Back to the RBA

midoriIn another nod to normality the COC’s free concert series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre kicked off with the traditional concert with the members of the Ensemble Studio.  It was reasonably well attended, which is good news. But unlike previous years one didn’t need to be there an hour early to get a seat.  Which is not so good news.  I’m really curious to see when and if we start to get back to pre-plague audiences.

For me in previous years, this concert has been about taking stock; an opportunity to reflect on which members of the ES have progressed and how.  Yesterday was much harder as I’ve seen little of any of them (live at least) for two and a half years.  Some things though stood out.  Midori Marsh, who kicked off the show with “Caro nome” has matured quite a lot.  She’s always had a terrific voice but here she showed as a much more polished and poised performer.  Alex Hetherington is also something of a known quality with her excellent 2021 Norcop Prize recital one of the better streamed events of the pandemic.  She gets bonus points for singing “Lord, to Thee Each Night” from Handel’s Theodora.  It’s a highly charged and technically awkward piece that demonstrated her technique and artistic sensibility nicely. Continue reading

Brandon Cedel in the RBA

Yesterday’s RBA concert was at the unusual hour of 5.30pm and featured bass-baritone Brandon Cedel with Sandra Horst at the piano.  It was a nicely balanced programme.  Cedel began with Purcell’s Arise, ye subterranean winds from The Tempest.  It’s one of those very Purcellian arias for low voice that feature long, not especially fast runs and put a lot of demands on the singer’s technique.  Cedel’s is very solid.  He can shape a line too and his English diction is excellent.  There was some particular fine playing from Sandra Horst here too.

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Bob Becker

Yesterday’s lunchtime concert in the RBA consisted of four pieces for voice, tuned percussion and assorted other instruments by percussionist and composer Bob Becker.  Apparently the tonal palette for all four was taken from the North Indian rag; Rag Chandrakosh.  This is the sort of information I wouldn’t even be able to process without the help of the Wunderlemur.

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Songs of Travel

The main purpose of yesterday’s RBA concert was to showcase the prodigious talents of the five members of the COC’s Orchestra Academy; Isabel Lago and Ah Young Kim (violins), John Sellick (viola), Mansur Kadirov (cello) and Peter Eratostene (bass).  The first half of the programme was the Allegro from Dvorák’s String Quintet No. 2 in G Major.  This was very nicely done and served as a satisfying prelude to the main event.

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Fairytales and Lullabyes

Yesterday’s lunchtime concert in the RBA was the last for the year in the vocal series and featured members of the Ensemble Studio.  Rachael Kerr was scheduled to do about half the accompanying but illness prevented her from playing so some hasty reprogramming meant that what we got differed somewhat from the printed programme but it was still a very well put together effort.

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Songbook XL

Tapestry and the COC collaborated for yesterday’s concert in the RBA.  The performers were members of the Ensemble Studio.  The material was a mix of numbers from the Tapestry back catalogue plus a couple of songs by COC composer in residence Ian Cusson.

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Old Songs, New Songs

Yesterday Matthew Cairns and Rachel Kerr performed an unusually wide range of songs in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.  It’s part of Matthew’s prep for his CBC recording session which was part of the prize at last year’s Centre Stage and which will be broadcast in the new year.  They kicked off with a contrasting pair of Duparc song’s.  First came the almost dreamy L’invitation au voyage with it’s arpeggio accompaniment followed by the much more dramatic Le manoir de Rosemonde.  These really set the tone for the recital.  There was power where it was needed but also considerable delicacy from both singer and pianist.

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A first look at UoT this year

The students of the post graduate program at UoT Opera were on show in the RBA yesterday with a show made up of staged opera excerpts curated and directed by Michael Patrick Albano.  It’s right at the beginning of the academic year and these sorts of concerts are a bit of a calibration exercise for those of us who follow the progress of young singers.  The starting point this year is decidedly high.

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The Maiden and the Nightingale

Yesterday’s lunchtime recital in the RBA was given by soprano, Vanessa Vasquez and pianist Miloš Repický.  It was a well constructed programme though there were few surprises.  The first set was three Strauss standards; Ständchen, Breit’ übermein Haupt and Befreit; the last dedicated to Vanessa’s teacher who died recently.  They were all well sung with appropriate emotional emphasis and, best of all, both performers appeared to be enjoying themselves.

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MIR trio

The MIR trio; Mark Skazintetsky (violin), Igor Gefter (cello) and Rachel Kerr (piano) played a programme of music by Jewish composers in the RBA at noon yesterday.  Most of the music was by contemporary composers but the opening set was the Three Nocturnes of Ernest Bloch.  This is superb music and it was beautifully played.  The first movement; Andante, is quite elegiac but things really kick in with the Andante quieto, which contains a quite lovely melody for the cello before the final Tempestoso which fully lives up to its marking.

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