Last night’s Canadian Art Song Project, part of the Conservatory’s 21C festival, was sold out. Yep, a sold out concert of contemporary Canadian art song not featuring an A-list singer. Clearly Mercury is in retrograde or something. Anyway, the first half of the concert featured baritone Iain MacNeil with one of my favourite collaborative pianists Mélisande Sinsoulier. They gave us Lloyd Burritt’s The Moth Poem to texts by Robin Blaser. This is a basically tonal work with a piano part that I found more interesting than the vocal writing (common enough in contemporary art song). There was some nice delicate singing from Ian and complete mastery of the intricate piano part by Mélisande. Andrew Staniland’s setting of Wallace Stevens’ Peter Quince at the Clavier followed. This is a more ambitious work with quite a complex soundscape and a piano part that requires a range of technique as much of it is written to sound “mechanical” as a nod to the title of the poem. Oddly, despite the title, the text is a rich but highly allusive rendering of the story of Susanna and the Elders and a reminder of how much a really interesting text can enhance a song. I’d like to hear this again.
May continues to be a busy month. There are a couple of interesting concerts at noon in the RBA next week. On Wednesday 17th there is the unveiling of the annual Canadian Art Song project commission. This year it’s extremely ambitious. It’s a cycle of sixteen songs by Ana Sokolović setting texts drawn from right across Canada. It’s called dawn always begins in the bones and will be performed by Danika Lorèn, Emily D’Angelo, Bruno Roy and Aaron Sheppard with Liz Upchurch at the piano. (You can also hear this work in the Temerty Theatre at the Conservatory at 7.30pm on Thursday May 25th along with Andrew Staniland’s Peter Quince at the Clavier and Lloyd Burritt’s Moth Poem). On Thursday 18th tenor Charles Sy and pianist Hyejin Kwon bid farewell to the COC Ensemble Studio with a performance of Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin. It should be a real treat.
A few more season announcements have come in. Off Centre Music Salon have moved to Trinity St. Paul’s. They have announced two concerts. This coming Sunday 27th there’s Russia Cast Adrift featuring mezzo soprano Emilia Boteva, tenor Ernesto Ramirez, baritone Geoffrey Sirett, and soprano Nathalie Paulin singing Sviridov’s song cycle Russia Cast Adrift plus works by Rachmaninoff, Gavrillin and Scriabin. Then on Sunday, November 1st there’s a programme called The Geometry of Love featuring Joni Henson, soprano and Peter McGillivray, baritone with Mark Skazinetsky, violin, Igor Gefter, cello and pianists Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin performing works by Beethoven, Chopin, Mahler, Strauss and Wagner.
December 9th sees Anne-Sofie von Otter in recital at Koerner hall. She’s not doing opera anymore and who knows how many more chances there will be to see her in Toronto?
Last night saw the launch of the first triennial Maureen Forrester Memorial Prize tour. Sponsored by Jeunesses Musicales Canada, soprano Simone Osborne and pianist Anne Larlee will tour some forty cities across Canada over the next two years performing material on the theme “Songs of Life and Love”. Each recital will include a new work; Birefringence, by Brian Current, commissioned by the Canadian Art Song Project. Continue reading
The best bargain of the Toronto music season is the free lunchtime concert series at the Four Seasons Centre. The 2013/14 line up was announced today. Opera and vocal highlights include recitals by Sir Thomas Allen (Songs of the Sea, which sounds rather excellent), Simone Osborne, Robert Pomakov with The Gryphon Trio, Tracey Dahl, Russell Braun and Paul Appleby. Somewhat off the beaten track, there will be a performance of Gagliano’s La Dafne by Capella Intima and the Toronto Continuo Collective and the Canadian Art Song project will be premiering a new commission by a Canadian composer. There will also be the usual (and very popular) sessions from the COC Ensemble Studio (including two Britten themed concerts), the students of the University of Toronto opera division and the young artists of the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal.
For the less vocally inclined there is also a full line up of piano, chamber music, world music, jazz and dance. Here’s the full PDF brochure.