This Week in Toronto (May 23 – 29)

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Composer Tan Dun performs his Water and Paper Concertos with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on Thursday May 26 and Saturday May 28.

Chinese composer Tan Dun is making a welcome return to Toronto this week, in two performances of his Water and Paper Concertos with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Also on this highly eclectic program is Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question, and Manuel de Falla’s “Ritual Fire Dance” from his well known piece El amor brujo. Tan Dun is certainly in an elite group of contemporary composers whose works are regularly performed at the most prestigious venues. Opera lovers will be familiar with his opera The First Emperor, starring mega-tenor Placido Domingo, staged by the Met and shown in cinemas around the world – you can’t get more high profile than that! I recall being mesmerized by his Tea: A Mirror of Soul at the Santa Fe Opera back in 2007. To be sure there are other Asian composers who combine musical ideas of East and West in their compositions, but none as adept and accessible as Tan Dun. Performances on Thursday May 26 at 8 pm, and Saturday May 28 at 7:30 pm, this latter one is a Casual Concert with a post performance lobby reception of live music and “mix and mingle” with the artists.
The Canadian Opera Company‘s spring season is in its home stretch this week, with a final performance of La cenerentola on Wednesday May 25 at 7:30 pm at the Four Seasons Centre. I am really not all that fond of Rossini, but even for me it was a terrific experience. Two more performances of Ariadne auf Naxos are on Friday May 27 at 7:30 pm and Sunday May 29 at 2 pm. Orfeo ed Euridice, the last of the three productions to open, concludes with performances on Tuesday May 24, Thursday May 26, and Saturday May 28 – note the last performance is at 4:30 pm.
The free noon hour concerts at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre continues with two vocal programs. On Tuesday May 24, former COC Ensemble Studio member Doug MacNaughton is presenting 21st Century Troubadour, an eclectic show of works, some of them composed for him by John Beckwith, William Beauvais, and Leslie Uyeda. The baritone will be accompanying himself on the guitar. Go to for a pdf file of the program. And on Thursday May 26, mezzo Wallis Giunta and bass Michael Uloth will be leaving the Ensemble Studio, having finished their respective term. They are giving a farewell concert with Anne Larlee at the piano. Uloth will sing Brahms’ Four Serious Songs, and Giunta a mixed collection of songs from Schubert to Sondheim. The two artists will join forces for two operatic duets.
As mentioned in last week’s post, Hungarian pianist Tamas Erdi returns to the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto for a recital of Chopin and Liszt at Mazzoleni Hall on Tuesday May 24 at 8 pm.
On Sunday starting at 1 pm, the Toronto Symphony Volunteer Committee is presenting the Toronto Symphony Orchestra National Piano Competition Finals. Five finalists will performa piano concertos with second piano accompaniment. The event takes place at Mazzoleni Hall. Go to for additional details of the competition.

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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