There is, in ontario, a number of companies which have long histories: the Toronto Choral Society was founded in 1845, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in 1894, the Bach-Elgar Choir of Hamilton in 1905, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1922, the Canadian Opera Company in 1950, the National Ballet of Canada in 1951. But there are, in Toronto and Southern Ontario, other more recently founded companies.

art of songOne such company is Capella Intima, founded and directed by Bud Roach. Roach decided to start this ensemble in 2008 and the initial performances were in 2009. Before Roach became a tenor, he was a professional oboist; he was a member of a number of orchestras including the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic. In his high school years he had been a rather weak baritone who conked out when confronted by a high F, so he put thoughts of singing aside in favour of the oboe. But in 2005, after having left the orchestral world, he discovered that he had high notes after all and from then on he has concentrated on singing. He managed to persuade Lydia Adams to allow him to sing in the Amadeus Choir’s performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor. Adams must have liked what she heard and, soon after, Roach became a member of the Elmer Iseler Singers. We have also been able to hear him in appearances with ensembles such as the Toronto Consort and the Aradia Ensemble. He now enjoys an active solo career. At the Fringe concerts in last June’s Boston Early Music Festival he performed excerpts from the third volume of arias by Alessandro Grandi (1626), accompanying himself on the baroque guitar. These performances are now also available on CD (on the Opera Omnia label).

Capella Intima specializes in the performance of 17th-century Italian sacred works, sung one to a part with a small instrumental ensemble. Last spring it gave three performances of the oratorio Giuseppe, which may or may not be by Luigi Rossi. This September Capella Intima will perform music by Chiara Margarita Cozzolani (September 21 in Hamilton at McNeil Baptist Church; September 28 in Toronto in the Great Hall at St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Bloor St.; both at 3pm) in a program titled “Celestial Sirens” which the ensemble first presented in 2010 and has since performed at the New Hamburg Live Festival and, most recently, at the Bach Festival of Canada in Exeter. (Another concert, also titled “Celestial Sirens” and featuring music by Cozzolani and others, was given by the Toronto Consort in May 2011.) It is only in recent years that the music composed by 17th-century cloistered Milanese nuns, like Cozzolani, has been given the attention it deserves by both musicologists and performers. I am myself greatly looking forward to this concert.

The other comparatively new company is the Toronto Masque Theatre, directed by Larry Beckwith, now entering its tenth anniversary year. When I first knew Beckwith, he was primarily a tenor (he was a member of the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir). As time went by, he became more interested in playing the baroque violin and performing chamber music. Before founding the Toronto Masque Theatre, he was a member of the Arbor Oak Trio along with Stephanie Martin, harpsichord, and Todd Gilman, viola da gamba (replaced by Mary-Katherine Finch after Gilman left Toronto). The Trio did not confine itself to chamber music but also staged several 17th- and 18th-century operas, including Love in a Village by Thomas Arne and John Gay’s ballad opera, The Beggar’s Opera. (I played the Beggar in the latter. Can I call it the title role?)

Literary historians tend to define “masque” rather narrowly and see it as a 16th- or 17th-century courtly entertainment with strong allegorical elements. Beckwith has always thought of the masque in a much wider sense, as a work that provides a fusion between opera, dance, song, chamber music, theatre, puppetry, visual art and film. The company has performed several 17th-century operas such as Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and John Blow’s Venus and Adonis but it has also commissioned a number of new works by composers like James Rolfe and Dean Burry. Its most recent commission was The Lesson of Da Ji (music by Alice Ping Yee Ho, text by Marjorie Chan), which won a Dora Mavor Moore award.

The first TMT event of the new season is a ten-year retrospective salon on September 30 at 21 Shaftesbury Ave. Beckwith and others will speak and there will be musical contributions by, among others, soprano Teri Dunn and lutenist Lucas Harris. Tickets for a suggested donation of $20 are bookable through the TMT website or by phoning 416-410-4561. Their first regular concert will give us Patrick Garland’s dramatization of Brief Lives by John Aubrey with actor William Webster and soprano Katherine Hill at the Young Centre, October 25 to 27. It will be followed by the cabaret Arlecchino Allegro featuring mezzo Laura Pudwell at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, January 23 to 25. The final concert on April 25 and 26 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, will give us three versions of the myth of Zeus and Europa; the soprano soloist will be Suzie LeBlanc.

Other Events

On September 26 at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, in a free noon hour concert, the young artists of the 2013/14 Canadian Opera Company Ensemble will introduce themselves by singing their favourite arias.

The season at Koerner Hall will open with a concert on September 28 featuring Audra McDonald. She will sing a mix of Broadway show tunes, classic songs from movies and pieces specially written for her.

Soundstreams opens its season at Koerner Hall on October 1 with a concert devoted to the music of Arvo Pärt, James Rolfe and Riho Maimets. Shannon Mercer will be the soprano soloist.

The opening concert of the Recitals at Rosedale series will be on October 6 at 2:30pm at the Rosedale Presbyterian Church. Its title is “The Seven Virtues” — the series will pair that concert with “The Seven Deadly Sins,” but not until May.

And beyond the GTA

The Colours of Music Festival in Barrie will include “A Song in the Air” on October 3, including music by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Britten sung by mezzo Jennifer Krabbe and baritone David Roth. “I’ll Be Seeing You” on October 6 features songs from wartime, sung by Wendy Nielsen, soprano, and Patrick Raftery, tenor. Both concerts will be at Burton Avenue United Church. 

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

artofsong philippe-slyIt seemed only yesterday (though it was probably 18 years ago) that I travelled up to North York to hear Elly Ameling's farewell recital in the George Weston Recital Hall. A fabulous concert it was. Well, Ameling is back – this time as a mentor to the eight singers and four collaborative pianists who have been selected as fellows in this festival. Other mentors will be baritone Sanford Sylvan and pianist Julius Drake. Sylvan will also perform Le bal masqué by Poulenc in Walter Hall, July 19 at 7:30pm.

Read more: Toronto Summer Music Festival 2013: Performers, Mentors and Fellows

artofsong robbie burnsRobert Burns was not a musician but he liked music; he was especially fond of traditional Scottish airs. He wrote several times that his main goal in writing texts for them was to preserve the music. After Burns’ death, that process was reversed by composers like Schumann and Loewe, who wrote new settings for Burns’ texts. More recently, Benjamin Britten did so in A Birthday Hansel, a song cycle beautifully performed at the Royal Conservatory on April 14 by soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon and harpist Ingrid Bauer.

The relation between text and music in Burns is actually more complicated than his own statements would suggest. O My Love is Like a Red Red Rose was first published by Pietro Urbani, an Italian musician active in Scotland. Burns gave him the words of the song and essentially told him to use them as he saw fit. Urbani then came up with his own composition, an elaborate setting featuring two violins, viola and harpsichord, with an instrumental introduction and with the notation “Largo con Molta Espressione.” James Johnson republished the song in 1797 and used the tune that Burns had himself suggested, Major Graham. Then in 1821, long after Burns’ death, Robert Archibald Smith proposed an alternative tune, Low Down in the Broom. It is that tune that is now generally used. The case of Auld Lang Syne is different but also complicated. Burns wrote, in a letter, that he “took it down,” that is to say he took the words down, from an old man’s performance. Johnson published it in 1796 to an old tune, but two years earlier Burns had already written to another publisher, George Thomson, that he did not like that tune; he added that there was another, which “you may hear as a Scottish country dance.” It is that other tune that everyone now knows. It is clear then that in some cases Burns wrote, or wrote down, the texts first and then looked for a traditional melody that he liked and that fit metrically.

art of song virginia hatfieldSeveral Toronto musicians sing Scottish songs. Lorna Macdonald has done so in a number of her recitals, Allyson McHardy included a set in a recent concert and there is a fine performance of a Burns song on an ATMA CD by Meredith Hall with Ensemble La Nef. There will be another chance to hear songs by Burns in a concert entitled “The Star of Robbie Burns,” with Virginia Hatfield, soprano, and Benjamin Covey, baritone at the Church of the Redeemer, June 7. R.H. Thomson will narrate Burns’s life, while the second half of the concert will feature songs from the musical Brigadoon. The pianist is Melody McShane. And just in case that is not enough, the ticket price includes tea and shortbread. The concert will be repeated at the Festival of the Sound at the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts, Parry Sound, but with a different soprano, Charlotte Corwin. A different Burns/Brigadoon concert will be given at the Westben Festival in Campbellford with Donna Bennett, soprano, Colin Ainsworth, tenor, and Brian Finley, piano, July 13. You will also be able to hear Burns’ songs Ae Fond Kiss and Auld Lang Syne in a concert titled “A Celtic High Tea” at St. John’s Church, Ancaster, August 11.

Read more: The Songs of Robert Burns

1808-artsonIn Virginia Woolf’s novel, To the Lighthouse, the painter Lily Briscoe is much troubled when she recalls a young ambitious male academic saying: “Women can’t write; women can’t paint.” Nobody has ever doubted that there have been great women performers. Just think of the concerto delle donne in late 16th-century Ferrara or the girls who were trained at the Ospedale della Pietà in 18th-century Venice, of actresses like Sarah Siddons, Sarah Bernhardt and Eleanora Duse or dancers like Anna Pavlova. But the ability of women to become creative artists has in the past been questioned. It was sometimes asserted that women could never become great poets since they lacked creative power. I suspect that this attitude goes back to a long discredited physiological theory that held that only men could create, since the homunculus was already present in the sperm and that a woman simply provided a space where the embryo could develop.

Of course, there have been a number of important women composers from Hildegard von Bingen in the 12th century to Germaine Tailleferre and Lili Boulanger in the early 20th and Kaija Saariaho, Sofia Gubaidulina and Ana Sokolović in our time. I also suspect that there would have been others had the intellectual climate been more sympathetic to the female composer. Several women composers have been close relatives of more famous men: Francesca Caccini was the daughter of Giulio Caccini; Clara Schumann was the wife of Robert Schumann; Fanny Mendelssohn was the sister of Felix Mendelssohn; Pauline Viardot was the daughter of Manuel García. As a consequence they are sometimes seen as pale reflections of the male figures to whom they were related.

Sometimes too, a woman may have been content to be a “helpmeet.” There are two extant manuscripts of Claudio Monteverdi’s last opera, L’incoronazione di Poppea; one of these shows that Francesco Cavalli, Monteverdi’s pupil and successor, had made a number of revisions. But two-thirds of the manuscript is in the hand of Cavalli’s wife Maria. We know little about her: she was a widow when Francesco married her in 1630; she began copying in 1650 (her hand has been detected not only in the Monteverdi but also in several of Cavalli’s own operas); she died in 1652. She must have been musically literate to be able to do this work. Could she have become a composer herself? We shall never know. When Gustav Mahler courted Alma Schindler (who had studied composition with Alexander von Zemlinsky), he insisted that she could not be a composer, as it would be wrong to have more than one composer in the family. Like Maria Cavalli, she became a copyist of her husband’s music. (Mahler was to change his mind about Alma’s compositions later.)

Alison Mackay has played violone and double bass for Tafelmusik since 1979. For Tafelmusik she has created several highly successful multi-media projects: “The Galileo Project;” ‘The Four Seasons;” “The House of Dreams.” Her next project is for the Toronto Consort: “A Woman’s Life” on May 24 and 25 at 8pm and May 26 at 3:30pm at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. The program will explore the lives of women composers and singers from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the early Baroque. It will feature vocal music by von Bingen, Francesca Caccini and Barbara Strozzi.

Other events: Tafelmusik presents arias and choruses from Handel’s oratorios with Sophie Daneman, soprano, and Rufus Müller, tenor, at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, May 1 to May 4 at 8pm and May 5 at 3:30pm, and at the George Weston Recital Hall, May 7 at 8pm.

The Aldeburgh Connection continues its Britten Festival of Song with “The Song Cycles,” with Shannon Mercer, soprano, and Susan Platts, mezzo at the Glenn Gould Studio, May 7 at 8pm and “A Time There Was,” with Virginia Hatfield, soprano, Scott Belluz, countertenor, Colin Ainsworth, tenor, and Geoffrey Sirett, baritone, at Walter Hall May 26 at 2:30pm.

On May 7 and 8 the Talisker Players presents a program of works that evoke birds. It includes music by Telemann and Arvo Pärt. The singers are Erin Bardua, soprano, and Vicki St. Pierre, mezzo, at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre at 8pm.

I met R.H. Thomson more than 40 years ago when we were both in a production of the crucifixion scene from the York Mystery plays. Thomson played Pilate and I was one of the malefactors who torment Christ. This may have been the high point of my theatrical career but Thomson’s had barely taken off. Over the years he has become one of our most distinguished actors. Earlier this season he performed (for Tafelmusik) the fictional memoirs of an early 18th-century oboist. On May 10, Thomson appears in an Eybler Quartet performance titled “An Evening with Michael Kelly” at the Heliconian Hall; repeated at St. Barnabas Church, St. Catharines, May 12 at 2pm. Although the works played are instrumental, the program will be of interest in relation to the history of vocal music. Kelly was an Irish tenor, who created the roles of Don Curzio and Don Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro andThomson’s performance will be based on Kelly’s Reminiscences. Thomson will also perform in “The Star of Robbie Burns” (Church of the Redeemer, June 7) with Virginia Hatfield, soprano, and Benjamin Covey, baritone.

The Toronto Masque Theatre will give its final concert of the season on May 10 and 11 (at 8pm) and May 12 (at 3pm; all at the Al Green Theatre). The program consists of John Blow’s masque, Venus and Adonis, and a newly commissioned opera by Alice Ping Yee Ho, The Lesson of Da Ji. The singers are Vania Chan, Charlotte Corwin and Xin Wang, soprano, Marion Newman, mezzo, Timothy Wong, countertenor, Benjamin Covey and Alexander Dobson, baritone.

Klara Ek, soprano, and Gerald Finley, bass-baritone, will be the soloists in Brahms’ German Requiem, with the Toronto Symphony (Roy Thomson Hall, May 22, 23 and 25). The first two of these concerts will also include Lieberson’s settings of poems by Neruda.

Recitals at Rosedale kicks off its 2013/14 season with a special launch concert on June 1 (Rosedale Presbyterian Church at 7:30pm).

This month in its free Vocal Series the COC presents: Anna Christy, soprano, the star of the current production of Lucia di Lammermoor, in recital on May 21; a concert by the graduating artists of the COC Ensemble Studio on May 23; and a sneak preview of this year’s Toronto Summer Music Festival on May 30. All three concerts are in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the Four Seasons Centre from 12 noon to 1pm and are free.

And beyond the GTA: Leslie Fagan, soprano, Laura Pudwell, mezzo, Adam Bishop, tenor, and Peter McGillivray, baritone, will be the soloists in a performance of Bach’s B Minor Mass (George Street United Church, Peterborough, May 11 at 7:30pm).

A postscript: I enjoyedthe lively performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni by students of the Glenn Gould School (although I have always seen the opera more as an account of frustrated desire than as an indulgence in bunga bunga). The Don (Diego Catala) sang a beautiful “Serenade” and Don Ottavio (Justin Stolz) was terrific in “Il mio tesoro.” The finest performance came from Beste Kalender as Zerlina. She sang with warmth and had just the right mixture of naiveté, spontaneity and artfulness. 

Hans de Groot is a concertgoer and active listener. He also sings and plays the recorder.

Art of SongLast September Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata, the artistic directors of the Aldeburgh Connection, announced that this season, their 32nd, would be their last. Sad news, but nobody would want to force the directors to see the series as a life sentence. In any case, they want to end things now rather than wait until the time when people would say, “they have obviously run out of ideas,” however remote and even hypothetical that must seem at present.

Ralls’ work at Aldeburgh, the seaside town in southeast England, and his professional involvement with the operas of Benjamin Britten, began in 1972 when he worked as pianist and vocal coach on A Midsummer Night’s Dream; subsequently he played the piano in Britten’s final opera, Death in Venice (he can be heard as the pianist on the opera’s original recording). Ubukata arrived in Aldeburgh in 1977 with the intention of auditing some of the masterclasses, but there was a last minute vacancy and he stayed as a coach and accompanist instead. It was then that Ralls and Ubukata first met but they realized they could have met four years earlier when Ubukata was in the audience at an Edinburgh performance of Death in Venice, in which Ralls played the piano.

The Aldeburgh Connection’s main goal has always been to help young Canadian singers gain experience in the song repertoire. Recently I have been struck by the way Aldeburgh’s concerts have maintained a balance between emerging singers and established artists. Its most recent concert, for instance, had the well-known soprano Monica Whicher but also the tenor Isaiah Bell and the bass-baritone Gordon Bintner, neither of whom is at all well known in Toronto. (That is bound to change now that Bintner has become a member of the COC Ensemble Studio.) But the established singers were also young emerging singers at one time and many were given important professional experience by the Aldeburgh Connection early in their careers. That is as true of singers who retired many years ago (Henry Ingram, Ingemar Korjus, Catherine Robbin, Janet Stubbs) as it is of those who are still in the middle of successful careers (Colin Ainsworth, Russell Braun, Brett Polegato, Michael Schade). A number of singers made their first professional appearance with the Aldeburgh Connection: Alexander Dobson, Virginia Hatfield, Joni Henson, Benjamin Covey and Lucia Cesaroni. Over the years the Aldeburgh Connection has commissioned a number of works. Several of these were recorded on the CD Our Own Songs, with Adrianne Pieczonka, Monica Whicher, Elizabeth Turnbull, Colin Ainsworth and Mark Pedrotti.

Ralls and Ubukata have always acknowledged the help they received from their patrons. First and foremost was Peter Pears, Britten’s partner and the singer for whom he wrote many of his works. Another was Greta Kraus, pianist and harpsichordist, vocal coach and accompanist. It is in her memory that the Aldeburgh Connection established its annual Schubertiad.

One of the finest things about the concerts of the Aldeburgh Connection is the work that the directors have done to establish the cultural contexts of the songs. The first of their concerts that I attended was based on songs that were performed in Jane Austen’s family. To prepare for that concert Ralls and Ubukata travelled to the Jane Austen’s House Museum (in Chawton in Hampshire) where they examined the music that Austen had copied out. The first half of their most recent concert consisted of Schubert songs with texts based on the poetry of Ovid, Virgil and Catullus. It is those poems that were read (Ralls and Ubukata are excellent readers). There have also been contributions over the years by leading Canadian actors. There my finest memory is Christopher Newton’s reading of the Christmas dinner chapter from James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Incorporating readings is now a feature of many concerts, a practice no doubt influenced by the Aldeburgh Connection. The danger is that these readings are often rather loosely related to the music. That has never been true of the Aldeburgh Connection.

Special attention has always been given to the anniversaries of composers: Schubert, Poulenc, Hugo Wolf. It is fitting that in this, their final year, they will finish with three concerts devoted to the work of Britten, who was born 100 years ago. The first of these concerts, at Glenn Gould Studio on April 26 at 8pm, presents three of the Canticles as well as The Ballad of Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard and Britten’s Purcell Realizations. The soloists are Daniel Taylor, countertenor, Benjamin Butterfield, tenor, and Alexander Dobson, baritone. The second of the concerts will take place on May 7 in the Glenn Gould Studio at 8pm, featuring Shannon Mercer, soprano, and Susan Platts, mezzo, as soloists in On this Island, A Charm of Lullabies, The Poet’s Echo and some of the folksong arrangements. A Charm of Lullabies and The Poet’s Echo have a special meaning for Ralls and Ubukata as they were written for singers whom they knew and remember fondly: Nancy Evans and Galina Vishnevskaya. “A Britten Festival of Song” (and indeed the Aldeburgh Connection) will end with a vocal tapestry, “A Time There Was” in Walter Hall, May 26 at 2:30pm. The soloists are Virginia Hatfield, soprano, Scott Belluz, countertenor, Colin Ainsworth, tenor, and Geoffrey Sirett, baritone.

I feel confident about the continuing presence in Toronto of Ralls and Ubukata. Ralls will be the collaborative pianist in a recital with Allyson McHardy featuring works by Berlioz, Schumann, Rossini and Jonathan Larson, as well as Scottish folksongs, on April 14 in Glenn Gould Studio at 2pm. Last month Ubukata travelled to York University to direct a masterclass with the students of Catherine Robbin and Norma Burrowes. But I am less sanguine about the continuing presence of song recitals in Toronto. The celebrity recitals at Roy Thomson Hall were discontinued a couple of years ago and there is now very little vocal music at Koerner Hall. To some extent the slack has been taken up by the four-concert series “Canadian Voices,” organized by Massey Hall/Roy Thomson Hall and given at the Glenn Gould Studio, but, unlike the concerts of the Aldeburgh Connection, these concerts feature established singers, not emerging artists. There are, of course, other concerts that may feature songs. One of the finest things I have heard in a long time was the staged performance of Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared, given by Against the Grain Theatre with Colin Ainsworth, Lauren Segal and Christopher Mokrzewski.

Other series will incorporate sung performances next season: Isabel Bayrakdarian will perform with Tafelmusik in April 2014 and Philip Addis sings for Music Toronto in December of this year. Addis will also pay tribute to the music of Britten: his recital includes the Songs and Proverbs of William Blake as well as one of Britten’s Purcell Realizations. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra program for next season includes Britten’s Serenade Op. 31 for tenor (Nicholas Phan), horn (Neil Deland) and strings, Alban Berg’s Seven Early Songs (Erin Wall), Mozart’s Coronation Mass (Leslie Ann Bradley, Lauren Segal, Lawrence Wiliford and Philippe Sly), a range of soprano-mezzo duets (Yulia Van Doren and Wallis Giunta), an evening of music by Lerner and Loewe (Amy Wallis, Colin Ainsworth and Jonathan Estabrooks) and Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs (Sondra Radvanovsky). Many singers now organize their own concerts at venues like the Heliconian Hall on Hazelton Ave. It is there that recently we have been able to hear Meredith Hall (with Brahm Goldhamer), John Holland (with William Shookhoff), Isaiah Bell (with Stephen Ralls) and several others.

The new series that comes closest to what the Aldeburgh Connection has given us is Recitals at Rosedale (Rosedale is short for Rosedale Presbyterian Church), directed by Rachel Andrist and John Greer. The series opens on June 1 at 7:30pm with a special launch concert; the subsequent recitals are on October 6, December 1, February 9 and May 25 (all Sundays at 2:30pm, a day of the week and a time inherited from the Aldeburgh Connection). Like the Aldeburgh Connection, Recitals at Rosedale is committed to using only Canadian singers (their lineup includes major talents like Ambur Braid and Lauren Segal, Colin Ainsworth and Gregory Dahl). I am looking forward to these concerts but I have to add that the emphasis in their advance publicity on “renowned Canadian artists” does not suggest that bringing out emerging singers will be one of their priorities.


On April 5 and 6 in Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre at 8pm, the Toronto Consort presents Emma Kirkby, soprano, and Jakob Lindberg, lute, in a concert of music by Dowland and Purcell. Kirkby will give a masterclass on April 7 at 2:30pm, also at the Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.

On April 11 and 13 in Roy Thomson Hall at 8pm, Measha Brueggergosman, soprano, will sing four songs by Duparc and Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Lucy Fitz Gibbon, soprano, will give a free recital in Mazzoleni Hall at the Royal Conservatory on April 14 at 5pm. The program includes songs for voice and harp — Rubbra’s Jade Mountain and Britten’s A Birthday Hansel, with Ingrid Bauer — and works for voice and piano — Hymnen an die Nacht by Vivier, Cinq mélodies de Venise by Fauré and The Ugly Duckling by Prokofiev, with Peter Tiefenbach. Fitz Gibbon will also sing at the Canadian Music Centre (20 St. Joseph St.) on April 13 at 5:30pm.

There are four free vocal performances at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the Four Seasons Centre next month, all at noon: “A Celebration of Canadian Art Song" on April 16 includes a world premiere of a work by Norbert Palej performed by Lawrence Wiliford, tenor, a new work by Andrew Ager, dedicated to and performed by Shannon Mercer, soprano, and songs by Jean Coulthard sung by Peter McGillivray, baritone — Stephen Philcox is the collaborative pianist; songs from Newfoundland sung by tenors Michael Barrett and Adam Luther are featured on April 23; the April 30 concert, “Inspired by Lorca,” showcases La selva de los relojes, a new chamber work by Chris Paul Harman with Krisztina Szabó, mezzo; and “Sérénade Française,” French arias and art songs with the COC Ensemble Studio takes place on May 2.

Greece to Granada,” a program of Greek, Balkan and Spanish music, will be performed on April 26 at 8pm in the Heliconian Hall. The singer is the mezzo Maria Soulis and the instrumentalists are William Beauvais, guitar, and Julian Knight, violin. Soulis has had a busy career in Europe, where her roles included the title role in Carmen and Rosina in The Barber of Seville. She has recently returned to Canada. Here she has sung, among other parts, the role of Clara in a workshop production of the second act of The Enslavement and Liberation of Oksana G. (music by Aaron Gervais and libretto by Colleen Murphy) for Tapestry Opera. 

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

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