Songs of Travel

The main purpose of yesterday’s RBA concert was to showcase the prodigious talents of the five members of the COC’s Orchestra Academy; Isabel Lago and Ah Young Kim (violins), John Sellick (viola), Mansur Kadirov (cello) and Peter Eratostene (bass).  The first half of the programme was the Allegro from Dvorák’s String Quintet No. 2 in G Major.  This was very nicely done and served as a satisfying prelude to the main event.

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Figaro’s Wedding at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse

Last night saw the first performance of a run of eleven in Against the Grain Theatre’s revival of their 2013 hit Figaro’s Wedding.  It’s essentially the same show.  Director/librettist Joel Ivany has made a number of tweaks and updates but the main differences lie in what the singers bring to their characters.

1_L-R_Alexandra Smither and Bruno Roy, Photo by Taylor Long

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Getting intimate with Figaro and Susanna

rachaelkerrI chatted this morning with Rachael Kerr; music director of Against the Grain’s upcoming Figaro’s Wedding.  I saw the original version back in 2013 and was wondering what might be different this time.  I also wondered whether there might be some insights to be gained by approaching it from the perspective of the music rather than the libretto.  Hence my decision to talk to Rachael rather than other members of the team.

I think I lucked in.  It proved to be a most interesting conversation which ultimately turned on why this would be an engaging show and how that turned on “intimacy”.  So first let’s review the elements of the show: Continue reading

Songbook XL

Tapestry and the COC collaborated for yesterday’s concert in the RBA.  The performers were members of the Ensemble Studio.  The material was a mix of numbers from the Tapestry back catalogue plus a couple of songs by COC composer in residence Ian Cusson.

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Old Songs, New Songs

Yesterday Matthew Cairns and Rachel Kerr performed an unusually wide range of songs in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.  It’s part of Matthew’s prep for his CBC recording session which was part of the prize at last year’s Centre Stage and which will be broadcast in the new year.  They kicked off with a contrasting pair of Duparc song’s.  First came the almost dreamy L’invitation au voyage with it’s arpeggio accompaniment followed by the much more dramatic Le manoir de Rosemonde.  These really set the tone for the recital.  There was power where it was needed but also considerable delicacy from both singer and pianist.

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MIR trio

The MIR trio; Mark Skazintetsky (violin), Igor Gefter (cello) and Rachel Kerr (piano) played a programme of music by Jewish composers in the RBA at noon yesterday.  Most of the music was by contemporary composers but the opening set was the Three Nocturnes of Ernest Bloch.  This is superb music and it was beautifully played.  The first movement; Andante, is quite elegiac but things really kick in with the Andante quieto, which contains a quite lovely melody for the cello before the final Tempestoso which fully lives up to its marking.

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Toronto Summer Music opener

Last night saw the first concert of this year’s Toronto Summer Music Festival.  The theme was “Beyond Borders” with most of the works presented; a mixture of piano, violin and vocal, having been influenced by other cultures/places or written in exile.

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