There were dozens of bars and restaurants on the Wychwood strip of St. Clair West Avenue, along with antique shops, psychic salons, and a big Goodwill store. Dave’s bar was not one of the most noticeable either in size or swankiness. It took me a while to find its humble white sign among all those posh but empty bistros.
Its interior was equally unpretentious but full of people and noise. All the seats were taken. I had to stand at a table, opposite a smartly dressed diner with a tilby. He was feverishly taking notes while having his salad. When I bowed down to apologize for my unseemingly presence, I recognized him immediately. He was Martin R. of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.
The 40ish Martin was one of the younger customers tonight. The average age of the forty or so customers might be well above 55, not unlike what you can observe in a TSO concert. Most of them were white, although noticeably there were a few “visible minorities’ among younger attendees. The majority were hetero couples. A pair were probably father and son (judging from their facial resemblance). A gay male couple entered the pub later.
People waited quietly under candle light and six different Bob Marley portraits for their Mozart or Beethoven to begin. The barmaid brought burgers, pitas, curry and sushi to their tables from “Rolling Stone Avenue” (the kitchen).
Edwin Huizinga, the key figure of Toronto’s Classical Revolution, finally appeared. Over 6’7 and 300 lbs, with his wild beard and shoulder-length blonde hair, he could have been mistaken as a WWF wrestler until he picked up his little violin. He was accompanied by a string of young musicians of all ethnical backgrounds.
A light-hearted Haydn quartet began the classical cabaret. Curiously, it failed to impress in this light-hearted environment. But it did loosen up the air a bit, especially when the musicians said loudly to each other “let’s go fast” with amusement. The second piece by J. C. Bach was tragic – and somehow appetite-inducing. When I finished my Budweiser and cheesecake, the pub was full of earthy glory of Brahms’ String Sextet in B flat. Brahms, long considered a very academic composer, actually started his career playing piano for sailors and prostitutes in Hamburg. The listeners’ heart-felt cheers were accompanied by cheers of a different kind from two young men paying no attention to the music around them: Maple Leaf’s Joe Colborne just scored a goal on TV.