Yesterday’s lunchtime concert in the RBA featured members of the Esprit Orchestra and Krisztina Szabó. Two instrumental pieces kicked things off. There was an Andrew Staniland composition for snare drum and electronics; Orion Constellation Theory, played by Ryan Scott. This was quite witty and inventive. Very Staniland in fact. Then came a three movement work for solo harp; Alexina Louie’s From the Eastern Gate played by Sanya Eng. For two movements it was light and bright using mainly the upper end of the harp’s range. It was engagingly tuneful too though not in any kind of conventionally tonal way. The third movement was darker, louder and more dramatic, brooding even, and using a far wider range of the instrument’s capabilities. All up, an interesting piece.
And in the coming week… On Tuesday there is a treat for fans of contemporary music. Krisztina Szabó will be performing the Berio Folksongs in the RBA at noon. She will be accompanied by members of the Esprit Orchestra and the programme also includes Andrew Staniland’s Orion Constellation Theory and Alexina Louie’s From the Eastern Gate.
Thursday sees the opening of the COC season with Strauss’ Arabella in a production by Tim Albery starring Erin Wall, Jane Archibald and Tomasz Konieczny. Check out this article by Lydia Perovic for a South Slav’s take on an opera with South Slav references including that hardy Strauss perennial; hunting bears in Croatia. Arabella runs until the 28th at the Four Seasons Centre.
On Saturday, indigenous production company Red Sky Productions are collaborating with the TSO in a new piece by Eliot Britton; Adizokan. It’s a fusion of dance, video electro-acoustics and music in both western symphonic and indigenous traditions. 7.30pm at Roy Thomson Hall.
Xavier Montsalvatge’s El Gato con Botas, given last night by the Glenn Gould School at Mazzoleni Hall, may not be the most profound thing in the opera canon but it is fun. The 1948 score is jazzy and accessible and the libretto has fun with the fairy tale of the scheming cat and her gormless monkey servant. The lighter, even absurdist, elements of the plot were rather played up, and to good effect, in Liza Balkan’s production. Mazzoleni Hall is not the easiest place to present opera. There’s no pit and no way to do surtitles. Not much in the way of wing space or scenery handling either. Balkan got round this by placing the band on stage and using very simple sets and props that often spilled over into the auditorium even getting Charles Sy, sitting in the front row, to take a selfie of the wedding party at the end. Given that the Spanish numbers were not surtitled, it was smart to add extra English dialogue, much of it improvised. I certainly didn’t have any difficulty following the story. Credit too to lighting designer David Degrow too for making the most of the limited resources of Mazzoleni.
The second show for me yesterday was presented by Soundstreams at Koerner Hall. It was a programme of works written since 1970 and featured Adrianne Pieczonka and Krisztina Szabó with a percussion heavy chamber ensemble conducted by Leslie Dala. I’ve heard Krisztina a lot in contemporary work but it was a rare treat to hear Adrianne do something other than Verdi, Strauss and Wagner. The “opera grind” as she put it in an introductory chat with Lawrence Cherney of Soundstreams. Continue reading
August 31st at 12.15 pm there’s a concert in the Music on Mondays series featuring soprano Rachel Krehm and an orchestra conducted by Evan Mitchell performing Dove sono by Mozart, selections from Strauss Op 27 and Dvorak’s 8th Symphony. It’s at Holy Trinity Church near the Eaton Centre. PWYC suggested $5.