Back to the RBA

midoriIn 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

As the season ramps up…

fallintoLooking ahead to the next few weeks:

  • From September 11th to 25th Crow’s Theatre has a show; The Shape of Home: Songs in Search of Al Purdy.  This is a sort of staged song cycle exploring the words and ideas of “Canada’s unofficial poet laureate”.
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Voices of Mountains

The COC’s latest on-line offering is now available on-line.  It’s called Voices of Mountains and the video is just shy of an hour long.  Only about half of that is music though.  The rest is introductions, artist statements and a 10 minute piece about the Land Acknowledgement installation created for the lobby of the Four Season Centre by Rebecca Cuddy and Julie McIsaac.  It looks very interesting but, of course, one can’t visit it.

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Into March

MansfieldParkImage-e1563379878710March is looking a bit thin right now.  Both UoT Opera and the Glenn Gould School have shows though.  From the 12th to the 15th in the MacMilan Theatre (7.30pm, Sunday 2.30pm) the university is doing Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park in a production by Tim Albery.  I’m not familiar with this work but generally I’ve been very impressed with Dove’s vocal music.  Casting etc is here.  On the 18th and 20th the GGS is putting on Ravel’s L’heure espagnole and Puccini’s Suor Angelica which is certainly an unusual pairing.  The double bill plays at Koerner Hall at 7.30pm.  Casting and creative team details are here.  UoT also have a show on the 27th at 5pm in Walter Hall called Parlami d’Amore.  In non university gigs, Tapestry Songbook X is at the Ernest Balmer Studio on the 20th at 8pm.

In free events there are a couple of noon hour concerts in the RBA.  On the 17th the Ensemble Studio have a March Break “Opera for All Ages” concert and on the 31st transgender soprano Brianna Sinclair is appearing.  And of course there’s Opera Pub in its usual time and place on the 5th.

Brandon Cedel in the RBA

Yesterday’s RBA concert was at the unusual hour of 5.30pm and featured bass-baritone Brandon Cedel with Sandra Horst at the piano.  It was a nicely balanced programme.  Cedel began with Purcell’s Arise, ye subterranean winds from The Tempest.  It’s one of those very Purcellian arias for low voice that feature long, not especially fast runs and put a lot of demands on the singer’s technique.  Cedel’s is very solid.  He can shape a line too and his English diction is excellent.  There was some particular fine playing from Sandra Horst here too.

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Bob Becker

Yesterday’s lunchtime concert in the RBA consisted of four pieces for voice, tuned percussion and assorted other instruments by percussionist and composer Bob Becker.  Apparently the tonal palette for all four was taken from the North Indian rag; Rag Chandrakosh.  This is the sort of information I wouldn’t even be able to process without the help of the Wunderlemur.

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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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Looking ahead to February

dlorenFebruary always seems to be a busy month and the first half is shaping up that way.  Things kick off on the 1st with the Sellars staging of di Lassus’ Lagrime di San Pietro at Koerner.  On the 3rd Danika Lorèn is curating a concert at Heliconian for UoT Music.  It’s called A Few Figs from Thistles, it’s at 7.30pm and it’s free.  We are promised new songs by Danika based on poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Tekahionwake (E. Pauline Johnson) and Lorna Crozier.

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Marcel d’Entremont in the RBA

The 2018 Wirth Song Prize winner tenor Marcel d’Entremont gave the customary recital in the RBA at noon yesterday accompanied by Dakota Scott-Digout.  It was an interesting choice of material; nicely balanced between old and new worlds.  He started with Ravel’s Cinq mélodies populaires grecques.  I guess these set the tone for the recital.  Marcel has a very operatic voice.  It’s big with quite a lot of vibrato.  The Ravel was loud but nicely characterized and sung in perfect French.  He followed up with a rousing. but not overly subtle, Kuda, kuda.   I was beginning to find things a bit one dimensional.

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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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