Here’s what I’m looking forward to in February plus a few gigs I can’t make:
February 1st and 2nd the Chicago Symphony and Riccardo Muti are performing at Koerner Hall. It’s a rare opportunity to hear a top orchestra in the wonderful Koerner acoustic but it’s probably sold out already.
On February 3rd the COC opens a run of Richard Strauss’ Salome with Ambur Braid in the title role and a stellar supporting cast. Hard core Braid fans (and that includes me) know that this is a role she was born to sing. It’s an Atom Egoyan production and he’ll likely tweak it but here’s a link to my review of the 2013 run.
February 6th sees the return of the Quilico Awards; a competition for the singers of the Ensemble Studio. That’s at 5.30pm in the RBA and it’s free.
The 21C Festival gave us new works by Ian Cusson and Stewart Goodyear yesterday afternoon. The first half of the programme was three works by Ian Cusson inspired by paintings by Hieronymus Bosch. The first was The Garden of Earthly Delights scored for piano and violin and played by Duo Concertante (Timothy Steeves and Nancy Dahn). Slow melodic, evocative sections are interspersed with livelier, somewhat ecstatic, sections using the upper ranges of the violin extensively. I think it effectively catches the various moods of Bosch’s complex triptych.
Back to the Royal Conservatory; Koerner Hall this time, for more Kronos Quartet last night. It was a bit of a mixed bag. I’m starting to understand that I really enjoy this group when they are doing music; however weird, but not so much when they are preaching.
I suppose it’s fair to say that Philippe Jaroussky is a singer who divides opinion; you either love his light bright “soprano” sound or you prefer something more muscular (Sesto vs. Cesare perhaps). He has a cult following and he knows it. That side of things was very much on display at Koerner Hall last night when he appeared with the Ensemble Artaserse in a programme of arias from18th century Italian opera. It was clear that a goodly section of the audience had travelled from out of town for the concert and knew exactly what to expect. This was exemplified by the three encores leading up to Handel’s “Lascio ch’io pianga” which the hard core fans had been shouting for and weren’t going to go home without hearing!
As part of music director Riccardo Muti’s final tour with the orchestra, the Chicago Symphony is coming to Toronto in February for the first time since 1914. It’s at Koerner too, so it’s a chance to see one of the world’s great orchestras in a really good acoustic. The dates are February 1st and 2nd 2023 and the programmes are:
February 1st: Beethoven Symphony No. 7 and Prokofiev Symphony No. 5
February 2nd: Beethoven Coriolan Overture and Symphony No. 8, Liadov The Enhanted Lake and Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition.
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.
September 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.
September 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.
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.
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.