Coming up at the Royal Conservatory

Coming up at the Royal Conservatory….

  • March 12th at 8pm.  ARC Ensemble plays Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 and English Songs.  An all Beethoven programme featuring Monica Whicher in the songs.  That’s a free livestream on the Koerner Hall performance page.
  • March 21st at 1pm.  To the Distant Beloved.  Miriam Khalil, Russell Braun and Carolyn Maule perform Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte and a world premiere piece by award-winning Iranian Canadian composer, Afarin Mansouri, commissioned by Canadian Art Song Project.  This one is $10 with tickets/codes available from the RCM box office.

Mandala

Mandala – the Beauty of Impermanence is the latest on-line offering from Confluence Concerts.  It’s curated by Suba Sankaran and should have seen the light as a live show last May.  The programme is as eclectic as one has come to expect from Confluence and lots of fun.  In the spirit of impermanence it will be available on the Confluence channel on Youtube only until February 10th.

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The Passion of Simone

I’m rather suffering from “stream fatigue” right now but once in a while something really worth watching shows up.  I’d put Royal Swedish Opera’s recent performance of Kaija Saariaho’s oratorio La passion de Simone in that category.  It’s a 2006 work with a French libretto by Amin Maalouf dealing with the life and thought of philosopher, social activist and mystic Simone Weil.

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Glenn Gould School double bill

The “postponed from the fall” double bill from the Glenn Gould School finally streamed on the Koerner Hall channel last night. The first piece was likely familiar to most viewers; Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins given in piano score in a production by Amanda Smith. The concept here is that Anna 2, rather than being a dancer, is some kind of on-line celebrity exploiting dating sites to bring her fame and fortune. The production had originally been designed for an audience and used moveable plexi-glass shields to ensure social distancing. It also made extensive use of projected conversation bubbles, emojis and other social media effects. This seems to have been ramped up in post production to add picture-in-picture effects and maybe to make the lighting; already a sort of rave inspired blend of blues and pinks with touches of rather lurid green, even more dramatic. With on screen subtitles it was arresting but maybe just a little too busy to fully process!

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SOS Sketch Opera Singers

Tapestry’s SOS Sketch Opera Singers does for the staid old world of opera what I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue did for the quiz show.  Five of Toronto’s finest artistes, in the guise of the cross-over group; Krossøver, are, in the immortal words of Humphrey Lyttleton, “given silly things to do”.

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Mirror, Mirror

Mirror, Mirror is a fifteen minute film from Essential Opera based on a score and libretto by Anna Pidgorna.  There’s a lot to unpack for a fifteen minute work!  First off, let’s be clear that this is a film and not a video of a performance or production that might have had a live audience.  It’s shot on location in Nova Scotia; on the beach, in the forest etc.  And it’s done very well with excellent editing and high quality in the audio and video recording.

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A Billy Strayhorn Celebration

Last night the first concert in Confluence’s virtual season went live.  It features the music of Billy Strayhorn curated by Andrew Downing.  Now jazz is not usually my thing but I found this concert interesting in many ways.  Strayhorn was unusual.  He was a poor African American who aspired to be a classical composer and pianist.  Realising the virtual impossibility of that in post WW2 America he took to jazz and dance band music and formed a very productive relationship with Duke Ellington.  He was also gay and that, rather courageously for the time, comes out in his music.  You can find out much more about Strayhorn in the most erudite chat between Andrew Downing and Professor Walter Vandeleur that precedes the music.

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A couple more upcoming livestreams

gkollerCanadian bassist (and much more) George Koller is giving a solo recital in aid of St. Mike’s COVID-19 fund. It’s resented by Canzona Chamber Players on their Youtube channel and by the looks of it fills the slot for this year’s Elizabeth Krehm memorial concert. It’s on September 27th at 7pm and it’s free but, of course, donations to St. Mike’s are encouraged.

Toronto’s Upper Canada Choristers and their Latin ensemble Cantemos will present music from Latin America in a concert titled Inti Ukana: A Latin American Tapestry. This was originally scheduled for May as a public performance but will now be live-streamed, with some pre-recorded elements, It’s on Friday, October 2nd at 7:30 p.m. It will be accessible through the choir’s website

Ema Nikolovska and Steven Philcox

Yesterday was the one vocal element in this year’s virtual Toronto Summer Music; a recital streamed from the Burlington Arts Centre by mezzo Ema Nikolovska and pianist Steven Philcox.  I think this was quite the best on-line event I have seen/heard since this schmozzle started.  It started off with a master class in German Lieder singing.  There were three Beethoven and three Schubert songs and they were just lovely.  Ema’s voice is a lovely rich mezzo and she showed great expression and attention to the text backed up by perfect diction.  Steven, as ever, was an exemplary accompanist.

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Let’s Stay Together

Last night’s virtual salon by Confluence; Let’s Stay Together, featured an extremely, if unsurprisingly, eclectic selection of music and poetry and some serious techno-wizardry.  Two numbers featuring Suba Shankaran and her technical whizz husband Dylan Bell exemplified the techy side.  Come Together was an overdubbed. live looped, east meets west version of the Lennon and McCartney number in which the pair built up layers of sound incrementally.  Meditation Round, which rounded out the evening, was a moving new work by Suba dealing with how we need to move forward, not back, as life, perhaps, returns to some sort of normality.  There was an almost 16th century quality to the music and the performance in which pretty much everyone took part remotely.  Brilliant mixing and post production here backing up an extremely affecting work.

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