The final concert of this year’s Toronto Bach Festival at Saint Barnabas Anglican Church featured two of the little performed Latin masses written for Leipzig (or possibly for Count Franz Anton von Sporck of Lysá. Sources vary). In any event they are unusual for liturgical music. Based on previously written cantatas for the most part, they incorporate elements not much seen in church music.
The fourth annual Toronto Bach Festival runs May 24th to 26th. There are four concerts and a lecture. Here’s the line up:
Friday, May 24th at 8pm – Brandenburg Five
The program includes two cantatas: the early Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn, and Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn, plus Julia Wedman as soloist in Bach’s Concerto in A minor for violin. A brilliant night of illuminating music. Soloists for the cantatas are Hélène Brunet, Daniel Taylor, Nick Veltmeyer and Joel Allison. John Abberger directs the Toronto Bach Festival Orchestra.
I’m not sure that I had ever heard anything by Heinrich Schütz before this afternoon but I’m glad that I have now. His St. John Passion formed the first half of the closing concert of the Toronto Bach Festival at St. Barnabas on the Danforth this afternoon. Written in 1666, towards the end of his life ,it’s steeped in the Lutheran tradition. There’s no orchestra. The main burden of the Gospel is taken by the Evangelist as narrator in a style not very far from the Anglican traditional style of singing metrical psalms. The emphasis is on the text; indeed on The Word. Members of the chorus contribute in similar style as Jesus, Pilate and so on. The narrative is interspersed with polyphonic choruses with sparse organ accompaniment perhaps hinting at an even older tradition where the meaning of the words mattered less.
Here’s the news that’s arrived in my inbox this week.
Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts announced that from 2019 the DORA awards will be gender neutral. In categories where there has traditionally been “Best Performance by a Male” and “Best Performance by a Female” there will now be a single “Best Performance” award.
There have been quite a few announcements in the last couple of weeks or so. Here’s what’s coming up.
Essential Opera is back after a hiatus. They are doing a single performance of Gianni Schicchi at 3pm on April 22nd at the Toronto Centre for the Arts (the one up near the Arctic Circle). Kevin Mallon conducts the Toronto Orchestra with a really good line up of soloists.
21C is back from May 23rd to 27th with a varied lineup. Perhaps the most interesting concert from a vocal point of view is vocal ensemble Vox Clamantis with violinist and singer Maarja Nuut and electronic music composer Hendrik Kaljujärv in works by Arvo Pärt, David Lang, and Helena Tulve. The concert is presented in partnership with Estonian Music Week and it’s on the 26th at 8pm.
Here’s a summary of the upcoming Toronto events I’ve been made aware of recently. Both the TSO and the RCM have announced their contemporary music festivals. 21C at the conservatory runs from May 24th to 28th. The opening concert features Johannes Debus with the COC Orchestra, Andrew Haji and Emily D’Angelo and the Elmer Iseler Singers. The program includes two pieces by Brian Current: his The Seven Heavenly Halls in its Ontario premiere and Nàaka (Northern Lights) its world premiere. The two works are part of a six movement work, entitled River of Light, which traces creation myths from six different cultures. This concert also includes works by Unsuk Chin, Samy Moussa and Matthew Aucoin. Then on the following night the Canadian Art Song Project has a concert of works by Canadian composers Andrew Staniland’s Peter Quince at the Clavier (Ontario premiere), Lloyd Burritt’s Moth Poem (Ontario premiere), and Ana Sokolović’s Dawn Always Begins in the Bones, CASP’s new commission to celebrate Canada 150. The singers, drawn from the COC Ensemble Studio will be Danika Lorèn (soprano), Emily D’Angelo (mezzo-soprano), Aaron Sheppard (tenor), Bruno Roy (baritone), Iain MacNeil (baritone), with Mélisande Sinsoulier and Liz Upchurch on piano. The Festival closes on May 28th with a Soundstreams concert; The Music of Unsuk Chin. The program includes her Cantatrix Sopranica, a playful exploration of the act of singing for two sopranos, countertenor, and ensemble featuring Carla Huhtanen, and “The Caterpillar,” an excerpt from her opera, Alice in Wonderland. Also included are two works by Chris Paul Harman; It’s All Forgotten Now (world premiere) and Love Locked Out. In between there’s lots more interesting looking instrumental stuff too. More details here. Continue reading →