Summer Night is a CD of songs by Healey Willan produced by the Canadian Art Song project and due to be released on the Centrediscs label next month. Willan is best known as a composer of church and choral music but he also wrote over 100 songs and song arrangements, many of which have not been published, let alone recorded. There are 28 songs on the CD ranging in composition date from 1899 to the late 1920s. Most are original settings of the text though a few are arrangements of existing songs; either traditional or by Burns.
Canadian Art Song Project has just brought out a podcast on the important issue of how Ingigenous stories and music are represented in Western art music. Besides regulars Lance Wiliford and Steven Philcox, the podcast features mezzo-soprano Marion Newman and composer Ian Cusson. You can listen to or download the podcast here
Then on October 13th at 7:30 pm the CBC will livestream Against the Grain’s La Bohème from the Tranzac Club directly to your personal devices via CBC Gem.
Also… Turandot at the COC. My review will be up on Bachtrack once it’s through the editorial process. I’ll post links.
Last night, at Walter Hall, the Canadian Art Song Project presented their latest commission; Miss Carr in Seven Scenes by Jeffrey Ryan. The overall standard of the CASP commissions since Lawrence Wiliford and Steven Philcox launched the endeavour has been very high. The Ryan piece maintains that.
Last night’s Canadian Art Song Project, part of the Conservatory’s 21C festival, was sold out. Yep, a sold out concert of contemporary Canadian art song not featuring an A-list singer. Clearly Mercury is in retrograde or something. Anyway, the first half of the concert featured baritone Iain MacNeil with one of my favourite collaborative pianists Mélisande Sinsoulier. They gave us Lloyd Burritt’s The Moth Poem to texts by Robin Blaser. This is a basically tonal work with a piano part that I found more interesting than the vocal writing (common enough in contemporary art song). There was some nice delicate singing from Ian and complete mastery of the intricate piano part by Mélisande. Andrew Staniland’s setting of Wallace Stevens’ Peter Quince at the Clavier followed. This is a more ambitious work with quite a complex soundscape and a piano part that requires a range of technique as much of it is written to sound “mechanical” as a nod to the title of the poem. Oddly, despite the title, the text is a rich but highly allusive rendering of the story of Susanna and the Elders and a reminder of how much a really interesting text can enhance a song. I’d like to hear this again.
May continues to be a busy month. There are a couple of interesting concerts at noon in the RBA next week. On Wednesday 17th there is the unveiling of the annual Canadian Art Song project commission. This year it’s extremely ambitious. It’s a cycle of sixteen songs by Ana Sokolović setting texts drawn from right across Canada. It’s called dawn always begins in the bones and will be performed by Danika Lorèn, Emily D’Angelo, Bruno Roy and Aaron Sheppard with Liz Upchurch at the piano. (You can also hear this work in the Temerty Theatre at the Conservatory at 7.30pm on Thursday May 25th along with Andrew Staniland’s Peter Quince at the Clavier and Lloyd Burritt’s Moth Poem). On Thursday 18th tenor Charles Sy and pianist Hyejin Kwon bid farewell to the COC Ensemble Studio with a performance of Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin. It should be a real treat.
A few more season announcements have come in. Off Centre Music Salon have moved to Trinity St. Paul’s. They have announced two concerts. This coming Sunday 27th there’s Russia Cast Adrift featuring mezzo soprano Emilia Boteva, tenor Ernesto Ramirez, baritone Geoffrey Sirett, and soprano Nathalie Paulin singing Sviridov’s song cycle Russia Cast Adrift plus works by Rachmaninoff, Gavrillin and Scriabin. Then on Sunday, November 1st there’s a programme called The Geometry of Love featuring Joni Henson, soprano and Peter McGillivray, baritone with Mark Skazinetsky, violin, Igor Gefter, cello and pianists Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin performing works by Beethoven, Chopin, Mahler, Strauss and Wagner.
December 9th sees Anne-Sofie von Otter in recital at Koerner hall. She’s not doing opera anymore and who knows how many more chances there will be to see her in Toronto?