Paint Me a Song

Last night, at Walter Hall, the Canadian Art Song Project presented their latest commission; Miss Carr in Seven Scenes by Jeffrey Ryan.  The overall standard of the CASP commissions since Lawrence Wiliford and Steven Philcox launched the endeavour has been very high.  The Ryan piece maintains that.

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Out like a lamb?

yourewelcome365pxNot much sign of spring as we move into the second half of the month but there are some things musical to enjoy while we await the return of the sun.  On March 18th at 2pm in Mazzoleni Hall there is You’re Welcome Rossini with the glamorous duo of Allyson McHardy and, the not seen often enough in Toronto, Lucia Cesaroni.  This one is officially sold out but there may be rushes.  Ten bucks says they do the Cat duet.
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(Dido and Aeneas)x2

The decision by Toronto Masque Theatre to pair Purcell’s miniature opera, Dido and Aeneas, with James Rolfe and André Alexis’ piece on the lovers’ inner thoughts, Aeneas and Dido, paid off last night.  It produced an evening of just the right length with two contrasting but complementary pieces working really well together.

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Berio Folk Songs

KLP171003-_D850281Yesterday’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.

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Oksana G.

Aaron Gervais’ and Colleen Murphy’s Oksana G. finally made it to the stage last night after a most convoluted journey.  It’s being produced by Tapestry at the Imperial Oil Theatre with Tom Diamond directing.  The wait, I think has been worth it.  The story, set in 1997, of a naive country girl from the Ukraine who gets caught up in sex trafficking is dramatic and the it convincingly depicts the sleazy underworld of southern and eastern Europe created by the collapse of the USSR, the civil wars in the Balkans and the pervasive official corruption in countries like Ukraine, Greece and Italy.  It’s gritty and, at times, not at all easy to watch.

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CCOC 2017/18

monkiestThe Canadian Children’s Opera Company have announced their 50th anniversary season.  The big news is that the main production will be a new piece by Alice Ping Yee Ho and Marjorie Chan (the team behind The Lesson of Da Ji).  The new piece is called The Monkiest King and is based on the legendary (and comic book) character the Monkey King.  Like the earlier work it will fuse western opera and traditional Chinese music techniques and instruments.  It will play at the Lyric Theatre at the Toronto Centre for the Arts May 25-27 2018.

There is also going to be a celebratory concert hosted by Ben Heppner on October 26 2017 at the Four Seasons Centre.  Besides performances by the current CCOC there will be appearances from Richard Margison, Krisztina Szabó, Simone Osborne and Andrew Haji and a choir of CCOC alumni.

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Baby Kintyre

kintyreAll families, they say, have secrets.  Few perhaps are as lurid as what came to light at 29 Kintyre Avenue, Toronto (about 2km from here) in the summer of 2007 when a contractor renovating the house discovered the mummified body of an infant wrapped in a 1925 newspaper.  Incredibly, the CBC was able to track down the last surviving member of the household from that era, a 92 year old woman living in a retirement home in up-state New York.  Her recollections, which formed the subject of a short two part radio documentary, provided a lot of context and background but few hard facts.  Who the baby was and how it came to be under the floorboards remains very much a mystery.

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