Saturday, August 22, 2015

Toronto Rondo

Last day of my Toronto Orff course: Teach Like It’s Music. Tonight I fly home, tomorrow morning, too bright and early, come back to school for the annual Work Day, set my shoulder to that heavy wheel of starting the school year to get things rolling. “The wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round” and the 41st time I’ve begun that wild ride, it’s the always astounding moment of feeling the cycle of life. On one level, there’s the linear ascension of growth and decay, part of you growing clearer, wiser, stronger, smarter while the other part is waving in the opposite direction—harder to get up from the floor after sitting with the kiddies, harder to hear them amidst the background noise of tinkling xylophones, harder to play in the 8th grade vs. staff basketball game. On another level, it’s all one circling ride through the four seasons (well, two in San Francisco), doing your darndest to be present and fully appreciative of the gifts of each turn in the calendar.
And here in Toronto, other cycles at work. In 1962, Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman, accompanied by a young Barbara Haselbach, came to North America for the first and only time and presented the work in this very building at the Royal Conservatory of Music. Without that trip, the entire Orff presence in Canada and the United States would never have grown as it did and I would not be here teaching my thousandth plus Orff course. “I have done my part. Now you do yours,” said Orff to his successors and I’d like to think that if he were a fly on the wall in my class here, he’d be grinning ear to ear. He had the vision, Keetman did some of the actual work, but even she came nowhere near the number of classes I have taught to children in 40 years and in a school setting at that. So being in the place where the wildflower seed first dropped in North America gives an extra weight to the venture and I can’t help but feel that Orff and Keetman would be delighted by the bloom.
1963 also was my first foreign trip and guess where that was? Toronto. In some ways, I don’t know the city that well. I tend to live these five days within a five block radius on Bloor St. But I sure know lots of people after some twenty years of coming here for workshops and fifteen for summer courses. Alongside Madrid and Salzburg, it’s the anchor of a long rondo form and always a delight to come back to it.
And so thanks to the world’s most multi-cultural city, to the Casa Loma, Space Needle, one of recent history’s most bizarre mayors and more. See you next year!

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