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Jan. 5, 1987 The Toronto Star by William Littler

Canadian composer wins world-wide frame

Although 1986 was the official International Year of Canadian Music, 1987 is turning out to be the year of at least one Canadian composer, Toronto's Oskar Morawetz.

During a single week, that of Jan. 12, he will be flying back and forth no fewer than three times between Toronto and Cleveland for major performances of two orchestral scores, while out west the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is playing a third and the Winnipeg Symphony can be heard playing a fourth over CBC radio.

And that list of performances doesn't include the TV premiere of his Memorial to Martin Luther King, conducted by Paul Freeman, over the CBC network Jan. 15, or presentations at University of Toronto's Walter Hall Jan. 16 of his Second Violin Sonata, by violinist Chantal Juillet and pianist William Tritt (for broadcast over the CBC French network), and Jan. 18 of his Sonata for Clarinet And Piano, by Joachim Valdepenas and Patricia Parr.

Celebrate birthday

Mind you, the week is a special one, in that Morawetz will celebrate his 70th birthday Jan. 17.

But most weeks are Morawetz weeks somewhere around the world. Drawing on a list supplied by the composer, I have chalked up performances this fall in the United States, England, France, West Germany, Israel and Guatemala.

Yes, even Guatemala. For it was there in October that Vladimir Orloff appeared as cello soloist with the National Orchestra under Ricardo DelCarmen's direction in the same Memorial to Martin Luther King that will be heard in Cleveland's Severance Hall and televised across Canada this month.

Coincidentally, it also appears on a new CBC Radio Canada International recording, featuring Zara Nelsova as soloist with the CBC Montreal Orchestra, conducted by Otto-Werner Mueller. That performance is paired with Lois Marshall's memorable rendition of From the Diary of Anne Frank, accompanied by the Toronto Symphony and conducted by Lawrence Leonard.

"Strangely, it never occured to me, until I read the introduction on the (record) cover, that Anne Frank and Martin Luther King were born the same year (1929), only six months apart," Morawetz says. "It is hard to imagine that they have been for so many years already a part of history, and that they would be only 57 years old if they lived today."

New scores

It is Vancouver mezzo-soprano Judith Forst and conductor Andrew Davis who are to be heard in the Toronto Symphony performances of From the Diary of Anne Frank at Roy Thomson Hall Jan. 14, 15 and 17. Other performances in recent seasons have been given at the Prague Spring Festival, by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and by the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

But is Morawetz finally slowing up at 70? Not a bit. Freed from his teaching duties at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, he continues to pour out new scores. His Sonata for Trumpet and Piano was premiered at the Banff Festival in July, and his most recent piece, The Weaver, to words by Archibald Lampman, was introduced only a few weeks ago at London's Wigmore Hall.