2008_-_Beat_-_Art_Zarankin.jpgOff Centre Music Salon is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion a special concert will be given on June 7 at Glenn Gould Studio. It features a great array of Canadian singers (many of whom performed with Off Centre Music Salon early in their careers): sopranos Isabel Bayrakdarian, Joni Henson, Nathalie Paulin, Monica Whicher, Lucia Cesaroni and Ilana Zarankin; mezzos Krisztina Szabó, Norine Burgess, Lauren Segal and Emilia Boteva; tenor Jeffrey Hill; baritones Russell Braun and James Westman; and bass-baritone Olivier Laquerre. Pianist-composer Jimmy Roberts will also take part.

In the beginning Off Centre Music Salon presented recitals but the directors, Boris Zarankin and Inna Perkis, soon realized that there were many musical organizations that offered recitals and that they would only be duplicating the kind of thing that was already available. Instead they hit on the notion of performing each program as a salon in the tradition of 17th-century France or early 20th-century Vienna. They were concerned that each concert should have a storyline and should include the spoken word as well as music, a practice that has now been adopted by other organizations, notably the Talisker Players. They programmed an annual Schubertiad, even before the Aldeburgh Connection followed suit. They like to present their programs as if they are improvised, although in reality everything is carefully prepared.

This season included a new venture, two concerts characterized as “dérangé,” programs that can be seen as “out of line,” and in which the music is at the intersection of Canadian contemporary, classical, jazz and folk music. The curators of the series are their daughter, soprano Ilana Zarankin, and drummer Nico Dann.

Their 2015-16 season will see a change of venue from Glenn Gould Studio to Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, a good move, I think, since the ambience of GGS always worked against the notion of the salon that the organizers tried to create. Dates, artists and contents have already been set. The season begins on September 27 with “Russia Adrift,” a program which will focus on Russian composers who spent much of their lives in exile; the second concert on November 1, “The Geometry of Love,” will deal with the tangled relationship of composers and writers such as Beethoven, Strauss, Mahler, Rilke and Nietzsche; the musical life of Paris and Berlin in the 1920s (Les Six, the jazz music of Hindemith) will be explored on February 21; the season will end with the annual Schubertiad in which tenor Jeffrey Hill will perform Die Schöne Müllerin on April 10.

2008_-_Beat_-_Art_Szabo.jpgAgainst the Grain Theatre: Anyone who saw the magnificent double bill of Janácek’s Diary of One who Disappeared and Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments two years ago will be interested in their concerts on June 2, 3, 4 and 5 at Neubacher Shor Contemporary, in which mezzo Krisztina Szabó will sing Olivier Messiaen’s Harawi and bass-baritone Stephen Hegedus will perform Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin. The musical director and pianist is Christopher (“Topher”) Mokrzewski and the stage director Joel Ivany. There will be a free preview of selections from both works in the Richard Bradshaw Auditorium at the Four Seasons Centre on May 21.

Also at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre (and free):On May 5 baritone Joshua Hopkins (who is currently singing Figaro in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville for the Canadian Opera Company) will sing lieder by Schubert and Schumann; on May 19 Ekaterina Gubanova, mezzo (Judith in the COC’s revival of Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle), and Rachel Andrist, piano, will perform the Songs and Dances of Death by Mussorgsky; and on May 20there will be a farewell concert by the graduating artists of the COC Ensemble Studio.

New Music Concerts: On May 17 NMC will present “Michel Gonneville and the Belgian Connection” with works by Gonneville and Henri Pousseur. The soprano is Ethel Guéret and the conductor Robert Aitken, at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.

Recitals at Rosedale: Lucia Cesaroni, soprano, Emily D’Angelo. mezzo, and Anthony Cleverton, baritone, are the soloists in the final concert this season. The pianist is Rachel Andrist. The program includes selections fromSchumann’s Lieder und Gesänge aus Wilhelm Meister, Opus 98a, as well as works by Schubert, Duparc and Berlioz and also traditional folk songs from the British Isles, at Rosedale Presbyterian Church May 3.

Pax Christi: Also on May 3 Pax Christi Chorale will present the North American premiere of Hubert Parry’s oratorio Judith (written in 1888). The soloists are Shannon Mercer, soprano, Jillian Yemen, mezzo, David Menzies, tenor, and Michael York, baritone. The conductor is Stephanie Martin; at Koerner Hall.

Toronto Masque Theatre: Two years ago the Toronto Masque Theatre presented The Lesson of Da Ji, a new work by Alice Ping Yee Ho, with a libretto by Marjorie Chan. On May 31 the company will perform a concert version of the work. Marion Newman, mezzo, is Da Jin and other parts will be sung by Derek Kwan, tenor, Vania Chan and Charlotte Corwin, soprano, Ben Covey, baritone, Alexander Dobson, bass-baritone and William Lau, who specializes in female roles in Peking Opera. Larry Beckwith conducts; at The Music Gallery.

Other Events: Two singer-songwriters will perform in Koerner Hall: Natalie Merchant sings original works on May 1 and 2; Buffy Sainte-Marie will sing on May 7.

On May 3 Natalya Matyusheva, soprano, and Justin Stolz, tenor, will be the soloists with the Vesnivka Choir and the Toronto Ukrainian Male Chamber Choir in a program of folk songs celebrating rebirth, romance and love at Humber Valley United Church, Etobicoke.

On May 5 the mezzo Marina Yakhontova will sing “Forgotten and Famous Art Songs” from Eastern Europe and America at Windermere United Church. The proceeds will be used to assist injured and displaced persons in the Ukraine.

There will be a free noontime recital at St. Andrew’s Church on May 8. The singer is the baritone Gianmarco Segato.

Stephanie Diciantis, soprano, will sing Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs as well as works by Barber and Rachmaninoff on May 10 at Gallery 345. At the same location, on May 27, themezzo Ali Garrison will present a program titled “New Songs from the Heart of Now: Making Songs for Our Time.”

On May 12 the Talisker Players will present “Heroes, Gods and Mortals,” a selection of adaptations of Greek myths in poetry, prose and song. The musical components consist of works by Pergolesi, Hovhaness, Plant, Turina and Weill as well as the premiere of a commissioned work by Monica Pearce (the Leda Songs, based on texts by Rilke, HD and D. H. Lawrence). The singers are Carla Huhtanen, soprano, and Andrea Ludwig, mezzo, at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.

On May 13 Anna Bateman, soprano, Benoit Boutet, tenor, and Jeffrey Carl, baritone, are the soloists in a performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana by the Toronto Choral Society at Eastminster United Church.

As part of Jewish Music Week Tibor and Kati Kovari, cantors, will perform “Afternoon Tunes: Celebrating Israel in Song” at Miles Nadal JCC, May 14; free.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War the Shevchenko Musical Ensemble will sing “Songs of War and Peace” with Adèle Kozak, soprano, and Hassan Anami, tenor at St. Michael’s College School May 17.

In the May 21 performance of Verdi’s Requiem by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (repeated on May 22 and 23)the soloists are Amber Wagner, soprano, Jamie Barton, mezzo, Frank Lopardo, tenor, and Eric Owens, bass. Sir Andrew Davis conducts at Roy Thomson Hall.

Sonya Harper Nyby, soprano, Laura Schatz, mezzo, Anthony Varahidis, tenor, and Michael Nyby, baritone, will be the soloists in Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, K427 at St. Anne’s Anglican Church on May 24.

The soprano Erin Cooper Gay will sing Schubert’s song Der Tod und das Mädchen; and the Halcyon String Quartet will play Schubert’s other “Death and the Maiden,” Quartet No.14 in D Minor, as well as Mozart’s Quartet No.16 in E flat at Heliconian Hall May 25.

Tapestry Opera presents the premiere of M’dea Undone: book by Marjorie Chan, score by John Harris. The singers are Lauren Segal, mezzo, Peter Barrett, baritone, James McLean, tenor, and Jacqueline Woodley, soprano May 26 at Evergreen Brickworks.

The tenor Charles Davidson will sing works by Schubert, Schumann, Weill and others at Metropolitan United Church May 30.

On May 31 the Toronto Classical Singers will present Haydn’s The Creation with Lesley Bouza, soprano, Christopher Mayell, tenor, and Bruce Kelly, baritone, at Christ Church Deer Park.

Gospel songs are performed by Joni Henson, soprano, Valerie Mero-Smith, mezzo, Alan Reid, tenor, and Sung Chung, baritone, June 3 at Humber Valley United Church.

And beyond the GTA: On May 9 there will be a performance of Haydn’s The Creation with Ellen McAteer and Chelsea Van Pelt, soprano, Chris Mayell, tenor, and Joel Allison and Tyler Fitzgerald, bass, at George Street United Church, Peterborough.

The Bach Elgar Choir of Hamilton will perform Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle on May 23. The soloists are Michele Bogdanowicz, mezzo, Zach Finkelstein, tenor, and Giles Tomkins, baritone, at Melrose United Church, Hamilton.

Melissa-Marie Shriner will sing musical theatre, jazz and original compositions at the Vineland United Mennonite Church in Vineland on May 30.

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

For a list of writings by this author, click the name above
More from this author:

2007-Art-Stoijn.jpgI am an admirer of the Dutch mezzo Christianne Stotijn but I only know her singing from recordings. I look forward to her Toronto debut, organized by the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto, on April 16 at Walter Hall, in which she will be accompanied by the fine pianist Julius Drake. She will sing Shostakovich’s settings of six poems by Tsvetayeva, four Shakespeare songs by Korngold, and songs by Tchaikovsky and Strauss.

The name Stotijn is well known in the Dutch musical world. The story begins with Johannes Louis Stotijn (1852-1915), who began adult life as a baker but who also played the harmonica as a hobby. Three of his four children became professional musicians. The most distinguished was Jacob, usually known as Jaap. He was the first oboist of the Residentie Orkest in The Hague from 1919 to 1956. We can still hear his playing in a recording of Mozart’s oboe quartet (K370) on the Globe label. In the 1930s he played with the Palestine Symphony Orchestra, an orchestra that consisted largely of Jewish musicians who had fled Nazi Germany. The orchestra’s concerts were conducted by Arturo Toscanini, who was a great admirer of Stotijn’s playing. Stotijn was also a pioneer of period performance: he joined the Collegium Musicum Antiqua, which was founded in 1952. He died in 1970.

Another fine oboist was Jaap’s son Haakon. He became the first oboist of the Concertgebouw in 1940. In the early 1950s he was banned from the radio by two of the Dutch radio organizations because of his alleged Communist sympathies. In 1954 he, along with three other members of the Concertgebouw, was not allowed entry to the United States. He died at 49 in 1964.

And there are other musical Stotijns: a violist, a bassoonist and a double bass player. The son and pupil of that bass player, Christianne’s younger brother Rick, is also a bassist. Christianne herself began her musical career as a violinist. After she became a singer, she studied with Jard van Nes and Janet Baker. I can hear some of Baker’s qualities in her singing, although her sound is always individual. I am thrilled that half of her recital will consist of Russian music. My only regret is that she will not sing any Mahler, of whose music she is such a fine interpreter.

Other Events:

2007-Art-Asselin.jpgBradshaw Amphitheatre: There are several free vocal events at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the Four Seasons Centre: a preview of Errol Gay’s Alice in Operaland will be given by the Canadian Children’s Opera Company April 1; Andrew Haji, tenor, will sing Schumann’s Dichterliebe, and Gordon Bintner, bass-baritone, will perform Schubert’s Schwanengesang April 4. Parts of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville will be sung by members of the COC Ensemble Studio April 28.

Walter Hall: On April 2 there will be a recital by the winners of the Jim and Charlotte Norcop Prize in Song and Gwendolyn Williams Koldofsky Prize in Accompanying in Walter Hall.

New Music Concerts: Ilana Zarankin, soprano, is the soloist in a program of contemporary Ukrainian music April 4 at the Betty Oliphant Theatre.

Two at the Royal Conservatory: Max Raabe and the Palast Orchestra will recreate the cabaret music and the popular songs of the Weimar years April 11 and 12 at Koerner Hall. Mireille Asselin, soprano, will sing with the Amici Ensemble in a concert that will include Schubert’s The Shepherd on the Rock as well as the Akhmatova Songs by Tavener April 12 at Mazzoleni Concert Hall.

Schubert: There will be another performance of The Shepherd on the Rock, part of an all Schubert concert April 17 at Heliconian Hall, in which the singer will be the soprano Barbara Fris. Another all-Schubert concert will be given at the Canadian Music Centre April 28 and will include Schwanengesang. The singers are Ryan Downey, tenor, and Bradley Christensen, baritone.

Two at Met at Noon: Cathy Daniel, mezzo, sings at noon in a free concert in Metropolitan United Church April 16. Also at noon at Metropolitan and also free: Olga Tylman, mezzo, and Michael Fitzgerald, baritone April 23.

Rozario: The soprano Patricia Rozario will be the soloist in a concert of music by John Tavener, presented by Soundstreams April 16 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. Rozario was central figure in Tavener’s career; he wrote more than 30 works for her. The concert will also include works by Christos Hatzis, Jonathan Harvey and Vanraj Bhatia.

Bayrakdarian: The soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian will sing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in a concert of Armenian music April 22 at Roy Thomson Hall.

Oakham House: Wendy Dobson, soprano, and Michael Robert-Broder, baritone, will be the soloists in a concert April 25 at Calvin Presbyterian Church given by the Oakham House Choir of Ryerson University. The main works will be Handel’s Coronation Anthem My Heart is Inditing, the first movement of Elgar’s Coronation Ode and the Polovetsian Dances from Borodin’s Prince Igor.

The soprano Meredith Hall and the pianist Brahm Goldhamer will perform works by Mozart, Haydn and Rauzzini, April 26 at 8pm in Heliconian Hall. The program will include Haydn’s cantata Arianna a Naxos.

Also: The soprano Tessa Laengert will sing Handel, Dvorak and Puccini in a cocnert with the Oakville Chamber Orchestra May 2 and 3 at St. John’s United Church, Oakville. Andrew Haji, tenor, will be the soloist in a celebration of songs from opera, operetta and musical theatre with the VOCA Chorus of Toronto May 2 at Eastminster United Church. The Vesnivka Choir and the Toronto Ukrainian Male Chamber Choir will present a concert of folk songs celebrating rebirth, romance and love May 3 atHumberValleyUnited Church in Etobicoke. The solo singers are Natalya Matyusheva, soprano, and Justin Stolz, tenor.

The last concert in this year’s series for Recitals at Rosedale will be held on May 3 at Rosedale Presbyterian Church. The theme will be journeys, travels and returning home; the music will be by Schumann, Ravel and others. The singers are Lucia Cesaroni, soprano, Emily D’Angelo, mezzo, and Anthony Cleverton, baritone. And the famed singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie will perform at Koerner Hall May 7.

Beyond the GTA: the soloists in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion are Rufus Müller (tenor, as the Evangelist), Tyler Duncan (baritone, as Christus), Agnes Zsigovics (soprano), Laura Pudwell (mezzo), Isaiah Bell (tenor) and Justin Welsh (bass). The conductor is Mark Vuorinen April 3 attheCentre in the Square, Kitchener.

Looking back: in February I wrote that I was looking forward to the recital in which Christian Gerhaher and Gerold Huber were to perform Schubert’s Winterreise. I was not disappointed. Koerner Hall was full; the audience listened with rapt attention and saved their enthusiasm for the end. Who says that the song recital is dead?

On a couple of occasions I have written about the emerging tenor Charles Sy. I did not realize until I got to the Macmillan Theatre that he was singing in the Opera Division of the University of Toronto’s production of Postcard from Morocco by Dominick Argento. I was very impressed with his singing, particularly with the evenness of tone and the solidity of his lower register.

And looking ahead: Against the Grain Theatre has announced that Colin Ainsworth, tenor, and Krisztina Szabó, mezzo, will sing Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin and Messiaen’s Harawi in May. The Women’s Musical Club of Toronto has announced its 2015-16 season. It includes a recital by the fabulous American mezzo Isabel Leonard (we heard her in the COC production of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito a few years ago). That will be on November 19. Stay tuned! 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.

For a list of writings by this author, click the name above
More from this author:

2006-Art_of_Song-Michelle_Bogdanowitcz.jpgOn March 8 the concert presented by Recitals at Rosedale at Rosedale Presbyterian Church will include a world premiere, the song cycle Ya Ya [Tagalog for caregiver], by Elizabeth Raum. The cycle was written in honour of Geraldine Vida-Soverano, the Filipino nanny who looked after the children of Raum’s daughters; first Jessica’s two children, then the four children (three of whom were triplets) of Raum’s younger daughter Erika, the noted violinist.

This is what Raum herself has written about the songs: “Ya Ya is a testament to the strong sense of duty that the nanny feels is her calling. She is more than a caregiver; she is a second mother who loves her charges as if they were her own. At the same time, she is not their mother and is in a foreign country and, although it has become her home, at times a sadness leaks into her consciousness. The words, ‘I come from another place...’ are optimistic at first, but the second time they appear in a minor key and, although the melody is the same, the sense has changed. As well, she is wistful when she utters, ‘I wish...’ But the cycle ends optimistically with the nanny content and proud of her profession.”

The songs will be sung by the mezzo Michèle Bogdanowicz, who will also perform a song cycle by Norbert Palej, written for her and due to be recorded by the Canadian Art Song Project. The soprano Gillian Keith will perform early songs by Debussy and the tenor Charles Sy will sing songs by Strauss, Schubert and Schumann. The program will conclude with duets by Viardot, Gounod and Rossini. Sy is much in demand. He recently won first prize in the Canadian Opera Company Studio Ensemble competition and can also be heard, along with the soprano Carla Huhtanen and the mezzo Emilia Boteva, in the Off Centre Music Salon concert at the Glenn Gould Studio on March 1. Later in the month Bogdanowicz will also sing in the concert performance of Charpentier’s Louise at the St. Lawrence Centre March 29. Next season Recitals at Rosedale will be moving to Mazzoleni Hall in the Royal Conservatory of Music. The dates are already set: November 1; March 6, 2016; May 1, 2016.  I wonder whether that will mean a change of name for the series. After all, the Conservatory is not in Rosedale.

Elliot Madore: The programs presented by Music Toronto tend to concentrate on chamber music or piano, but every year there is one recital by a singer. In the recent past we have heard Erin Wall and Phillip Addis. This year the singer is the baritone Elliot Madore. He will perform Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen by Mahler, Banalités by Poulenc as well as songs by Ives, at the St. Lawrence Centre on March 26 . Not that long ago Madore was known, if at all, as a hockey-loving kid from Etobicoke who once sang O Canada at a Leafs game. That changed when he won the 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition. Most of his performances have taken place in Europe. He has just finished a series of performances of Harlekin in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos in Zurich and will soon return to Europe to sing Pelléas in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, first for the Croatian National Opera, then for the Bayerische Staatsoper.

At the Bradshaw: There are three vocal concerts in March in the Canadian Opera Company free recital series in the Richard Bradshaw Auditorium in the Four Seasons Centre: “Opera Interactive” by artists of the COC Ensemble Studio March 19; a performance of Janacek’s The Diary of One Who Disappearedsung by Owen McCausland, tenor, and Charlotte Burrage, mezzo, March 25; and a preview of Errol Gay’s opera Alice in Operaland, performed by the Canadian Children’s Opera Company on April 1.

Hannigan: The soprano Barbara Hannigan gave a recital in the Richard Bradshaw Audtiorium on February 24; she also sang, with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, in George Benjamin’s A Mind of Winter on February 28. There will be two more opportunities to hear her. On March 4 she will sing, with the TSO, let me tell you by Hans Abrahamsen, a work which sets the words of Ophelia as spoken in Shakespeare’s Hamlet; on March 7 she will sing (again with the TSO) in a concert performance of George Benjamin’s opera Written on Skin, along with Krisztina Szabó, mezzo, Bernhard Landauer, countertenor, Isaiah Bell, tenor, and Christopher Purves, baritone (both in Roy Thomson Hall).

Other Events: Another TSO concert that is worth mentioning is that to be given on March 11 (repeated on March 12 and 14) when the distinguished soprano Adrianne Pieczonka sings the Four Last Songs by Strauss and the Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. The concert is conducted by Gianandrea Noseda and will also include my favourite Beethoven symphony, the Seventh in A.

Tapestry Opera presents the soprano Carla Huhtanen, who is especially known for her performances of contemporary music, and the Montreal composer, turntable artist and electronics specialist Nicole Lizée in a multimedia concert at the Ernest Balmer Studio in the Distillery District March 20 and 21.

There is some speculation that the composer John Dowland was actually Irish and that his name is a variant on Dolan. That is the starting point for Dowland in Dublin, a concert at Trinity-St.Paul’s Centre March 27 and 28, in which tenor Michael Slattery and Ensemble La Nef will give us an Irish version of Dowland’s songs

Other Events: Capella Intima and the Gallery Players of Niagara present “An Evening of Antient Music” at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre on March 6. The program includes music from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas as well as a selection of rounds, catches and airs. The singers are Sheila Dietrich, soprano, Jenny Enns Modolo. alto, Bud Roach. tenor, and David Roth, baritone.

“Fairest Isle,” a concert at Rosedale United Church on March 8 of English music, includes works by Dowland, Purcell, Handel, Vaughan Williams and Britten. The singers are Deborah Overes, contralto, and Robert Missen, tenor

The Talisker Players present “On a Darkling Plain” at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, March 10 and 11 The program will include Dover Beach by Barber, the Seven Romances on Poems by Alexander Blok by Shostakovich and the Akhmatova Poems by Tavener. The singers are Ilana Zarankin, soprano, and Joel Allison, baritone.

Tafelmusik presents Bach’s St. John’s Passion at Trinity-St. Paul’sCentre March 19 to 22. Soloists are Julia Doyle, soprano, DanielTaylor, countertenor, Charles Daniels, tenor, and Peter Harvey, baritone.

Maureen Batt, soprano, performs in a recital of new music from New Mexico to Nova Scotia at Heliconian Hall March 27.

A free concert at the Canadian Music Centre at 2pm March 28 will include the Visions infernales d’après des poèmes de Max Jacob by Henri Sauguet, to be sung by the baritone Grant Allert.

Danie Friesen, soprano, will sing Schumann’s opus 39 Liederkreis and Fiançailles pour rire by Poulenc at the Gallery 345 March 29.

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

For a list of writings by this author, click the name above
More from this author:

Even the most cursory look at the listings will show that the upside of living in Toronto is the many concerts that take place here every day. That, of course, is a good thing but the downside is that it is impossible to go to all of them. In December I wrote about the tenor Sean Clark and had every intention of catching him in one of his performances with the Pax Christi Chorale, but, alas, it was not to be. On the Saturday I went to hear Adi Braun sing Kurt Weill; on the Sunday afternoon I heard Daniel Cabena’s recital. While I am glad that I went to these, I regret that I didn’t hear Clark. Much the same thing happened on January 9, when I heard a lovely recital by Anne Sofie von Otter and Angela Hewitt, but this also meant that I could not go the Bach concert at Metropolitan United which featured all six of the Bach solo violin sonatas, or to the plainchants and motets which the Schola Magdalena performed at St. Mary Magdalene.

2005_-_Beat_-_Art_of_Song_-_Christian_Gerhaher_and_Gerold_Huber.pngHowever, this is nothing compared with the choice I have to make for the afternoon of Sunday February 1, when there are four concerts I would like to go to: the recital by Melanie Conly at the Heliconian Hall, which features one of my all-time favourites, Schubert’s The Shepherd on the Rock, with its lovely clarinet obbligato (the concert also includes works by Brott, Purcell and Berlioz); Bach’s second cello suite played by Rachel Mercer at Seicho-No-le Toronto; the VOICEBOX performance of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene at the St. Lawrence Centre with Allison Angelo and Jennifer Taverner, sopranos, and Colin Ainsworth, tenor; and the concert at Mazzoleni Concert Hall given by the Amici Chamber Ensemble and the New Orford String Quartet, which features, among other works, Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet

No such problems will interfere with my going to hear the baritone Christian Gerhaher and the pianist Gerold Huber in their performance of Schubert’s Winterreise on February 26 at Koerner Hall. Schubert wrote this work for a tenor voice but it has been successfully performed by baritones, bass-baritones, basses, even sopranos and mezzos. The baritone with whom the work is especially associated is Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Views about his singing vary. He always made sure that every detail registered and some listeners find that fussy. Others (and I include myself) feel that, in the words of Keats, he loaded every rift with ore. It will be interesting to hear how Gerhaher’s performance compares.

I am also looking forward to the performance by Monica Whicher, soprano, and Russell Braun, baritone, with the pianists Carolyn Maule and Stephen Philcox, of Hugo Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch at Walter Hall, February 9.

2005_-_Beat_-_Art_of_Song_-_Charles_Sy.pngThe Faculty of Music in the University of Toronto will present a free workshop for singers, composers and librettists. It will feature the soprano Barbara Hannigan, the composer Hans Abrahamsen (who is the Michael and Sonja Koerner Distinguished Visitor in Composition) and the music critic and librettist Paul Griffiths (who is the Wilma & Clifford Smith Visitor in Music) on March 2. The following day Griffiths will give a lecture with the title “Contemporary Music: A Plurality of Worlds?” Both events are in Walter Hall and are free. Hannigan is a Canadian soprano who is especially known for her work in contemporary opera. Abrahamsen is a Danish composer whose very accessible works form a sharp contrast with the serial music that dominated the mid- and late 20th century. His let me yell you is dedicated to Hannigan and was first performed by her with the Berlin Philharmonic on December 20, 2013.

Other Events: The Canadian Opera Company presents a number of free performances at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the Four Seasons Centre: on February 3 the sopranos Aviva Fortunata and Karina Boucher will be the soloists in Messiaen’s Poèmes pour Mi (with Kerry DuWors, violin, and Liz Upchurch, piano); on February 9 members of the COC Ensemble Studio will perform and compete in the biennial Christina and Luis Quilico awards; on February 10 the soprano Jane Archibald and the pianist Liz Upchurch will perform a program titled “Songs of Love and Longing”; “Urlicht” is the title of the recital by Janina Baechle, mezzo, with the pianist Rachel Andrist, on February 17 (Baechle is singing the role of Fricka in the COC production of Wagner’s Die Walküre.). The recital by Barbara Hannigan on February 24 is titled “Rapture.”

On February 3 students from the classical vocal music performance program at York University will take part in a masterclass with the soprano Rosemary Landry; the singer Brenna MacCrimmon, with Bill Westcott, piano, will perform “Classic Blues” on February 12; singers from the studio of Michael Donovan will perform “Five Mystical Songs” by Ralph Vaughan Williams on February 24.All three recitals are free and will take place in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East Building, York University.

On February 8 the soprano Virginia Hatfield, the mezzo Maria Soulis and the pianist Kate Carver will perform duets by Britten, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky and others in a program titled “Sisters in Song” at Rosedale United Church. This is a benefit concert for Rethink Breast Cancer.

Jessika Monea, soprano, is the singer in a free noontime recital at Metropolitan United Church on February 12.

The Art of Time Ensemble presents “Magic and Loss: A Tribute to Lou Reed” with Sarah Slean, John Southworth, Margo Timmins and Kevin Hearn at Harbourfront, February 27 and 28.

The soprano Kimberly-Rose Pefhany will be the soloist in Mozart’s Exultate Jubilate, with Sinfonia Toronto conducted by Nurhan Arman, on February 28 at George Weston Recital Hall.

And beyond the GTA: On February 1 the Spiritus Ensemble will perform a free concert of cantatas by Bach (Nach dir Herr verlanget mich), Buxtehude (Der Herr ist mit mir) and Schein (Vater Unser) in the St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Kitchener.

There will be a recital at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, Queen’s University, February 8, titled “Intimate Expressions - Dances, Stories and Songs” as part of the Queen’s University Faculty Artists Series. The artists are Elizabeth MacDonald, soprano, Jeff Hanlon, guitar, and Karma Tomm, violin.

A cabaret on the lives of Debussy and Ravel will be performed by Tom Allen, Kevin Fox, Lori Gemmell, Bryce Kulak and Patricia O’Callaghan at All Saints’ Anglican Church, Peterborough on February 27 and at Fleming College, Lindsay on March 1.

And looking ahead: Toronto Summer Music has announced the formation of a chamber choir for advanced amateur musicians, to be held from August 2 to 9. The instructors will be Matthias Maute and Laura Pudwell. The Canadian Opera Company has announced that three musicians will join the COC Ensemble Studio in August of this year. They are the tenors Charles Sy and Aaron Sheppard and the collaborative pianist Hyejin Kwon. Both Sy and Sheppard were prizewinners at the most recent COC Ensemble Studio Competition. Sy, who won the first prize, is a former Fellow of the Toronto Summer Music Art of Song Program. But you don’t have to wait until the summer to hear him. March 1 Sy joins soprano Carla Huhtanen and mezzo soprano Emilia Boteva to perform the “glorious music inspired by the most tempestuous relationships” in Off Centre Music Salon’s “On Love and Other Difficulties.”

A Correction: in my recent CD review of the Handel & Haydn Society performance of Messiah I mistakenly wrote that the duet He shall feed his flock was originally a soprano aria. I should have written “an alto aria.”

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

 

For a list of writings by this author, click the name above
More from this author:

ArtSong 33The countertenor voice had been prominent in English music in the late 17th century, the time of Purcell, but was only kept alive afterwards in the cathedral choirs. That changed in 1944 when the composer and conductor Michael Tippett plucked Alfred Deller from the choir stalls in Canterbury Cathedral and helped him to develop a solo career. Initially many people found the experience of hearing a man sing in the alto register odd. There is a famous story of Deller being confronted by a woman who asked him whether he was a eunuch. The story goes on to say that Deller did not miss a beat but replied immediately: “I think Madam the word you are looking for is ‘unique’.” Well, si non è vero, è ben trovato, but the very fact that the story rings true even if it isn’t, and has been repeated by many tells us something about the way audiences felt about this high male voice. Things have changed: now there are many countertenors and only the naive and inexperienced will be nonplussed by what they hear. The other day there was a very good countertenor, singing Schubert’s Ave Maria during the evening rush hour inside the Bloor-Yonge Station. Nobody seemed to take any notice (I suppose people had trains to catch) but nobody there seemed to find it at all unusual either.

Countertenor Daniel Cabena will be a new voice for many. I remember hearing him with the Toronto Consort and I was recently listening to the splendid recording by Les Violons du Roy and the Chapelle de Québec of the Mozart Requiem. Cabena sings on that recording too. In 2004 he moved to Montreal, where he studied at the Université de Montréal; since then he has been a student at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel and has performed in Switzerland with Musica Fiorita and La Cetra and in France with the Concert Spirituel and Le Parlement de Musique. He recently returned to Canada and now lives in Guelph.

December and January are going to be busy months for him. On December 7 at 3pm he will be performing a free concert with the pianist Stephen Runge at Hart House. The countertenor voice is now largely associated with early music but Cabena has chosen late 19th and 20th century works, mainly British, for this recital: songs by Stanford, Vaughan Williams, Ireland, Finzi, Warlock, Quilter, Howells, Butterworth, Gurney, Britten and William Denis Browne. Of special interest are two songs by Barrie Cabena, Daniel’s father. The elder Cabena was born in Australia, studied in England with Herbert Howells, moved to Canada and taught at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo from 1970 until his retirement. 

On December 13 and 14 Daniel Cabena will sing in a concert of sacred music by Bach, with the Nota Bene Baroque Orchestra in Hamilton and Waterloo, respectively. On December 20 he will be the alto soloist in Messiah with the Guelph Chamber Choir at the River Run Centre, Guelph and on January 31 he will sing with the ensemble Scaramella in a program of 17th century German music at Victoria College Chapel.

Tenor Sean Clark is another busy singer. Fresh from his performance of Tamino in Ottawa’s Opera Lyra children’s version of The Magic Flute (set in space), he has begun rehearsals for another Mozart role, that of Don Ottavio in Against the Grain Theatre’s #UncleJohn, an adaptation of Don Giovanni at the Great Hall’s Black Box Theatre  December 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19). He is giving a recital of Canadian and American music that consists of Verlaine settings by Mathieu as well as folk-song arrangements by John Beckwith and John Jacob Niles at the Canadian Music Centre on December 13. He is also the tenor soloist in Pax Christi Chorale’s performance of Bach’s Nun kommt der Heiden Heiland as well as part of the Christmas Oratorio and in Stephanie Martin’s secular cantata Winter Nights at St. John Vianney Church in Barrie on December 5; Grace Church on-the-Hill on December 6 and 7. Clark has been a member of the Canadian Opera Company chorus for some time and is continuing in that role. But he is interested in developing a solo career and these concerts may mark an important stage in that development.

Other Events: On December 3 Erin Bardua, soprano, Christina Stelmacovich, mezzo, Charles Davidson, tenor, and Graham Robinson, baritone, sing Bach’s cantata Wachet! betet! betet! wachet! at St. James Cathedral, PWYC.

Miriam Khalil, soprano, and Julie Nesrallah, mezzo, are the singers in a concert of Arab music on December 4 at Koerner Hall.

Two concerts on December 7: Off Centre Music Salon presents Ilana Zarankin, soprano, and Erica Iris Huang, mezzo, singing works from Russia (Glenn Gould Studio); Marie-Lynn Hammond will sing with the Echo Women’s Choir at Church of the Holy Trinity.

On December 8; the soloists in the Toronto Masque Theatre Christmas concert are Lizzie Hetherington and Jean Edwards, soprano, Jessica Wright, mezzo, and David Roth, baritone  at 21 Shaftesbury Avenue.

The third and final installment of the International Divas series takes place on December 21; the singers are Rita Chiarelli, Maryem Hassan Tollar, Lara Solnicki, Sharlene Wallace, the Ault Singers and Hisaka at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.

Whitney O’Hearn, mezzo, and Bud Roach, tenor, will perform songs from the Irving Berlin songbook, with the Talisker Players at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, January 11 and, 13.  

Nathalie Paulin, soprano, Laura Pudwell, mezzo, Lawrence Wiliford, tenor, and Sumner Thompson, baritone, will be the soloists in Beethoven’s Mass in C with Tafelmusik. The concert at Koerner Hall, January 22 to 25, also includes Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony; the conductor is Kent Nagano (Koerner Hall, January 22 to 25).

On January 25 Emily Klassen, soprano, and Jean-Sebastien Beauvais, countertenor, will sing Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater at St. David’s Anglican Church.

On February 1 Melanie Conly, soprano, will sing Brott, Purcell, Berlioz and Schubert at Heliconian Hall.

And beyond the GTA: Marie-Josée Lord, soprano, will perform songs and melodies from Spain and Latin America at All Saints’ Anglican Church in Peterborough, January 17.

Catherine Carew, mezzo, performs at the Glenn Crombie Theatre, Fleming College, in Lindsay January 18.

Two Postscripts: I enjoyed Opera Atelier’s production of Handel’s Alcina. Most of it was very well sung and Allyson McHardy was spectacular in the role of Ruggiero. I wish though that the company had not advertised it as a Canadian premiere as there was a fully staged and very successful production of the work by the Opera School in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto in November 2002. This was with a modern orchestra but Essential Opera also performed the work with a chamber orchestra with period instruments in May 2012.

I have been reading with great pleasure the memoir of Mary Willan Mason, The Well-Tempered Listener: Growing Up with Musical Parents (Words Indeed, 2010). Mason is the daughter of Healey Willan, the composer, organist and choirmaster, and of Gladys (“Nell”) Hall, who had been a distinguished pianist and singer before her marriage. Mason is now 94 and retains a lively interest in musical events in the city. One of the many details in the book that struck me was an account of how during the Depression Evelyn Pamphilon “augmented her piano-teaching income by producing a pamphlet, What’s On, listing local concerts and recitals.” This was clearly a forerunner of The WholeNote. Do any copies survive, I wonder.

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

For a list of writings by this author, click the name above
More from this author:

Back to top