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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Here we go again

Yesterday, as has become customary, the 11th season of free concerts in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre began with a concert given by the COC Ensemble Studio.  It’s always interesting as there are always new members; some of whom I will be familiar with from UoT or the Conservatory and some not.  It’s also a “level setter” to see how much progress people make during the year because there are usually one or two singers who still seem to be finding their way into their voice.  I really didn’t see any of that yesterday.  I think what I saw and heard was the strongest line up I’ve seen yet with no obvious weak links.

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Sea Variations

This year’s Canadian Art Song Project commission is a setting of poems by EJ Pratt by Dean Burry entitled Sea Variations.  It was given its first performance yesterday in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre by Michael Colvin and Stephen Philcox.  The texts all deal with the moods of the sea and seem curiously archaic for the 1920s when they were written.  They are much more reminiscent of, say, Matthew Arnold than Yeats, let alone Eliot.  They have a certain power though and anybody who knows the North Atlantic will easily appreciate why they might appeal to fellow Newfoundlander Burry.

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