It’s beginning to look a lot like Hannukwanzmas

dec22wordcloudSo what’s on as we move into the holiday season?

Closing out November there’s Opera Revue at Castro’s this afternoon at 3pm and a couple of concerts on Wednesday.  At lunchtime Wirth Prize winner Elisabeth Saint-Gelais and collaborative pianist Louise Pelletier present an intriguing looking programme in the RBA then at 7.30pm at Mazzoleni Hall the RCM’s Rebanks fellows are performing.  Both are free but the Mazzoleni concert is ticketed and may be sold out.

Continue reading

21C 2022/23

21c_wordmark_carrier_croppedThe line up for this year’s (and a bit of next’s) 21C at the Royal Conservatory has been announced.  The full line up is here.

I’m particularly interested in the Kronos Quartet concerts on December 8th and 9th; especially the latter which features “Music for Change” including a world premiere of a piece by Tanya Tagaq.

I’ll also want to see three of the concerts in the new year.  On January 21st at 5pm there’s a Cinq à Sept concert in Temerty Hall which, among other things, features a new song cycle by Lembit Beecher and Lisa Balkan.  The following day at 3pm in Koerner Hall there’s a concert of new works by Ian Cusson and Stewart Goodyear.  Finally, on January 28th at 10pm in Temerty Hall Brian Current and the GGS New Music Ensemble have a candlelit concert of night related works including music by Bekkah Simms and R. Murray Schafer.

Lots of good stuff!

Gould’s Wall

It was March 2017 and I was interviewing composer Brian Current over lunch.  He mentioned having seen Geoff Sirett bouldering on the wall of the Royal Conservatory atrium and how he had an idea for a site specific opera based on the life of Glenn Gould.  Eventually this became Gould’s Wall with a libretto by Liza Balkan.  Announced and rescheduled more than once due to COVID it premiered last night under the auspices of Tapestry Opera and the conservatory’s 21C series.

*Lauren Pearl and Roger Honeywell _ Gould_s Wall _ Tapestry Opera _ Photo by Dahlia Katz(3)

Continue reading

21C 2022

gouldswallThe schedule for the Royal Conservatory’s 2022 21C festival has been announced.  As usual it’s heavy on premieres and this year showcases the Kronos Quartet.  The three things that are likely of most interest to OR readers are:

  • The premiere of Gould’s Wall by Brian Current co-presented with Tapestry Opera.  It’s  a re-imagining of the life of Glenn Gould and features singers climbing along the wall of The Royal Conservatory’s atrium.  It opens on January 12th and runs until the 16th.
  • Marc Neikrug’s A Song by Mahler gets a single performance on January 15th at 8pm in Koerner Hall.  It tells the story of a singer and her husband coming to terms with Alzheimer’s.
  • A recital by Gerald Finley and Julius Drake at 3pm on January 23rd in Koerner Hall.  This features the premiere of a new song cycle by Marc-Anthony Turnage plus lots of other goodies.

The full line up and ticket information is here.

Soundstreams 2020/21

Soundstreams2021promo-photobyDahliaKatz-0960_back-cover-1-380x260Soundstreams have announced their 2020/21 season and hopefully we will get to see some of it!  As ever there’s loads of good stuff starting with Steve Reich being in Toronto for his 85th birthday in April 2021.  Other stuff that gets me excited includes:

  • Huang Ruo’s The Book of Mountain and Seas as part of 21C at Koerner in January 2021.  This features the vocal ensemble Ars Nova Copenhagen and puppets!
  • Chan Ka Nin’s A Dragon’s Tale.  It’s a co-pro with Tapestry and promises a waterfront extravaganza of western and eastern musical traditions.  That’s coming in June next year.
  • May 2021 sees a line up of Toronto’s finest performing works by Claude Vivier plus a new commission from Christopher Mayo.  That’s going to be in the very intimate Temerty Theatre at the RCM

Plus Electric Messiah, Encounters and more.  Full details here.

Golijov at Koerner

The opening concert of the 21C festival featured an all Osvaldo Golijov programme presented by Against the Grain Theatre.  It was preceded by a very informative conversation between Joel Ivany and the composer.  My main takeaway from that is that Golijov writes for people not instruments.  If the people he has in mind for a piece play a certain combination of instruments that’s what he will write for and if circumstances demand it he will readily make changes.  We saw that last night when cantor Alex Stein was unable to perform in K’vakaret (for cantor and string quartet) and Juan Gabriel Olivares stepped in on clarinet instead.

gk-marimba

Continue reading

Into 2020

newyearSo what do the first couple of weeks of 2020 hold.  First up Toronto Operetta Theatre their traditional Mew Year run.  his year it’s Johann Strauss’ The Gypsy Baron and there are five shows between December 28th and January 5th. The cast includes Michael Barrett, Meghan Lindsey and Beste Kalender.  It plays at the St. Lawrence Centre.

If you can even contemplate the thought of another late night drinking Against the Grain’s Opera Pub is on at 9pm on January 2nd at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club.  The following night tenor Zach Rioux has a free recital of mostly Italian rep in Mazzoleni Hall at 7.30pm (ETA CANCELLED).

Continue reading

Tidings

jpeg14Here’s what’s coming up over the holidays and into January.

Toronto Operetta Theatre’s seasonal production this year is Strauss’ Die Fledermaus.  It runs December 28th through January 2nd at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.   The cast includes Lara Ciekiewicz as Rosalinde, Adam Fisher as Eisenstein and Caitlin Wood as Adele. Derek Bate conducts the TOT orchestra and Guillermo Silva-Marin directs.

The 21C Music Festival runs from January 16th to 20th. This time it will celebrate the American minimalist composer Terry Riley, with his music being performed in three of the concerts, including one that he will headline, titled Terry Riley: Live at 85!  Full details at rcmusic.ca.

Continue reading

Announcements round up

VoxThere have been quite a few announcements in the last couple of weeks or so.  Here’s what’s coming up.

Essential Opera is back after a hiatus.  They are doing a single performance of Gianni Schicchi at 3pm on April 22nd at the Toronto Centre for the Arts (the one up near the Arctic Circle).  Kevin Mallon conducts the Toronto Orchestra with a really good line up of soloists.

21C is back from May 23rd to 27th with a varied lineup.  Perhaps the most interesting concert from a vocal point of view is vocal ensemble Vox Clamantis with violinist and singer Maarja Nuut and electronic music composer Hendrik Kaljujärv in works by Arvo Pärt, David Lang, and Helena Tulve.  The concert is presented in partnership with Estonian Music Week and it’s on the 26th at 8pm.

Continue reading

Unsuk Chin at the RCM

95e6758bda5e6da733933c23a4a65bbfe6fffa86_220x220The closing concert of this year’s 21C, presented by Soundstreams at Koerner Hall, featured music by Chris Paul Harman and Unsuk Chin.  In the first half we heard two related pieces by Harman based on songs by Ray Noble.  The first, Love Locked Out started with a tape recorded interview and a scratchy recording of Al Bowlly before morphing into a complex piece with allusions to the original song.  It’s not in any sense a set of variations.  Harman’s sound world is complex.  It’s very modern and varied.  There were warring pianos and tubular bells in passages that were almost violent but which morphed into more playful sections.  Parts of the string writing and the transitions reminded me of Shostakovich; though Harman tends to genuinely playful rather than sardonic.  But the comparison should not be taken too far because there’s also a tendency to build tension and logic through repetition rather than symphonic development in a vaguely John Adamsish sort of way and there are passages that are meditative à la Messiaen.  The piece closed with a slowed down tape of the song. So complex and intriguing stuff very well played by 21C Chamber Orchestra conducted by Guillaume Bourgogne.

Continue reading