Voices Across the Atlantic

Last night’s Toronto Summer Music concert at the Church of the redeemer was headlined by Daniel Taylor, Charles Daniels and Steven Philcox but, somewhat to my surprise, also featured multiple fellows from both the art song and chamber music programmes.

The “headliners” kicked things off with Britten’s canticle Abraham and Isaac, based on one of the Chester Mystery Plays.  I thought I knew this piece but soon realised I was confusing it with the setting of Owen’s The Parable of the Old Man and the Young in the War Requiem!  It’s an interesting piece with a very medieval Catholic take on an Old Testament story.  It was performed here with the delicacy and attention to detail I’d expect from these performers.

redeemer1

Continue reading

Griffey and Jones in recital

Anthony Dean Griffey and Warren Jones’ TSMF recital at Walter Hall last night was an all English language affair with offerings from both sides of the pond.  IT kicked off with Frank Bridge’s Three Songs for voice, viola and piano with the viola part played on the cello by David Heiss.  These might better be billed as for “Viola, piano and voice” as the viola part is much, much more interesting than the vocal line.  Really it felt more like a piece of chamber music that happened to include a vocalist.  Heiss played beautifully as did Jones and Griffey did what was to be done with the vocal line.

griffeyjones

Continue reading

reGENERATION week 1

There were three reGENERATION concerts in Walter Hall yesterday at 1pm, 4pm and 7.30pm.  It made for a long but interesting day.  As last year, each concert was a mix of vocal and chamber music.  The vocal program was not announced in advance so I’m working from notes and there could be the odd error.  Pleasingly, there were surtitles for the songs.  This is a huge improvement on a sheet of tiny print to be read in the dark! Continue reading

Toronto Summer Music opener

Last night saw the first concert of this year’s Toronto Summer Music Festival.  The theme was “Beyond Borders” with most of the works presented; a mixture of piano, violin and vocal, having been influenced by other cultures/places or written in exile.

bb1

Continue reading

Bon Appétit

Muse 9 Production’s new show Bon Appétit: A Musical Tasting Menu couples three short operas about food and was, appropriately enough, presented at Merchants of Green Coffee on Matilda Street.  Perhaps “opera” isn’t the right term as, although each piece was fully staged, they featured only one singer each.  “Opera” or “staged song”?  I don’t really care as they were fun.

BonAppetit1

Continue reading

I have a Japanese carving

Hell’s Fury(*) is a two man show about Hanns Eisler conceived and created by Tim Albery.  It’s focussed on his time in the United States and, somewhat, on his return to the DDR.  It combines songs from the Hollywood Songbook (poems by Brecht and others set by Eisler), dialogue and projections to tell the story of Eisler’s arrival in Hollywood, his work in the US, his deportation as a result of the “work” of the House Un-American Activities Committee and his return to the GDR and struggles to come to terms with the Stalinist culturecrats leading ultimately to drink, depression and death.

Russell Braun in Hell's Fury The Hollywood Songbook_Photo by Trevor Haldenby (2)

Continue reading

The Book of My Shames

headshot-isaiah-bell-2017-websizedThis is what would happen if the opera singing love child of Noel Coward and Sylvia Plath was encouraged by his therapist to perform on “Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids”. – Isaiah Bell

Isaiah Bell’s The Book of My Shames has something in common with Teiya Kasahara’s Queer of the Night.  Both are one queer shows dealing very directly and honestly with aspects of being queer and both are very impressive singers.  There perhaps the comparison pretty much ends for while Teiya’s show was about the tribulations of being gay in the opera world Isaiah’s piece is about growing up gay in a seriously dysfunctional environment.

Continue reading