Eastern breezes, western winds

That’s the title of a new CD from soprano Kira Braun and pianist Peter Krochak.  Yesterday I got to hear them perform music from it at Rosemarie Umetsu’s new digs on Davenport.  This is a great venue for small scale concerts and recitals and has a really good Yamaha piano.  It’s also less awkward to get to than, say, Gallery 345 so check out their website and facebook page to see what’s happening.

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A German Requiem

It was an unusual double bill at the TSO last night; the premiere of Alexina Louie’s Triple Violin Concerto and Brahms’ A German Requiem.  The concerto is an interesting piece.  It’s got a layered, shimmery quality that sounds quite modern without going off into territory that would frighten the punters.  It also makes excellent use of the three virtuoso soloists for whom it was written; Jonathon Crow, Yosuke Kawasaki and Andrew Wan; concertmasters respectively of the the TSO, the NAC Orchestra and l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.  It clever plays the combinations of having soloist dialogue with soloist and soloists dialoguing individually and collectively with the orchestra.  Very enjoyable.

Jonathan Crow, Yosuke Kawasaki, Andrew Wan, Peter Oundjian (@Jag Gundu)

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And off we go again

Giulio_Cesare_di_AsterixAfter the usual summer hiatus the Toronto music scene starts to get back into gear in the coming week.  Tonight there’s the final concert of the Fall Baroque Academy at Trinity College Chapel.  It features excerpts from Handel’s Giulio Cesare.  It’s at 7.30pm and it’s free.

There are two Ensemble Studio lunchtime concerts in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.  Tuesday is the traditional “Meet the Artists” gig where everyone gets to do an opera aria and Wednesday celebrates the Invictus Games.  It’s a predictably war themed program with the expected like Butterworth (good) and Ives (the appalling He is there) and the less expected with works by Somers and Argento among others.  Both concerts are at noon and free.

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RCM 2017/18

The Royal Conservatory of Music announced their 2017/18 concert season last night.  There are over 100 concerts spread across just about every genre.  I think the following are likely of most interest to Operaramblings readers.

  • November 10th 8pm Koerner Hall – Barbara Hannigan with Reinbert de Leeuw in all Second Vienna School concert.  The pick of the season for me.
  • February 14th 8pm Koerner Hall – Ian Bostridge with Julian Drake in an all Schubert program.
  • April 22nd 3pm Koerner Hall – Gerald Finley with Julius Drake  with a mix of art song and British and American folksong.
  • April 6th 2018 8pm Koerner Hall – Bernstein@100; a celebration of Lenny with the ARC Ensemble, Sebastian Knauer and the lovely Wallis Giunta.

HanniganBarbara

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And so, Mr. Riel…

So here is the promised review of last night at the Four Seasons Centre.  I have to phrase it that way because it was more than Somers’ opera Louis Riel though that of course was the major event.  The evening kicked off with a performance in the RBA by the Git Hayetsk Dance Group.  This is a west coast group and I’m not going to try and get into the complexities of nation, lineage and clan involved but it was a moving performance of traditional songs and dance with a brilliantly witty piece involving the trickster raven and a lot of stolen handbags. This was also the beginning of the public conversation about the use of the Nsga’a mourning song in Louis Riel.  That conversation continued when the same group made a brief appearance on the main stage immediately before the opera performance.  I understand that the intent is for the leader of the dancers to report back to the matriarch of the clan that owns the song on what happened and for the conversation to continue from there.

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Looking forward to Riel

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(left to right) Russell Braun as Louis Riel, Jani Lauzon as the Prison Guard, Allyson McHardy as Julie Riel and director Peter Hinton rehearsing Act III, scene v – Photo by Tanner Davies for the COC

Harry Somers’ Louis Riel was written to “celebrate” Canada’s 100th birthday and was performed at the COC in 1967 and 1968 and was given a studio TV broadcast treatment on the CBC in 1969.  Eventually that broadcast made it onto DVD and I reviewed it about four years ago.  The COC is now reviving it for Canada’s 150th in a new production by Peter Hinton, a director noted for his stage work with native artists and native themes.  Yesterday I spent an hour at the COC watching a working rehearsal of one of the scenes and this morning I took another look at the DVD.

I had hoped to be able to offer some real insights into what one might expect to see when this production opens on April 20th but, to be perfectly honest, the deeper I dig the less certain I become about anything to do with it.  I know that Hinton and the COC are taking enormous pains to recreate the work in a way that’s sensitive to 2017 and the different way that, we hope or aspire to, treat Canada’s original peoples (some of us do anyway).  But what a challenge it seems to be.  Let me try and explore some themes though you will find few conclusions.

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Getting busier

We are moving into busy season for the next two or three weeks.  Next week, Tuesday sees a lunchtime recital in the RBA by Phillip Addis with song cycles by Maurice Ravel and Erik Ross.  Wednesday sees a concert staging of Salvatore Sciarrino’s The Killing Flower (Luci mie traditrici).  It tells the story of Carlos Gesualdo’s murder of his wife and lover.  Performers include Shannon Mercer, Geoffrey Sirett, Scott Belluz and Keith Klassen.  It’s at Walter Hall at 7.30pm with a pre-show with the composer at 6.30pm.  Sciarrino is involved in other events connected with the New Music Festival all week.  Thursday is opening night for the COC’s Götterdämmerung at the Four Seasons Centre with an early kick off time of 6pm.  Alternatively the TSO are doing the Fauré Requiem with Karina Gauvin and Russell Braun on both Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

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Music Theatre Wales’s touring production of The Killing Flower at Buxton Festival. Photograph: Clive Barda

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