In Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 film Children of Men, the human population has become infertile, most of the world’s cities have been laid to waste, and only Britain remains somewhat intact. Battersea Power Station has been turned into the Ministry of Art’s “Ark of Arts”—the repository of humanity’s priceless art treasures, salvaged from the wreck and ruin of less stable nations, now preserved for posterity.
You might be surprised to learn (as I was) that Canada is doing something like this, musically. Via Torontoist:
Since 1985, the Canada Council for the Arts has been amassing (on a small scale) more than twenty-six million US dollars worth of antique instruments for the benefit of Canadian musicians. This week the Canada Council hosts the Musical Instrument Bank’s largest national competition ever to decide who will take home one of thirteen pieces—plus a cello bow—fabricated between 1689 and 1902. This week the competing Canadian musicians have played before a jury of three experts, and the winners, who will be announced today, will take home the instrument of their choice on loan for a period of three years. The fourteen winning musicians play a showcase performance tonight at the Glenn Gould studio (RSVP here for tickets), to be aired on Bill Richardson’s In Concert next Sunday (October 4). Glenn Gould Studio (Canadian Broadcasting Centre, 250 Front Street West), 10 a.m. (winners announced), 8 p.m. (performance), FREE.
I have to admit I am actually enthusiastic about this, preserving humanity’s musical heritage and making it available to exceptional Canadian performers is exactly what organisations like the Canada Council ought to be doing. Now making a mental note to give them a one-time pass the next occasion somebody goes into a tizzy over arts funding.
I’ve seen soloists performing with the TSO using some of these rare instruments, but their provenance was never mentioned in the performance or the guide. I had assumed that some wealthy private patron had ponied up the dollars to get his or her mitts on these rare instruments, and then awarded them to the artist.
This is a worthy endeavour by the Canada Council, I hope they maintain it.