As summer approaches, so do the many opportunities to enjoy nature’s beauty and wonderful music in, but mostly outside, our cities. Below are several events that would be of special interest to seekers of historical performance. Don’t forget your sunblock!
The Grand River Baroque Festival, June 19-21 (www.grbf.ca), takes place in and around the Buehlow Barn in Ayr and also Paris, Ontario, just outside of Brantford. Special guests include the fabulous Flanders Recorder Quartet, presenting their “Banchetto Musicale” program, and Folia (violinist Linda Melsted, lutenist Terry McKenna, and harpsichordist Borys Medicky), reprising their fascinating “Chocolate Road” programme. The opening gala features the irrepressible artistic directors Nadina Mackie Jackson (bassoonist) and Guy Few (trumpeter), plus members of Folia and violinist Julie Baumgartel in various concerti by Vivaldi.
Hot on the heals of the GRBF above, the Montreal Baroque Festival, June 25-28 (www.montrealbaroque.com), celebrates the 350th anniversary of the birth of Henry Purcell by performing The Fairy Queen, Dido and Aeneas and Arise my Muse, as well as a variety of anthems and fantasias. Guest artists include internationally acclaimed singers Daniel Taylor, Suzie LeBlanc, Nathaniel Watson, Harry van der Kamp, Monika Mauch, along with Les Voix Humaines (Margaret Little and Susie Napper). It doesn’t get much better than this!
From July until September, there are over 30 early and traditional music events across the province of Nova Scotia, presented by Musique Royale (www.musiqueroyale.com), now in its 24th season. Some of these events are co-presented by the Boxwood Festival, July 19-26 (www.boxwood.org), which focuses on music of dance traditions and the flute, and takes place mostly in the 18th-century seaside town of Lunenburg. Appearing in this festival are players whom you might recognize from performances in Toronto: the brilliant flutist Chris Norman, the dazzling recorder player Francis Colpron, and the flying fiddler David Greenberg.
The Toronto Masque Theatre, under the direction of Larry Beckwith, actor Derek Boyes, and dancer/choreographer Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière, takes its show on the road and joins forces with soprano Suzie LeBlanc, tenor Lawrence Wiliford and baritone Daniel Lichti, to present Purcell’s popular The Fairy Queen, July 26, at the Elora Festival (www.elorafestival.com).
Another local group, the Toronto Consort, will be performing in the Collingwood Festival, July 31 (www.collingwoodmusicfestival.com). Take in the concert, if you happen to be in that beautiful part of the province. And the Festival of the Sound (www.festivalofthesound.ca), plays host to the Elmer Iseler Singers who, with soloists – soprano Leslie Fagan, mezzo Andrea Ludwig, tenor Michael McBride, baritone Russell Braun – and the Festival Orchestra perform Handel’s beloved Messiah in the final programme of the season, August 9.
If you decide to stay in the city, there is a great series of free concerts featuring the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, and students of the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, which often turns out to be a veritable breeding ground for emerging talent: “Delightfully Baroque,” June 5; “Musical Interlude,” June 10; “TBSI Orchestra and Choir,” June 14; and “Grand Finale” June 17 (www.tafelmusik.org).