Last night’s TSO program, conducted by Gustavo Gimeno, kicked off with three short pieces by Canadian composers. All were impressive. The first two; Adam Scime’s A Dream of Refuge and Bekah Simms’ Bite are reflections (to some at extent at least) on the pandemic. The Scime piece is lighter and brighter. There is uncertainty there but ultimately it seems to speak of hope. The Simms piece wis much darker with heavy percussion and blaring brass. A sense of uncertainty permeates the string writing. It’s quite disturbing. Roydon Tse’s Unrelenting Sorrow was written for those who have lost loved ones. It’s quite melodic and has strong contrasts between dramatic and more lyrical passages. Sorrowful perhaps but not unrelentingly so.
To Roy Thomson Hall last night for the first time in over two years to see Gustavo Gimeno conduct (my first time) with Barbara Hannigan featuring in a major premiere in the first half. The concert kicked off with a 3 minute piece by Julia Mermelstein; in moments, into bloom. It was over too quickly to register much of an impression with me. I certainly enjoyed the Stravinsky Scherzo fantastique that followed. This seems to be Gimeno’s type of music and he had excellent control of rhythm, dynamics and colour which augured well for The Firebird coming up after the interval.
As we head into summer, as usual, things start to quieten down. I only have five shows in my schedule for the month of June:
June 2nd, 4th and 5th Toronto City Opera are presenting Cavalleria Rusticana at the Fleck Dance Theatre. It’s the usual TCO format; piano accompaniment, amateur chorus, young professional soloists. Jennifer Tung conducts.
June 2nd, 3rd, 4th at &.30pm at the Canadian Opera Company Theatre it’s the latest iteration of Teiya Kasahara’s The Queen in Me. It looks like this time it may be with small ensemble rather than just piano. There’s a promo video on the COC’s Youtube channel.
June 3rd to 10th (preview June 2nd) at Crow’s Theatre it’s Maxime Beauregard-Martin’s Singulières; a play about “single ladies” in Quebec. It’s in French with English surtitles (and/or 3D glasses).
June 5t at 4pm at Grace Church on the Hill, Soundstreams are presenting a homage to the late R. Murray Schaefer. This one is free but registration is required.
June 15th, 16th, 18th and 19th at 8pm at Roy Thomson Hall the TSO are presenting Beethoven’s ninth symphony with an impressive line up of soloists including Rihab Chaieb. It’s coupled with three short premiers including a piece by Adam Scime.
That’s about it until Toronto Summer Music opens on July 7th.
There’s a fair number of shows appearing at fairly short notice as people scramble to adapt to relaxing regulations so this post will contain events for April not previously noted plus a look forward to May.
April 26th at 7.30 pm Likht Ensemble have a free Holocaust Remembrance Day concert at Mazzoleni Hall.
April 28th at 8pm at St. Andrews on King St. Soundstreams are reprising the Vivier Lovesongs concert that was done as a stream last fall.
April 29th at 7.30pm at 918 Bathurst The Happenstancers have a concert featuring music by Julia Wolfe, Nahre Sol, Kaija Saariaho, Gyorgy Kurtag, Oliver Knussen, and WA Mozart.
The annus horribilis of 2021 seems to be going out with a whimper rather than a bang; at least musically in Toronto. Much of the streamed content on offer consists of repeats which is, I suppose, a holiday tradition. In this category we could include Against the Grain’s Messiah:Complex showing on Youtube and at TIFF and Essential Opera’s December. There’s still some new stuff appearing. Opera Revue have a rather good short piece about the exorbitant cost of aviaries in Toronto on Youtube. (They also have a live show coming up this weekend at the Emmett Ray. The COC have a show I(n Winter coming up this weekend on the COC web site featuring music by, among others, Vivaldi and Ian Cusson. There are also a couple of very short concerts from the RBA on the COC’s Youtube channel. Also, this year the annual Krehm memorial concert in aid of St. Mike’s ICU is on Youtube at 5.30pm on Boxing Day. Rachel Krehm is singing Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen in the Schoenberg arrangement and that will be followed by a chamber reduction of Beethovens Symphony No.7. Evan Mitchell conducts the Canzona Chamber Players. For live, Tafelmusik have a sort of Christmas “greatest hits” concert and the TSO have a much shortened Messiah. Apart from that the holiday season is looking like booze and booster shots.
Still not a whole lot going on and much of what is, is at short notice so it misses posts like this. But, here’s what’s in my diary for October so far.
September 30th to October 17th. Mistatim; a streamed version of the Rsd Sky/TSO collaboration for young people presented by Crow’s Theatre. Streaming codes are $20 from the Crow’s box office.
October 14th 8pm. Soundstreams presents RBC Bridges Showcase; six short choral works by young composers. It’s on-line and free and available for a month. Register here.
October 15th, 7.30pm. The annual IRCPA Encounter concert with ten young singers and Rachel Andrist at the piano. It’s being broadcast from Zoomer Hall, presumably w/o a live audience. It’s free at Classical 96.3 FM, and at http://classicalfm.ca.
October 24th at 3pm. The Dover Quartet at Koerner Hall in a programme that includes Barber’s Dover Beach. There are in-person tickets and live stream codes available. The pricing structure is complex so check out rcmusic.ca for details.
October 29th (subscriber/donors) and 30th (plebs) at 7.30pm. The COC is streaming Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi from the Four Seasons Centre. The stream will be “on-demand” for at least a month and is free.
Faint signs of something approaching normality are in the air. Following on from the TSO’s season announcement which promises shows with a live audience (unknown terms and conditions apply), Toronto Summer Music has announced that concerts in the third week of the festival will also have live listeners (as well as live streaming). There’s a lineup of nineteen concerts at Grace Church on the Hill and tickets are on sale now at $50/each.
Against the Grain’s Messiah/Complex is a rewarding, actually quite fascinating, piece of work. It’s condensed to around 80 minutes but most of the well known numbers feature in some form. Each takes the form of a filmed vignette filmed somewhere in Canada. Some locations are urban, some are very much not; from David Pecaut Square to the high Arctic. Twelve soloists and a number of different choirs are used. Some pieces are sung in the original English but five other languages are also used. The non-English pieces are not translations in fact they subvert Charles Jennens’ theology in some really interesting ways. The TSO (or at least a bit of it) conducted by Johannes Debus provides the accompaniment. The performances are good, the filming is excellent and the technical quality is first rate. You can watch it for yourself at this link.
Pretty major announcements from both the COC and the TSO recently; the COC’s reinforced with an on-line Q&A with Alexander Neef last night. The substance of the COC announcement is that the fall season (Parsifal and Marriage of Figaro) is cancelled along with all other in-person performances for the rest of 2020. Parsifal has been rescheduled for the fall season 2022. At this point the rest of the 2020/21 season is still on. Officially at least. However Alexander made it pretty clear that the Four Seasons Centre won’t be reopened until they can sell at least the bulk of the seats which would mean the end of social distancing. I don’t see that happening until a Covid-19 vaccine is generally available and can’t imagine that being soon enough to save the winter season and maybe not the spring season either. Meanwhile the COC is looking at its virtual options.
Yesterday I received seven assorted emails about cancellations in Toronto plus news from the Metropolitan Opera. Essentially all the major orchestras and music theatre organisations in Toronto are shuttered until at least the end of the month. Events are also being called off elsewhere so check your location situation. Here’s a quick run down:
The Four Seasons Centre is closed until the end of the first week of April. So, the ballet is off, as is the free concert series. The COC is still planning to run its spring season but we’ll see.
Tafelmusik and the TSO have cancelled performances until the end of the month.
After tomorrow the UoT and the Conservatory are cancelling public events until the end of the month.
Tapestry Songbook on March 21st is sort of cancelled. There will be no live audience but the show will be live streamed at 8pm and the performers are being paid. Go Tapestry!
Amici Chamber Ensemble’s show on the 29th is off.
The Metropolitan Opera is closed so no Live in HD but they are doing free nightly web casts of the HD back catalogue. Details here.