It’s almost time for the Toronto Summer Music Festival 2021. This year it runs July 15th to August 1st. The bad news is that, like last year, it’s virtual. The good news is that it’s all free and, as always, there’s some excellent stuff. The full line up and details of how to access the streams are here.
The highlight for me will be Adrianne Pieczonka and Steven Philcox in a recital featuring Purcell’s “Music for a While”, selected lieder by Clara Schumann, a selection of melodies by Fauré, “Hermit Songs” by Samuel Barber, and selections of works by George Gershwin. That’s on Tuesday, July 20th at 7:30 pm.
So far no word on the line up for the Regeneration concerts but I guess I won’t miss spending three summer Saturdays alternating between a freezing Walter Hall and a scorching Philosopher’s Walk. It will feel quite civilised to dip into the Regen stuff as and when.
Yesterday was the one vocal element in this year’s virtual Toronto Summer Music; a recital streamed from the Burlington Arts Centre by mezzo Ema Nikolovska and pianist Steven Philcox. I think this was quite the best on-line event I have seen/heard since this schmozzle started. It started off with a master class in German Lieder singing. There were three Beethoven and three Schubert songs and they were just lovely. Ema’s voice is a lovely rich mezzo and she showed great expression and attention to the text backed up by perfect diction. Steven, as ever, was an exemplary accompanist.
Toronto Summer Music have announced their revised “virtual” schedule. Alas most of the vocal music is gone but there is plenty of interesting looking chamber music with, of course, a Beethoven focus. It runs July 16th to August 1st and it’s all free. The full schedule is here.
The one vocal recital features mezzo Ema Nikolovska with Steven Philcox in an interesting and varied programme. It airs on July 31st from noon to 2pm. The programme is here.
I wanted to listen to Robert Fleming’s song cycle The Confession Stone today but I didn’t appear to have a recording in my strangely eclectic collection of physical and digital recordings. There’s nothing either on any of the umpty ump labels distributed by Naxos USA (lucky me has pretty much unlimited access tot heir digital catalogue) so off I went to YouTube. And I found a lovely recording by the talented duo of Wallis Giunta and Steven Philcox. Enjoy.
Monica Whicher has the happy knack of being able to put together interesting and appropriate programmes. Last night’s Remembrance Day concert at Walter hall, with co-conspirators Steven Philcox and Marie Bérard was no exception. It ran about an hour and a quarter without intermission or interruption which created a kind of hushed intensity appropriate to the occasion.
September starts the slow ramp up to the new season. The first thing in my calendar is Mysterious Barricades on September 14th from 1pm to 2pm in Walter Hall. This is a series of coast to coast, dawn to dusk concerts in aid of Suicide Awareness. Russell Braun, Monica Whicher and Nathalie Paulin are all involved. It’s free but ticketed. Check the link for details.
Last night’s Toronto Summer Music concert at the Church of the redeemer was headlined by Daniel Taylor, Charles Daniels and Steven Philcox but, somewhat to my surprise, also featured multiple fellows from both the art song and chamber music programmes.
The “headliners” kicked things off with Britten’s canticle Abraham and Isaac, based on one of the Chester Mystery Plays. I thought I knew this piece but soon realised I was confusing it with the setting of Owen’s The Parable of the Old Man and the Young in the War Requiem! It’s an interesting piece with a very medieval Catholic take on an Old Testament story. It was performed here with the delicacy and attention to detail I’d expect from these performers.
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.
This year’s Canadian Art Song Project commission is a setting of poems by EJ Pratt by Dean Burry entitled Sea Variations. It was given its first performance yesterday in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre by Michael Colvin and Stephen Philcox. The texts all deal with the moods of the sea and seem curiously archaic for the 1920s when they were written. They are much more reminiscent of, say, Matthew Arnold than Yeats, let alone Eliot. They have a certain power though and anybody who knows the North Atlantic will easily appreciate why they might appeal to fellow Newfoundlander Burry.
The Vocalis series from the UoT’s graduate students tends to fly under the radar a bit. Perhaps because it’s usually lost in the abundance of free university linked concerts in Walter Hall. Sunday night’s performance though was at the Extension Room; always an interesting venue, with more room for actor/singers to move around and interact with the audience. The theme was Mother Earth, and our responsibility to nurture the planet that nurtures us. Coal Barons and Big Oil can switch off now.