Last night’s Canadian Art Song Project, part of the Conservatory’s 21C festival, was sold out. Yep, a sold out concert of contemporary Canadian art song not featuring an A-list singer. Clearly Mercury is in retrograde or something. Anyway, the first half of the concert featured baritone Iain MacNeil with one of my favourite collaborative pianists Mélisande Sinsoulier. They gave us Lloyd Burritt’s The Moth Poem to texts by Robin Blaser. This is a basically tonal work with a piano part that I found more interesting than the vocal writing (common enough in contemporary art song). There was some nice delicate singing from Ian and complete mastery of the intricate piano part by Mélisande. Andrew Staniland’s setting of Wallace Stevens’ Peter Quince at the Clavier followed. This is a more ambitious work with quite a complex soundscape and a piano part that requires a range of technique as much of it is written to sound “mechanical” as a nod to the title of the poem. Oddly, despite the title, the text is a rich but highly allusive rendering of the story of Susanna and the Elders and a reminder of how much a really interesting text can enhance a song. I’d like to hear this again.
Having been tipped off that yesterday’s RBA noon concert was to be a vocal recital rather than, as previously billed, a chamber concert I made the trip through the snow to catch it. Three of the Royal Conservatory’s Rebanks fellows were singing with Helen Becqué at the piano and assorted staff and alumni added for the final number. Attendance was a bit sparse perhaps unsurprisingly given the weather and the evident confusion. That was a shame because it was an interesting, varied and well presented concert combining well known works with some much less well known fare.
Tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon Off Centre Music Salon opens its 2016/17 season at 3pm at Trinity St. Paul’s. It’s an all Russian show called Four Seasons or Mother Russia. It will feature songs by Prokofiev’s The Ugly Duckling and songs byTchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff, as well as Arensky’s Piano Trio in D minor (op. 32). The highlight is the Toronto premiere of Valery Gavrilin’s song cycle Seasons inspired by Northern Russian folklore and chanting traditions. Performers include cellist Igor Gefter, pianists Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin, violinist Mark Skazinetky and singers Joni Henson and Ryan Harper.
The amazing Barbara Hannigan is in town next week teaching at the UoT. There are a number of events open to the public and free. Here’s a list:
Tues, Jan 19, 10:30 am, Walter Hall
Lecture – Show and Share: Living and Surviving as a Singing Artist
Tues, Jan 19, 12:10 pm, Walter Hall
Master Class with U of T Opera students – featuring excerpts from the contemporary operatic repertoire centering on The Machine Stops, a new opera by the Faculty’s student composer collective.
Wed, Jan 20, 3:10 pm, Room 330 @ 80 Queen’s Park
Interactive session – Dare to Compare: session with composers, pianists and instrumentalists from U of T’s contemporary music ensemble.
Thu, Jan 21, 12:10 pm, Walter Hall
Master Class with U of T Voice students – featuring songs and chamber music of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Fri, Jan 22, 5 pm, Walter Hall
Concert – Performances by Faculty of Music singers and pianists after their training with Barbara, as well as from Barbara herself with pianist Professor Steven Philcox.
ETA: She’s also appearing with the TSO on Jan 27 and 28 singing Correspondances by Henri Dutilleux. There’s no stopping her!
The Royal Conservatory has now announced the 2015/16 season. The full details plus how to subscribe, buy tickets etc is here. It’s the usual rich mix of music in a wide range of genres. Here are the things I will be looking out for:
April 24th 2016 in Koerner Hall at 3pm there’s a recital by Bryn Terfel with Natalia Katyukova. This is definitely the big name vocal gig of the season.
Last night the line up for this year’s 21C Music festival was announced. The featured composer is Kaija Saariaho and there are plenty of new works on show. I’m just going to run through some of the highlights.
Good heavens it’s March already! There’s lots coming up in the Toronto vocal music scene. This Saturday sees George Benjamin’s Written on Skin in concert performance with the TSO at Roy Thomson Hall. Chris Purves and Barbara Hannigan from the original cast are singing with Bernhard Landauer coming in for Bejun Mehta as the Boy. The composer conducts.