Into March

groundhogPickings are still decidedly slim in terms of locally created on-line content with many postponements due to the current lockdown in Toronto.  What I have lined up is as follows:

  • The UoT Opera Student Composer Collective’s annual show is being streamed at 2.30pm on Sunday 21st February.  This year it’s called Escape Room and it’s a comedy with a scenario of characters trapped in a darkened room with no memory of how they got there.  It’s being streamed via Zoom and preregistration at this link is required.
  • The COC has a roundtable on Gender and Opera on its Youtube channel on March 5th at 7pm.
  • Confluence Concerts are offering a tribute to John Beckwith; specifically his songs, on March 7th at 2pm, 5pm and 8pm.  That’s on Confluence’s Youtube channel.
  • Tapestry have two shows coming up on their Youtube channel.  March 6th at 8pm sees Mireille Asselin and guests perform a range of works celebrating their French heritage.  Then on March 27th at 8pm Morgan-Paige Melbourne performs Where Do I Go?; an intriguing looking mixture of piano and dance.

There’s also new short but fun content on the appropriate Youtube channels from Opera Revue, Alexander Hajek and Domoney Artists.

Do check to make sure that there aren’t further changes before planning your life around these events!

January preview

ggsjan2021Right now January is looking a bit thin.  All I have booked right now are:

  • January 8th at 7.30pm.  The Glenn Gould School’s postponed fall opera show.  It’s Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins and Bolcom’s Lucrezia.  That’s going to be streamed free on the Koerner Hall performance website.
  • January 13th at 6pm is the next concert in the Confluence series.  It’s The Mandala – The Beauty of Impermanence and it’s curated by Suba Shankaran.  Also free and streamed on the Confluence Youtube channel.
  • January 30th at 8pm.  Tapestry’s next offering.  It’s called A Joke Before the Gallows and features pianist Adam Sherkin performing Chopin’s four masterpiece scherzi alongside monologues written by David James Brock.  The show is described as “blackly funny and thought-provoking” and is directed by Tom Diamond.  Also free, also on Youtube.

There will likely be additions as the moth goes on as people seem to put stuff up with very little advance notice!

Creativity and Aging – Confluence Salon

Does creativity follow an arc with age?  Is a period of peak creativity followed by inevitable decline or is there, perhaps, a qualitatively different, kind of creativity in the later years of life?  Linda and Michael Hutcheon; literary scholar and physician, explored this in their book Four Last Songs, which looked at the later works of Verdi, Strauss, Messiaen, and Britten.  Last night they appeared in the Confluence Concerts Salon series to provide further thoughts with reference to the works of Messiaen and Leonard Cohen.  Their thoughts were interwoven with performances of works by Messiaen and Cohen performed by Robert Kortgaard, Patricia O’Callaghan and Larry Beckwith.  There’s no need to read my description of the show.  It’s freely available on Youtube.

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More upcoming on-line content

confluencecreativityMy sense of time, or rather lack of one, has made these “upcoming” posts a bit irregular.  So anyway these are things I haven’t mentioned so far.

  • Tonight at 7pm on Youtube, Confluence Concerts present the Hutcheons with a talk on Creativity and Aging based on their book Four Last Songs.  I’ve read the book and had  (used to have) some of the best conversations with Doctors Linda and Michael so this should be good.  Musical excerpts from Messiaen and Leonard Cohen will be performed by Larry Beckwith, Robert Kortgaard and Patricia O’Callaghan.  Free.
  • Wednesday at 8pm on Youtube it’s Tapestry with SOS – Sketch Opera Singers episode 1.  Singing peas on a dinner plate. The inner thoughts of evil babies. An attention-starved man who bursts into dramatic song whenever he steps into a light. Check out the teaser that’s already up on Youtube.  Also free.
  • Saturday at 7pm is Opera Atelier’s Something Rich and Strange which is a baroque pasticcio.  It’s streamed via the Koerner Hall streaming site and tickets are $25.  Check out OA’s website for details.
  • December 13th at 8pm is Against the Grain’s multicultural Messiah/Complex.  Free but registration required.
  • December 17th at 8pm is Soundstreams’ Electric Messiah.. This is the latest iteration of what has become an annual event but reenvisaged for the web.  I was on a Zoom call last Monday with the director and music director.  Sounds like it should be good.  Also free but registration required.

The usual suspects (check earlier posts for recommendations) are still also mostly producing new content.

Confluence’s Purcell

Last night Confluence Concerts streamed their latest offering; a tribute to Henry Purcell, preceded by a pre-show interview between Larry Beckwith and Andrew Parrott.  There was beautifully played instrumental music from Victoria Baroque, songs from Lawrence Williford and Lucas Harris recorded at the Elora Festival and a couple of interesting takes on If Music Be the Food of Love plus Two Daughters of this Aged Stream featuring Daniel Taylor, Rebecca Genge and Sinéad White plus instrumentalists from the UoT Faculty of Music Historical Performance Department.  I was less taken with Duo Serenissima (Elizabeth Hetherington, soprano and David Mackor, theorbo).  I can’t tell whether it was the recording acoustic or a diction issue but the words were pretty much unintelligible which is a big problem with Purcell!.

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Streams and things

A quick reminder that tonight, tomorrow and Saturday see new streams from AtG (A Little Too Cozy prequel), The GGS Fall Opera (Seven Deadly Sins and Lucrezia) and Confluence (Purcell).  There’s also new content on the appropriate Youtube channels from Domoney Artists and Alex Hajek.

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Virtual – new and upcoming

Things I’ve seen recently or plan to see include:

Seen recently:

  • Two more spooky shorts from Tapestry Opera and Red Truck productions.  If you had any lingering doubts about Keith Klassen’s sanity these should take care of them!  That said, the technical quality of these is amazing. (Tapestry Youtube channel).
  • A COVID flavoured Halloween special from Opera Revue.  (Opera Revue’s Youtube channel)
  • A recording and video presentation by the Kingston Symphony of Dean Burry’s Nijmegen Bridge 1944.  It’s a homage to the Canadians who died liberating the Netherlands and it’s well worth hearing.  There are also more Harmon in Space episodes.  (Kingston Symphony Youtube channel)

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A Billy Strayhorn Celebration

Last night the first concert in Confluence’s virtual season went live.  It features the music of Billy Strayhorn curated by Andrew Downing.  Now jazz is not usually my thing but I found this concert interesting in many ways.  Strayhorn was unusual.  He was a poor African American who aspired to be a classical composer and pianist.  Realising the virtual impossibility of that in post WW2 America he took to jazz and dance band music and formed a very productive relationship with Duke Ellington.  He was also gay and that, rather courageously for the time, comes out in his music.  You can find out much more about Strayhorn in the most erudite chat between Andrew Downing and Professor Walter Vandeleur that precedes the music.

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Confluence announces virtual 2020/21 season

Confluence Concerts have announced a five concert and two special event virtual 2020/21 season with their usual eclectic and enticing mix of repertoire.

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September 23rd 2020 – Something to Live for; A Billy Strayhorn Celebration

A detailed look at the story of the great 20th century classical and jazz pianist and composer. Best known for his long-time collaboration with Duke Ellington, Strayhorn composed Take the A Train, Lush Life, Something to Live For, Chelsea Bridge, and A Flower is a Lovesome Thing.

Curated and arranged by Andrew Downing

Featuring Larry Beckwith, Alexa Belgrave, Leighton Harrell, Aline Honzy, Drew Jurecka, Marion Newman, Patricia O’Callaghan, Alex Samaras, Suba Sankaran and more.

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Elora Festival opening concert

The first of three concerts from the Elora Festival was webcast last night.  It opened with a nicely produced video of the Elora singers performing Jonathan Dove’s In Beauty May I Walk which was followed by Lawrence Wiliford and Lucas Harris performing sings for lute and tenor.  The lute was a weird and wonderful thing combining the usual strings with a longer theorbo like section totalling 12 courses and 23 strings.  The  music was all from the 17th century (as best I can tell) ranging from well known names like Purcell and Blow to others like John Beck who are likely only familiar to specialists in this rep.  Anyway, it was beautifully done and makes one wish that this material would be performed more often.

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