3 years ago

Volume 25 Issue 6 - March 2020

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FEATURED: Music & Health writer Vivien Fellegi explores music, blindness & the plasticity of perception; David Jaeger digs into Gustavo Gimeno's plans for new music in his upcoming first season as music director at TSO; pianist James Rhodes, here for an early March recital, speaks his mind in a Q&A with Paul Ennis; and Lydia Perovic talks music and more with rising Turkish-Canadian mezzo Beste Kalender. Also, among our columns, Peggy Baker Dance Projects headlines Wende Bartley's In with the New; Steve Wallace's Jazz Notes rushes in definitionally where many fear to tread; ... and more.


LISA SAKULENSKY “one of the finest acoustics in southwestern Ontario.” March 29, 2:30pm: With the largest choral program in Toronto, the University of Toronto Faculty of Music Choirs combine for their term finale, “Wake Into Voice.” The Tenor/Bass Choir will be led by Mark Ramsay. Elaine Choi leads the Soprano/Alto Chorus featuring 我 身 騎 白 馬 I Ride a White Horse by 高 竹 嵐 Gao Zhu-Lan and I Arise Today by local composing powerhouse, Matthew Emery. David Fallis leads the MacMillan Singers with Britten’s Hymn to Saint Cecilia, and a composition by one of their own singers, Katharine Petkovki’s The Angels. Lori-Anne Dolloff rounds out the quartet of conductors with a smaller set of the sopranos and altos in a treble chorus. MacMillan Theatre, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. University of Toronto MacMillan Singers CHORAL SCENE QUICK PICKS There is a robust selection of fantastic choral programs across the region (many of them, doubtless, featuring alumni of university choral programs). There’s absolutely no excuse for not catching some of these performances in the next month and a bit. Let me know what you think and how you felt about the experience. !! MAR 7, 7:30PM: Grace Church on-the-Hill, Toronto. MAR 14, 7PM: Royal View Church, London. The Canadian Celtic Choir, based in London, Ontario makes a visit to Toronto with guests Anne Lindsay on fiddle and Sharlene Wallace on harp. A slightly different lineup joins the program for the London performance, including Dan Stacey on fiddle and Kyle Waymouth on guitar, both with step dance. !! MAR 7, 8PM: St John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Kitchener. MAR 8, 3PM: Trillium Lutheran Church, Waterloo. DaCapo Chamber Choir presents “Life and Love and Wings.” The signature piece of the evening is a new commission by friends in memory of Margaret Janzen. From a Distant Star. composed by Jeff Enns and featuring mezzo-soprano Jennifer Enns-Modolo. Saturday, March 28th, 4:00pm Grace United Church, Niagara-on-the-Lake Sunday, March 29th, 4:00pm Basilica of Our Lady, Guelph Saturday, April 4th, 4:00pm St. John’s Latvian Lutheran Church, Toronto DaCapo Chamber Choir !! MAR 26 TO MAR 28, 8PM; MAR 29, 3:30PM: Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir take on one of the greatest choral masterworks, the Bach St John Passion. Check out my colleague Matthew Whitfield’s Early Music column for a preview. Koerner Hall. !! MAR 27, 8PM; MAR 28, 2:30PM & 8PM: The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony presents “The Magical World of Harry Potter.” This bit of magic will include action on stage from the Carousel Dance Company. And to bring that extra bit of whimsy, the Grand Philharmonic Youth Choir are along to bring all the magic of the Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter alive. Centre in the Square, Kitchener. !! MAR 28, 7:30PM: The Guelph Chamber Choir presents John Rutter’s Requiem. The first part of the program includes Katerina Gimon’s beneath/sound, which conductor Charlene Pauls describes as “an homage to nature and earth – a theme that is particularly important in our current climate [crisis]. Orpheus Choir of Toronto commissioned the work for a concert last year featuring all female composers.” Pauls is happy to program the composition, giving the work a chance to be heard again after its commission in 2019. River Run Centre, Guelph. !! APR 4, 7:30PM: The Etobicoke Centennial Choir takes on a beautiful task with Luigi Cherubini’s Requiem Mass in C Minor, known for its beauty and its beloved stature. Played at Beethoven’s funeral at his personal request, the Requiem Mass continues to be a well-loved staple of refined choral connoisseurs. Humber Valley United Church. Follow Brian on Twitter @bfchang Send info/media/tips to 34 | March 2020

Beat by Beat | Music Theatre Newness Anchored In Passion and Experience JENNY PARR In Act Two of Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, Dot sings to George: “Move on! Anything you do let it come from you, then it will be new.” This double idea, of continually trying new things but anchoring them in personal experience or passion, was at the heart of three of my music theatre highlights of February, and promises to be so for three of the shows coming up in March. Caroline or Change, presented at the Winter Garden Theatre by The Musical Stage Company and Obsidian Theatre Company is anchored in Tony Kushner’s semi-autobiographical book and this powerful production amped up the electricity by casting as Caroline, R & B Queen Jully Black, who, in her musical theatre debut, gave a performance of great passion and integrity. Tapestry New Opera’s Jacqueline, a fascinating journey into the internal thoughts of virtuoso cellist Jacqueline du Pré as her career and life were both being tragically cut short by MS, was an exciting risktaking experiment in storytelling, inspired by personal connections to the artist and envisioned as a duet for soprano and cello. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton finally arrived in Toronto, showing us why it has been acclaimed as the “reinvention of the American musical,” a thrilling example of unexpected medium (hip-hop and diverse casting) melding with inspiring message (surprisingly interesting biography of lesser-known American founding father Alexander Hamilton) to create a truly satisfying evening of music theatre. As March approaches, three more exciting productions, all wildly different, are blending personal passion and innovation to share with us both new and familiar stories in new ways designed to give them more immediacy and/or urgency in the telling. Sondheim’s Sunday Eclipse Theatre Company (ETC) is presenting Sunday in the Park with George in part as a celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday year, but even more as an investigation, through the use of an unusual setting and experimental production elements, of the musical’s own interrogation of the artistic process and the toll it can take on an artist’s personal life. Inspired by French pointillist painter Georges Seurat’s painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, the plot revolves around George (a fictionalized version of Seurat) and his life with mistress and model Dot as he begins to create his masterpiece; it then segues in the second act to the present time when George’s great grandson, also an artist, finds himself at an artistic crossroads. Just as ETC found an ideal setting in Toronto’s old Don Jail for last year’s site-responsive production of Kiss of the Spider Woman, so they have chosen Toronto’s The Jam Factory for Sunday in the Park. I reached out to director Evan Tsitsias to find out more about this choice as well as his experimental approach to staging the show. He explained: “I chose The Jam Factory because it offers incredible atmosphere for this particular time period and piece. It has a magical aura when you walk inside; it reminded me of both an artist’s studio, and, because of the expanse of the large room with all these wood beams, it had an outdoor quality as well, which felt like the perfect combination to Evan Buliung (left) and Tess Benger in Sunday in the Park with George A fresh take on the music of George and Ira Gershwin through the prism of an eclectic collection of artists and new arrangements. S’WONDERFUL Featuring Jackie Richardson, Billy Newton-Davis, Sarah Slean, Rob Piltch and Andrew Burashko. APRIL 2, 3, & 4 AT 8PM HARBOURFRONT CENTRE THEATRE Tickets $25 - 416.973.4000 March 2020 | 35

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