Recitals: Past and To Come

 

features - art of songSong recitals are a thing of the past, we are told; the audiences just don’t exist any more. But perhaps that statement is premature. I can think of several recent events which suggest that there is still life there. The first was the July 20 recital in which Daniel Lichti sang Schubert’s Winterreise. The Heliconian Hall was not full but the size of the audience was respectable. I wrote about Lichti in June, so I shall only add that his singing was just as fine as I had expected.

The second was an August 6 recital given by baritone Christopher Maltman and pianist Graham Johnson to a near-capacity (and very enthusiastic) Walter Hall audience. One thing that struck me about both recitals was their seriousness: no crossover items, no vacuous chitchat. Maltman’s recital was a commemoration of the start of the Great War. The songs of George Butterworth and Ivor Gurney were central but there were other songs about war, such as the excerpts from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn and the song from Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death. Maltman introduced the program by reading a moving poem by Wilfred Owen but he provided nothing that was extraneous to the musical experience.

The Maltman recital was part of Toronto Summer Music, which offers not only concerts by established musicians but also the Toronto Summer Music Academy, which this year provided opportunity to eight singers and five collaborative pianists. (There is a similar program for instrumentalists.) On August 8 we were able to hear all 13 performers. The standard was high: a testament not only to the innate musicality of the artists but also to the quality of the teaching (from François Le Roux and Graham Johnson, and from Christopher Newton and Steven Philcox). I thought the best of the young singers was the mezzo Evanna Chiew but there were also fine performances from Jin Xiang Yu, soprano, and Jean-Philippe McClish, baritone. Among the able accompanists, Brian Locke stood out. There was an added bonus in that we also heard the lovely violist Ryan Davis in Brahms’ Songs, Op.91.

Meanwhile I look forward to next season, in particular to another performance of Winterreise, to be sung by baritone Christian Gerhaher (February 26), to the recital by Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo, and Angela Hewitt, piano (January 9), to the Toronto debuts of the baritone Elliot Madore (March 26) and mezzo Christianne Stotijn  (April 16) and to the Kurt Weill recital by Adi Braun (December 6).

Upcoming Events in the GTA:

September 5 to 7, The Muted Note offers songs and dances based on the poetry of P.K. Page at The Citadel and September 27 at Gerrard Art Space .

Linda Condy, mezzo, will be the singer in a free recital titled It’s Easy Being Green at Yorkminster Baptist Church on September 16 at 12 noon, donations welcome.

The first recital in the noon series at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the Four Seasons Centre will be a concert by the new members of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio on September 23. It will be followed, on October 2, by a concert of arias and ensembles based on Shakespeare’s plays, performed by students of the University of Toronto Opera Division, and, on October 7, by three song cycles by Derek Holman (The Death of Orpheus, A Lasting Spring, A Play of Passion) to be performed by Colin Ainsworth, tenor, and Stephen Ralls, piano. These concerts are free.

features - art of song2Last year much was made of the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten and the bicentenary of the births of Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi. By contrast, the tri-centenary of the birth of Christoph Willibald von Gluck is now passing without notice (as is that of C.P.E. Bach). But there is one exception: Essential Opera is giving us Gluck’s rarely heard Paride ed Elena with Lyndsay Promane, mezzo, and Erin Bardua, soprano, in the title roles. The opera is staged and is performed with piano accompaniment at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, September 27 at 8pm; there will be another performance in Kitchener at the Registry Theatre on October 1 at 7:30pm.

Katherine Hill will be the soprano soloist in the Ensemble Polaris concert of Back to the Future: New Tunes from Sweden at 918 Bathurst Street on October 3.

On October 4 the soprano Emily D’Angelo will sing arias by Handel, Gounod and Rossini with the Greater Toronto Philharmonic at Calvin Presbyterian Church.

And beyond the GTA:

Chris Ness, piano, and Janet Ness, vocals, will perform works by Gershwin, Porter and Kern at Grace United Church, Barrie; September 10.

Daniel Lichti, bass-baritone, will be the soloist with the Nota Bene Baroque Players and Alison Melville, traverso, on September 18 at noon. On September 25, also at noon, the tenor James McLean and pianist Lorin Shalanko will perform. Both concerts are free, at the Maureen Forrester Recital Hall, Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloo.

On September 14 at 2pm, Charlotte Knight, soprano, and Jonathan Dick, baritone, will perform Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Felsen as well as songs by Argento and Bolcom and selections from My Fair Lady and The Phantom of the Opera. Michele Jacot is the clarinet soloist in the Schubert at Silver Spire United Church, St. Catharines.

On September 15, the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society will present a concert in which the main work is Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. The soprano soloist is Rachel Krehm at the KWCMS Music Room, Waterloo.

There will be a tribute to one of our most distinguished, and certainly our most inventive, living composer R. Murray Schafer, in The Barn at Campbellford on September 21 at 2pm. Donna Bennett, soprano, and Eleanor James, mezzo, will sing. The host will be Ben Heppner.

Two Postscripts: In 2012/13 the outstanding musical event was the Janáček-Kurtág double bill presented by Against the Grain Theatre. After that there was a modern adaptation of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, which I thought was splendid in some parts, less successful in others. But their latest offering this past June, Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, was a triumph. It is an opera I am very fond of but I have never seen a production which was as imaginative and which was sung with the intensity that these performers brought to it.

In June I reviewed a new CD of Telemann’s opera Miraways. Since its publication Scott Paterson has pointed out to me that the main theme of one of its arias (“Ein doppler Kranz”) reappears in an instrumental trio by Handel. The opera dates from 1728; the Handel trio probably from the early 1740s. Much has been written about Handel’s borrowings but, as far as I am aware, this particular borrowing has not been noted before.  

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

 


Daniel Lichti’s Jubilee Year

1909 Art SongSchubert’s song cycle Die Winterreise has long been a favourite of mine, initially through recordings and then through a fine performance by the late John Shirley-Quirk in Oxford, sometime in the late 1960s. But there have been two other performances which have been especially memorable: one was by the young Jonas Kaufmann in Edinburgh, the other by Daniel Lichti at St. Thomas Church in Toronto, a much darker reading, as one would expect from a bass-baritone. (Lichti has also recorded the work, with the pianist Leslie De’Ath, on Analekta.) I was therefore delighted to read that Lichti is performing the work, on the occasion of his 40th anniversary as a singer, in Waterloo on July 16 at the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society Music Room, and in Toronto on July 20 at Heliconian Hall. The pianist is Ephraim Laor.

Sondra Radvanovsky, who recently dazzled us all in the role of Queen Elizabeth I in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, will sing the Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Shalom Bard, on June 5 and 7. The TSO is also presenting a Gershwin concert, with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, conducted by Bramwell Tovey, in which the soloists are Marquita Lister and Lisa Daltirus, soprano, Gwendolyn Brown, alto, Jermaine Smith, tenor, and Alfred Walker, baritone, on June 20 and 21; all at Roy Thomson Hall.

GTA: By June the frequency of concerts starts diminishing but there is a compensation in the arrival of several summer festivals. Of special interest is Toronto Summer Music. This year its focus is on the early 20th century and it will feature modernists like Schoenberg and Bartók as well as late-Romantic composers like Richard Strauss and Vaughan Williams. A number of the concerts offered are vocal recitals: on August 6, baritone Christopher Maltman and pianist Graham Johnson will present a concert commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Great War; the program, “The Soldier – from Severn to Somme,” will include some of the Housman settings by George Butterworth and others, as well as songs by Mahler, Mussorgsky, Ives and Poulenc. The August 7 concert includes the Schoenberg arrangement of Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer, to be sung by baritone Peter McGillivray. On July 31, Sondra Radvanovsky will perform songs by Verdi, Rachmaninoff, Copland and Duparc. The coaching of young performances has always been central to the programs of Toronto Summer Music. This year eight singers and four pianists have been selected; their mentors are Graham Johnson and the baritone François Le Roux. They will perform on August 8 at noon and 4pm. These concerts are all in Walter Hall, except for the Radvanovsky recital which is in Koerner Hall.

It is common now for singers to end their recitals with crossover items: jazz, musicals, even pop. The results are rarely satisfactory as one has the sense of a classical singer letting her (or his) hair down. But I expect something rather special from Measha Brueggergosman’s recital for the TD Toronto Jazz Festival on June 26. I had the good fortune of hearing Measha Gosman (as she then was) when she was still an undergraduate and what I remember especially were her performances of spirituals. I fully realize that jazz and spirituals are not the same thing but I think she will bring the same intensity to the jazz as she did to the spirituals many years ago. Another singer to hear at the Toronto Jazz Festival is the Spanish vocalist Maria Concepción Balboa Buika, better known by her stage name, Buika. That concert is on June 25; both concerts are at Koerner Hall.

Beyond the GTA: July 5 and 6, with a preview on July 4, the Westben Arts Festival Theatre in Campbellford will present the Toronto Masque Theatre production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneaswith Lauren Segal, mezzo, as Dido and Alexander Dobson, baritone, as Aeneas; directed by Larry Beckwith. On July 10 Donna Bennett, soprano, and Brian Finley, piano, will perform works by Mozart, Robert and Clara Schumann, Chopin and Rachmaninoff. From July 23 to 26 there will be four concert performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera with Mark DuBois and Donna Bennett singing the main parts. On July 27, sopranos Virginia Hatfield and Joni Henson and mezzo Megan Latham will perform the trio from Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier as well as music from The Tales of Hoffmann, Madama Butterfly and Carmen.

If you cannot get to Campbellford for Dido and Aeneas, you will have another chance to see it in Parry Sound at the Festival of the Sound on July 30. Lauren Segal is again singing Dido and Peter McGillivray is taking over the role of Aeneas. There will also be songs and instrumental music by Purcell. Also at the Festival of the Sound: Robert Pomakov, bass, will sing Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death on July 22; Richard and Lauren Margison will give a joint recital on July 27; Leslie Fagan, soprano, and Peter McGillivray, baritone, will sing a program of Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms on August 1; on August 5 Tom Allen, Lori Gemmell, Kevin Fox, Patricia O’Callaghan and Bryce Kulak will perform in the “Judgement of Paris” – a neat pun, since the performance will be about the rivalry between two Parisian composers, Debussy and Ravel; the Festival will end on August 10 with a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, in which the soloists are Leslie Fagan, soprano, Marion Newman, mezzo, Michael Colvin, tenor, and Russell Braun, baritone. These performances are all at the Charles W. Stockey Centre. Also at the Festival of the Sound: the Toronto Consort presents “Shakespeare’s Songbook” at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, July 25.

Stratford Summer Music presents several concerts of music associated with Shakespeare, given by the Folger Shakespearean Consort (a recorder group) and the Consort Arcadia Viols. On July 23 “Courting Elizabeth: Music and Patronage in Shakespeare’s England” will present music by Dowland, lyra viol pieces by Tobias Hume as well as consort songs and lute ayres of Shakespeare’s time. The singer is the tenor James Taylor. On July 24 songs with texts by Shakespeare – or quoted by him – will be performed along with an operatic version of The Tempest as well as broadside ballads and country dances. The singer is the countertenor Drew Minter; the lutenist is Mark Rimple. Both concerts are in St. Andrew’s Church. In addition you can hear a discussion of  “An Examination of Shakespeare in Song” on July 24 at 2pm at the University of Waterloo, Stratford Campus with music by Thomas Morley, Robert Johnson and John Wilson. Minter and Rimple will again perform.

The Elora Festival includes the “Da Vinci Codex” with the Toronto Consort on July 15 and “Canada, Fall In! The Great War Remembered in Words, Images and Song” on July 19, both in St. John’s Church; the “Judgement of Paris,” July 18, Richard and Lauren Margison, July 19, “Songs from the Stage and Silver Screen,” July 23, and The Tenors, July 25; all at the Gambrel Barn.

And one other event: “Summer Nights: Languor and Longing” is the title of a recital to be given by soprano Melanie Conly and pianist Kathryn Tremills. The program includes Samuel Barber’s Knoxville, Summer of 1915 and Les nuits d’été by Berlioz as well as music by Purcell, Weill and Gershwin at the Heliconian Hall, June 19.

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

Lust and Sloth in Rosedale

1908-ArtofSongRachel Andrist, the co-director of Recitals at Rosedale (held at Rosedale Presbyterian Church), tells me that when it was first suggested to her that she might start a new recital series she was only lukewarm to the idea. She got more enthusiastic when she heard that the recitals of the Aldeburgh Connection would soon be no more. At the same time she realized that it would not be a good idea simply to repeat the kind of programs that the Aldeburgh Connection had always mounted: they tended to concentrate on a particular composer or on a particular milieu and they were elaborately documented through the use of letters and diaries.

By contrast, the programs at Rosedale have been wide ranging and they have been unified by a common theme. The 2013-14 season began with “The Seven Virtues” and will, in the season’s final concert, May 25, end with its logical complement, “The Seven Deadly Sins.” All the Sins will be represented, from Lust (the Don Quichotte songs by Ibert) to Sloth (Lob der Faulheit by Haydn). The singers will be Lindsay Barrett and Ambur Braid, soprano, Michael Colvin, tenor, and Robert Gleadow, bass. Besides Ibert and Haydn, they will perform solo songs and duets by Schubert, Verdi, Mahler, Poulenc, Barber, Porter and Somers. Three concerts are planned for next season: “A Walk on the Dark Side: Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales” with Leslie Ann Bradley, soprano, Allyson McHardy, mezzo, and Geoffrey Sirett, baritone, on November 9 (song cycles by Zemlinsky, Szymanowski and Heggie; songs and ballads by Wolf, Schumann, Finzi and others); “Serenades: Forgotten and Found” on March 8, 2015, with Gillian Keith, soprano, Michèle Bogdanowicz, mezzo, and Charles Sy, tenor (song cycles by Raum, a world premiere, and Palej, selections from the Debussy Vasnier album, songs and duets by Gounod, Rossini, Schubert, Strauss and others); “Wanderlust: There and Back Again” with Lucia Cesaroni, soprano, Emily D’Angelo, mezzo, and Anthony Cleverton, baritone, on May 3, 2015 (the Mignon Harper songs by Schumann as well as works by Fauré, Duparc, Wolf, Schubert, Vaughan Williams and others).

Topi Lehtipuu is a Finnish tenor who is acclaimed for his work in Baroque music (Monteverdi, Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau) and in Mozart’s operas (Belmonte, Ferrando, Tamino). But he has also performed a great deal of Romantic and modern music. His debut was at the Savonlinna Festival in Britten’s Albert Herring; he has sung (and recorded) the part of David in Glyndebourne’s production of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg as well as, also at Glyndebourne, that of Tom Rakewell in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. This month he will be singing contemporary music at Carnegie Hall in New York with the ACJW Ensemble and he will return to New York in October to sing the tenor arias in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle. The Canadian Friends of Finland are sponsoring Lehtipuu’s debut performances in Ottawa (May 20 at the First Unitarian Church) and in Toronto at the Agricola Finnish Lutheran Church May 22. The recital will begin with Schumann’s Dichterliebe and will also include arias by Vivaldi and Mozart as well as songs by Duparc and Fauré. Finnish music will be represented by two songs by Sibelius and by The Forest Maid (Siniipika) by Toivo Kuula, Sibelius’ pupil. The recital will end with music by Gershwin. The pianist is Christophe Larrieu.

Wallis Giunta, mezzo, will be the soloist in Anaïs Nin, a monodrama by the Dutch composer Louis Andriessen. The work is based on Nin’s Journals; it was first presented in Siena in 2010 and the Toronto performance at Koerner Hall, May 22, constitutes its Canadian premiere

Dmitri Hvorostovsky, the Russian baritone, became well-known in the West in 1989, when he won the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, beating out the bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, who had to settle for the Lieder Prize. Hvorostovsky is especially known for his performances of Russian opera and song, but not exclusively. In April he sang the role of Germont in La Traviata at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and will return to London next season to sing Renato in Un ballo in maschera. In September he sang Iago in Otello at the Wiener Staatsoper and he will again sing in Vienna next season, as Germont and as Rodrigo in Don Carlos. On June 1 he will be in Toronto at Koerner Hall to perform a recital with Ivari Ilja, which will include music by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Medtner and Liszt.

Richard Bradshaw: As always, many of the most interesting recitals will take place at noon at the Richard Bradshaw Auditorium in the Four Seasons Centre: on May 6 the mezzo Allyson McHardy, with pianist Liz Upchurch, tenor Andrew Haji and violist Keith Hamm, will perform Two Songs for Alto, Viola and Piano, Op.91, by Brahms, the second Canticle (Abraham and Isaac) by Britten and The Confession Stone by Robert Fleming; on May 13 the baritone Russell Braun will perform Dover Beach by Samuel Barber and La bonne chanson by Fauré (with Marie Bérard, violin, and other members of the COC Orchestra); on May 15 members of the COC Orchestra and Ensemble Studio will perform instrumental and vocal works by Handel, Bach and Albinoni; on May 20 there is a farewell concert given by the graduating members of the COC Ensemble Studio; on May 22 Stephen R. Clarke will play and comment on recordings by Feodor Chaliapin, the bass who, in 1910, created the role of Don Quichotte in Massenet’s opera (staged this month by the COC). These events are all free.

Women in Song is the title of a benefit concert at St. Andrew’s Church; May 24, in support of the Out of the Cold program. The singers are Allison Angelo, Nathalie Paulin and Monica Whicher, soprano, and Norine Burgess and Elizabeth Forster, mezzo. The pianist is John Greer.

Other Events in the GTA: Mireille Asselin is the soprano soloist in Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Felsen. The clarinetist is Camilo Davila and the pianist, Jean Desmarais. The program also includes Brahms’ Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in F minor, Op.120 as well as other works by Schumann and Davila. Shannon Mercer is the soprano soloist in a fundraising concert for the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto at Integral House, 194 Roxborough Drive, May 4. The pianist is Steven Philcox

Also on May 4, at Glenn Gould Studio, Off Centre Music Salon will present the music of Romantic Russian composers who were active in a modernist age: Rachmaninoff, Medtner, Grechaninov and Rebikov. The singers are Erica Iris Huang and Michèle Bogdanowicz, mezzo, Edgar Ernesto Ramirez, tenor, and Peter McGillivray, baritone (Glenn Gould Studio).

On May 10 at Eastminster United Church, the Academy Concert Series presents a Handel concert which will include selections from his Nine German Arias as well as other works. The singer is Nathalie Paulin, soprano.

On May 27 and 28at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, the Talisker Players will present “A Poet’s Love.” The program includes Schumann’s Dichterliebe and Fauré’s La bonne chanson as well as works by Beckwith and Rappoport. The singer is Alexander Dobson, baritone, and the reader, Stewart Arnott.

Leigh Ann Allen and Natalya Matyusheva, soprano, Lauren Phillips, mezzo, and Keith Lam, baritone, are the winners in the NYCO Mozart Competition. They will perform with the NYCO Orchestra on May 31 at St. Michael’s College School.

 

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

Amateur Choirs, Professional Soloists

artofsong kasia-konstantykasiaOne of the main problems for even the most talented young singer is how to get his or her career started. There are many places where a solid training is given: the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory or the music faculties or departments at our Universities, such as Toronto and McGill, York and Western Ontario. Then there are opportunities for further training through the mentorship program at Toronto Summer Music or the Opera Division at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, the Ensemble Studio of the Canadian Opera Company or the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal.

In a number of cases such participation has led to important professional engagements. This season, for instance, we were able to hear several recent graduates of the Ensemble Studio in major roles at the COC: Ileana Montalbetti sang Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes, Simone Osborne performed Musetta in La bohème and Oscar in Un ballo in maschera. In the recent Tafelmusik performances of Handel’s Saul, the part of Saul’s daughter Michal was sung by Sherezade Panthaki, an alumna of the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute. And there are always competitions: the North York Concert Orchestra (NYCO) recently announced the winners of the 2013/14 Mozart Competition: Leigh-Ann Allen and Natalya Matyusheva, soprano, Lauren Phillips, mezzo, and Keith Kam, baritone. They will sing with NYCO on May 31.

Read more: Amateur Choirs, Professional Soloists

The Canadian Art Song Project

1906 artsongThere have been a number of suggestions in recent months that in Toronto the vocal recital is in a very delicate state. The music critic John Terauds referred in his blog to “the near extinction of the vocal recital from Toronto’s concert scene over the past two seasons.” It is easy to back up that statement: the Aldeburgh Connection ceased to be after 31 glorious seasons; the celebrity recitals at Roy Thomson Hall all but disappeared a few years ago; the four-recital series at the Glenn Gould Studio, which was not well publicized and which was poorly attended, has gone. Mervon Mehta, RCM’s executive director of performing arts, said in a recent interview that Koerner Hall was simply not the right place for vocal recitals. He mentioned that the tenor Ian Bostridge, whose 2005 recital in Roy Thomson Hall had been well attended, drew only a small audience there.

But not everything is doom and gloom. As Terauds acknowledged, there have been many vocal recitals in the (free) lunchtime series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the Four Seasons Centre; Music Toronto, although its programs centre on the piano and on chamber music, has in the last two years presented Erin Wall and Phillip Addis; a new (four-concert) series has started at Rosedale Presbyterian Church directed initially by Rachel Andrist and John Greer and now by Andrist and Monica Whicher. Vocal recitals have also come back to Koerner Hall: recently we had the bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni and the baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky will be singing there on June 1; the 2014-15 season promises the tenor Marcello Giordani, the baritone Christian Gerhaher and the mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter. Last summer Toronto Summer Music gave us Philippe Sly and Sanford Sylvan. Their line-up for the summer of 2014 has not yet been announced but we already know that the baritone François Le Roux and the collaborative pianist Graham Johnson will be among the mentors. And we should not forget that young singers (or their agents) from time to time book venues like the Heliconian Hall for song recitals.

Wiliford and Philcox: One of the most interesting recent developments is the Canadian Art Song Project, initiated and directed by the tenor Lawrence Wiliford and the collaborative pianist Steven Philcox. The aims of the Project are best given in its mission statement: “To foster the creation and performance of Canadian repertoire by commissioning Canadian composers to write for Canadian singers; to facilitate a collaborative process between the composer and the performer; and to promote artistic excellence and the Canadian experience in the living art of song.” Past commissions have included Sewing the Earthworm by Brian Harman (2012; sung by the soprano Carla Huhtanen), Cloud Light by Norbert Palej (2013) and Extreme Positions and Birefringence by Brian Current (also 2013; recently performed by the soprano Simone Osborne). 2014 brings us Moths by James Rolfe (text by Andre Alexis) and a new work by Peter Tiefenbach (text by James Ostine; to be performed by the baritone Geoffrey Sirett). For 2015 Marjan Mozetich will be writing a new work to be sung by the mezzo Allyson McHardy; for 2016 there are plans to perform and perhaps record unpublished songs by Healey Willan (apparently 100 or so exist!); for 2017 Canada’s sesquicentennial will be marked by a new composition by Ana Sokolović for soprano, mezzo, tenor and bass with texts from across Canada, to be performed by members of the Ensemble Studio of the Canadian Opera Company.

This month the Canadian Art Song Project will unveil its first CD, on the Centredisc label. All the works on the disc are by Derek Holman and they include Ash Roses (1994; written for the young Karina Gauvin), Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal (2007), The Four Seasons (2009; written in commemoration of Richard Bradshaw) and three Songs for High Voice and Harp (2011). The CD will be launched at a recital by Mireille Asselin, soprano, Lawrence Wiliford, tenor, Liz Upchurch, piano, and Sanya Eng, harp (Canadian Music Centre, March 7). The songs performed by Wiliford were written with his voice in mind; he also gave the first performances of The Four Seasons (with Upchurch) and the Songs for High Voice and Harp (with Eng). The Holman disc will also be available at “A Celebration of Canadian Song” in the free lunchtime series at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre on March 27. At this concert the premiere performance of James Rolfe’s Moths will be given by Brett Polegato, baritone, and Steven Philcox; Colin Ainsworth will be singing excerpts from Derek Holman’s A Play of Passion; the soprano Monica Whicher will perform songs by the young British Columbia composer Matthew Emory as well as a set by Pierre Mercure. Ainsworth and Whicher will be accompanied by the pianist Kathryn Tremills.

Clearly this is a very worthwhile project; it deserves everyone’s support. Tax-deductible donations can be made through the Project’s website (canadianartsong project.ca). Anyone interested in commissioning a new work should contact Wiliford or Philcox (canadianartsongproject@gmail.com).

The Ukrainian Art Song Project: a recording of songs based on the poetry of Taras Shevschenko is now available. It features the bass-baritone Pavlo Hunka and a number of Canadian singers: Russell Braun, Krisztina Szabó, Benjamin Butterfield, Allyson McHardy, Elizabeth Turnbull, Colin Ainsworth, Monica Whicher and Isabel Bayrakdarian. A second CD with 80 Galician songs will be launched in November. Hunka will also sing on March 23, along with local Ukrainian choirs and the Gryphon Trio at Koerner Hall.

Other Events in the GTA:

On March 8 Measha Brueggergosman will sing works by Brahms, Ravel, Turina, Copland, Ellington and Joni Mitchell at the Flato Theatre, Markham.

March 16 and 18The Talisker Players present “Creature to Creature: A 21st-Century Bestiary,” with Norine Burgess, mezzo, and Geoffrey Sirett, baritone; works by Poulenc, Rappoport and Hoiby (Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, March 16 and 18).

March 26: Jennifer Taverner and Lesley Bouza, soprano, Jennifer Enns Modolo, mezzo, Isaiah Bell, tenor, and Michael York, baritone, are the soloists in the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s performance of  Bach’s B Minor Mass at Koerner Hall.

On March 30 Kristine Dandavino, mezzo, and Dillon Parmer, tenor, will be the soloists in a performance of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde at the Kingsview United Church, Oshawa.

On April 3 Claire de Sévigné, soprano, Charlotte Burrrage, mezzo, Andrew Haji, tenor, and Gordon Bintner, bass-baritone, are the singers in Brahms’ Liebeslieder Walzer, a free noon-hour concert at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.

And beyond the GTA:

On March 8 Leslie Fagan will be the soprano soloist in Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock. The program will also include Brahms’ Clarinet Sonata no.2 and his Clarinet Quintet at the Maureen Forrester Recital Hall, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo.

March 22: Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Daniel Lichti sings Elijah and other roles are taken by Anne Marie Ramos, soprano, Sophie Roland, alto, and Chris Fischer, tenor at River Run Centre, Guelph.

March 23: Allison Angelo, soprano, Jennifer Routhier, mezzo, Christopher Mayell, tenor, and Bruce Kelly, baritone, will be the soloists in Mozart’s Requiem  at the Kingston Gospel Temple.

A Correction: A mistake crept into my February column as it moved from an e-mail attachment into print. I had tried to make a distinction between the Purcell Consort directed by Grayston Burgess and the Deller Consort directed by Alfred Deller (and after his death, by his son Mark). In the printed version of the column the two were conflated.

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


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