Here’s a summary of the upcoming Toronto events I’ve been made aware of recently. Both the TSO and the RCM have announced their contemporary music festivals. 21C at the conservatory runs from May 24th to 28th. The opening concert features Johannes Debus with the COC Orchestra, Andrew Haji and Emily D’Angelo and the Elmer Iseler Singers. The program includes two pieces by Brian Current: his The Seven Heavenly Halls in its Ontario premiere and Nàaka (Northern Lights) its world premiere. The two works are part of a six movement work, entitled River of Light, which traces creation myths from six different cultures. This concert also includes works by Unsuk Chin, Samy Moussa and Matthew Aucoin. Then on the following night the Canadian Art Song Project has a concert of works by Canadian composers Andrew Staniland’s Peter Quince at the Clavier (Ontario premiere), Lloyd Burritt’s Moth Poem (Ontario premiere), and Ana Sokolović’s Dawn Always Begins in the Bones, CASP’s new commission to celebrate Canada 150. The singers, drawn from the COC Ensemble Studio will be Danika Lorèn (soprano), Emily D’Angelo (mezzo-soprano), Aaron Sheppard (tenor), Bruno Roy (baritone), Iain MacNeil (baritone), with Mélisande Sinsoulier and Liz Upchurch on piano. The Festival closes on May 28th with a Soundstreams concert; The Music of Unsuk Chin. The program includes her Cantatrix Sopranica, a playful exploration of the act of singing for two sopranos, countertenor, and ensemble featuring Carla Huhtanen, and “The Caterpillar,” an excerpt from her opera, Alice in Wonderland. Also included are two works by Chris Paul Harman; It’s All Forgotten Now (world premiere) and Love Locked Out. In between there’s lots more interesting looking instrumental stuff too. More details here.
Meanwhile, the TSO has announced the line up for the New Creations Festival which runs from March 4th to March 11th. The opening concert features Tanya Tagaq in the world premiere of Qiksaaktuq—a new work, written in collaboration with Christine Duncan (also featured as a performer and improvisation leader) and Jean Martin, with orchestration by Christopher Mayo. Peter Oundjian and André de Ridder conduct a program which also includes Reflections on O Canada after Truth and Reconciliation—a Sesquie for Canada’s 150th (world premiere) by Andrew Staniland, Trauermarsch, for piano and orchestra by Jörg Widmann and another world premiere; Iris by Jordan Pal. March 8th sees the second concert with Harry Stafylakis’ Shadows Radiant,Nico Muhly’s Mixed Messages and premieres of Aaron Jay Kernis’ Violin Concerto and Owen Pallett’s Songs from an Island featuring Daniel Okulitch. The final concert on the 11th features works by Nicole Lizée, Cassandra Miller and Daniel Bjarnason. Festival passes are only $30 at tso.ca where you can also find more details.
Then there’s the 2nd Annual Toronto Bach Festival on May 26th, 27th and 28th at St. Barnabas-on-the-Danforth. The first concert features concertos and cantatas under the direction of John Abberger with Ellen McAteer (soprano) and Rebecca Claborn (alto). The 27th is a harpsichord recital featuring Christopher Bagan and the 28th is the most ambitious concert of the series. Simon Heighes’ reconstruction of the St. Mark Passion will be performed by a nine piece vocal ensemble backed up by a twelve piece band on period instruments. Singers include Daniel Taylor, Brett Polegato, Ellen McAteer and Asitha Tennekoon. Tickets and full details at www.TorontoBachFestival.com.
On Sunday March 12th in Mazzoleni Hall there’s the latest instalment of the epic Ukrainian Art Song Project. It’s a program of songs to texts by Shevchenko and Shakespeare. The performers are bass-baritone Pavlo Hunka with Albert Krywolt on piano.
Also on the 12th at 3.15pm there’s a show at the TIFF Lightbox featuring works by Schoenberg. Against the Grain will kick things off with Adanya Dunn and Topher Mokrzewski (rep to be announced) followed by the screening of two films by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet; Moses and Aaron and Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg’s “Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene”. A fascinating collaboration! Details here.
On February 22nd at 7.30pm in Royal St. George’s Chapel (120 Howland Street) Alex Dobson and friends are giving a concert performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Besides Alex, the cast includes Katherine Whyte, Taiya Kasahara, Colin Ainsworth and Vania Chan as well as a special super-sekrit guest artist. Tickets from www.opera-is.com.
Last, but certainly not least, there’s a memorial concert for the late Stuart Hamilton presented by Voicebox at the Jane Mallett Theatre on March 5th at 3pm. The line up has not yet been announced. It’s free but tickets are required. They can be had in person or by phone from the St. Lawrence Centre box office.