Browsing: Contemporary

As One might not be the only opera written for two vocal manifestations of the same character, but there cannot be many others. The risk involved in the undertaking lies not necessarily in the subject matter – the phenomenon of trans identity has been headline material for a while – as in the need to create drama without supporting characters. It says something about the virtues of this work of 2014 and the quality of its online Quebec premiere Friday under the auspices of the Orchestre classique de Montréal that two singers and a string quartet could hold the stage successfully…

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The TMC’s Choral Composition Competition is in its sixth year. Each year, the Choir receives entries from emerging composers from across Canada. For 2020, the competition was for an a capella work for the Christmas season. The winner is Alastair Boyd from Toronto, Ontario for his piece A Hymn on the Nativity. Alastair Boyd studied music at the University of Toronto and at the Guildhall School of Music in London (England). His principal composition teachers were Lothar Klein and Derek Holman (Toronto) and Francis Shaw (London). He lives in Toronto, where for 10 years he served as head of the…

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The future of performance is looking digital, at least in the short term. Last week the Opéra de Montréal unveiled an online double bill with piano accompaniment that made a good case for the viability of the format while leaving us less than fully convinced of the merits of the works themselves. First up was Francis Poulenc’s well-known La voix humaine, a solo opera of 1958 based on Jean Cocteau’s 1928 play of the same name. A jilted woman engages in a telephone conversation with her former lover. There are frequent interruptions caused by the (then) notoriously unreliable French telephone system. Whether…

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Le Vivier is an apt name. It refers both to one of the fathers of contemporary music in Quebec and to a dynamic pool of composers and performers of new music. An earlier article outlined the 2020-2021 season of this group of musicians and ensembles, which notably include Productions SuperMusique, the Quatuor Bozzini and Ensemble Paramirabo. But Le Vivier is also a house with many rooms, offering numerous opportunities for players in this field to affirm their ties. First is the international component, which organizes the annual Cartel which brings together more than 25 broadcasters in North America and Europe.…

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The Orchestre classique de Montréal (OCM) is deeply invested in projects, as it has demonstrated in the past by promoting Canadian and Indigenous artists and composers. This year, the orchestra’s support for communities is once again in evidence. On Nov. 20, OCM followers can hear the Canadian premiere of the chamber opera As One to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day paying tribute to transgendered individuals who were persecuted or killed because of their identity. Come what may, the opera will be the season opener and broadcast online. It features two voices – one male, the other female – portraying…

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The music just comes to me; I just write down what I hear,” says Jaap Nico Hamburger. Only two years after quitting his full-time job as a cardiologist and devoting his life to composing, Hamburger, 62, has released two recordings and can lay claim to an impressive list of commissions and premieres, including an opera at Lincoln Center in New York, originally slated for March 2020, and now rescheduled for a post-COVID season. Music was always in Hamburger’s life. At the age of three, Hamburger took over the 78-RPM record player originally given as a birthday gift to his older…

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by Robin Elliott (Jean A. Chalmers Chair in Canadian Music, University of Toronto) These remarks were given before a concert given at the Canadian Music Centre in Toronto to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hétu’s death. Jacques Hétu enjoyed a prolific career as a composer for 50 years and as a university professor for almost 40 years. Although best known for his well-crafted and beautifully orchestrated works for large performing ensembles, including five symphonies and some 20 concertos, Hétu also wrote many fine works for piano, voice, and chamber ensemble. Hétu’s works are available in beautifully engraved editions from the…

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Montreal, October 29, 2020 – The Orchestre Métropolitain is pleased to announce the names of the four winners of its first-ever composition competition. Issued in March and taking Beethoven’s heritage as its inspiration, the call for submissions from composers was the first step in a major celebration of the 250th anniversary of the master’s birth through the unique voice of local artists. The four winners of the 2020 Orchestre Métropolitain Composition Competition are Francis Battah, Marie-Pierre Brasset, Cristina García Islas and Nicholas Ryan. The four winners will have their five to six-minute works premiered in 2021 by the Orchestre Métropolitain…

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Sinfonia Toronto rehearsed in sectional cohorts last week, then came together as a complete ensemble for a dress rehearsal and a streamed performance on October 26 in Koerner Hall. Under the baton of Music Director Nurhan Arman the masked, distanced musicians performed major works by Beethoven and Shostakovich, their first performance since last February. Determined to carry on in spite of this fall’s challenging conditions, the orchestra will present their next livestream on Friday, November 6 at 8 pm from the Jane Mallett Theatre.  The program will include Mozart’s jewel-box Salzburg Symphonies and the World Premiere of Arman’s orchestration of…

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Tuesday, October 27 – In response to the context of the current health crisis, Chants Libres was obliged to postpone the creation of L’Orangeraie by Zad Moultaka and Larry Tremblay, which would have taken place this month at the Monument-National. Never failing to uphold its reputation for vocal innovation, the company is making a gamble and using this big, deserted hall to film Prélude à l’opéra. Inspired by several excerpts from L’orangeraie and guided by constraints put in place for the performing arts due to COVID 19, this digital event will be aired on the web in January 2021. The staging…

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