7 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 8 - May 2012

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Beat by Beat | Art of

Beat by Beat | Art of SongHere To Stay(the Column)DAVID PERLMANIt was back in the late fall that we decided, here at The WholeNote,that a case could be made for a regular beat column covering theart of song, focussing not on choirs but on voice as a solo instrument.This column has been the result, and judging by the amountof material that leaps to hand each month, the decision was the rightone. So count on it being a regular feature of the magazine, althoughlikely under some other columnist’s tender loving care. (And if thatsounds to you like an invitation to apply for the job, you may contactme at the email address listed at the end of the column and argueyour case.)That being said, this month’s listings offer a bewildering rangeof performances, which could all lay claim for consideration asexamplars of the art of solo singing. There are the “hard-core” artsong salons and recitals, jazz vocalists a-plenty, singer/songwriters.There is opera-out-of-context in the form of solo recitals of operaticrepertoire. There is opera-in-concert. There are masterworks of thechoral and/or symphonic repertoire that have embedded within themglorious moments of solo singing. There is cabaret. And perhapsmost difficult to juggle, there is the fact that the performers themselvesmove from one genre to another, dragging their other talesbehind them. So, aspiring columnists, be warned. Finding guns onecan stick to as the writer of this column is no easy task.Starting with art song, in its purest form, there is a fine array ofconcerts and salons “on tap.” As mentioned last month, sopranoLayla Claire is at Glenn Gould Studio May 3, as part of the MasseyHall/Roy Thomson Hall “Art of Song” series. And also at the GlennGould Studio, Off Centre Music Salon weighs in Sunday May 6 witha program of songs by Russian and Spanish composers as renderedby Joni Henson, soprano, Peter McGillivray, baritone, and Leigh-Anne Martin, mezzo.Wednesday May 16, one of the genre’s heavyweights, Germanbaritone Christian Gerhaher, hits town for a recital at KoernerHall, with the incomparable András Schiff at the piano. Composerson the program are all familiar, including Haydn, Beethoven andSchumann, but I’d be surprised if all the specific repertoire is. Andeven more surprised if even the ones that are familiar sound thatway. A self-confessed autodidact, Gerhaher follows a resolutely selfdirectedpath. “Beauty of the sound,” he has been quoted as saying,“means getting the opportunity to attract the mental attention ofpeople listening, to make them interested. That is the ideal, to attractattention for the work you are performing. You don’t just do itfor the applause — you do it for the content of the work. Everythingabout singing is difficult. Memorizing is difficult, even the melody,is difficult — there is no easy piece. Above all, there is no virtuosityin singing. A simple Schubert line can be harder than the most difficultvirtuosic excerpt.”With Gerhaher as a sonic benchmark, make a point of taking inone or both of the other brave souls tilting at the giant windmills of19th century baritone art song repertoire this month. The followingday, Thursday May 17 at noon, Adrian Kramer renders Schubert’sDie schöne Müllerin, with Christopher Mokrzewski, piano, at theRichard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, 145 Queen St. W. And on SundayJune 3 at 2pm, Music at Sharon kicks off its 2012 series with whatcould be something quite extraordinary: Schubert’s Winterreise,performed by Daniel Lichti, bass-baritone; but with the PentaèdreWind Ensemble and Joseph Petric, accordion, accompanying. Iheard something similar (on a rough studio tape six or seven yearsChristian Gerhaherat Koerner Hall.ago, with Russell Braun) and can say that whatever appreciation onehas of Schubert’s piano mastery going in is enhanced, rather thandiminished, by hearing its threads disentangled this way.Also of note: a presenter new to me, the Russian Chamber ArtsSociety, is presenting a very salon-like event “Voices of Spring:Russian Romances and Duets,” at Remenyi House of Music,210 Bloor St. W, Thursday May 24 at 7:30pm. Repertoire is songsby Rachmaninoff, Arensky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Glinka, andthe performers are Vera Danchenko-Stern, piano, Patricia Green,mezzo, and Irina Mozyleva, soprano.And finally, in terms of core art song repertoire, Bruce Ubukataand Stephen Ralls take their salon magic out of its more usualAldeburgh Connection context, into the more bucolic surrounds ofBayfield, Ontario, for their two-day, three-concert Bayfield Festivalof Song, June 2 and 3. Andrea Cerswell and Virginia Hatfield, sopranos,Alexandra Beley and Megan Latham, mezzos, Andrew Haji,tenor, David Roth and Geoffrey Sirett, baritones, will do the vocalhonours, and if you have not so far heard of some of them, then partof the Ralls/Ubukata magic is that one day you very likely will.Moving from art song to the more general category of vocal recital,the month has its usual embarrassment of riches, in venues large andsmall, and in a wide range of repertoire.Saturday May 5 at 7:30pm, Westben Festival organizers DonnaBennett, soprano, and Brian Finley, piano, bring their considerablepersonal musical talents to Wexford Heights United Church witha show called “Lovin’ Dat Westben!” and featuring works fromMozart and Puccini to songs from Show Boat and My Fair Lady.Saturday May 12 at 8pm, Anna Belikova, contralto, is atGallery 345 with “An Evening of Russian Opera,” along withLuiza Zhuleva, soprano, Stas Vitort, tenor, Serkiy Danko, baritone,Solomon Tencer, bass, and Zenhya Yesmanovich, piano.Thursday May 31 and Thursday June 7, Metropolitan UnitedChurch’s Noon at Met series presents soprano soloists: JanetObermeyer at the first, Marina Tchepel at the second.The jazz vocal scene also brings us some notables this month, invenues large and small. “An Evening with Measha Brueggergosman”continues its roadshow May 4, in Kingston, and May 17 inPeterborough. Musideum, arguably the city’s most intimate andunusual recital venue, showcases Yvette Tollar, vocals, and DominicMancuso, guitar on Wednesday May 2 at 8pm, followed by jazzvocal original, Rita di Ghent, at 3pm on Sunday May 13.ALEXANder BASTA10 May 1 – June 7, 2012

And the Canadian Opera Company’s noonhour Jazz and WorldMusic series at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre brings aprogram of jazz standards and originals by Sophia Perlman, vocals,and Adrean Farrugia, piano, Thursday May 24, followed by originalLatin jazz with Eliana Cuevas, vocals, Jeremy Ledbetter, piano, andLuis Orbegoso, percussion on Wednesday May 29.All this, and we have barely touched on some of the more significantperformances that seem to belong in this column. Or do they?There are two performances ofBeethoven’s Symphony No.9, this month,for example: one by Orchestra Torontoon Sunday May 27 at 3pm, the other bythe Hamilton Philharmonic on SaturdayMay 26 at 7:30pm. Both feature stellarsoloists, several of whom could then leadus a merry dance through a whole rangeof other appearances this month. MireilleAsselin, soprano, for example, who appearswith the Hamilton Phil, is also a member ofthe Canadian Opera Ensemble Studio, andin that capacity will be sharing the title roleBayfieldTown Hall.(with Ambur Braid) in the COC’s May 23 ensemble performanceof Semele.Here, then, in brief, are some of the larger choral and orchestralworks on offer this month in which the role played by solo voiceseems to warrant more than a passing nod.●●Friday May 4, 8:00: Masterworks of Oakville Chorus & Orchestra.Rachmaninoff Vespers & Renaissance Motets. Alla Ossipova, alto;Stanislav Vitort, tenor.●●Saturday May 5, 2:00 and 8:00: Mississauga Festival Choir. Coastto Coast to Coast. Glynis Ratcliffe, soprano; Sabrina Santelli, alto;Charles Sy, tenor; David Anderson, bass-baritone.●●Sunday May 6, 3:00: Pax Christi Chorale. 25th Anniversary GalaConcert – Elgar: The Kingdom. Shannon Mercer, soprano; KrisztinaSzabó, mezzo; Keith Klaasen, tenor; Roderick Williams, baritone.●●Sunday May 6, 4:00: Toronto Classical Singers. Singing TimelessTreasures for 20 years. Verdi: Requiem. Allison Arends, soprano;Mia Lennox-Williams, mezzo; Lenard Whiting, tenor; BruceKelly, bass.●●Friday May 11, 7:30: Bach Elgar Choir. Mega Vespers. AllaOssipova, alto; Stanislav Vitort, tenor. (Hamilton)●●Friday May 11, 8:00: Lawrence Park Community Church/GreaterToronto Philharmonic Orchestra. Fridays@8:A Mixed Revue. Kimberley Briggs, soprano;Michèle Bogdanowicz, mezzo; GlynEvans, tenor; Alastair Smyth, baritone.●●Saturday May 12, 7:30: PeterboroughSingers. Fauré Requiem. Claire deSévigné, soprano; Andrew Tees, bass; IanSadler. (Peterborough)●●Sunday May 13, 3:00: Toronto ChamberChoir. Charity Kaffeemusik: Bach Cantata.Bethany Horst, soprano; Colleen Renihan,mezzo; Stephen Hegedus, bass-baritone.●●Saturday May 19, 8:00: Oratoryof St. Philip Neri. The St. Vincent’s Baroque Soloists. Natalie andTeresa Mahon, soprano; Richard Whitall, alto; Jamie Tuttle, tenor;David Roth, baritone.●●Sunday May 20, 8:00: Toronto Continuo Collective. L’Authentiqueamour français. Emily Klassen, soprano; Bud Roach, tenor.●●Wednesday May 23, 7:30: Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Belshazzar’sFeast. Daniel Bedrossian, treble; Shannon Mercer, soprano; JohnRelyea, bass-baritone.●●Saturday June 2, 7:30: Chorus Niagara. Deep in my Heart. Operettaarias and highlights. Leslie Ann Bradley, soprano; ChristopherEnns, tenor; Benjamin Covey, baritone. (St. Catharines)David Perlman can be reached at 1 – June 7, 11

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