Browsing: This Week in Toronto

My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of May 11 to 17~ Joseph SoAmerican mezzo Cecelia Hall (Photo: Dario Acosta)The two spring productions of the Canadian Opera Company, The Barber of Seville and Bluebeard’s Castle/Erwartung continue this week at the Four Seasons Centre. The Rossini stars American mezzo Cecelia Hall as the alternate Rosina on May 13, with Alek Shrader (Almaviva), Joshua Hopkins (Figaro), Renato Girolami (Bartolo), Robert Gleadow (Basilio) and Aviva Fortunata (Bertha) rounding out the cast. A special performance by the COC Ensemble Studio singers (already announced as sold-out) will be given on May 15, starring mezzo Charlotte Burrage (Rosina),…

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My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of May 4 to 10~ Joseph SoCanadian bass-baritone John Relyea (www.johnrelyea.com)This week marks the opening of the second production of the Canadian Opera Company spring season, the double-bill of Bartok’s Bluebeard Castle and Schoenberg’s Erwartung. This is the famous Lepage/Levine production way back in 1993 that broke new ground for the COC and put the Company on the international map. I certainly remember being blown away by it at the time. My guess is that it is the most successful COC production when it comes to rentals by other companies, having traveled to the…

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My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of April 27 to May 3~ Joseph SoThis is a great week for music fans, with concerts for every taste. The great Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin makes a rare return to Toronto for a solo recital, apparently first in fifteen years, playing works by Beethoven, Prokofiev, Chopin, and Liszt. Friday May 1st 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall.Full program details at http://www.masseyhall.com/eventdetail/KissinPianist Evgeny Kissin (Photo: Sheila Rock)With the Pan Am Games coming to town, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is joining the fun with not one but two Latin themed concerts this week. Roberto…

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My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of April 20 to 26~ Joseph SoCanadian conductor Yannick Nezet-SeguinIn my book, the brilliant Yannick Nezet-Seguin is the Canadian conductor of the 21st century. Immensely talented and charismatic, he exudes the joy of music-making every time he steps onto the podium. His star is certainly shining the brightest among all the Canucks, as head honcho in Philadelphia, Rotterdam, London Phil, and an exclusive contract with DG. This is in addition to his “old band” the Orchestre Metropolitain du Grand Montreal (its full name). And he’s only 40 years old! I’ll never forget interviewing him for an…

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My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of April 13 to 19~ Joseph SoIt’s sometimes said that classical music is a dying art form, if for no other reason than the changing demographics – attendees are aging and as they passed on, they are not replaced by the younger generation. Presenters are trying hard to bring the young people into the concert halls. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra for example has its Soundcheck program, intended to attract young people by offering them very inexpensive tickets. Another way is to have more “crossover” programming. The hope is that these shows put bums into…

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My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of April 6 to 12 (Updated April 7th 11:10 pm)~ Joseph SoFinnish conductor Jukka Pekka Saraste (Photo:www.tso.ca)A highlight this week is the return of former Toronto Symphony Orchestra Music Director Jukka-Pekka Saraste as the guest conductor in a program of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. Saraste’s tenure at the TSO (1994-2001) was an artistic success, but it was marred by labour strife in the orchestra and financial difficulties, especially in his later years. But all that is history now and maestro Saraste has since returned as guest conductor…

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My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of March 30 to April 5~ Joseph SoAmerican conductor James ConlonThis being Easter Week, there’s plenty of religious programming but fewer than usual purely classical offerings. Still I have several that I can highly recommend. Following last week’s scintillating Toronto Symphony Orchestra concerts of Stravinsky/Dvorak under the baton of visiting maestro Krzysztof Urbanski, we have another famous guest conductor this week in the person of American James Conlon, leading the TS forces in Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 and the Prelude to Lohengrin. For me, the big draw is Korngold’s Violin Concerto, a piece of…

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My Toronto Concert Picks for the week of March 23 to 29~ Joseph SoWith spring break over, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is back in business with a very interesting program of pairing Stravinsky’s groundbreaking The Rite of Spring with Dvorak’s sublime Cello Concerto. This Dvorak piece, together with the Elgar, are for me the two desert island cello concertos – I never get tired of hearing either one. And to have the wonderful Argentinean cellist Sol Gabetta here to play it is an occasion not to be missed. At the helm is the young and dynamic Polish conductor Krzysztof Urbanski.…

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My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of March 16 to 22- Joseph SoThis being the traditional Spring Break, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is dark. But there are plenty of other interesting musical events to attend. The Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music is presenting its annual spring opera production, and this year it’s Offenbach’s frothy La belle Helene. Since its premiere in Paris in 1864, this piece has withstood the test of time as one of the central pillars in French operetta. On first appearance, it seems deceptively easy to stage, but in truth it requires…

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My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of March 9 to 15- Joseph SoSoprano Adrianne Pieczonka (Photo: www.adriannepieczonka.com)The big news for voice fans this week is the appearance of Canada’s prima donna and Toronto resident, soprano Adrianne Pieczonka, with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Vier letzte Lieder. This is in many ways the ultimate song cycle, really a gift from Richard Strauss to the soprano voice. If I were ever stranded on a desert island, this is the music I want, preferably sung by Gundula Janowitz, Lucia Popp, Jessye Norman, and Soile Isokoski. Pieczonka also recorded a beautiful version around…

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