acquired Glenn Gould's personal papers and memorabilia from the Glenn Gould Estate in 1983 and has selected a sampling of photographs, documents, awards and mementoes to share with participants in the Glenn Gould Conference and the general public. The exhibition will open September 23 in the Rotunda of the new Metro Hall.

Theatre screening of Glenn Gould: A Portrait

Executive Producer Vincent Tovell will present this intimate video portrait of Gould, jointly developed by Tovell and his colleague, director Eric Till. The screening will take place on September 24 at Toronto's beautifully restored Elgin Theatre and will be accompanied by personal reflections about Gould by his long-time colleague and friend, Schuyler Chapin of New York.

New publications feature Gould

A new English language edition, Glenn Gould: Selected Letters, published by Oxford University Press, and the French language edition, Glenn Gould Correspondance, published by Christian Bourgois éditeur of Paris, will be jointly released during the conference.

The Glenn Gould Papers, the largest compilation of material by and about Glenn Gould in Canada, is one of the most extensive and varied collections held by the Music Division of the National Library of Canada. The Descriptive Catalogue of the Glenn Gould Papers has been issued in two volumes presented in a slip case. The Catalogue will be officially launched during the conference.

Toronto Historical Board will commemorate Glenn Gould

The Toronto Historical Board will unveil a commemorative plaque in honour of Glenn Gould in a public ceremony at 4.30 p.m. on September 23. The plaque will be located near the apartment residence on St. Clair Avenue West where he lived for much of his adult life.

International Music Critics Symposium

Co-sponsored by the International Music Critics Association and the Music Critics Association (of North America), an international music critics symposium will debate the theme The Critic and The Music of the Future.

Taken together, the components of The Glenn Gould International Conference will celebrate the achievements of Glenn Gould in all his myriad variations: the pianist, the writer, the broadcaster, the musician, the philosopher.

And, during those mellow September days while the speakers deliver their lectures and the musicians perform and visitors tour the exhibitions, somewhere in the interstellar void above them a spacecraft will continue its silent voyage into a dimension of time and space we can never know, carrying a gift from the little blue planet and one of the greatest talents who ever lived on it.

Source: National Library news. Nouvelles de la Bibliothèque nationale
Ottawa, Library and Archives Canada. -- v. ill., ports. 23-28 cm. -- Vol. 24, no. 7 (September 1992). -- ISSN 0027-9633. -- P. 4-5
© Library and Archives Canada. Reproduced with the permission of the Estate of Glenn Gould and Glenn Gould Limited.

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