8 years ago

Volume 18 Issue 2 - October 2012

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  • Toronto
  • October
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GeorgetownBach Chorale.Judge for yourselfOctober 26 and 27.Bach’s church cantatas are miracles of formal design and emotionaldepth and are very difficult to execute. Two choirs that are rising tothe challenge are the Toronto Beach Chorale, who perform CantataBWV131, “Aus der Tiefe,” on November 3; and the Pax Christi Choralewho perform cantatas 80 and 147 on October 21. The second cantata,of course, contains the chorus well known in English as “Jesu, Joy ofMan’s Desiring,” perhaps Bach’s most familiar melody.On Oct 13 Toronto’s St. Anne’s Church choir performs Mozart’sSolemn Vespers. Mozart wrote two settings of the vespers, K321 andK339, and both settings wipe the floor with every mass Mozart everwrote during his tenure in Salzburg. Go and hear it.Other concerts of note: On October 13, 14, 20 and 21 thePeterborough Singers perform Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. Thispopular work is the musical equivalent of a house party — wild, chaoticfun with everyone trying to be heard over the percussion. Thefamous opening chorus has been used in every movie featuring medievalknights that you have ever seen.On October 19 and 20 the Tallis Choir is the guest of the TorontoConsort in a concert of works from the English Renaissance, some ofwhich the Consort recorded for the popular television program TheTudors. Scandalous rumours that series star Jonathan Rhys Meyerswill appear for a special midnight date with a lucky ticket holder haveno basis in reality and did not originate here.The Toronto Chamber Choir is one the few choirs in the area thatregularly programs early choral music. In an October 28 concert titled“Kaffeemusik: The Mysterious Pierre A-la-mi-re” featuring music byrenaissance composers Josquin, Ockeghem, de la Rue and Willaert,the choir illuminates the fascinating story of brilliant music copyistPierre Alamire and the stunning manuscripts that he created.Three special tribute concerts: An October 21 concert by Toronto’sVesnivka Choir features a tribute to Marta Krawciw-Barabash, the latefounder and president of the Toronto Ukrainian Music Festival. Theyare joined by the Orion Men’s Choir and the Toronto Ukranian MaleChamber Choir.On October 13 Toronto’s Xiao Ping Chorus celebrates its 20th anniversarywith a concert of opera arias and art songs with music fromboth Western and Eastern traditions.Finally, on November 3, University of Toronto choirs join togetherin a special concert commemorating the 80th birthday of Canadiancomposer Ruth Watson Henderson. This composer’s music has beenprogrammed consistently by choirs in Southern Ontario and beyond,but within contemporary music circles her work tends to be overlookedor even ignored.I hope that this changes. Watson Henderson’s music is not wildlyexperimental or technically innovative in the “reinvent the wheel”manner that contemporary composition series regularly demand.Instead, it is classical in the best sense — it balances popular appealwith artistic depth and rigorous formal design. It needs impeccablediction and great sensitivity to text, tuning and musical structure.I am very glad to see this anniversary celebration taking place,and I truly hope that the next generation of choral conductors understandsthat this composer has created a body of work in which allCanadian choral musicians can join in taking pride.Ben Stein is a Toronto tenor and theorbist.He can be contacted at his website at October 1 – November 7, 2012

Beat by Beat | Art of SongOctober’sPlenitudeHANS DE GROOTWhat is a song? When I started these columns, I realizedthat I had to make some attempt to decide what to includeand what to exclude. I decided that opera, whether stagedor in concert, was not part of my beat, although I could include vocalrecitals that contained arias as well as songs. Similarly with choralmusic: it belongs in Benjamin Stein’s column, but I might talk aboutvocal soloists in such concerts (and have done so). Yet it was clear tome that the main emphasis should fall on songs (Purcell, Britten),lieder (Schubert, Wolf), chansons (Fauré, Poulenc).The Aldeburgh Connection: We are lucky in Toronto to have theAldeburgh Connection, an organization founded and led by StephenRalls and Bruce Ubukata, pianists who first met when they coachedat the Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh on England’s east coast.Subsequently, they founded the Aldeburgh Connection, which hadits first concert in 1982. Over the years many distinguished singershave performed with the group and many young singers have sungthere at an early stage in their careers. The performers have alwaysbeen Canadians. Programs are never a series of individual itemsthrown together; they are always carefully constructed around a centraltheme. This season begins with “The Lyre of Orpheus: RobertsonDavies and Music,” a program of works that Davies referred to in hisnovels or that he liked to sing and play. The soloists will be MiriamKhalil, soprano, Allyson McHardy, mezzo-soprano, and Geoffrey Sirett,baritone at Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building, October 21.We can also look forward to their concerts later this season:“Madame Bizet” in December, “Valse des fleurs: Music in ImperialRussia” in January and the annual Greta Kraus Schubertiad in March.One of the singers who has performed with the AldeburghConnection is the soprano Shannon Mercer. You will be able tohear her this month in a concert of contemporary music given bySoundstreams, in which she will sing Analia Llugdar’s Sentir deCacerolas and Fuhong Shi’s The Mountain Spirit at Koerner Hall. Thismay be your last chance to hear Mercer in 2012, since, immediatelyafter this concert, she will start a European tour with the Queen ofPuddings Music Theatre in a series of performances of Ana Sokolovic’sSvadba (The Wedding). But she will be back in the spring and one ofthe events in which she will sing is a Benjamin Britten concert with,you guessed it, the Aldeburgh Connection, May 7; it’s part of a seriesof three concerts titled “A Britten Festival of Song.”Canadian Voices: Although it is regrettable that Koerner Hall nolonger has a vocal series, we can welcome “Canadian Voices,” a seriesat the Glenn Gould Studio mounted by Roy Thomson Hall, now in itssecond year. These concerts are designed to showcase young Canadiansingers and are therefore a perfect complement to the series presentedby the Aldeburgh Connection, although they would seem to be concernedmore with singers who have an established reputation. Bycontrast, Ralls and Ubukata are always careful to balance well-knownsingers with emerging talents.The first concert in the “Canadian Voices” series will be performedon October 28 at 2pm by Phillip Addis, baritone, and Emily Hamper,piano. The program includes Ravel’s Histoires naturelles, VaughanWilliams’ Songs of Travel, four songs from Op.38 by Tchaikovsky,Fauré’s L’Horizon chimérique and three folksong arrangementsby Benjamin Britten. Addis is coming off a very busy and very successfulseason: in September 2011 he performed Count Almaviva inExpect Something Different!PeaceRobert Cooper’s10th Season as Artistic DirectorSpiritJoyTickets:; senior; studentAvailable on-line call 416 530 4428www.orpheuschoirtoronto.comImaginationREQUIEM FOR PEACESaturday, October 27, 2012 7:30 p.m.Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen St. East“A message of hope for the world” – Canadian composerLarry Nickel’s powerful and poignant Requiem for Peace spans twothousand years, twelve languages and diverse faiths in a universalplea for forgiveness and reconciliation. Compelling visuals contrastthe sorrow and futility of war with the promise of peace.Guest Artists:University of Toronto MacMillan Singers (Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt, conductor)Orpheus Chamber EnsembleOctober 1 – November 7, 2012 25

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