Wu_Man_1.jpgThe historic trade routes collectively referred to as the Silk Road, an interconnected web of maritime and overland pathways,  have, for centuries, served as sites for cultural, economic, educational, religious – and purely musical – exchanges. In that light, “silk roads” can be seen as a significant factor in the development of the ever-evolving hybridities that have shaped the face of the modern musical world.

In 1998 the Grammy Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma proposed “Silkroad” as the name of his new non-profit organisation. That project, inspired by his global curiosity and eagerness to forge connections across cultures, disciplines and generations, has grown several branches, the first of which was the successful music performing group, Silk Road Ensemble (SRE). It has played to sold-out houses at Roy Thomson Hall in 2003 and 2009 and will return to perform at Massey Hall on September 15. (Serendipitously, Toronto audiences will have another opportunity to see the SRE up close this September. Morgan Neville’s feature-length documentary The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble graces TIFF’s red carpet, enjoying its world premiere.)

Wu Man’s view from the pipa. Chinese-born Grammy Award nominee Wu Man, widely hailed as the world’s premier pipa (Chinese lute) virtuoso, has a unique perspective on the SRE’s career. An educator, composer and an ambassador of Chinese music, she has a prolific discography of 40 albums and counting. She was among the first musicians to get the call from Yo-Yo Ma to help in founding SRE.

Author: Andrew Timar
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Classical_and_Beyond_1_-_Goodyear.jpg"There are so many composers and so many projects,” Stewart Goodyear said recently to WholeNote editor David Perlman. “What makes this life so exciting is that the discovery is endless; the road doesn’t end and there’s discovery galore.”

The two men were wrapping up the latest edition of Conversations <at>The WholeNote for the magazine’s YouTube channel, a conversation prompted by Goodyear’s upcoming appearance as soloist in the first concert of Mooredale Concerts 2015/16 season, September 27. Billed as “Legendary Piano Variations,” it’s the coupling of two major works, Bach’s joyful Goldberg Variations and Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations (the essence of which, according to Alfred Brendel and others, is humour).

Goodyear talked about the similarities in the two pieces: “They both centre around dances. There is humour in both (of course used very differently), voices, innovative harmonies – one in each set almost sounds like a 21st-century work, the harmonies are so advanced it still shocks the listener. Even if the listener has heard it around 10,000 times – like yours truly – it always makes a huge impression and I’m bowled over by what I hear.”

That’s the boyish pianistic explorer talking, the 37-year-old pianist who is famous for the Beethoven “Sonatathon” in which he has played all 32 sonatas in chronological order at one sitting, who calls himself a “music gourmet” with an appetite for big programs (such as performing all five of the Beethoven piano concertos with the Niagara Symphony Orchestra on Hallowe’en night, repeating the marathon the following Sunday afternoon, November 1). Or, on the same weekend as the Mooredale date, performing all five Beethoven concertos in a slightly more traditional setting with Edwin Outwater and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony: One and Four on Friday evening; Three (and Symphony No.8) on Saturday afternoon; Two and Five Saturday evening.

“It humbles me as an interpreter,” Goodyear continued, discussing his Toronto recital. “I always want to bring an intimacy to both of those works…to get into the marrow.”

Playing these two monumental works on the same recital is “like a Canadian program for me,” he says. His introduction to the Goldberg Variations was Glenn Gould’s 1955 recording of the piece “and then immediately after, I heard [Gould’s] second [recording].” The first recording of the Diabelli Variations he heard was Anton Kuerti’s. Goodyear's own CD of the Diabellis was released last fall by Marquis and very favourably reviewed, by among others Christina Petrowska Quilico in our November 2014 issue.

Goodyear had lived with the Goldbergs all his life before finally performing them in public for the first time on Gould’s own piano at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa last spring, surrounded by portraits of Gould. “I was face to face with Glenn Gould,” he said. “It gave me another excuse to connect with the audience.”

Gould’s piano felt custom made to him, he says. He found playing it “challenging” with its “brilliant sound and lots of colours. Just being a part of that history inspired me a lot,” he continued. “I felt that there was something spiritual going on.”

The Mooredale recital will be Goodyear’s fourth performance of the Bach this year. “Every time I do it, it’s different,” he said. The notational text is sacrosanct, the basis for all Goodyear’s formal preparatory work until it feels “like it’s in every pore.”

“So that whatever happens, it feels like I’m improvising,” he elaborated. “I know it 500 percent that whatever comes out it’s not like I’m reciting something or reiterating something; it’s just coming out.”

Part of his practising method is delving into a piece’s history and its qualities. In the case of Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony which he’s playing again with Paavo Järvi, later this season with the Orchestre de Paris, it’s trying to “find the seed to this masterpiece.” Listening to him talk about its character reveals the way he relates to a musical work: “It’s very theatrical; there are sweeping gestures, extremely lyrical, very colourful, with fermatas, rallentandos. There are moments when you see the lovers running to each other just like Hollywood; there are slow-motion moments when they finally embrace. It’s a technicolor extravaganza. It’s a beautiful work, 80 minutes long. It’s decadent, it’s pure, it’s everything. It’s romantic.”

It’s a telling insight into Goodyear’s approach. Despite the marathons, despite the prodigious technique and memory that they require, the basis for Goodyear’s appeal is his empathetic relationship with the music he performs and his ability to communicate that to an audience – qualities that will undoubtedly be evident to all who hear him in Walter Hall on the last Sunday afternoon of September.

Summer Pleasures. A completely different traversal of the Beethoven piano concertos took place in Stratford August 27 to 29 when Stratford Summer Music presented Jan Lisiecki and the Annex Quartet with Roberto Occhipinti, bass, in three programs encompassing all five of the concertos in transcriptions by the German composer and conductor, Vinzenz Lachner’s (1811-1893). It was Lisiecki’s first time performing all five piano concertos. In the days leading up to our September production deadline, I was fortunate to find time to attend the middle concert which paired the Second and the Fourth.

The 20-year-old wunderkind was his usual gracious and charming self as he introduced the concert. “We can’t give you all the drama,” he said. “But we can give you intimacy and the beauty of this music.”

St. Andrew’s Church is a bright room acoustically but Lisiecki met its challenge (and that of the Yamaha grand) in the Piano Concerto No.2, Op.19, begun when Beethoven was still a teenager and only published after his first six string quartets (Op.18). Lisiecki’s touch was even-handed, very classical, marvellous. He made every note count. The Allegro con brio was Mozartean in its passagework, Haydn-like in its succession of swells but intimations of the composer-to-be were clearly present. The Largo that followed is not one of Beethoven’s best but Occhipinti’s rich, sonorous sound stood out. The lively Rondo, however, is a delight, presaging the more mature symphonist, and the performers seemed to relish playing it, bringing out the joy that flows from the return of the opening theme in its inverted form.

The six played like cohesive, well-balanced chamber musicians in the Rondo, and the piano part especially stood out since it didn’t have to compete with a full orchestra. This transparency continued in the Op. 58 concerto, a piece composed in that luminous time just after the Triple Concerto, the “Waldstein” and “Appassionata” Sonatas and the “Eroica” Symphony and immediately before the “Razumovsky” String Quartets. Lisiecki often played with a sound big enough to match an orchestra which made for a less balanced whole, though given the somewhat rough-hewn sound of the violins, it was not unwelcome. Intimations of beauty leading into the cadenza were dashed by a hurried approach until a surfeit of melody righted the course on the way to a thundering climax.

The second movement conversation between the dark and dissonant strings and the gorgeous lyricism of the keyboard set up the magical, rhapsodic piano cadenza. The spirited third movement Rondo, seemed to outrun its musical sense. But all was right in the encore, the Rondo of the “Emperor” Concerto, in which Lisiecki seemed re-engaged if not re-energized. It was a generous gift to an appreciative audience who greeted the conclusion of each of the three pieces with a standing ovation.

(All of which makes me look forward to Lisiecki’s December 6 recital in Koerner Hall when his program will include Chopin’s 24 Preludes, Mendelssohn’s Variations sérieuses and Mozart’s marvellous Piano Sonata, K331 among other works.)

Paul Lewis. Still on the subject of Stratford Summer Music, on the last Thursday afternoon of July in a warm St. Andrew’s Church (hand-held fans were provided) British pianist Paul Lewis spoke to his congregation, as it were, those of us privileged to hear this supreme interpreter of Beethoven and Schubert, describing how he saw the pieces he was about to play – what he called “true peaks of the piano repertoire” – Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas. 

The concert turned out to be the highlight of my summer. You can read more about it in my blog on thewholenote.com. (Lewis will also be giving a recital, of Brahms, Schubert and Liszt, in Koerner Hall March 20, 2016. I already have a ticket.)

Botos and BartókMeanwhile, the tenth anniversary season of Toronto Summer Music reached a significant climax August 6 with separate concerts late in the afternoon and into the evening. Robi Botos and Béla Bartók, two Hungarian-born émigrés to the New World, were appropriate poster boys for the well-conceived and multi-layered 2015 TSM festival.

With its extensive schedule built around a foundation of TSM Academy fellows and mentors, the concerts, masterclasses, lectures, films and open rehearsals flowed organically, buttressed by a number of additional concerts featuring special guests such as soprano Measha Brueggergosman, pianists Garrick Ohlsson, Ingrid Fliter and Danilo Pérez and the Danish String Quartet. They provided ample evidence for artistic director’s Douglas McNabney’s contention at the opening concert that TSM provides “a significant contribution to the cultural life of this city in the summer.” Not to mention a significant contribution to the life of the Academy fellows.

I took in six concerts, one dress rehearsal, two masterclasses and a lecture over the 25 days of the festival and barely scratched the surface. Highlights included the well-devised “American Avant-Garde” program devoted to Cage, Feldman, Ives and Zorn with the personable pianist Pedja Muzijevic and the irrepressible Afiara String Quartet; Ohlsson’s Scriabin; the Danish String Quartet’s playing of Adès’ audacious Arcadiana; the Borromeo String Quartet’s complete Bartók cycle in one evening, preceded the day before by first violinist Nicholas Kitchen’s illuminating lecture on the week he once spent exploring Bartók’s original manuscripts in Budapest; Finnish lyric soprano Soile Isokoski’s memorable masterclass; Botos’ exuberant tribute to Oscar Peterson in the presence of Peterson family members at a rollicking, jam-packed Heliconian Hall; Brueggergosman’s touching and extraordinarily beautiful Summertime. Further details on TSM 2015 can be found on thewholenote.com.

Classical_and_Beyond_2_-_Gerstein.jpgSeptember is here. The TSO begins its 2015/2016 season with a crowd-pleasing program headed by guest soloist Itzhak Perlman in Bruch’s dazzling Violin Concerto No.1. With its gorgeous melodic lines and virtuoso passages seamlessly integrated, it’s one of the most popular concertos in the violin canon. Having just turned 70, Perlman will celebrate that milestone as well as his ongoing relationship with the TSO (which goes back to 1966) in Roy Thomson Hall, beginning at 7pm September 24. The orchestra then jumps into the deep end with a rousing program featuring the legendary Three B’s. Following Leopold Stokowski’s arrangement of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor the TSO moves on to the rich and melodious Double Concerto of Brahms with TSO concertmaster Jonathan Crow and principal cellist Joseph Johnson as soloists. Post-intermission comes Beethoven’s iconic Symphony No.5. If you have never heard this piece live, get yourself down to RTH September 25 or 26 or experience it September 27 in the glorious acoustics of the George Weston Recital Hall. If you haven’t heard it recently, now’s the time. A live reacquaintance with this music is essential at least once every decade. September 30, Shostakovich’s jaunty Suite for Variety Orchestra (which may be familiar to some readers for its use in Stanley Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut) is joined on the program with Gershwin’s challenging Concerto in F. The mulit-faceted Russian-born, American Kirill Gerstein is the piano soloist and the guest conductor is the gifted American James Gaffigan. October 1 and 3 Prokofiev’s indispensable Symphony No.5 augments the program, making for a full musical evening indeed.


Sept 13: Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society. South African pianist Petronel Malan’s program includes Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata.

Sept 16: KWCMS. The New Orford String Quartet opens its program with Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 3, Op.18No.3 before moving on to the seminal Op.130 and its original ending, the Grosse Fugue, Op. 133.

Sept 18: Prince Edward County Music Festival (PECMF). The New Orford String Quartet performs Brahms’ String Quartet No.2, Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue Op.133 and Gary Kulesha’s String Quartet at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene.

Sept 19: PECMF. The Gryphon Trio’s concert includes Beethoven’s Archduke Trio at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene.

Sept 19, 20, 21: KWCMS. Georgy Valtechev, violin, and Lora Tchekoratova, piano, perform all ten of Beethoven’s sonatas for violin and piano in a series of three concerts.

Sept 20: RCM. Glenn Gould School faculty-member, 80-year-old John Perry’s big program for a Sunday afternoon includes Mozart’s divine Piano Sonata K.333, three Brahms IntermezziOp.117, Beethoven’s penultimate piano sonata, Op.110 and Schubert’s melodic masterpiece, his final sonata, D960.

Sept 25: PECMF. “Inspired by Clara” – chamber music by Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann and Brahms at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene.

Sept 26: RCM. The ARC Ensemble’s ambitious program includes the sublime clarinetist Joaquin Valdepeñas in Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet K581, Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet Op.57 and Weinberg’s Sonata No.1 for Violin and Piano Op.12. You’ll need a ticket, but it’s FREE, part of Culture Days.

Sept 26: PECMF. An evening of German and French cabaret songs with Patricia O’Callaghan at the Regent Theatre.  

Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote.`

As things go, the sweet sounds of summer are winding down as we gear up for the beginning of a new concert season. Three highlights of the summer for me personally were joining with 1000 other performers as a choir member in R. Murray Schafer’s Apocalypsis, singing with the Element Choir backing up the mind-blowing Tanya Tagaq at Nathan Philips Square and experiencing the purely delightful piece DIVE, featuring singer Fides Krucker and the music of Nik Beason. In all three, the voice was a predominant player. As I looked over the listings for this coming month, I couldn’t help observing the number of concerts and events featuring music by women composers and leading performers. One can question whether a point should be made about this, but given the long struggle for gender equality in both composition and conducting, it is worth noting that something is shifting. One element that appears in common among several of these events is the presence of the female voice.

New_1_-_Thierry_Tidrow.jpgMonk Feldman and Caitlin Smith: On September 29 Arraymusic is collaborating with the Canadian Opera Company to present the works of two women composers – Barbara Monk Feldman and Linda Caitlin Smith – for the free noon hour series at the COC’s Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. Monk Feldman’s piece, Love Shards of Sappho, originally commissioned by Arraymusic in 2001, is being presented in celebration of the COC’s premiere in late October of her opera Pyramus and Thisbe. The piece is built around texts written by the Greek lyric poet Sappho, who lived during the 600s BC on the Greek island of Lesbos. Renowned during her time, only a few fragments of Sappho’s writings remain. The texts used by Monk Feldman are clear and full of musicality. The words begin: Harmony clear voiced/I shall go/Clear voice I go/Clear voice/Garlanded/Adorned/ Delightful choir. Feldman’s music has been described as quiet and full of an intense intimacy. One can easily imagine the inspiring pairing these words and musical style will create, particularly in the hands of soprano Ilana Zarankin.

The other work on the program is Hieroglyphs, written in 1998 by Linda Caitlin Smith. Smith’s music is characterized by great attention to the sensuous qualities of sound and is a perfect concert companion in this program. Hieroglyphs consists of definitions of nine words drawn from dictionaries dating from 1859, 1906 and 1939. The list of words and definitions was assembled by Elissa Poole and Linda C. Smith and will be sung by Danielle MacMillan. The Arraymusic ensemble accompanies both works. 

Hannigan conducts: In the February issue of TheWholeNote, I interviewed soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan regarding her upcoming vocal performances in the TSO’s New Creations Festival. During the interview, Barbara spoke about breaking new ground as a conductor, another field predominantly occupied by men. Part of her own unique twist on taking up this new professional path was to do away with the traditional conductor attire and wear clothing that allowed her to be fully expressive with her bare arms as she conducts. On October 7 and 8, she returns to Toronto to conduct the Toronto Symphony in a program of works that span from Mozart and Haydn to Stravinsky and Ligeti. She will begin the program by singing Luigi Nono’s Djamila Boupacha before turning to the orchestra to conduct Haydn’s Symphony No. 49 “La Passione.”

Lorca to Lludgar: Another Canadian soprano who has been making international waves with her “impeccably pure and iridescent” voice is also returning to Toronto to perform in Soundstreams first concert of the season on September 29. In “Beyond the Aria,” Adrianne Pieczonka will take the stage along with Toronto-based mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó to perform a collection of works, including one of my personal favourites, George Crumb’s virtuosic Ancient Voices of Children, composed in 1970.  Drawing on the evocative poetry of Federico García Lorca, the piece uses a variety of sonic techniques, such as the soprano singing into the piano strings, and incorporates temple bells, musical saw and toy piano to convey Crumb’s essential vision: a request to God to “give me back my ancient soul of a child.” Other pieces on the program include selections from Crumb’s American Songbook, Luciano Berio’s arrangements of songs by Lennon and McCartney and a world premiere by Argentinian-Canadian composer Analia Llugdar. A Jules Léger Prize winner in 2008, Llugdar’s works frequently incorporate singing and speaking voices while pursuing her aesthetic vision of a search for “the core of the sound.” Her piece in this program, Romance de la luna, luna is inspired by the Lorca poem of the same name. Soundstreams’ press release is in sync with the theme of this month’s column: a concert celebrating the soaring voices and talents of Pieczonka, Szabó and Lludgar, three exceptional musical women.”

Companion events: At a companion event to the September 29 concert, Soundstreams will present one of their popular Salon evenings on September 18 further exploring the poetry of Lorca as interpreted by poet Beatriz Hausner. Krisztina Szabó will perform new compositions by Anna Atkinson, Juliet Palmer, James Rolfe and Christopher Thornborrow, each of which was written using the same Lorca excerpt. Other events that offer insight into the concerts mentioned above include a discussion of the sources that inspired Barbara Monk Feldman’s opera on September 24 at U of T’s Faculty of Music. Arraymusic will present a talk on Linda Smith’s Heiroglyphs and the extended piano techniques in the work of Barbara Pentland on October 3 as part of the Toronto Public Library’s Music 101 series. In addition, at the Canadian Music Centre, September 26 will see the launch of Pioneers of Electronic Musica new book by Norma Beecroft, as well as a special performance by the Canadian Electronic Ensemble. David Dacks, artistic director of the Music Gallery, will interview Beecroft about her research covering both international and Canadian composers working in this medium.

ACWC: As is evident from these numerous events, the focus on the musical artistry of women is rising fast and strong. It wasn’t always this way, and in 1981 a group of women met to find a way to address the absence of women composers in concert programming across the country. The Association of Canadian Women Composers was formed the next year and is currently working to actively promote the organization and present concerts. On September 18, their “Earth Music Concert in Waterloo will feature music by 12 ACWC composers.

New Beginnings: With the Labour Day weekend marking the end of the summer, I want to bring your attention to an event that occurs each year at Yonge-Dundas Square – the New Music Marathon and Musicircus! produced by Contact Contemporary Music. Because Labour Day falls a bit later this year, you just might be reading this in time to go and check it out. On Saturday, September 5 there will be a series of performances and interactive installations, including John Oswald’s epic composition Spectre recreated for 1000 string instruments. Then on September 6 in an intimate setting in an east-end loft space – The Jam Factory – Montreal’s ensemble Shalabi Effect will be performing, among others.

Continuum Contemporary Music begins their season on September 19 with their program “At the Seams.” On centre stage will be the awarding of the Jules Léger Prize to Thierry Tidrow for his composition Au fond du cloître humide commissioned by Continuum. The program will go on to feature world premieres by three other former Léger Prize winners: Chris Paul HarmanAndré Ristic and  Alec Hall. Rounding out the program will be a work for Gergory Oh by New York-based composer Caroline ShawEsprit Orchestra starts off with their “Con Brio” concert on October 4 with a newly commissioned work by Omar Daniel, a thriller inspired by the Nordic myth of the husband killer that uses Estonian folk idioms. The other Canadian composer represented on the program is Zosha Di Castri whose piece is treated as an evolving narrative recreating the sounds of a fictitious culture. Two other works by Jörg Widmann from Germany and Thomas Adès from England complete the theme of musically creating other worlds.

New_2_-_The_Visit.jpgThe Music Gallery season gets underway on September 25 with a program of contrasting cellos. The Visit, a group comprising cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne and vocalist Heather Sita Black, will perform and launch their new CD Through Darkness Into Light. Europe-based Tristan Honsinger joins Montreal’s In The Sea, an improvising trio formed by Nicolas Caloia.  Honsinger has returned to his former home of Montreal where he got his start improvising more than 40 years ago to join up with the younger Montrealers of In the Sea.

Quick Picks:

September 19: Canadian Music Centre. ∆TENT New Music Ensemble. Tsurumoto and others.

September 21: “Hybridiana: Canadiana Music from the Modern Era.” Works by Somers, Palmer, Buczynski, Archer, Kunz, Lustig and Coulthard. Featuring Hybridity (Shaelyn Archibald, Daniel Wheeler, Emily Hill and Michael Bridge).

September 24: “Hogtown Brass at the CMC.” Music composed especially for brass quintet.

September 5: Music Gallery /Bicycle Opera Project. “Shadow Box.” Works by Thornborrow, Burge, Höstman, Rolfe, Burry, and others.

September 13: The Oratory. Missa Septem Dolorem. New composition for two sopranos and organ by music director Philip Fournier.

September 20: Shrinking Planet Productions. “Canadian Visionaries I.” Works by Schafer, Glick, Buczynski, Coulthard and Pentland.

September 25: Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. “New Music Kingston Series: Dynamic Percussion/Piano Duo,” Kingston.

October 4: Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society. “Moveable Feast.” Two Bach cello suites plus two newly commissioned works related to them. 

Wendalyn Bartley is a Toronto-based composer and electro-vocal sound artist. sounddreaming@gmail.com.

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I don’t know how many people I can speak for when I say that I’m not too eager for summer to be over so soon, but it does seem as though many Toronto ensembles aren’t quite ready to start their new seasons just yet either. Happily there are a few performances in September that are well worth going to see.

Early_1_-_Rodolfo_Richter.jpgRodolfo Richter: One group that’s definitely ready for the new season is Tafelmusik, which has its first concert the week after Labour Day. The superstar orchestra will, in fact, be very busy, very soon – they have two concert runs between now and October as they continue their search for a new artistic director. The first concert will feature the Brazilian-English violinist Rodolfo Richter, who, as the associate leader of the Academy of Ancient Music and a Handel/Bach specialist, may be exactly what Tafelmusik is looking for.

Early_2_-_Mirelle_Lebel.jpgRichter is an experienced player who has worked his way to the top of the European musical scene. Initially a modern violin player and composer – he studied composition with Pierre Boulez – he decided to make the switch to baroque violin in his mid-20s, studying with Monica Huggett. He also comes with an impressive discography as a leader, chamber player and soloist, having made the first recording of the complete violin sonatas of Erlebach and a solo album of 18th-century Italian composers Giuseppe Tartini and Francesco Veracini in addition to his recordings with the AAM.

With an extensive musical CV behind him, Richter will likely do a fine job with Tafelmusik as he leads them in a performance of music by Vivaldi, Handel and Bach at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, Jeanne Lamon Hall, September 16 to 20. The group will also be joined by mezzo soprano Mireille Lebel for some Handel arias and the wonderful bassoonist Dominic Teresi for a Vivaldi concerto.

Cecilia Bernardini: Tafelmusik will also be bringing back violinist Cecilia Bernardini, who dazzled Toronto audiences when she debuted with the group in March last year. Bernardini was hired as a replacement for the virtuoso violinist Stefano Montinari, but she exceeded expectations with her performance of one of Jean-Marie Leclair’s notoriously difficult violin concertos which she had added to the regular program. Bernardini is a gifted soloist and performer, and has the potential to bring a great deal of youthful energy to the group – she’s barely 30 years old. Besides touring as a soloist, she already has her own ensemble (the string trio Serafino) and is in the trial period for leadership of both the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Camerata Salzburg. She has fewer recordings to her name than Richter – just a couple of  La Serenissima recordings as a section player- but is nevertheless an up-and-coming player on the international music scene.

Besides being an exceptional player, Bernardini chooses exciting and interesting concert repertoire that doesn’t get performed very often. Her concert series with Tafelmusik, taking place October 1 to 4, and 6, is no exception. She and the group will be playing a Geminiani follia, as well as Jan Dismas Zelenka’s wind-rich (but nevertheless very queasy sounding) Hypochondria. Vivaldi and Telemann, respectively, will round out the program with two pieces the group is playing for the first time – Il Proteo, o il mondo al rovescio, and the misleadingly titled La Bizarre (with the exception of the last movement, it doesn’t sound that strange).

Anne Boleyn: If you’re more in the mood for something a bit less maniacal, the Musicians in Ordinary have a chamber concert September 25 featuring music sung and enjoyed by one of the most famous women in English history.

Anne Boleyn was just a girl when she was sent from England to the Netherlands and France in order to be trained to be a lady-in-waiting for the English court. Part of her education was in music, and she was familiar with, and very likely performed, the works of some of the most influential composers of the time. In particular, Boleyn had the work of Josquin des Prez (1450-1521), widely considered to be the greatest composer of the early Renaissance, in her collection, and his compositions will be featured in the Musicians’ concert. Soprano Hallie Fishel and lutenist John Edwards will be joined by a group of four singers for an 8pm concert of vocal music and dances for solo lute at Father Madden Hall in the Carr Building at St. Michael’s College.

 If you’re also interested in some of the history behind how Anne Boleyn found herself studying music in the Netherlands, consider showing up early for an edifying pre-concert lecture by Deanne Williams, author and associate professor of English at York University. And if you’re really a history geek (or binge-watched The Tudors way too much), you might want to check out the history colloquium organized that day by the Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies at the University of Toronto, based around the discovery of this manuscript and what it tells us about music in Europe in Boleyn’s time. You can find information on the colloquium at their website, crrs.ca.

TEMPO: If you’re not content to simply listen to baroque music and would like to actually try playing it, you should learn about TEMPO. The Toronto Early Music Players Organization is a group devoted to making early music accessible to amateur musicians who want to learn to play early music repertoire, and they have brought in lutenist Lucas Harris to coach their first workshop of the 2015/16 season. Harris is an excellent choice to coach amateurs – aside from being a professional lute player of the first rank, he’s also a coach for the Toronto Continuo Collective and an experienced choral conductor besides. No word on what they’ll be playing yet, so be prepared to sight-read, I suppose. If you’re at all interested in playing with the group, the workshop is at the Armour Heights Community Recreation Centre on Sunday, September 13 from 1:30 to 4pm. To participate, go to their website (tempotoronto.net), fill in the application form and show up with an instrument and a music stand. And have fun.

Going public: Finally, I should mention one new feature of this season that I haven’t seen before. Some of the top players in Tafelmusik will be giving lectures in their various areas of expertise over the next few months. It’s a natural outgrowth of period performance – most early music specialists have traditionally studied musicology alongside their studies in performance practice. As a result, there are many early musicians who have a wealth of knowledge to share about music history. This month, the Toronto Public Library will feature Christopher Verrette lecturing on the origins of the symphony in the 17th and 18th centuries at the North York Central Library on September 23 at 7pm. Verrette is an intelligent player with a wide knowledge of instrumental playing and a lifetime of experience playing early symphonic repertoire, so it should be quite interesting to to hear what he has to say on the subject. 

David Podgorski is a Toronto-based harpsichordist, music teacher and a founding member of Rezonance. He can be contacted at earlymusic@thewholenote.com.

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The 2015/16 opera season in Toronto is shaping up to be an exciting one. Based on the schedules that have already been announced, there are already two world premieres on offer along with a North American premiere and several Canadian premieres.  

Opera_1_-_La_Traviata.jpgCOC entices: While the 2014/15 season was a very safe one for Canada’s largest opera company, the coming COC season is much more enticing with a world premiere plus two company premieres alongside four standard repertory works, two of which will be in new productions. The season opens with Verdi’s La Traviata running from October 8 to November 6.  The COC has replaced its unloved production by Dmitry Bertman with a new co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Houston Grand Opera by Arin Arbus. Russian Ekaterina Siurina and Canadian Joyce El-Khoury will alternate in the role of Violetta; American Charles Castronovo and Canadian tenor Andrew Haji will sing her lover Alfredo; and American Quinn Kelsey and Canadian James Westman will sing Alfredo’s disapproving father Germont. The conductor is Marco Guidarini.

The most anticipated opera of the season, however, is the one running in repertory with La Traviata. This is the Pyramus and Thisbe (2010) by Canadian Barbara Monk Feldman. This work is important for the company for several reasons. First of all, it is the first Canadian opera that the COC has produced on its main stage since The Golden Ass by Randolph Peters in 1999. Thus, what has been far too long a wait is now over. Second, this will be the first Canadian opera ever staged in the auditorium of the Four Seasons Centre. Third, this will be only the second opera by a female composer that the COC has ever staged, the first being L’Amour de loin (2000) by Kaija Saariaho in 2012, and the first ever by a female Canadian composer.

Pyramus and Thisbe is presented with two vocal works by Claudio Monteverdi, the Lamento d’Arianna(1608) and Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (1624). The first is the sole aria remaining from a lost opera by Monteverdi while the second, though sometimes called an opera, is really a narrative sequence of madrigals. Both are company premieres. Krisztina Szabó sings Arianna, Clorinda and Thisbe; Phillip Addis sings Pyramus and Tancredi; and Owen McCausland sings Testo, the narrator in Il combattimento. American Christopher Alden, who directed La Clemenza di Tito in 2013 and Die Fledermaus in 2012, is the stage director and Johannes Debus will conduct. The triple bill will run from October 20 to November 7.

Opera_2_-_Monk_Feldman.jpgThe winter season begins with a remount of Wagner’s Siegfried in the familiar production by François Girard. American soprano Christine Goerke, who thrilled audiences earlier this year as Brünnhilde in Die Walküre, returns to continue Brünnhilde’s journey in Siegfried. German tenor Stefan Vinke sings the title role; Austrian Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke is Siegfried’s mentor Mime; and American Alan Held sings the god Wotan. Johannes Debus conducts and the production runs from January 23 to February 14.

Playing in repertory with Siegfried is Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in a production from the Salzburg Festival directed by Claus Guth. Austrian bass-baritone Josef Wagner sings the title role, Canadian Jane Archibald is Susanna, Canadian Erin Wall sings the Countess, Russell Braun is the Count and American Emily Fons is Cherubino. Johannes Debus conducts.

The COC spring season pairs the familiar and the unfamiliar. Bizet’s Carmen reappears after only six years, this time directed by Toronto’s own Joel Ivany, artistic director of the popular avant-garde opera company Against the Grain Theatre. Georgian Anita Rachvelishvili and French mezzo Clémentine Margaine alternate in the title role; American Russell Thomas and Canadian David Pomeroy sing Don José; Americans Christian Van Horn and Zachary Nelson share the role of Escamillo; and Canadians Simone Osborne and Karine Boucher are Micaëla. Carmen, conducted by Paolo Carignani, runs from April 12 to May 15.

The unfamiliar opera is Maometto II (1820), only the second non-comic opera by Rossini the COC has ever presented. The opera concerns the attempt of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II (1432-81) to conquer Venice, which unsurprisingly is framed as a story of thwarted love. Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni sings the title role; Leah Crocetto is Maometto’s former lover Anna; Elizabeth DeShong sings the trousers role of Anna’s current lover Calbo; and Bruce Sledge is the Venetian noble Erisso. David Alden will direct the production from Santa Fe Opera as he did when it premiered there in 2012 and Harry Bickett will conduct. The opera runs from April 29 to May 14.

Opera Atelier’s 30th anniversary season also feature something old and something new. Old will be the company’s second revival of Lully’s Armide (1686), previously presented in 2005 and 2012. Following the Toronto run from October 22 to 31, OA takes the work to Versailles where OA now has a recurring engagement. The production will include such OA favourites as Colin Ainsworth, Daniel Belcher, Peggy Kriha Dye and Carla Huhtanen.

The new production will be Mozart’s early opera Lucio Silla (1772). Director Marshall Pynkoski and choreographer Jeannette Lajeunnesse Zingg had such success with it at the Salzburg Festival in 2013, they were invited to take it to La Scala in Milan. Now they will present it for a Canadian audience. Krešimir Špicer sings Lucio based on the Roman dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla (c.138-78 BC). Meghan Lindsay sings Giunia, the woman Lucio lusts after but who is already engaged to the Roman senator Cecilio, a trousers role sung by Peggy Kriha Dye. Performances run April 7 to 16 and are likely to be in high demand.

Toronto Operetta Theatre also offers two fully staged productions this year. Its season begins with a concert performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore (1878) on November 1, but its end-of-year show is a fully staged return of Sigmund Romberg’s The Student Prince (1924) starring Ernest Ramírez, Jennifer Taverner and Curtis Sullivan. The season concludes with the Canadian premiere of Jacinto Guerrero’s Los Gavilanes (The Sparrow Hawks) from 1923. Running April 27 to May 1, this work, well-known in Spain, is the latest in TOT’s admirable exploration of the Spanish and Latin American form of operetta known as zarzuela and stars Guillermo Silva-Marin and Miriam Khalil.

CanStage: An unexpected source for opera this year is Canadian Stage. The company’s artistic director Matthew Jocelyn directed both plays and opera during his time in Europe and now fulfills his dream of broadening Canadian Stage’s scope to include opera. As a co-production with Soundstreams, the company will present the North American premiere of Julie (2005) by Belgian composer Philippe Boesmans from November 17-29. Based on Strindberg’s seminal naturalistic play Miss Julie (1888), the opera stars Lucia Cervoni as Julie, Clarence Frazer as Jean and Sharleen Joynt as Christine. Les Dala conducts and Jocelyn directs.

Opera in Concert: Adding variety and sparkle to Toronto’s opera scene are the offerings of Voicebox: Opera in Concert. Its 2015/15 season begins with the Canadian premiere of Alexander Borodin’s Prince Igor (1890) on November 22 in Russian with English surtitles. On February 7, it presents the Canadian premiere of Falstaff (1799) by Antonio Salieri (1750-1825) – yes, the villain of Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus (1979) whom Shaffer unjustly accuses of murdering Mozart. Luckily, due to the efforts of such singers as Cecilia Bartoli, Salieri’s reputation has revived and Voicebox, with accompaniment by the Aradia Ensemble under Kevin Mallon, will give us a rare chance to hear Salieri’s take on Shakespeare’s great comic character. The season ender is the world premiere of Isis and Osiris by Peter Anthony Togni to a libretto by poet Sharon Singer. Based on ancient Egyptian mythology, the opera concerns the sibling rivalry of the titular gods, fratricide and the quest for immortality. It stars Lucia Cesaroni, Julie Nesrallah, Ernesto Ramírez and Michael Nyby.  Robert Cooper conducts the orchestra and the Voicebox Chorus.

Although not every company has announced its plans, there is already much to look forward to. Stay tuned for more. 

Christopher Hoile is a Toronto-based writer on opera and theatre. He can be contacted at opera@thewholenote.com.

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Art_Song_1_-_Pieczonka.jpgIn 1963 Lawrence Cherney was still in his teens learning to play the oboe. One day his teacher, Perry Bauman, who was the first oboe in the CBC Symphony Orchestra, asked Cherney to join him in the orchestra as a third oboe was needed. The work to be played was something called Symphony of Psalms. It was only after Cherney arrived for a rehearsal in Massey Hall that he realized that the Symphony was by Igor Stravinsky and that Stravinsky himself would conduct. Stravinsky remained important to Cherney. In 1982 he was concerned that the centenary of Stravinsky’s birth was not being noted, oddly not only because of Stravinsky’s centrality to modern music but also because of his long association with Canadian orchestras. It was in that year that Cherney, by then a well-known oboist (he was one of the original members of the York Winds as well as the National Arts Centre Orchestra), founded Chamber Concerts Canada (later renamed Soundstreams). Its opening concert was a centenary celebration of Stravinsky’s work.

Over the years Soundstreams has specialized in the performance of contemporary works. Many of the composers featured were Canadian and a number of new works were commissioned. In 1988 Soundstreams programmed George Crumb’s Ancient Voices of Children. The soloist was a young soprano called Adrianne Pieczonka. September 29 at Koerner Hall, Pieczonka, now a famous singer, will again sing this work with Soundstreams. She will also perform Luciano Berio’s arrangements of songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Together with the mezzo Krisztina Szabó she will sing selections from Crumb’s American Songbook as well as the world premiere of Analia Llugdar’s Romance de la luna, luna based on the poetry of Frederico García Lorca (as is Crumb’s Ancient Voices of Children). Soundstreams is also presenting, on September 18 at the Gardiner Museum, an exploration of the connections between poetry and music through the work of Lorca, including four short new works. The singer will again be Krisztina Szabó. PWYC.

Hannigan sings Nono at TSO: Another important concert featuring modern music will take place on October 7 and 8 at Roy Thomson Hall, when the soprano Barbara Hannigan will perform Djamila Boupacha by Luigi Nono. Boupacha was a member of the Algerian National Liberation Front. She was arrested in 1960, subjected to torture and rape, and condemned to death in 1961. She was released in 1962 after the Evian Accords. The work has been recorded by Sophie Boulin and there is a haunting rendition by Janet Pape on YouTube. Hannigan has never been the kind of artist who restricts herself by concentrating on only one kind of music. The concert will also include three arias by Mozart as well as a number of orchestral works conducted by Hannigan: Haydn’s Symphony No. 49 “La Passione,” Ligeti’s Concert Românesc and Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements.

The Cathedral Church of St. James continues its Cantatas in the Cathedral sequence. On September 2 Sheila Dietrich, soprano, Christina Stelmacovich, alto, and David Roth, bass, will perform Bach’s Cantata BWV 78; on October 7 the featured work is Bach’s Cantata BWV 5. Roth will again be the bass soloist and the other singers are Julia Morson, soprano, Laura McAlpine, alto, and Andrew Walker, tenor. PWYC.

Lunch-time recitals in the Richard Bradshaw Auditorium at the Four Seasons Centre will resume on September 22 with a performance by the incoming artists of the COC Ensemble Studio. On September 29 Arraymusic will present Love Shards of Sappho, with music by Barbara Monk Feldman, and Hieroglyphs by Linda Catlin Smith. October 6 is “Alma Innamorata,” a free program of Italian baroque music about love, composed by Handel, Corelli and Scarlatti. Free.

The Friends of Gravity perform The Seven Deadly Sins, a “ballet chanté,” composed by Kurt Weill to a text by Bertolt Brecht, on September 25 and 26 at St. Bartholomew Anglican Church, with Stephanie Conn singing the main part. This work was first performed in Paris in 1933 with Weill’s wife Lotte Lenya taking the main role of Anna. It has since been recorded several times by Teresa Stratas, Ute Lemper and Anne Sofie von Otter. The role of Anna is split between two performers: Anna One, a singer, and Anna Two, a dancer. The full title of the work is The Seven Deadly Sins of the Petty Bourgeoisie: it is Anna’s virtues that are considered sins.

Other Events:

September 10 traditional Welsh folk music will be performed at the  Tranzac Club. The singer will be Bethan Rhiannon.

September 13 Missa Septem Dolorem, a new composition for two sopranos and organ by Philip Fournier, will be performed at The Oratory, Holy Family Church. Free.

September 16 to 20 Tafelmusik opens its 2015/16 season withThe Human Passions.” The mezzo Mireille Lebel will sing arias by Handel and Vivaldi; the concert will also include instrumental work by Bach and Vivaldi at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.

September 20 instrumentalists of Ensemble Caprice and vocal soloists from the Theatre of Early Music will perform works by Handel and Vivaldi. This is a fundraising event for the Early Music/Historical Performance of the University of Toronto. On September 27 music students from the Baroque Academy will perform. Both events are in the Trinity College Chapel.

There are several events at the University of Toronto. On September 22 Michael Albano will lead a performance class for singers which will concentrate on the relationship between song and the spoken word. On September 24 there will be a discussion of the mythic, literary and visual art sources that inspired Barbara Monk Feldman’s opera Pyramus and Thisbe (to be premiered by the Canadian Opera Company later in the fall). With Professors Caryl Clark, Holger Schott Syme, Alison Syme and Robin Elliott and composers Barbara Monk Feldman and Norbert Palej. On September 29 graduate students in vocal music will perform. All three events are free and take place in Walter Hall.

October 1 the baritone Wilbert Ward will sing a free concert at Metropolitan United Church. Free. Also on that day there will be a concert of traditional songs from Mali and of the sounds of ancient Africa mixed with blues and rock. The singers are Vieux Farka Touré and Julia Easterlin at Revival Bar.

October 1 and 2 Tim Albery and David Fallis will explore the dangers of looking too long or too closely, inspired by the Baroque repertoire at The Black Box Theatre. PWYC.

October 4 Kripa Nageshwar, soprano, and William Shookhoff, piano, will perform works by Dvorák and Kaprálová at St. Wenceslaus Church.

And beyond the GTA: October 7 Jennifer Potter, soprano, and Keiko Kuepfer, piano, will perform in the “Midday Music with Shigeru” concert at Hi-Way Pentecostal Church, Barrie. clip_image001.png

Hans de Groot is a concertgoer and active listener who also sings and plays the recorder. He can be contacted at artofsong@thewholenote.com.

An unusual but fantastic summer has just passed, filled to the brim with culture and sport. With Toronto playing host to the Pan Am and Parapan Am games, the concurrent Panamania cultural events truly allowed our city to showcase its diversity and love of music. Unprecedented energy filled many corners of the GTA as facilities opened their doors and neighbourhoods flew their colours and opened their arms in welcome. Choirs from across the GTA were highlighted across the GTA, from the University of Toronto Scarborough to Nathan Phillips Square to Ajax and the Milton Velodrome. The Element Choir was everywhere, supporting Polaris Prize winner Tanya Tagaq in her transformative music on several occasions. Perennial favourite, the  inclusive, open concept Choir! Choir! Choir! also featured in a Panamania event in the Distillery District with their pop culture approach to choral music. And who can forget the fantastic Hamilton Children’s Choir singing “Shine Your Light” in front of a sold-out Rogers Centre and millions on TV?

Choral_1_-_Tagaq.jpgApocalypsis: For those of us lucky enough, the beginning of summer was enriched by the revelatory powerhouse that was Luminato’s presentation of Apocalypsis. As a tenor in the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, I sang in one of the 12 choirs that made up the second half of this grand masterpiece of art. One thousand performers brought this uniquely conceived piece to fruition for only the second time since its premiere in 1980. Unfortunately, the choristers caught only a brief glimpse of the staging and choreography. I wonder if the audience was even aware of about 400 of us entering towards the end of the first act as Babylon is crumbling. I relished this moment, entering into the darkness of the dim balcony amidst the cacophony of thick chain metal crashing as the Seven Seals of Myth are broken;  and then, in the residue of the broken world, an old woman emerged. I never saw her but the privilege of hearing her was humbling: Tanya Tagaq in her evocative portrayal of the old woman. We are lucky she was around so much this summer.

Luminato Artistic Director Jörn Weisbrodt has one more festival under his helm before he passes on the reins. Luminato has been good for choirs in our region right from the start with such pieces as R. Murray Schafer’s The Children’s Crusade. But this summer’s Schafer work, Apocalypsis, was Luminato’s largest act of civic engagement so far; it was a truly monumental task to produce and assemble the forces needed for this. One thousand performers will forever remember this unique event in history. I myself made friends with choirs and people from Ottawa to Kitchener. Between the festivities of the Parapan Am and Pan Am games and the grandeur of Apocalypsis, city-building through choral music has been given a real shot in the arm. Here’s to much more!

Building time: Followers of choral music are aware of the rehearsal hours and planning that go into a full season of music. There is often a lag between the start of the season and the first choral performances. It takes time to get a choir back into itself. Noel Edison puts it well when talking about the 130-voice Toronto Mendelssohn Choir: “There’s a lot of humanity in this room.” All choirs, regardless of size, need this time together to build good sound.

As adults we may forget the mix of elation and comfort kids feel after returning to school from summer vacation. But this fun, slightly nervous feeling hits me afresh as choirs return from break and begin making sound anew. Most choristers will spend the first few rehearsals listening to funny quips from conductors about the dismal quality of the sound or cries of tone deafness, flat basses and sharp sopranos. (Tenors are always on pitch. Always.) The reality is that it takes a while for an ensemble to get back into it. Ensembles may have new members, they definitely have new repertoire. For choral music audiences, September is a quiet month as choristers get back into the habit. But for those of us in the choirs, we are busy at work.

A few early birds, of course, are always the exception to the rule:

Intersection: Toronto continues to offer some exemplary opportunities to experience the civic experience of choral music with Contact Contemporary Music’s Intersection: New Music Marathon on September 5. Christine Duncan and the Element Choir will be making an appearance at Yonge-Dundas Square along with a host of other performers in a display of performance and interactive installations. Check them out starting at 2pm.

Wilfrid Laurier leads its school year performances October 4 with “Sing Fires of Justice 10th Anniversary Concert.” Held at St Matthew’s Lutheran Church, donations are accepted in lieu of ticket sales. For ten years now, WLU has used this concert as a commemoration of murdered and missing indigenous women across Canada creating a fusion of community-based music and social justice.

Sweetwater: In the last couple of years there have been quite a few productions of Bach’s Mass in B Minor (one of which I performed in with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir). I am excited to see it on the lineup for the Sweetwater Music Festival staged as a sing-a-long September 19 at 1pm in Owen Sound. There are quite a few moments of emotion in the piece that are a pleasure to sing as a performer. The Gloria in Excelsis Deo is one not to miss with its bold trumpets and the choir going almost at full tilt before settling into the beautifully gentle Et in Terra Pax. Conductors Kenneth Slowik and Adrian Butterfield have rightfully chosen the Gloria as a feature in the sing-a-long. Unless one is in the Amadeus, Oakham House Choir or Tafelmusik’s sing-a-long Messiah how often does one get to sing with an orchestra? The Bach’s Mass in B Minor can be watched in full the next day, September 20 at 3pm.

Singsation: The Centre for Social Innovation and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir are offering a free Culture Days’ Singsation. Singsation Saturdays are a mainstay for hundreds of people throughout the season and offer enjoyers of choral music a chance to sing some fabulous music with fantastic local conductors. A highlight of last year was COC chorus master Sandra Horst’s Opera Choruses Singsation. This year VOCA conductor Jenny Crober leads off with a smattering of diverse choral music. Culture Days runs from September 25 to 27 across the country. The Culture Days Singsation takes place September 26 at 10:30am. Free. Last year over 100 people sang, some of them for the first time ever with a choir, some of them for the first time since they were children.

So the new season is upon us. I haven’t yet got any of my new music and rehearsals have yet to start. Like most choristers out there, I’m ready to get back into it and to tackle new works. With a chamber choir, a full symphonic choir and a concert band ahead this year – I’ll be busy. Rehearsing is often considered the painful part with performances as the reward. I very much feel that rehearsing is where the community is built, where the people come together and where choirs truly become great. Performances are merely evidence that everything else is working well. In this, choirs become fantastic acts of community, working together towards a goal. At the start of a new season, there is no time like this in the life of a chorister. A new season. New voices. New music. New challenges. It’s all very exciting. Now is the best time to find an ensemble, try it out and reignite or stoke that love for music and performance. clip_image001.png

Brian Chang is a bass clarinet- and horn-playing policy analyst who sings tenor. Follow him on Twitter @bfchang

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(from left to right) Members of the Orono Cornet Band playing rotary valve trombone, bass saxhorn, ophicleide and helicon.Well summer, what there was of it this year, is almost over. What a difference from last summer in my musical life. Last summer we (Joan and I) drove  to Halifax for the very first North American Brass Band summer school, which included playing in all performances of the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. Even though that was a very rewarding experience, this year we decided to stay closer to home and explore some local musical offerings. This included playing in a few concerts, but the variety came from a few quite unexpected sources most of which wouldn’t really qualify as band events.

The first of these took place in early July when we were invited to attend a concert by students of the Durham Music Camp. This was not a band concert. Rather it was an end of year performance of children as young as six performing on violins and cellos. To see six year olds take up centre stage and perform, from memory, with all of the aplomb of someone four times their age certainly reassured us that we will have a good supply of musicians in years to come.

Two weeks later we were treated, by the older generation of musicians, to an unusual big band jazz event. Organized by French horn player James MacDonald, a former member of the very first Boss Brass, we attended a concert by “Amis du Jazz - Encore,” as they styled themselves that day. The 20 member Rex Hotel Orchestra, led by John MacLeod, performed on the back deck of James MacDonald’s house in Port Perry as members of the audience relaxed under the trees in the back yard. There were a few members of the group (clarinetist Bob DeAngelis and trombonist Alastair Kay in particular)  whom I remembered from the days, more than thirty years ago, when they were star performers in high school band festivals.

Adding a bit of variety to the summer’s offerings, we also took in an amazing amateur performance of the musical A Chorus Line, followed a few days later with a block “Birthday Bash” for a neighbour celebrating a milestone. Although not exactly to my taste, there was lots of folksong playing by the guest of honour and friends.

(As you will see, it was a chance encounter at the second of these summer musical forays that led to the main story in this month’s column. But first a roundup of other band news.)

New bands: I am in the fortunate position of being able to announce the establishment of two new bands in the Toronto area. The first is a new concert band which is forming for seniors in Oakville. As yet we haven’t heard of a name for this band, but they say that they are looking for beginner/intermediate musicians who have played in their youth or new musicians who need a concert band setting to hone their craft. They meet every Monday evening(except holiday Mondays) year round. Unlike some other bands, they will not be going on break during the summer. For information contact Russ Abbott at 905-465-3352

The other new group is an all brass band called The York Brass Ensemble. They are scheduled to start rehearsals in September on Wednesdays from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the Alexander Muir Residence in Newmarket. For details contact Peter Hussey at pnhussey@rogers.com.

Open Rehearsal: About to begin their second full season, The Toronto Concert Band is inviting  adult musicians from across Toronto to sit in with them as they kick off rehearsals for their second concert season. Amateur community players, post-secondary students and professionals who want to play in the community are all welcome. Under the musical direction of Ken Hazlett and Les Dobbin, the Toronto Concert Band has local roots in Etobicoke but far-reaching musical goals. Anyone interested is asked to pre-register by phoning 647-479-2941 or visiting their website: www.torontoconcertband.com, The first rehearsal is September 22 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at Lambton Kingsway Junior Middle School, 525 Prince Edward Drive.

Returns: The summertime only group, the Uxbridge Community Concert Band wound up this season with another of their theme concerts on August 29. This year’s theme was Music of the Night with selections ranging from Mozart’s “Queen of the Night” aria and selections from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera.

The Toronto New Horizons group will be establishing yet another new band termed Beginner Level II for people joining who want a more challenging level. Anyone interested is invited to attend their Instrument Explorations night on Friday, September 25 from 7 to 9pm at the Long and McQuade main store 925 Bloor St. W in Toronto. For anyone who has thought about playing in a band, here’s a chance to check out any instruments that have interested you and decide which would be the one for you. All classes beginning the week of September 14. Scheduled dates and times are on their website: newhorizonsbandtoronto.ca and classes will be held at the Salvation Army Hall, 789 Dovercourt Rd., until further notice.

Herb Poole, artistic director of the band; “I love to play an instrument I can wear,” says Herb.The Orono Cornet Band: While I was at the aforementioned Amis du Jazz concert in Port Perry I bumped into two friends that I hadn’t seen for some time. I first met Dave Climenhage about twenty years ago in the Clarington Concert Band. I first met Herb Poole over thirty years ago while playing in the Metropolitan Silver Band. They invited me to a concert by the Orono Cornet Band in the town of Orono, where Dave Climenhage had organized the Great Canadian Town Band Festival (GCTBF) in Orono from the year 2000 to the year 2005.

For six consecutive years this festival brought together some of the finest brass and woodwind ensembles in Canada and the U.S. such as The Boss Brass, The Hannaford Street Silver Band, The True North Brass, The Spitfire Band and The Central Band of the Canadian Armed Forces. It also hosted guest artists like conductor and trombone virtuoso Alain Trudel.

After the annual festival was discontinued, the Great Canadian Town Band Festival still existed as an entity in name. Dave  was looking for a project that would bring alive Canada’s musical heritage and further the objectives of the GCTBF. He still had the charter for the GCTBF and the desire to continue in some fashion. He was a long time collector of brass and woodwind instruments and eventually linked up with fellow collector Herb Poole, bass trombonist with the Canadian Opera Company.

Together they began to work on the idea of a Heritage Brass band that would recreate the 19th century Brass Band movement in Canada. From the early 1850s on, the saxhorn band concept (12 brass instruments) had spread to almost every town and village in Canada. This movement began in France and England in the 1840s and quickly spread all over Europe and North America. These newly developed valved brass instruments were relatively easy to learn to play and could play any notes on the chromatic scale. They became the mainstay of musical performance in Canada, which did not have a classical orchestral tradition at the time. These bands performed at local dances, in parades and at all civic events including July 1 which later became Canada Day. In short it was the music that was most accessible to Canadians from 1850 to the end of the century.

Herb and Dave decided that they would hire professional brass players from the GTA who were interested in taking up the challenge of performing on 150-year-old instruments and who were willing to work with them as they  tried to establish an audience for the brass music of  19th century Canada. Herb recruited musicians from the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra and a number of top level freelance brass players from other GTA ensembles.

The aim of the Orono Cornet Band is to recreate a 12 piece brass band of the Confederation period in Canada to perform on period instruments and to play music composed in Canada or known to be regularly performed in Canada. Gathering Canadian  music of the period took time. As they looked at brass band music collections from the period, it was clear that most of the music they performed came from American publishing companies. They worked hard to glean from these sources important works by Canadian composers such as Calixa Lavallee (Marche Indienne). They have also found music originating outside Canada but performed regularly here, such as popular marching songs like The Girl I Left Behind Me.

Herb Poole is the band’s artistic director and has sourced music with very distinct Canadian period content. The instruments the band performs on come from Herb’s and Dave’s collections and were built in the period 1850 to 1870. Many of these were restored by Herb. They are both constantly researching historic events for important music. The Battle of Ridgeway in 1866 is one such event, for example. It resulted in the composition of The Maple Leaf Forever and the words to the Canadian Militia Fenian Marching Song. They hope to perform these at a re-enactment of the Battle of Ridgeway in June next year.

The band has been performing now for over five years. They have performed at heritage events each of those five years, including the V-Brass festival at Toronto’s Harbourfront, Clarington’s Heritage Festival and the RCMP Musical Ride. For the RCMP Musical Ride they performed music of the Band of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police at Fort MacLeod, Alberta, first performed in 1876.

They are currently working on getting people to know about the Orono Cornet Band and have completed their first recording. They also have a new website at oronocornetband.com with videos and soundtracks. It’s worth checking out that website.

Definition Department

This month’s lesser known musical term is stringendo: An unpleasant effect produced by the violin section when it doesn’t use vibrato. We invite submissions from readers. Let’s hear your daffynitions. 

Jack MacQuarrie plays several brass instruments and has performed in many community ensembles. He can be contacted at bandstand@thewholenote.com

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Mainly_Mostly_1.jpgJazz jams can be a beautiful thing. To my mind, if a jazz jam is working as it should (as, for example, it does every Tuesday at The Rex), everyone involved should be primarily interested in three things: making good music, respecting each other, and above all, having fun. To me, fun is the launching point for everything. If you don’t have fun playing your instrument, you won’t have fun practising it. If you don’t have fun practising or playing, no one will have fun listening. Look at Oscar Peterson’s face. Was he having fun? I rest my case.

But unfortunately, and this is no big secret, some jazz jams can foster an unfortunate atmosphere of tension, intimidation, and competitiveness, which destroys the fun and undermines the spirit of the music. Artists of all sorts should absolutely care about the quality and integrity of their art. But at the end of the day, it is just art. When petty concerns of quality and integrity eclipse art’s purpose (whatever it is), that, to me, is tragic.

Luckily, the active jazz jams I am fortunate to regularly attend in this city evade these troubles. Generally they are welcoming and accepting of instrumentalists of all levels and walks of life – instrumentalists being the key word here; there has always been a sort of self-imposed segregation between vocalists and instrumentalists. And for reasons I don’t have the space or time to discuss here, it can be difficult for a vocalist to find a jam where they are welcomed and not underestimated or relegated to the sidelines.

Lisa Particelli was acutely aware of this, as most jazz singers are, when, more than a decade ago, she founded GNO: Girls’ Night Out (where gentlemen are welcome, too). GNO Jazz began its ten-plus-year run at The Cabbage Patch, a now-defunct pub that was located on Parliament St., where the Flying Beaver Pubaret existed until property damage forced that venue to close this past summer.

Although GNO has recently included a house band complete with piano, bass and drums, when it started on Parliament in January, 2005, the house band consisted only of Richard Whitehouse on piano. Within the first year, Peter Hill took over on piano, and after sitting in on several sessions, Ross MacIntyre became the official bassist.

As GNO grew, the jam – and the community which sprang up around it – cycled through a few venues, including Ten Feet Tall (defunct), Dominion on Queen (currently closed for renovations), and many more, before settling on Chalkers Pub on Marlee, seven years ago.

Chalkers: It was during GNO’s run at Chalkers that Lisa Particelli was able to establish a scholarship fund to encourage and help young vocalists achieve their artistic and professional goals. Chalkers was also, during this time,  a venue that hosted jazz greats like Oliver Jones, Jason Marsalis and Sheila Jordan – whom I had the great pleasure of meeting when I ushered for two of her concerts there. (In addition to being a genuine and adventurous performer, she is one of the sweetest, most infectiously charming people I’ve ever spoken with.)

The aforementioned Oliver Jones, incidentally, is indirectly responsible for the Chalkers piano. If you have seen, heard, or had the good fortune to play the wonderful piano on the Chalkers Pub stage, you have Oliver Jones, Don Thompson and Lisa Particelli to thank: “Oliver Jones’ attendance at my jam helped me to convince the former Chalkers owner that we needed a real piano,” Particelli explained. “We first got a Yamaha upright and later Don Thompson helped choose a Shigeru Kawai grand from Merriam Music which we all were sad to [say] goodbye to since leaving Chalkers after July 1st.”

In addition to all these wonderful things that happened to, because of, and around GNO over the last seven years at Chalkers Pub, Chalkers was where I discovered GNO. I came into it fairly late (both in the jam’s history and on any given Wednesday night), but when I got there, in addition to a great house band (Peter Hill, Ross MacIntyre and Louis Botos Sr., who is the granddaddy of the incredible Botos family), I saw wonderful and important things happening: I saw people going up on stage without – or despite – performance anxiety; I saw professors and professionals mingling with students and novices, and perhaps most importantly, I saw an audience offering unconditional support to whomever was on stage.

Since GNO left Chalkers Pub after the very last Wednesday jam on Canada Day this year, GNO has been on hiatus. But at the end of July, during her monthly session at Morgans on the Danforth (on the last Sunday of every month, 2 to 5pm) Particelli finally announced that GNO would be returning weekly, this time on Tuesdays from 7 to 11pm, at 120 Diner on Church (Ori Dagan can be thanked for that booking). Unfortunately, there will be no longer be a drummer in the house band – and Louis Sr.’s services will be missed – but aside from that, everything will be the same. The same great bassist, the same great pianist. The same great vibes. And the same amazing community.

Particelli is excited about it, as we all are. “We look forward to seeing everyone in September,” she said.

Mainly_Mostly_2.jpgLaura Swankey is the kind of singer who will offer up variations so tastefully you could swear they were in the published melody. I first encountered her last fall when she attended a monthly jam at Habits Gastropub hosted by drummer Harrison Vetro. When I went on stage, somebody called Stella by Starlight, somebody else counted it in, and we were off. Swankey began “The soooong the robin sings ....” And before the end of the head, I was a fan.

Since then, I’ve attended a bunch of her shows, and found that in addition to playing straight ahead gigs – in which she will play a mix of standards and originals – she also performs “free music” (the quotation marks are there because all music, free music included, has parameters, and I am a little skeptical of the notion that free music is all that separate from other music). At gigs where she joins and is joined on stage by people like Emily Denison (trumpet), Christine Duncan (voice), Andrew Furlong (bass) and others, music is played that I, to be frank, don’t fully understand. But I like it. Patterns do emerge, and my brain, being conditioned and steeped in tonal music, tries to make tonal sense of it; but ultimately, that isn’t the point.

At one such show, though, Swankey surprised me with a wonderful rendition of Smile; she sang it slowly, sleepily, over a drone created by the guitar, with the trumpet playing a challenging counterline. It was one of the most engaging live performances I’ve seen in this city. A description on paper would not do it justice. You’ll have to go and check her out in the clubs.

And luckily, this month, you can! Swankey will be performing a few days this month. On Saturday, September 12 at the CMC (Canadian Music Centre), she will be participating in the one-year-anniversary celebration of OPUS:TESTING, a bi-monthly composition workshop that started in June 2014. Swankey describes the event: “Six break-out groups from different disciplines [will come] together for the day to create some kind of improvisation art presentation.” The presentation is happening between 6 and 7pm.

The next evening, she’ll be playing more straight ahead music at Gate 403 with Connor Walsh on bass and Leonard Patterson on drums - a chordless trio, in which the horn is a voice.

And finally, on September 16, Swankey will be appearing with The Wind and the Water, an a cappella quartet which will be performing music by Rachel Cardiello, as part of the Dead Dad’s Club premiere. The group also includes Aimee Butcher, Belinda Corpuz and Danielle Knibbe. “These three women are fantastic musicians and I love singing and creating with them,”, Swankey said. Details are forthcoming on The Wind and the Water’s Facebook page.

These gigs will be coming on the heels of Swankey’s return from Banff, where she worked with Billy Hart, Ingrid Jensen, Vijay Iyer, Tyshawn Sorey and many more. I think we can be confident that the “amazing and life-changing” experiences she had in Banff will be reflected in her September gigs.

I have always enjoyed the types of singers who use their voices with the same improvisational spirit as any good horn player – Anita O’Day, Sarah Vaughan, and company. Swankey is in that company. She, like many singers, (including the aforementioned Sheila Jordan, who studied with Lennie Tristano) studied with at least one instrumentalist; during her time at U of T, she studied with saxophonist, Toronto jazz scene fixture and Shuffle Demon Mike Murley. Swankey describes those lessons as “Amazing! I felt very connected to him as a person and the way he teaches and approaches his playing. Mike is a very lyrical and soulful player.”

One more gig I need to mention. Sadly, I won’t be present at either of the two listed performances – at the Jazz Bistro September 28 and the KW Jazz Room September 19 – of saxophonist and arranger Bobby Hsu’s A Sondheim Jazz Project. But I feel the need to convince as many people as possible to go in my place. In addition to the fantastic musicianship of the band, and the tremendous voice of Alex Samaras, Hsu is doing something important with this group.

It’s a given that a lot of jazz standards have their origins in Broadway musicals (many of which failed, despite the success of the songs that later rose from the ashes). What Hsu’s group is doing, in bringing songs into the jazz world (from a composer whose work is not nearly present enough in it), is a natural extension of the tradition we all already knew existed. A Sondheim Jazz Project does it with dedication and love, and it’s very entertaining.

I cannot wait to see you all in the clubs this fall. 

Bob Ben is The WholeNote’s jazz listings editor. He can be reached at jazz@thewholenote.com.

Jazz_Stories_1_-_Pangman.jpgResearching the subject of this month’s column, I found myself on the website of the late Herman Leonard, jazz photography master and pioneer, whose work provides a crystal clear window to the smoke-filled Greenwich Village of jazz’s golden age. To name a few examples, Leonard’s soulful stills of Ellington, Parker, Davis and Holiday provide definitive glimpses into each artist’s personality, one magical moment at a time. Google him and you will discover a remarkable career in which this man immortalized everyone from Art Blakey to Zoot Sims. Herman Leonard’s priceless prints are collector’s items that sell for top dollar, which is cool considering that some were shot for free in exchange for the price of admission.

Which brings me to my interview with Bill Beard, local shutterbug with a real good eye and a heart to match. His knees are not so good – as we sit to speak at a local Timmy’s he is readying himself for surgery, and disappointed to be missing out on live jazz until he heals up. For Beard photography is a serious hobby which provides both pleasure for himself, and a service to the community.

“I was senior project manager in IT for a large bank, but I’d always been photography-minded,” he says. “I was taking city stuff, abstract, some nature. No musicians.”

All this changed around the time of his retirement, when his brother, a big jazz fan, brought him out to see local jazz group Red Hot Ramble, a unique local quintet that performs music inspired by New Orleans. Beard brought his camera along and began taking photos of the band; before long he became a regular fan and their official photographer.

“I took their pictures and got to know them, kept shooting, then I branched out into all sorts of other things. One of the great things about doing this is that I’ve become friends with a lot of these musicians. I remember one night a few months back we were at the Old Mill to see Joe Sealy, and then I said I was going to The Rex, so a whole bunch of these singers and players all joined me. There I was hanging out with these amazing artists and staying out late at night…felt like I was living the life! I certainly never spent nights like this when I was in the corporate world.”

Just how did Beard initially begin to hone his craft?

“The best thing that I ever did was join a photography club – the Toronto Guild of Photographic Art, as it was called then, back in 2004. Being surrounded by all these amazing photographers, I learned a lot from them, and before you know it they asked me to come along and shoot with them. Me! With them! I couldn’t believe it. I guess it’s kind of like when a musician is asked to sit in with a great band. I loved it and I learned a lot.”

Nowadays he greatly enjoys volunteering with JAZZ.FM91.

“It’s the greatest gig for someone who’s retired. I get to go to all their shows, meet the artists and photograph them. I’ve learned about so many different types of jazz!”

On the challenges of photographing this music:

“The biggest one for a photographer is the low light in most clubs, so once you have the right equipment you can get past that. It’s also very important to know the person you’re photographing and the special things they do on stage, so you have to watch for a while, then you photograph them. Everyone has their own special way of singing or playing an instrument and you want to capture their uniqueness. The biggest thing is to watch. It’s like when you go out to do street photography. You don’t just get off the streetcar and start shooting. You always take the time to look around. It’s the same with jazz musicians. Certain bass players will play the bass a certain way, same with horn players and so on. So you’re always kind of waiting for them to do that thing that they do. You want to get that picture that captures their energy.”

Red Hot Ramble was the first band that inspired Beard, so they hold a special place in his heart – and a lot of space on his hard drive.

“They’re the most fun band I have ever photographed. They’re always having fun on stage. And they’re great people. I know them all now. They’re joking around when they play, and the music is so high energy, it’s contagious fun.”

The band’s drummer and one of its founding members, Glenn Anderson, sings Beard’s praises:

“Upon retiring, Bill took every opportunity he could, in every venue possible, to photograph Red Hot Ramble. We are a five-piece band, and Bill soon became our unofficial “sixth Rambler,” even travelling with the band to hone his photography skills. Over the past four years, it has been interesting and exciting to compare the parallels in the evolution and growth of both Red Hot Ramble as a band and our friend Bill Beard as a photographer.”

Check out Red Hot Ramble’s monthly gig at The Rex Hotel on a Sunday afternoon from 3:30 to 6:30 and it will be difficult for you not to smile all the way home. Oozing charm with every note, Roberta Hunt plays double duty on piano and vocals, while swingin’ firecracker Alison Young on saxophones is an active volcano of fiery soul. Along with the solid-as-a-rock Anderson on drums, the band is made all the more red hot by trombonist Jamie Stager and co-founding bassist Jack Zorawski. I asked leading lady Hunt how the band got started:

“Red Hot Ramble was conceived by Jack Zorawski and Glenn Anderson. They imagined the sound of Alison Young and me joining forces long before Alison and I had even met! They wanted to build on their love of traditional New Orleans jazz and blues by adding a saucier, bolder and funkier angle. Turns out their idea was a keeper! New Orleans music is about groove and ensemble playing while leaving room for individuals to share the spotlight. RHR truly is the sum of all parts, kinda like a spicy gumbo of music!”

Pangman: Another artist that Beard loves to photograph is vocalist Alex Pangman, who, fresh off a national tour, plays a few groovy gigs this month, from Rimouski to Gravenhurst, and a few Toronto stops too, including the Reservoir on September 10.

“I started photographing Alex with JAZZ.FM and later branched out to also photograph her when she sings with her husband Colonel Tom. She’s such a nice lady and so photogenic on stage. Always wears great outfits. And I love her music.”

Pangman is a great admirer of Beard as well: “It has been really interesting to watch Bill’s photographic style develop around his ardent appreciation of jazz music, musicians and imagery. More than that, he understands that live music is best. I fully believe he’s in the audience as much to enjoy the music as for the images. He’s there to make a visual record of live shows. We could send his images out in a spacecraft or time capsule so they could see what jazz looked like in Toronto in 2015.”

Indeed, you’ll always find Beard taking a moment to contribute to the tip jar in between framing his shots.

“The nice thing about it is that I don’t usually work for money…I just find that I come in – I cruise in – I’m one with the artist and I just shoot what I feel in the moment. There’s no preconceived idea about what I’m going to get, because then there’s a pressure that comes along with that. I like it to happen naturally. I’ve had years of corporate pressure. Now that I’m retired it’s nice to go in, watch them, shoot, and give the photos away to them. It’s my way of giving back. They’re giving me so much entertainment.”

Ori Dagan is a Toronto-based jazz musician, writer and educator who can be reached at oridagan.com.

Author: Ori Dagan
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MUSIC THEATRE covers a wide range of music types: from opera, operetta and musicals to non-traditional performance types where words and music are in some fashion equal partners in the drama.

These listings have been sorted alphabetically BY PRESENTER. Some information here is also included in our GTA and Beyond The GTA listings sections, but readers whose primary interest is MUSIC THEATRE should start their search with this section.

This section is still in development. We welcome your comments and suggestions at publisher@thewholenote.com.

Friends of Gravity. The Seven Deadly Sins. Music by Kurt Weill, text by Bertolt Brecht. Cabaret band and silent film projections. Stephanie Conn, vocals; Scott Gabriel, music director; Branko Džinović, accordion; Max Christie, clarinet; Scott Good, trombone. St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church, 509 Dundas St. E. 416-700-5914. $25/$20(st). Tickets available in advance or at door. Sep 25 and 26 8:00.

Lower Ossington Theatre. Always ABBA. An evening of ABBA’s best hits for all ages, recreated in the original style. The Lower Ossington Theatre. 100A Ossington Ave. 416-915-6747. $34.99; $159.96(table); Plus fees and taxes. Call ahead to book table. Runs Aug 14-Sep 20; Fri (7:30pm), Sat (4pm&7:30pm), Sun (4pm).

Lower Ossington Theatre. Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. The story of the young man with glasses, and his brief musical career during the golden days of rock ‘n’ roll. 100A Ossington Ave.416-915-6747. $49.99-$69.99. Sep 24-Oct 25. Thurs-Sat 7:30pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 4pm.

Lower Ossington Theatre. Mary Poppins. Based on the stories of P.L. Travers and the Disney Film. Lower Ossington Theatre Mainstage, 100A Ossington Ave. 416-915-6747. $49.99-$59.99. Until Sep 24. Thurs-Sat 7:30pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 4pm.

Mirvish Productions. Kinky Boots. The Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King Street West. 416-593-4142. From $39. Runs to November 8.

Mirvish Productions. Motown The Musical. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King Street West. 416-593-4142. From $49. Runs to Sept 22 to Oct 25.

National Lampoon. Full House The Musical. Randolph Theatre, 736 Bathurst Street. 416-924-2243. From $29.95. Runs to Sept 6.

Opera by Request. Weber: Der Freischütz. In concert with piano accompaniment. Vanessa Lanch, soprano; Vania Chan, soprano; Ryan Harper, tenor; John Holland, baritone; Kieran Kane, baritone; and others; William Shookhoff, music director and pianist. College Street United Church, 452 College St. 416-455-2365. $20. Sep 18 7:30

Oshawa Opera. Suor Angelica by Puccini. In-concert version. Natalya Gennadi Matyusheva, Catharin Carew, Kaili Kinnon, Rachelle Kelly, Christina Campsall, and other soloists; Oshawa Opera Chorus; Lenard Whiting, organ; Kristine Dandavino, music director/piano. Kingsview United Church, 505 Adelaide Ave. E., Oshawa. 905-995-2847. $25; free(child). Sep 27 3:00

Shaw Festival. Sweet Charity. Book by Neil Simon; music by Cy Coleman; lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Festival Theatre. 10 Queen’s Parade, Niagara-on-the-Lake. $33.90-$129.95. Runs to Oct 31.

Shoestring Opera. Mozart’s Magic Flute. A preschooler-friendly introduction to Mozart’s most famous opera. Kingsway-Lambton United Church, 85 The Kingsway, Etobicoke. 647-980-1729. $15; group rates available. Wheelchair accessible. Proceeds benefit Kingsway-Lambton United Church Special Music Fund and Shoestring Opera. Sep 26 11:00am and 2:00pm.

Stratford Festival. The Sound of Music. Rodgers and Hammerstein. Festival Theatre. 55 Queen St. Stratford. 1-800-567-1600. From $20. Runs to Nov 1.

Stratford Festival. CAROUSEL. Rodgers and Hammerstein. Avon Theatre. 99 Downie Street. Stratford. 1-800-567-1600. From $20. Runs to Nov 1. 

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