It’s that time of year when one reflects on the good and the not so good. What one would like to see more of and not. What seemed significant about the year. As I look back over my writings for the last twelve months one clear theme stands out, Reconciliation. There was the COC’s very thoughtful and thought provoking remount of Somers’ Louis Riel in April and all the fascinating events that went on around that. There were attempts by the TSO to incorporate Indigenous themes; the Tanya Tagaq concert in March and Adizokan with Red Sky in October. Neither of these quite came off but the intent was good. Then there was a really fine recital of works by Indigenous composers by Marion Newman at the beginning of the year. Then, of course, the Clemence/Current piece Missing, about murdered and missing Indigenous women, which premiered in British Columbia and which I haven’t seen yet but really, really want to. 2017 was also the year when Land Acknowledgements went mainstream in the Toronto arts world. I guess there’s some tokenism here but there does seem to be far more engagement with Reconciliation in the arts world than in, say, the political mainstream which is unfortunate because opera isn’t going to produce clean drinking water. We have to start somewhere I guess.
It’s a bit of a crazy week coming up. On Monday at 8pm there’s the first in a series of young artists concerts presented by Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu and Yamaha Canada. This one features pianist Cindy Liu in an all Prokofiev program. It’s at Rosemarie’s atelier at 310 Davenport Road and tickets are $20 ($10 student).
Tuesday is a double header with Erin Wall performing at noon in the RBA in a program of Korngold, Debussy and Duparc. Then at 5.30pm at the Canadian Music Centre there’s a CD launch concert for Sing Me at Midnight; the latest recording from CASP featuring songs by John Greer. Both these events are free.
Tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon Off Centre Music Salon opens its 2016/17 season at 3pm at Trinity St. Paul’s. It’s an all Russian show called Four Seasons or Mother Russia. It will feature songs by Prokofiev’s The Ugly Duckling and songs byTchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff, as well as Arensky’s Piano Trio in D minor (op. 32). The highlight is the Toronto premiere of Valery Gavrilin’s song cycle Seasons inspired by Northern Russian folklore and chanting traditions. Performers include cellist Igor Gefter, pianists Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin, violinist Mark Skazinetky and singers Joni Henson and Ryan Harper.
It’s been four years since the initial Canadian Art Song Project concert in the RBA. Since then they’ve commissioned a number of works and started a recital series that has included innovative presentations such as the performance of Brian Harman’s Sewing the Earthwormgiven in November. A work premiered that night; Erik Ross’ The Living Spectacle formed the conclusion to yesterday’s concert but first came a series of works performed by students from the University of Toronto.
The very busy spring season continues for another couple or three weeks before we head into the summer lull. This afternoon sees the final Songmasters concert of the season at the Royal Conservatory with the Hungarian-Finnish connection. Soprano Leslie Ann Bradley, bass-baritone Stephen Hegedus, pianists Rachel Andrist and Robert Kortgaard and violinist Erika Raum will perform Kaija Saariaho’s Changing Light as well as works by Liszt, Bartók, Sibelius, and others. That’s at 2pm in Mazzoleni Hall.
Canadian Art Song Project has just issued its second CD; Cloud Light. It’s a collection of four contrasting works by Polish-Canadian composer Norbert Palej. The first, Three Norwegian Songs (2011) was composed for baritone Peter McGillivray, who sings them here. The settings are of English translations of Norwegian texts. Maybe it’s because the texts are translations or maybe because this seems the most American/Broadway inflected piece on the disk I found it the least effective but, as we shall see, it has serious competition. In any event Peter sings it very well even when it goes cruelly high. Continue reading →
Not so much on this week. Tuesday COC chorus member and guitarist Doug MacNaughton, currently appearing as Antonio in Marriage of Figaro, has a noon hour concert on Tuesday in the RBA featuring a new piece by Dean Burry and other works ranging from John Rutter to Donald Swann. Then on Friday CASP have an evening recital at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse featuring Philip Addis and Emily Hamper.
Siegfried and Marriage of Figaro continue at the COC. The last performance of the former is today at 2pm while the latter plays Wednesday and Friday at 7.30pm.
MY Opera have announced the cast for their spring production of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. Christina Campsall sings the title role with Nicholas Borg as Tarquinius. Jonelle Sills, Daevyd Pepper, Jacob Feldman, Evan Korbut, Victoria Marshall and Anne-Marie MacIntoshround out the cast. Natasha Fransblow will direct musically from the piano and stage production is by Anna Theodakis. There will be three performances April 29th to May 1st in the Aki Studio at Daniels Spectrum.
The Canadian Art Song Project branched out last night with a ticketed concert at The Extension Room. The opening number was the latest CASP commission; The Living Spectacle by Erik Ross to words by Baudelaire translated by Roy Campbell. Like a lot of modern song the three movements were all quite piano forward and hard on the singer. The second text, The Evil Monk, certainly brought out the darker and more dramatic side of Ambur Braid’s voice while the third, The Death of Artists, was cruelly high even for someone with Ambur’s coloratura chops. She coped very well and Steven Philcox’ rendering of the piano part was suitably virtuosic.
A few notable events this coming fall week. Tuesday sees the COC’s annual gala competition for young singers, Centre Stage. Prizes and possible places in the Ensemble Studio for next year are up for grabs. The public part of the event starts at 5.30pm at The Four Seasons Centre with a cocktail reception followed by the final round of the competition. Unusually this competition feature the full COC orchestra, not just piano.