It being Holocaust Remembrance Week it was entirely appropriate that Tuesday’s lunchtime concert in the RBA was given by the Likht Ensemble of Jaclyn Grossman, soprano, and Nate Ben-Horin, piano. The material was mostly drawn from music written/collected at either Theresienstadt or in the ghettos of Lithuania.
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.
Tuesday’s lunchtime concert in the RBA was a really well thought out programme by two of the prize winners from last year’s Montreal International Music Competition; soprano Meredith Wolgemuth and pianist Jinhee Park. The first set was a nicely characterised version of the quite varied Grieg Sechs Lieder op.48. Most of these are fairly sentimental German Romantic texts but Meredith and Jinhee injected lightness and humour where it was appropriate in, for instance, “Lauf der Welt”.
Yesterday’s RBA concert was an intriguing mix of music and poetry presented by soprano Zi Xin Emily Lapin (soprano), Jialiang Zhu (piano) and Kathryn Knowles (polymath with her poet on). It was a carefully curated programme and it featured surtitles throughout (major bonus points for that).
The 2021/22 winner of the Wirth Vocal prize at McGill’s Schulich Schoolof Music is Innu soprano Elisabeth Saint-Gelais. She performed in the RBA at noon on Wednesday, accompanied by Louise Pelletier. It was impressive. She has power to burn and a rather lovely voice and, not so common among young dramatic sopranos, considerable control across her registers. She also displayed considerable linguistic skill in French, German and Czech though I’m completely unqualified to comment on the quality of her Anishinabe.
Yesterday the Ensemble Studio put on a really nicely curated tribute to Pauline Viardot. Viardot was a singer, pianist, composer and muse who was enormously influential in music circles in paris in the middle years of the 19th century. She came from a famous musical family and was the younger sister of Maria Malibran. Her own work is little performed today although the Royal Conservatory did her Cendrillon in 2016.
I’ve been enjoying some of the fusions of classical Western and Persian music created by people like Afarin Mansouri so I took advantage of a free concert at the Four Seasons Centre to take in some actual Persian classical music. It was a mixed bag of traditional, composed and improvised music and included both songs and instrumentals. It was interesting and enjoyable.
Yesterday’s free concert in the RBA featured the vocalist Rebanks fellows from the Glenn Gould School. There was some very classy and very powerful singing. We heard Hannah Crawford, fresh off her second place at Centre Stage, sing a couple of arias; “Pleurez, plearez mes yeux” from Masenet’s Le Cid and “Come Scoglio” from Cosí. There was some very considerable power on display here as well as accuracy and emotion. Definitely one to watch.