I saw my first rhubarb shoot pushing its way through the gravel at the front of our Wolseley backyard parking pad this morning. I enjoy more sunlight, fewer clothes, geese heading north, and family meals in our porch.
This issue of Rhubarb has been a long time coming, but you’ll see it’s worth it. “Mennonite New Music” looks at the groundbreaking work of new music composers, from Randoph Peters’s operatic works to songwriters and performers in the band Royal Canoe. All good.
I met Patrick Carrabré when I worked at the Manitoba Arts Council, delighted to work on starting composer and choreographer residencies, which began with Glenn Buhr and Randolph Peters and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Working with Bramwell Tovey, these composers developed one of the most amazing new music festivals in North America, shaking off Winnipeg’s reputation for conservative tastes and the cold and dark of late January.
Patrick himself served several seasons as the WSO composer-in-residence. He was my first choice to guest edit this issue and commission ten essayists to survey Mennonites in new music, as was Per Brask for our highly sought-after theatre issue of last year.
The launch for this issue will be on May 31, 2015 and feature a concert at the West End Cultural Centre with Patrick Carrabré as host. Performers will include Patrick Friesen with Marilyn Lerner on piano. I’m delighted to bring these Winnipeg expats back to celebrate poetry and new music.
The Violinmaker’s Lament by John Weier is one of my favourite collections of poetry, combining John’s passions for poetry and fine violins. I read it as one of his most personal books. I’m delighted that Randolph Peters has set this long poem to music, and especially that it will be a launch evening feature performed by Winnipeg’s local trio, Emerado.
There is more to celebrate with this issue. Poetry edited by Di Brandt, a new story selected and edited by Bernice Friesen, many book reviews (my new collection Afghanistan Confessions among them) ably edited by Julienne Issacs, whose reviews now appear in The Globe and Mail.
Wanda Koop has provided an image for our cover and Murray Toews, our visual arts editor, has found inspiration at the heart of the issue, providing illustrations for our stories and a fascinating, ongoing graphic serial for our back page.
I’d like to give a special thank-you to our patient production team, which includes our assistant editor, Katie Doke Sawatzky (who was hard at work on this issue weeks after having her second baby), our copyeditor, Kyla Neufeld, and Tim Runtz, who carefully handles layout.
Victor Enns, President
Mennonite Literary Society