Dream of Gerontius

medium_stuart-skeltonEvery time I go to Roy Thomson Hall, as I did last night to see the TSO perform Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, I have to recalibrate for the acoustic.  It’s just much quieter than the Four Season’s Centre and, indeed, many other venues.  This has the advantage that coughing is largely inaudible but also that even a large orchestra playing full bore doesn’t exactly blow one’s socks off.  So, perhaps it wasn’t a surprise that I was more struck by the meditative aspects of this score than its moments of high drama such as the chorus of demons.  I’m pretty sure this was just the acoustic because conductor Peter Oundjian was certainly going for maximum effect in those sections. Continue reading

COC’s Semele is Brooklyn bound

New Yorkers will get a chance to see Zhang Huan’s somewhat controversial production of Handel’s Semele at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in March.  The COC is touring the production, seen in Toronto in 2012, with the wonderful Jane Archibald again taking the title role.  The supporting cast is, on paper at least, more than a match for the one seen at COC.  Colin Ainsworth is the god Jupiter, and Welsh contralto Hilary Summers portrays both Jupiter’s jealous wife, Juno, and Ino, Semele’s sister. Katherine Whyte playsJuno’s messenger, Iris and Kyle Ketelsen sings both Semele’s father, Cadmus, and the god of sleep, Somnus. Athamas will be sung by Lawrence Zazzo.  Christopher Moulds conducts with the COC Orchestra and Chorus.

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Songs of Travel

acrTalisker Players’ first concert of the season was an interesting mix of material around the general theme of travel; the music neing intersperse with related texts read most pleasingly by Derek Boyes.  First up was soprano Virginia Hatfield with a French baroque rarity; Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre’s Le Sommeil d’Ulisse.  This piece is scored for flute, violin and harpsichord continuo and the violin part in particular, very well played here, takes an important role.  The piece, which is largely recitative, was sung stylishly, beautifully and, as always, extremely accurately by Ms. Hatfield.  One quibble though.  If one is expecting the audience to use the provided translation of the text it might be advisable to leave the lights up enough to allow them to be read!

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Upcoming worthy causes

elizabethkNovember 17th sees the second annual Elizabeth Krehm memorial concert.  It’s at Metropolitan United Church at 8pm and will feature Beethoven’s 9th sympony.  The soloists will be Rachel Krehm, Erin Lawson, Adrian Kramer and Jeremy Bowes with the Canzona Chamber Players and a choir drawn from the Univox Choir and friends of the Krehm family.  Evan Mitchell conducts.  Admission is by tax receiptable donation to St. Michael’s Hospital where Elizabeth spent the last month of her life.

On 28th November, at Runnymede United Church a starry cast are donating their services for a charity performance of Bach’s Weinachtsoratorium.  The beneficiaries will be the Toronto Symphony Volunteer Committee Education Program  and Open Table Community Meal at Runnymede United Church.  Johannes Debus will conduct the Bach Consort with soloists Monica Whicher, Vicki St. Pierre, Lawrence Wiliford, Colin Ainsworth and Russell Braun.  Tickets are $50 in advance or $60 on the door.

COC releases some 2013/14 season financial information

eyeshades2013/14 saw the decline in ticket sales and box office revenue at the COC continue, though less precipitously than in the previous couple of years.  Sales were down from 109297 tickets in 2012/13 to 106748 seats sold in 2013/14.  Revenue was also down from $9.9 million to $9.7 million.  A reduction in performances boosted capacity utilisation to 94% but heavy discounting at both ends of the season left the revenue per seat essentially static at just under $91.

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