Tanya Tagaq at the TSO

Last night saw the opening concert of the TSO’s New Creations Festival.  It opened with a sesquie by Andrew Staniland; Reflections on “O Canada” After Truth and Reconciliation.  Sesquies are two minute “fanfares” composed to commemorate Canada’s 150th.  Staniland’s version was a bold attempt to deal with the immensely complex subject of reconciliation between Canada and its native peoples and, of course, one can’t do that in two minutes in any medium.  Reflections was an interesting stab though.  It was structured as a very quiet canon for high strings in a minor key using the principal theme of O Canada and ending with an overblown fanfare in the winds.  You can apply your own political interpretation.

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Into March

ttNext week is rather back end loaded.  There’s not much on early in the week but then things hot up.  On Thursday Against the Grain host the monthly opera pub night at The Amsterdam Bicycle Club at 9pm.  This time we are promised Topher and present and past members of the Ensemble Studio.  That evening is also the opening of the Canadian Children’s Opera Company show Brundibár which I previewed last week and which runs until March 5th.  Also on Thursday there’s the opening of R. Murray Schafer’s Odditorium, presented by Soundstreams at the Crow’s Theatre.  That one runs until the 5th.  Finally, on Saturday the amazing Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq is appearing with the TSO at Roy Thomson Hall in a concert that features two world premiers and a Canadian premier.

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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And now, the TSO

tso-music-director-peter-oundjian-photo-credit-sian-richardsHot on the heels of the RCM, the Toronto Symphony has announced its 2017/18 season, whih will be Peter Oundjian’s last as Music Director.  There’s lots of sesquicentennial stuff of course but here’s a summary of the interesting vocal stuff (rock and roll and other children’s music omitted).

September 27,28 and 30, 2017: Brahm’s German Requiem with Erin Wall and Russell Braun.

October 19 and 20, 2017: Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Susan Platts and Michael Schade.  This is billed as a Maureen Forrester commemoration.

November 9 and 11, 2017: Jeffrey Ryan’s Afghanistan:Requiem for a Generation with Measha Brueggergosman, Alysson McHardy, Colin Ainsworth and Brett Polegato.

December 16, 19, 20, 22 and 23, 2017: Handel’s Messiah with Karina Gauvin, Kristina Szabó, Frédéric Antoun and Joshua Hopkins.

April 26 and 28, 2018: A concert performance of Bernstein’s Candide with Tracy Dahl, Judith Forst, Nicholas Phan and Richard Suart.

June 2 and 3, 2018: A concert called Water Music with Leslie Ann Bradley singing Dvorak, Schubert and Mozart.

June 28 and 29, 2018:  Peter Oundjian signs off with a Beethoven 9.  Soloists tba.

Full details here.

 

Best of 2016

anthraxIt’s that time of year when it’s traditional to do best of the year lists.  Fortunately this is all about music because in most other respects 2016 was a bit of a horror show.  So here goes.  As far as opera proper was concerned it was a pretty good year.  There were no real howlers in the COC’s season.  It was solid and, at its best, better than that,  For me, Ariodante was the standout; an intelligent, thought provoking production backed up by extremely good acting and singing.  I was really expecting to like the Claus Guth Marriage of Figaro more than I did.  I enjoyed it but I was a bit perplexed by the lightening up that had taken place since Salzburg in 2006.  Opera Atelier had their best show in quite a while with Lucio Silla but even Wallis Giunta couldn’t save a misconceived Dido and Aeneas.

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Over the holidays

raccoon-on-snowAs things will soon slow down for the holidays I am going to do one listings post from now through to the New Year.  There are of course still the TSO and Tafelmusik Messiahs.  There are also holiday concerts at Roy Thomson Hall.  New Year’s Eve sees an opera pops concert conducted by Marco Guidarini while on New Year’s Day there’s a Vienna themed extravaganza with Matthias Fletzberger conducting.

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Hallelujah!

brianIt’s that time of year when one ponders the vexed question of how many Messiahs, and which ones, one is going to see this year.  For Torontonians there seem to be four principal contenders; two fairly conventional and two less so.  At the conventional end of things there’s the TSO of course.  This year it’s back to the usual performing edition though fans of Sir Andrew’s “Big Fat Messiah” as heard last year can now acquire it on CD from the Chandos label.  Baroque specialist Nicholas McGegan conducts so it’s probably as close to HIP as the TSO are ever going to get.  Soloists are Yulia Van Doren, Abigail Levis, Isaiah Bell and Daniel Okulitch.  I’m not familiar with either of the ladies but the guys are top notch.  As ever the orchestra will be joined by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.  There are five performances at Roy Thomson Hall on the 18th at 3pm and the 19th, 20th, 21st and 23rd at 8pm.

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