This Week in Toronto (Nov. 7 – 13)

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Chinese pianist Lang Lang

The big news this week is the start of the two week residency of Chinese pianist Lang Lang in Toronto, hosted by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. According to the TSO publicity material, this marks the pianist’s first residency anywhere in North America. Lang Lang will explore all the Beethoven piano concertos while in Toronto, the first time he is playing all these works in such a concentrated time period. Performances begin on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall with Piano Concerto No.1, paired with Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 “Italian” and Alice Ping Yee Ho’s Ice Path. On Thursday, Nov. 10, LL plays Piano Concerto No. 3, while the rest of the program remains the same. On Saturday Nov. 12, the program is Piano Concerto No. 4, together with Smetana’s ever-popular “The Moldau” and Martinu’s Symphony No. 6. Peter Oundjian conducts. The busy first week of residency concludes with Lang Lang’s “101 Pianists” Workshop, with the participation of young pianists of different ages and levels to share the stage with Lang Lang and perform Schubert’s Marche Militaire.
On Tuesday 8 p.m. at the Jane Mallett Theatre, Music Toronto presents French pianist Lise de la Salle in her Toronto debut. On the program are works by Ravel, Debussy, and Liszt.
Tafelmusik is presenting Mozart and Friends this week, in four performances, Thurs. to Sunday at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre. On the program is Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E-Flat Major and Haydn’s “Farewell” Symphony. Legend has it that the musicians in Haydn’s court orchestra left their families behind to play at Esterhazy’s summer palace, and they longed to go home. Haydn facilitated their departure in the adagio section of the last movement, when each player left the stage so at the end there was just Haydn himself (and the concertmaster) left. Esterhazy reportedly got the hint and granted the wishes of the musicians – what a fascinating story!

On Sunday Nov. 13 7 p.m. at the Glenn Gould Studio, in Tribute to Franz Liszt, pianist Ellen Annor-Adjei plays plays his Mephisto Waltz, Funerailles, Spanish Rhapsody, Faust Waltz, La Campanella, and Isolde’s Liebestod, with narration by Eric Friesen.
Finally, for something a little different – Toronto Masque Theatre presents Crazy To Kill, an opera by John Beckwith and James Reaney adapted from Ann Cardwell’s book. Billed as Canada’s first detective opera, it premiered at the Guelph Spring Festival in 1989. This is supposed to be the Toronto debut of this work, starring mezzo Kimberly Barber, baritone Doug McNaughton, and soprano Shannon Mercer. Performances on Friday and Saturday at the Enwave Theatre in Harbourfront.
And if that’s not different enough for you, try Tapestry New Opera‘s presentation of Pub Operas by David Brock and Gareth Williams. In this Canadian premiere, the show features opera vignettes based on real-life stories in Glasgow’s historic Sloans Pub. Tapestry’s Wayne Strongman is the music director. The soloists are soprano Xin Wang, mezzo Heather Jewson, tenor James McLean and baritone Benjamin Covey. Performances on on Nov. 10, 11, 12 at the Ernest Balmer Studio in the Distillery District of downtown Toronto.


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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