The Shoah Songbook

It being Holocaust Remembrance Week it was entirely appropriate that Tuesday’s lunchtime concert in the RBA was given by the Likht Ensemble of Jaclyn Grossman, soprano, and Nate Ben-Horin, piano. The material was mostly drawn from music written/collected at either Theresienstadt or in the ghettos of Lithuania.

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Meredith Wolgemuth and Jinhee Park

Tuesday’s lunchtime concert in the RBA was a really well thought out programme by two of the prize winners from last year’s Montreal International Music Competition; soprano Meredith Wolgemuth and pianist Jinhee Park.  The first set was a nicely characterised version of the quite varied Grieg Sechs Lieder op.48.  Most of these are fairly sentimental German Romantic texts but Meredith and Jinhee injected lightness and humour where it was appropriate in, for instance, “Lauf der Welt”.

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The Power of Words

Yesterday’s RBA concert was an intriguing mix of music and poetry presented by soprano Zi Xin Emily Lapin (soprano), Jialiang Zhu (piano) and Kathryn Knowles (polymath with her poet on).  It was a carefully curated programme and it featured surtitles throughout (major bonus points for that).

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Wirth prize winner

The 2021/22 winner of the Wirth Vocal prize at McGill’s Schulich Schoolof Music is Innu soprano Elisabeth Saint-Gelais.  She performed in the RBA at noon on Wednesday, accompanied by Louise Pelletier.  It was impressive.  She has power to burn and a rather lovely voice and, not so common among young dramatic sopranos, considerable control across her registers.  She also displayed considerable linguistic skill in French, German and Czech though I’m completely unqualified to comment on the quality of her Anishinabe.

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Homage to Viardot

Yesterday the Ensemble Studio put on a really nicely curated tribute to Pauline Viardot.  Viardot was a singer, pianist, composer and muse who was enormously influential in music circles in paris in the middle years of the 19th century.  She came from a famous musical family and was the younger sister of Maria Malibran. Her own work is little performed today although the Royal Conservatory did her Cendrillon in 2016.

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Persian Melodies – not really a review

I’ve been enjoying some of the fusions of classical Western and Persian music created by people like Afarin Mansouri so I took advantage of a free concert at the Four Seasons Centre to take in some actual Persian classical music.  It was a mixed bag of traditional, composed and improvised music and included both songs and instrumentals.  It was interesting and enjoyable.

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Classy singing from the Rebanks fellows

Yesterday’s free concert in the RBA featured the vocalist Rebanks fellows from the Glenn Gould School.  There was some very classy and very powerful singing.  We heard Hannah Crawford, fresh off her second place at Centre Stage, sing a couple of arias; “Pleurez, plearez mes yeux” from Masenet’s Le Cid and “Come Scoglio” from Cosí.  There was some very considerable power on display here as well as accuracy and emotion.  Definitely one to watch.

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Dido and Aeneas preview

meghanlindsayWednesday’s RBA concert was a preview of Opera Atelier’s upcoming production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.  Something between a performance of excerpts and a working rehearsal it featured Marshall Pynkoski introducing a series of excerpts for both singers (in rehearsal dress) and dancers (in costume).  He provided a good linking narrative situating each excerpt in the context of the work together with some general remarks about the nature and origin of the piece.

We got Meghan Lindsay (Dido) and Mireille Asselin (Belinda) with the opening duet.  They wre joined by Colion Ainsworth (Aeneas) for “see, your royal guest appears” followed by the triumphing dance by two members of the OA ballet.  There was some serious witchiness from Danielle MacMillan and Cynthia Smithers, more dance and Mireille with “Thanks to these lonesome vales” before a very dramatic account of the final confrontation between the lovers and Dido’s famous lament. Continue reading

Miles Mykannen in the RBA

Tenor Mlles Mykannen, currently on the COC main stage as Steuermann in Der fliegende Holländer performed in the RBA on Tuesday accompanied by Sandra Horst.  It was a bit unusual.  There was no published programme and Mykannen talked a lot.  Also a quiz at the end (really).  He’s extremely engaging, even funny, and an excellent singer.  His opera choices were unusual; Arnalta’s lullabye from L’incoronazione di Poppea, an “aria” from Silent Night and “Miles, Miles” from The Turn of the Screw.  The last was particularly good with maximum spookiness achieved (though not for the first time I noticed just how “wrong” TotS sounds on piano!)

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UoT Opera in the RBA

It’s been three long years since the UoT Opera Program students performed in the RBA.  Unsurprisingly none of the current crop are familiar to me at all.  They are a strong group though and I look forward to seeing them again over the course of the academic year.

Yesterday’s programme was a curated and directed selection of duets and larger ensembles from 19th century repertory.  Introductions were provided by Sandra Horst who conducted and Michael Albano and Mabel Wonnacott who directed.  With fifteen singers involved in a show lasting well under an hour including the intros there wasn’t really enough time to get more than a very superficial idea of what each singer is capable and so I think it would be inappropriate to write a conventional review.  Let’s just say that it was wonderful to see them back, a great way to spend a lunchtime and that there was some very classy singing.

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Watch this space…