This Week in Toronto (May 25 – 31)

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My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of May 25 to 31)

~ Joseph So

Sir Andrew Davis

Music lovers can look forward to performances this week of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, who is in town to conduct a series of performance to mark the 40th anniversary of his association with the TSO.  Just last week, he led the TSO in a series of transcendent performances of the Verdi Requiem. It was music-making at its finest, but sadly attendance wasn’t what the shows deserved. Anywhere in Europe and UK, the three performances would be jammed to the rafters. I hope more TO music lovers will show up to the Mussorgsky. The great Canadian pianist Louis Lortie is the soloist in Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1, Also on the program is Berlioz’ Le corsaire, and Davis’ own composition, La serenissima.  Performances on Wednesday May 27 and Thursday May 28 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall.
Pianist Louis Lortie (Photo: Elias/Handout Image)

It’s the great good fortune of Toronto music lovers that the mega-star cellist Yo Yo Ma comes to our fair city for music-making on a regular basis. He is back this week to play the Elgar cello concerto, my desert island piece.  He played it here a few years ago, and I am really looking forward to hearing it again. On the program is Holst’s The Planets, a Sir Andrew’s specialty!  The concert opens with a TSO commission and world premiere, The Stolen Child for orchestra and children’s chorus, by Ed Frazier Davis, presumably no relationship to Sir Andrew?  This is an important concert not to be missed.

Cellist Yo Yo Ma (Photo: Stephen Danelian)
A very unusual work this week (May 26 to 29) is the world premiere of M’dea Undone, put on by Tapestry Opera in co-production with Scottish Opera, with music by John Harris and libretto by Marjorie Chan. Principals are mezzo Lauren Segal (M’dea), baritone Peter Barrett (Jason), tenor James McLean (President), and Jacqueline Woodley (Dahlia). Tim Albery directs and Jordan de Souza conducts. The unorthodox venue is Evergreen Brickworks at 550 Bayview Avenue.  There will be a shuttle bus made available for attendees.  Go to their website for details about the opera and other information.

Mezzo Lauren Segal 
This week marks SING! The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival (May 27 to 31). There are all sorts of concerts – not exactly classical in the traditional sense. One that caught my eye is the kick-off concert featuring the Nathaniel Dett Chorale on May 27 8 pm at Koerner Hall.  It is billed as And Still We Sing, a tribute to the music of Billy Strayhorn.


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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