Ontario Summer Festival Picks 2016

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La Scena Musicale's Discovery Box

by Joseph So & Kiersten van Vliet

Westben Art Festival
Campbellford, june 3-July 31

Going east on the 401 and a bit north is Campbellford and Westben Arts Festival. Headlining this year is the world premiere of a new opera by pianist/composer Brian Finley, The Pencil Salesman (June 25). Also on the program is Canadian pianist Warsaw Chopin Competition Second Prize winner Charles Richard-Hamelin (July 10). www.westben.ca JS

Luminato Festival
Toronto, June 10-26

In its 10th year, Toronto’s Luminato Festival (June 10-26) is facing big changes, with a new CEO (Anthony Sargent) and a new Artistic Director designate (Josephine Ridge) to replace Jorn Weisbrodt. Rufus Wainwright struts his stuff in Rufus Does Judy (June 23 & 24). Unsound Toronto (June 10 & 11) is an edgy and hip show to take place in the decommissioned Hearn Generating Station converted into a performing space. Sadly, there won’t be classical music at this year’s Festival, not even the TSO. www.luminatofestival.com JS

Brott Music Festival
Hamilton, June 22-August 18

A short drive west on the QEW from Toronto is the Brott Music Festival. Noteworthy is its Beethoven Ninth Symphony (June 30) at the St. Thomas Church in Waterdown, featuring Leslie Fagan, Mia Lennox, Michael Colvin and James Westman. Boris Brott conducts. www.brottmusic.com JS

Elora Festival
Elora, July 8-24

In the picaresque town of Elora is the Elora Festival (July 8-24). It opens with Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor (July 8). Other highlights include Russell Braun singing Vaughan Williams (July 9), Anagnoson and Kinton (July 9), Marie Josee Lord and the Festival Singers in Gounod and Gershwin (July 14), Chanticleer (July 15), Suzie Leblanc sings early arias set to Shakespeare (July 16), André Laplante plays Mozart, Beethoven, and Liszt (July 17), and Daniel Taylor and Benjamin Butterfield in recital (July 23). www.elorafestival.ca JS

Toronto Summer Music Festival
July 14-August 7

Lots of wonderful music in Toronto and Southern Ontario this summer. The theme of Toronto Summer Music Festival 2016 (July 14-Aug. 7) is London Calling, with a focus on the wealth of British musical tradition from Baroque to 20th Century. Opera returns to TSMF with Rape of Lucretia (July 22) in the beautiful but underused space of Winter Garden. Other highlights include Jeremy Denk (July 21), Jamie Barton (July 25), Dover String Quartet (July 31). What’s a British without the Proms? So TSMF is presenting Almost Last Night at the Proms (Aug. 4), and many more. In the Art of the Song program (July 10-23), soprano Anne Schwanewilms and pianist Malcolm Martineau will be the mentors. www.torontosummermusic.com JS

Festival of the Sound
Parry Sound, July 15-Aug. 7

Further north into cottage country is Parry Sound and its Festival of the Sound (July 15 – Aug. 7). The Gala Opening Concert features the Elmer Iseler Singers, James Campbell and the Penderecki String Quartet (July 16), followed by the Opera Gala (July 17). Don’t miss Janina Fiakowska (Aug. 4-7), Gryphon Trio (July 19) and Charles Richard-Hamelin (July 28). www.festivalofthesound.ca JS

Highlands Opera Studio
Haliburton, Aug. 4-Sept. 1

Situated a couple of hours north of the GTA, beautiful Haliburton is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Established in 2007 by Canadian tenor Richard Margison and Valerie Kuinka, a former stage director at the Met, the Highlands Opera Studio cultivates emerging Canadian operatic talent with masterclasses, coaching, and performances. This season, the 22 singers and single collaborative pianist sponsored by the program will perform public masterclasses (Aug. 4, 5, & 6), Operatic and Broadway concerts (Aug. 9, 11, 16, & 23), and three operas (Dean Burry’s The Brothers Grimm and The Bremen Town Musicians, Aug. 18 & 20) and Gounod’s Faust (Aug. 28, 30, 31, & Sept. 1). www.highlandsoperastudio.com KVV

La Scena Musicale - Coffret Découverte
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About Author

Joseph K. So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, but his first love is music, which he studied as an undergraduate student at the State University of New York. Since seeing his first live opera – La Gioconda with Renata Tebaldi at the Met in 1967, the singing voice became his lifelong favourite instrument. In addition to his longtime contributions to La Scena Musicale and The Music Scene, he is Associate Editor of Opera Canada and a frequent contributor to Musical Toronto.

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