Last night’s concert at Trinity Saint Paul’s by the Amici Ensemble and friends. was titled From Strauss to the Orient. Unsurprisingly, the first half of the concert was Strauss. The first piece was the Duett Concertino for clarinet, bassoon, strings and harp; arranged by Serouj Kradjian with piano replacing harp. Besides the Amicis (Serouj – piano, Joaquin Valdepeñas – clarinet and David Hetherington – cello) were guests Kathleen Kajioka and Timothy Ying – violins, Barry Shiffman – viola, David Lalonde – bass and Michael Sweeney – bassoon. It’s an interesting piece. The clarinet and bassoon basically carry on a conversation across three movements with the strings and piano as a sort of “backing band”. The overlapping ranges but very different colours of the two woodwind instruments are both pleasing and intriguing. It was nicely done. It’s always a delight to watch a chamber ensemble that is obviously communicating and having fun!
Confluence Concerts’ show last night at Heliconian Hall was titled A Woman’s Voice. It was, after a fashion, a CD release concert in two halves. The first half featured music by Alice Ping Yee Ho from the album A Woman’s Voice and featuring the same performers; Vania Chan, Katy Clark, Alex Hetherington, Maeve Palmer and Jialiang Zhu. I’ve already reviewed the album and I don’t think last night changed my opinion much so I’ll not do a detailed rundown. What I can say is that last night it was mostly opera excerpts; Lesson of Da Ji, Chinatown, The Imp of the Perverse, and a live concert gave an opportunity for a bit of staging which was definitely an enhancement, especially in The Imp of the Perverse scene. “Café Chit Chat” and “Black” also benefitted from visual interaction between the singers. I like the CD a lot. Getting a chance to see some of the music live was great. Continue reading →
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.
A Woman’s Voice is a record with 84 minutes of music for female voices and piano by Alice Ping Yee Ho. It’s a mixture of songs and excerpts from operas and a plkay. All but one track feature Toronto based artists who include no less than three Norcop prize winners. Overall, I found the songs more fun to listen to than the opera excerpts though they were interesting in their own way too and I’m seriously intrigued by a couple of them that I haven’t seen but now want to.
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 →
Yesterday saw the pre-recorded webstream of the annual recital by the winners of the Norcop Song Prize and the Kodolfsky Prize in accompanying. The winners; mezzo Alex Hetherington and pianist Dakota Scott-Digout had put together a well curated and ambitious programme.
It’s Norcop Prize time. On March 11th at 1.10pm there will be a pre-recorded recital by mezzo-soprano Alex Hetherington and pianist Dakota Scott-Digout, this year’s recipients of the Jim and Charlotte Norcop Prize in Song and Gwendolyn Williams Koldofsky Prize in Accompanying. Free on the UoT Music Youtube channel. I shall miss watching it with Jim N!
It should also be time for UoT Opera’s spring performance. Last year, their Mansfield Park (March 13th) was my last pre-plague live show. This years festival of one act operas has been postponed and will now be streamed on April 22nd to 25th.
Tapestry Opera’s original 2019/20 season was to have included a remount of Gareth Williams’ and Anna Chatterton’s Rocking Horse Winner which premiered to positive reviews in May 2016. This is quite unusual as all too often, new Canadian operas, even the successful ones pretty much disappear after an initial run. Needless to say the staged show didn’t happen but, happily, Tapestry decided to make an audio recording instead.
Three of the four principals from 2016; Asitha Tennekoon, Keith Klassen and Peter McGillivray reprise their original roles while Lucia Cesaroni replaces Carla Huhtanen as Ava. This time around the house is represented by Midori Marsh, Alex Hetherington, Stephen Bell and Korin Thomas-Smith.
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!.