Celebrating R. Murray Schafer

schaferSunday, at Grace Church on the Hill, Soundstreams presented Celebrating R. Murray Schafer.  It felt like a cross between a concert and a memorial service.  There were no prayers but there were eulogies and Eleanor James drew the parallel between Schafer’s sources of inspiration and Pentecost; that feast of the Church having been chosen deliberately for the event.

There was lots of music of course.  The afternoon was bookended by two of Schafer’s ceremonial wilderness pieces for voice and trumpet.  Meghan Lindsay and Michael Fedyshyn welcomed us with the Aubade for Two Voices and bid us farewell with Departure.  Both were made the more haunting from the performers being out of sight.  Choir 21 with conductor David Fallis sang two sets.  First came the three hymns from The Fall into Light which appropriately set texts drawn from the Manichaean tradition.  There was some wonderfully precise singing here.  The second set was perhaps more light hearted with Epitaph for Moonlight which was written for amateur performance and the playful Fire which, besides singing, involves banging rocks together.

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Lovesongs

Soundstreams’ on-line concert, Lovesongs, recorded in Koerner Hall and streamed (access codes are PWYC, min $7) features three works; two by and one “in homage” to Claude Vivier with an intro by Lawrence Cherney and David Fallis who conducts on the first and third pieces.

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Angel

Opera Atelier’s new film Angel premiered last night.  It consists of six scenes which, we are told, can be performed as a sequence or individually.  There’s a basic theme of “angels” and the texts are drawn from Milton and Rilke (in translation).  The score is by Edwin Huizinga and Christopher Bagan with some of the dance music being actual baroque works.

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Two Odysseys

Soundstreams last night presented an intriguing double bill of works in Indigenous languages on Indigenous themes at, appropriately, the Daniels Spectrum.  First up was Pimoteewin; music by Melissa Hui, words by Tomson Highway.  This piece uses English narration with the singing in Cree.  It tells the story of the Trickster and the Eagle going to find out where people go when they die.  To quote him “Why are my people always disappearing like this?” The Trickster’ tries unsuccessfully to bring the spirits back to the land of the living and finally realises that that’s not such a good idea.  Musically it had almost a liturgical or meditative quality with a lot of fairly hushed choral singing behind strong solo performances by Bud Roach and Melody Courage.

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Frustrating Idomeneo

Opera Atelier’s current production of Mozart’s Idomeneo is frustrating, especially given their recent run of good form.  It, unfortunately, combines a fussy, rather pointless production with histrionic antics and uneven singing.  It’s just not good enough.

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Opera Atelier 2019/20

Opera Atelier has announced its 2019/20 season.  As usual there are two main stage shows.  The first is a revival of their 2011 production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni.  It runs from October 31st to November 9th, 2019, in the Ed Mirvish Theatre.  It’s a production that plays up the comedy and the elements of the commedia dell’arte in the piece while pretty much eschewing anything deeper or darker.  The cast includes Douglas Williams as the Don with Stephen Hegedus as Leporello, Colin Ainsworth, as Don Ottavio, Meghan Lindsay as Donna Anna, Carla Huhtanen as Donna Elvira, Mireille Asselin as Zerlina, Olivier Laquerre as Masetto, and Gustav Andreassen as Commendatore. beautiful Ed Mirvish Theatre.  David Fallis conducts.

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Actéon et Pygmalion

Opera Atelier’s french double header opened last night at the Elgin Theatre.  It was, bar the occasional twist, classic Opera Atelier.  They presented two French baroque operas in their distinctive style with a little humour and none of the excesses that have sometimes crept in.

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Ending with a beginning

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David Fallis

David Fallis’ last show after 28 years as Artistic Director of the Toronto Consort is, perhaps appropriately, the earliest opera in the repertoire; Monteverdi’s Orfeo.  The first performance of three was last night at Trinity St. Paul’s.  It’s a concert performance with surtitles and some interesting orchestration.  The expected strings and woodwinds are supplemented here by the sackbuts and cornettos of Montreal based La Rose des Vents as well as triple harp and an assortment of keyboards including, I think, two different organs. Continue reading

Looking ahead to June

Orfeo-Website-ImageJune is kind of quiet but first there’s yet another show to mention for the busy last weekend of May.  David Fallis is conducting his last performances as Music Director of the Toronto Consort.  It’s Monteverdi’s Orfeo and it’s at Trinity St. Pauls at 8pm on the 25th and 26th and 3.30pm on the 27th.  Besides David it features Charles Daniels in the title role, Kevin Skelton as Apollo, Laura Pudwell as Messagiera with Jeanne Lamon on first violin plus Montreal’s premier cornetto and sackbut ensemble La Rose des Vents.

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Assorted news and signal boosts

genderneutralHere’s the news that’s arrived in my inbox this week.

Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts announced that from 2019 the DORA awards will be gender neutral.  In categories where there has traditionally been “Best Performance by a Male” and “Best Performance by a Female” there will now be a single “Best Performance” award.

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