The 2018/19 free concert series in the RBA has been announced. It includes the 1000th concert in the series which is pretty amazing. There’s the usual mix of vocal, chamber/instrumental, jazz, world music and dance. Concerts that particularly caught my eye include:
- October 9th 2018: Ensemble Studio; Best of Rossini
- October 25th 2018: Simone McIntosh and Rachael Kerr with Messiaen’s Harawi; Songs of Love and Death. This may be the highlight of the whole season.
- December 11th 2018: Against the Grain Retro
- January 29th 2019: Michael Schade (tenor), Marie Bérard (violin) and Michael Shannon (piano); Homage to McCormack and Kreisler
- February 11th 2019: The Louis and Christina Quilico Prize Competition (this one is at 5.30pm)
- March 5th 2019: Ian Cusson (piano/composer ),Marion Newman and Marjorie Maltais (mezzo-sopranos); Le Récital des Anges: Songs of Ian Cusson
- May 14th 2019: Miriam Khalil (soprano) Topher Mokrzewski (piano);1001 Nights:Tales from the East
- May 22nd 2019: Canadian Art Song Project with Michael Colvin and Stephen Philcox.
There are plenty of concerts by the Ensemble Studio including the annual collaboration with L’Atelier Lyrique and farewell concerts from Samuel Chan, Stephane Mayer and Lauren Eberwein. Visiting artists include Oleg Tsibulko, Helene Schneidermann, Susan Bullock, Angel Blue and Andriana Chuchman. There’s loads more of course. Full line up here. All concerts at noon unless otherwise indicated.
Yom HaShoah; the Day of Remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust (and maybe the survivirs are victims in their own way too) started at sunset last night. Earlier in the day Sara Schabas, Laura D’Angelo and Geoffrey Conquer presented a concert of Holocaust related music in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.
Here’s what’s coming up in the first part of March. Thursday 1st is Opera Pub Night at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club at 9pm. On Friday March 9th Soundstreams are presenting Tan Dun’s Water Passion at Trinity St. Paul’s at 8pm. On Wednesday 14th and Friday 16th the Glenn Gould School is presenting Die Fledermaus in a production by Joel Ivany. That’s at 7.30pm in Koerner Hall. It’s a good looking cast and recommended. Thursday 15th through Sunday 18th the UoT Opera is presenting Gershwin’s Of Thee I Sing in the MacMillan Theatre. The production is by Michael Patrick Albano and start times are 7.30pm except for Sunday at 2.30pm.
The full Ensemble Studio was on display yesterday for an all Russian lunchtime concert. First up was Megan Quick with a couple of Rachmaninov songs. Megan’s timbre is very dark and it seems to be a natural fit for those Russian vowels. She was followed by Bruno Roy with a couple of Tchaikovsky numbers. He’s come on a lot in his time in the Studio. There’s some heft to the voice now and some quite impressive top notes. Good stuff.
Yesterday’s lunchtime recital in the RBA featured Claire de Sévigné and Rachel Andrist with Huw Montague Rendall chipping in with readings. The theme, naturally enough, was Love. It was a carefully curated program taking us through Passion, The Bond, Pain, Memory and, finally, The Truth. Along the way we got Poulenc, Fauré and Debussy; Wolf and Liszt; Schubert and Schumann; even some Strauss and Weill before The Truth was revealed in English language texts set by Hughes, Previn, Copland and Bridge. Make of that last what you will.
Most opera singers come to the profession through fairly well defined pathways; music degree, post graduate degree or conservatory training, young artists program, and so on. Occasionally one comes across someone with a very different background. The English (well Scouse) mezzo Jennifer Johnston read law and practiced at the bar before becoming a professional singer. Burkhard Fritz studied medicine before committing to singing. Yesterday Mexican-American tenor Joshua Guerrero, in town to sing the Duke of Mantua, used his lunchtime recital in the RBA to tell us his story in words and music.
To the Four Season’s Centre last night to check out one of the COC’s adult education events. This time it was about the baritone voice in all its aspects and featured Liz Upchurch at the piano and, mostly, doing the talking with Ensemble Studio members Sam Chan and Bruno Roy plus ES graduate Neil Craighead back in Toronto to sing Ceprano (not soprano) in Rigoletto doing some singing.
Besides the singing, of which more later, I think there were two takeaways from the evening though it was not actually divided up that way. One, fascinating, dealt with the development of the voice and the sheer number of years it takes for bigger voices to more or less grow up. Also, how do you develop and stretch the voice while staying vocally healthy. Neil is 34 and his voice is really just beginning to get where one can see it going, which is likely big to very big. Sam and Bruno, much younger, are still going through the process of figuring out what Fach (see below) they really are. This seems to happen to everyone except maybe genuine basses, high sopranos and the really obvious tenors. It was pretty cool for instance to heat Bruno sing a tenor aria though not, of course, something like Pour mon âme.