Truth and Reconciliation at Koerner Hall

Yesterday was the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.  The Royal Conservatory and Koerner Hall marked it with a free concert curated by Denise Bolduc, Mervon Mehta and Sarain Fox who doubled up as an extremely engaging host for the evening.

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A couple more listings…

These two slipped through the cracks:

choralsplendourSeptember 21st at 8pm Soundstreams have a choral concert at Koerner Hall.  It’s called Choral Splendour and features Soundstreams’ Choir 21 with Meghan Lindsey, Rebecca Cuddy, Owen McCausland and Alain Coulombe in a programme of music by Frehner, Pärt and Vivier.  Vivier’s Zipangu will be accompanied by a live dancer and a film created by Michael Greyeyes.

sarainfoxSeptember 30th also at Koerner Hall at 8pm there’s a free concert to commemorate National Truth and Reconciliation Day.  Sarain Fox MCs a mixture of the solemn (testimony from a residential school survivor) and the less solemn (Tomson Highway with excerpts from Songs in the Key of Cree), drumming, dancing and the piano quintet version of Ian Cusson’s Marilyn Dumont songs sung by Rebecca Cuddy with the New Orford Quartet and philip Chiu.  If you haven’t heard these songs you should and if you have, but haven’t heard this arrangement, see them anyway because this is the best version!  This show is free but ticketed and tickets are going superfast.

Inspirations

Last night’s Toronto Summer Music concert at Koerner Hall featured two works played by the TSM Festival Orchestra conducted by Nicolas Ellis .  The first was Keiko Devaux’ Arras.  It’s a sort of tone poem for chamber orchestra.  The base material is drawn from Keiko’s family’s musical and other heritage; agriculture, weaving, plainsong, Buddhist chant, chansons, Japanese-American pop and so on.  Samples are rewoven, looped, distorted etc and mixed to form a “tapestry” (hence the title).  The effect is quite hypnotic and rather soothing though there’s not much to get a “handle” on, which may be the point.

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Inspirations

Toronto Summer Music opened on Thursday night at Koerner Hall with a concert called Inspirations featuring chamber and vocal music drawn from folk influences.  It began with Schumann’s Five Pieces in Folk Style Op. 102 for piano and cello played by Rachael Kerr and Matthew Zalkind.  The folk roots are pretty clear here and since the pieces were written with amateur performance in mind those roots aren’t over elaborated and the result is satisfying.  Not that they got an amateurish performance.  Quite the opposite.

TSM - Opening Night - 7.7.2022 - Photo Caroline Barbier de Reulle

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Anne Sofie von Otter at Koerner Hall

Anne Sofie von Otter DSC_3608 Ewa-Marie RundquistVeteran mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter appeared in recital at Koerner Hall yesterday afternoon with pianist Christopher Berner.  The first part of the programme was some fairly gentle Mozart with some fairly light weight Weckerlin and one long Schubert piece; “Die Viola”.  A short Mozart piano piece rounded out the programme.  It was stylish, enjoyable singing but one felt that both choice of material and method of presentation were being chosen to conserve the voice.  How would things go after the interval when three songs from Winterreise were promised?

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Bryn at Koerner

Almost six years to the day since his last appearance Bryn, now Sir Bryn, Terfel made it back to Koerner hall for a much anticipated recital; this time accompanied by Annabel Thwaite.  The first set, partly setting up a Shakespeare theme for the evening, consisted of four songs by Schubert including “Trinklied” and “An Silvia”.  It was followed by three of the the Quilter Shakespeare settings; “Come Away, Come Away, Death”, “O Mistress Mine” and “Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind”.  The first half concluded with the Vier ernste Gesänge of BrahmsI think it’s fair to say that what we were hearing was not the Bryn that his considerable following in the hall expected.  The artistry of interpretation was still there but something was up with the voice.  It didn’t have the bloom I remembered and in places, especially with high notes, it just wasn’t happening.  Was he a bit under the weather or was it the toll of the years and lots of Wagner?  I don’t know but I really hope it was the former.

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Eden

Last night Joyce DiDonato and il Pomo d’Oro brought their touring show Eden to Koerner Hall.  It’s one of those genre defying shows that’s not especially easy to describe.  Basically it’s a recital of art songs and arias; most of the latter from the 18th century, with chamber orchestra accompaniment.  It’s also staged but not with any obvious narrative.  Rather Joyce interacts with two very large metal hoops which move around and rotate on their axes.  All of this is backed up by John Torres’ complex and sometimes spectacular lighting plot.  Cynics might call it gimmicky but given the difficulty of building the audience for vocal recitals I’m all for trying new things and the audience loved it so I think that’s justification enough.

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RCM 2022/3 sneak peak

koerner-stage-emptyThe Royal Conservatory of Music did a partial reveal of their classical and jazz programming for Koerner Hall in the 2022/3 season.  It’s a pretty typical mx; heavy on piano, strings and chamber music, but there are a few interesting classical vocal concerts.  Here are the highlights:

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Leaping (or not) ahead to March

gloriaThere’s not exactly a flood of events in my calendar for march yet but there are a few.  Running March 1st to 20th at Crow’s Theatre is Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ satirical play Gloria about a Manhattan magazine staff seeking fame and glory as the internet turns the industry upside down.  It’s not an opera but it’s directed by the very talented André Sills which is reason enough for me.

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Stewart Goodyear at Koerner

Yes, a real live concert at Koerner Hall; the first of 2022.  Owing to the current restrictions it was quite a short concert with no interval (although the time it took the stage crew to set up for the second half there could have been!).  The first piece was the premier of Goodyear’s Piano Quintet.  It’s a very complex piece riffing off Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.  Stewart describes it better than I ever could:

“My piano quintet was commissioned by the Penderecki String Quartet (who played it with Stewart last night – JG) and the Canada Council for the Arts. It was composed in 2020 and pays homage to the spirit of Beethoven. The first movement is a passacaglia on the almost atonal eleven-note sequence from the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The second movement is a Ländler, fused with gestures of rhythm and blues and calypso. The third movement is a fast toccata, sampling themes of Beethoven similarly to a hip-hop track. The last movement starts as a lament and ends with a glimmer of hope, the inspiration directly taken from the challenges of the pandemic and the need for Beethoven’s spirit during these tumultuous times.”

It’s a highly virtuosic piece requiring a lot of extended technique from the players and it’s pretty demanding on the listener.  I would need to listen to it a couple more times to really “get” it.

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