Last evening saw the first post-plague edition of the Christina and Louis Quilico Awards competed for by the singers of the COC Ensemble Studio. Six of Ensemble’s seven singers competed with Vladimir Soloviev and Brian Cho providing piano accompaniment. It wasn’t the most thrilling Quilico Awards ever. The judges; Perryn Leech, Carolyn Sproule and Steven Philcox probably had a pretty easy time of it. So herewith how it came out.
Yesterday the Ensemble Studio put on a really nicely curated tribute to Pauline Viardot. Viardot was a singer, pianist, composer and muse who was enormously influential in music circles in paris in the middle years of the 19th century. She came from a famous musical family and was the younger sister of Maria Malibran. Her own work is little performed today although the Royal Conservatory did her Cendrillon in 2016.
In another nod to normality the COC’s free concert series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre kicked off with the traditional concert with the members of the Ensemble Studio. It was reasonably well attended, which is good news. But unlike previous years one didn’t need to be there an hour early to get a seat. Which is not so good news. I’m really curious to see when and if we start to get back to pre-plague audiences.
For me in previous years, this concert has been about taking stock; an opportunity to reflect on which members of the ES have progressed and how. Yesterday was much harder as I’ve seen little of any of them (live at least) for two and a half years. Some things though stood out. Midori Marsh, who kicked off the show with “Caro nome” has matured quite a lot. She’s always had a terrific voice but here she showed as a much more polished and poised performer. Alex Hetherington is also something of a known quality with her excellent 2021 Norcop Prize recital one of the better streamed events of the pandemic. She gets bonus points for singing “Lord, to Thee Each Night” from Handel’s Theodora. It’s a highly charged and technically awkward piece that demonstrated her technique and artistic sensibility nicely. Continue reading →
From September 11th to 25th Crow’s Theatre has a show; The Shape of Home: Songs in Search of Al Purdy. This is a sort of staged song cycle exploring the words and ideas of “Canada’s unofficial poet laureate”.
Usually by December I’ve had a pretty good chance to see the COC’s Ensemble Studio. Not this year of course. So it was good to see at least a few of them in a stream of a short concert recorded at the Aga Khan Museum.
On Thursday evening the members of COC’s Ensemble Studio collaborated to create an on-line concert called Songs of Hope. All the current Ensemble members plus Liz Upchurch took part in an extremely eclectic programme MC’d by Simone Osborne. There was “classic” art song with Jamie Groote singing Britten’s arrangement of Burns’ Highland Balou. Joel Allison sang Silent Noon by Vaughan Williams; a test piece for any Anglo baritone inviting comparison with the likes of Thomas Allen and Bryn Terfel. He passes the test in my book. Very fine singing indeed. Vartan Gabrielan gave us a rare chance to hear a genuine bass singing Schubert; in this case Ständchen. The different timbre is an interesting and welcome change.
There are two shows on June 18th. At 6pm EDT Parma records are hosting a concert of contemporary cello music featuring Ovidiu Marinescu. Then at 8pm it’s Opera Pub on Facebook Live from AtG Theatre. If you can’t catch it live it will likely show up on AtG’s Youtube channel a couple of days later.
March is looking a bit thin right now. Both UoT Opera and the Glenn Gould School have shows though. From the 12th to the 15th in the MacMilan Theatre (7.30pm, Sunday 2.30pm) the university is doing Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park in a production by Tim Albery. I’m not familiar with this work but generally I’ve been very impressed with Dove’s vocal music. Casting etc is here. On the 18th and 20th the GGS is putting on Ravel’s L’heure espagnole and Puccini’s Suor Angelica which is certainly an unusual pairing. The double bill plays at Koerner Hall at 7.30pm. Casting and creative team details are here. UoT also have a show on the 27th at 5pm in Walter Hall called Parlami d’Amore. In non university gigs, Tapestry Songbook X is at the Ernest Balmer Studio on the 20th at 8pm.
In free events there are a couple of noon hour concerts in the RBA. On the 17th the Ensemble Studio have a March Break “Opera for All Ages” concert and on the 31st transgender soprano Brianna Sinclair is appearing. And of course there’s Opera Pub in its usual time and place on the 5th.
The second half of January kicks off with the COC’s revival production f Rossini’s Barber of Seville, this time starring Emily D’Angelo as Rosina. There are eight performances running to February 7th.
. Sunday 26th at 2pm there’s a concert in the Mazzoleni Songmasters series. It’s called Sirens and features Leslie Ann Bradley, Allyson McHardy and Rachel Andrist in a suitably watery and alluring program.
Yesterday’s lunchtime concert in the RBA was the last for the year in the vocal series and featured members of the Ensemble Studio. Rachael Kerr was scheduled to do about half the accompanying but illness prevented her from playing so some hasty reprogramming meant that what we got differed somewhat from the printed programme but it was still a very well put together effort.