As always in June summer festivals of various kinds are getting under way. Some are big productions that are hard to miss, while others are smaller, out-of-the way events.

Brott Music Festival

The 23rd annual Brott Music Festival, which goes on through much of the summer, opens this year in Burlington, with three performances on three consecutive Wednesdays by the National Academy Orchestra, which principal conductor Boris Brott founded as a training orchestra for young professional musicians and conductors. This year the orchestra has two apprentice conductors: Geneviève Leclair, winner of the 2010 MacMillan Prize for conducting, is a doctoral conducting student at Boston University; Samuel Tam, a graduate of McGill University, has spent the last two years as apprentice and assistant conductor at the Canadian Opera Company, and will continue his training at the University of Toronto.
Each of the three Burlington concerts will feature a young instrumental soloist: cellist Denise Djokic on June 16, clarinettist Giampiero Sobrino on June 23, and violinist Jonathan Crow on June 30.

The Canadian Aldeburgh

On June 5, the fourth annual Bayfield Festival of Song opens with a recital by soprano Virginia Hatfield, mezzo Lauren Segal and pianist Bruce Ubukata. The festival will continue until June 13 with master classes and vocal and piano recitals. Bayfield is on Lake Huron halfway between Grand Bend and Goderich.

Luminato

The fourth annual Luminato Festival runs from June 11 to 20, with many events that will be of interest to WholeNote readers. All those events can be found, of course, on Luminato’s website. Events include an opera by Rufus Wainright, a late-night performance by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and a concert on June 12 by the Vienna Academy Orchestra.

Music at Sharon

p18bSharon Temple’s annual month-long Sunday afternoon concert series, under the new artistic leadership of Larry Beckwith and Rick Phillips opens on June 6 with a recital by mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta and pianist Stephen Philcox. This will be a great opportunity to hear this talented young singer, who, Globe and Mail reviewer Paula Citron predicts “is heading for stardom.” The series continues on June 13 with Ensemble Polaris, June 20 with the Tokai String Quartet and pianist Anton Kuerti, June 27 with pianist Alexander Seredenko, and on July 4 with Montreal’s Les Voix Baroques.

Blue Bridge Festival

Like Music at Sharon, The Blue Bridge Festival also takes place in York Region, and its artistic director Brenda Muller is also a music teacher with the York Region Board of Education. It opens on June 4 with a very eclectic programme of everything “from opera to folk, from chamber music to jazz, to the poetry of the spoken word.” All this takes place in beautiful Roches Point on the southern shores of Lake Simcoe. The festival continues the next evening with a Gala Concert in Newmarket. The third and last day of the festival, Sunday, June 6, offers a variety of events including a parade, opera singers performing from a raft and workshops at the Varley Art Gallery. For those of you who would like to make it a weekend getaway, festival pass holders will receive discounted rates from two really great local resorts, the Briars and Whispering Pines Inn.

Music Mondays and the Music Garden

You don’t, of course, have to leave the metropolis to hear music beside a lake or in an historic venue. Music Mondays offers a wonderful series of concerts at noon on Mondays at Holy Trinity Church from June right through to Labour Day and the Music Garden offers a great variety of music in an enchanting downtown lakeside location. Summer in Toronto just isn’t complete without at least one concert from each of these series.

Off the Beaten Track

Gallery 345, at 345 Sorauren Avenue in Toronto’s west end, between Lansdowne and Roncesvalles, has become a really busy venue over the past couple of years. I gave a concert there myself with pianist Elena Tchernaia, a couple of years ago – and can say from experience what a great place it is to perform in, with its lively acoustics and friendly ambience. In this magazine, there are six concerts listed there between June 4 and 30.

On June 6, the first of what I expect will be many concerts at Merriam Music in Oakville is taking place. Since Merriam Music is a high-end piano dealership, you can expect to hear high calibre music making on great instruments at these events. At this opening event the performers will be Adrean Farrugia, Robi Botos, and Stu Harrison, performing on three different pianos, covering a broad range of repertoire in a unique three-piano format. Take note, pianists: in his message to me, Stu Harrison wrote: “We’re also looking to expand the series in 2011 to include recording possibilities for artists who want an inexpensive method of recording live events on a Fazioli, or like pianos.”

I’ve often written about the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society, which for those who live in K-W is right on the beaten path, of course. In this issue there are a staggering 16 events listed taking place in three locations, the Music Room, Maureen Forrester Hall and Keffer Memorial Chapel.

The Arts and Ideas Studio, located in what used to be a bank in an aging and definitely off the beaten track suburban location on O’Connor Drive, just northeast of St. Clair Avenue East, is used as a dance studio. With an intimate atmosphere, good acoustics and great light, however, this is a perfect venue for chamber music. The first of three concerts currently scheduled for the Studio will be on June 19, with the young jazz group Café Olé playing all original music by its leader, bassist Justin Shaskin; and the newly formed Ensemble Espressivo with clarinettist Nicolai Tarasov, Yours Truly on flute and a t.b.a. guitarist performing a delightful trio by the early 19th century guitarist-composer Francesco Molino, among other things.

Elsewhere in the News

At intermission during a performance of the opera Giiweden on May 14, I spoke to Aradia director Kevin Mallon, who told me he’d just been appointed artistic director of Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra in Ottawa. There’s a resonance here between orchestra and conductor. Mallon, after all, is best known as an early music specialist. It was Tafelmusik that brought him to Toronto in the first place, and he has made a name for himself and many recordings as the director of the Aradia Ensemble. Indeed, only a couple of years ago in a WholeNote review of Aradia’s Israel in Egypt CD, reviewer Robert Tomas dubbed him “Canada’s crown prince of period performance” – hastening to add that “frequently he is invited to guest-conduct standard repertoire and contemporary music.”

It will be interesting to see what new directions Mallon takes the ensemble in.

Allan Pulker is a flautist and a founder of The WholeNote who currently serves as Chairman of The WholeNote’s board of directors. He can be contacted at classicalbeyond@thewholenote.com.

Toronto is a city of constant musical discoveries. While the concert season is quickly coming to a close, the summer festival season starts to build, bringing with it a range of fresh new experiences. And for lovers of new music, June bursts open in a bouquet of new works and visiting artists.

First up is the Luminato Festival, which opens its 2010 music series to showcase new music that is resonant in both its celebratory nature and serious content.  
In partnership with Soundstreams, and with the help of 684 public voters, Luminato has selected composer Robert Johnson’s Majestic Fanfare to serve as the festival’s official fanfare. This royal flourish will accompany the Rainbow King – the ruler of the world, created by Festival artists FriendsWithYou – throughout Luminato 2010. Keep an ear open for the Luminato brass quintet, appearing throughout the festival, in order to hear this fanfare live!

Soundstreams is certainly no stranger to this ceremonial and celebratory form, engrained in musical cultures throughout the world. In 2006, they presented new works by composers and quartets from Canada, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden in the soaring Barbara Frum Atrium at the CBC Broadcasting Centre. Sixty-plus trumpet players positioned throughout the balconies premiered these short works to usher in the 2006 soundaXis Festival.

In 2009, Soundstreams commissioned James Rolfe for a new fanfare to celebrate the Toronto Arts Foundation Awards, which was also offered as a gift to Mayor David Miller. You can get an advance listen to their latest fanfare project at the Soundstreams’ Salon 21 event on June 7, starting at 7:30pm at the Gardiner Museum. The salon is free, but be sure to reserve your seat in advance. These events fill up fast. You can do so at salonfanfare.eventbrite.com.

p20aOn June 11 and 12, we will finally get to experience the world premiere of Dark Star Requiem – the concert-length project from much-in-demand composer Andrew Staniland (winner of the 2009 CBC National Composition Prize) and internationally recognized poet Jill Battson. Staniland and Battson met as participants in Tapestry New Opera Works’ highly successful Composer-Librettist Laboratory. Their early experiments in creating opera scenes sparked an exciting new partnership that led to numerous projects, including LinguaElastic (2006) – an exploration of the contemporary collisions of humanity and electronic media through live vocal performance (by Battson) and interactive electronics (by Staniland) – for the Canadian Music Centre’s New Music in New Places series.

Tapestry invited the duo back in 2006 to write Ashlike on the Cradle of the Wind, a poetic and elegiac mini-opera that reveals our attitudes towards sex and love in the shadow of AIDS. Even in those early days, Staniland and Battson had expressed the desire to collaborate on a much larger work – a secular oratorio that tackles the major issues of our times. The current commission from Tapestry and Luminato has given them the space to bring that desire to fruition.

Tapestry’s decision to re-mount Ashlike this spring for their very first Opera to Go Revival was a prescient move in light of Dark Star Requiem’s world premiere. This full-scale dramatic work traces the 25-year history of AIDS from its origins to the present day. The evocative, poetic content weaves in topics from ecology to myth, politics to family. While the libretto includes fragments from the traditional Latin requiem mass, the overall perspective remains humanistic rather than religious. By focusing on the intimate and personal face of AIDS, Staniland and Battson hope that Dark Star Requiem will resonate with a broad audience. Based on past experiences with this duo’s work, and the remarkable creative team behind this production (The Gryphon Trio and the Elmer Iseler Singers join a quartet of talented vocal soloists conducted by Wayne Strongman), the work should resound strongly. For more information visit www.tapestrynewopera.com. To reserve tickets visit www.luminato.com.

p20bIn between the Luminato events, Gallery 345’s concert calendar is really heating up. Here, the new music comes from Edmonton-based pianist Roger Admiral, who delivers a solo recital on June 11. Admiral is a true contemporary music aficionado. He studied piano with Helmut Brauss, Peter Smith and Virginia Blaha, and graduated with a doctorate from the University of Alberta, where he now coaches contemporary chamber music. From 1990 to 1993 he was a member of the unique two-piano/two-percussion Hammerhead Consort. And since 1997 he’s been part of Duo Kovalis with Montreal percussionist Philip Hornsey. For this Toronto performance, Admiral focuses primarily on music of the “Victoria School” of Canadian composition, including works by Alfred Fisher, Linda Catlin Smith, Christopher Butterfield and Howard Bashaw. For more details, visit www.gallery345.com.

Nestled amongst all of the above is the return of the Music Gallery’s Summer Courtyard Series, taking contemporary music out of the concert hall and into the intimate setting of St. George the Martyr’s open-air spaces. Presented in partnership with Wavelength and curated in affiliation with Montreal’s Suoni per il Popolo Festival, these four concerts feature international stars from the worlds of avant-pop and new composed music who have been selected especially to suit this unique setting.

New music lovers will want to take note of the series’ opening concert, which includes New York cellist Julia Kent. After years of playing cello with a myriad of artists and ensembles, from Antony and the Johnsons to the chamber-rock trio Rasputina, Kent retired to her Lower East Side apartment to make music inspired by touring and the disjunctions of travel. Incorporating multi-tracked cello, omnichord, and field recordings from airports around the world, her melancholy compositions ache with “romanticism and rich melodicism.” Much like our own Owen Pallet of Final Fantasy fame, Kent has perfected the art of using live looping and effects to create rich layers of melody and rhythm in her solo cello concerts throughout Europe and the UK. We’ll get to experience the full effect live on June 9.

Another treat will be the double bill featuring classically trained soundscape composer/multimedia artist William Basinski with Toronto-based audio contortionist and collaborative creator Neil Wiernik. Wiernik, who also works under the pseudonym “naw” is creatively concerned with various types of storytelling, using abstract environments and spaces as his tools. We’ll get to hear both composers’ tales on June 12. For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.musicgallery.org.

Jason van Eyk is the Ontario Regional Director of the Canadian Music Centre. He can be contacted at: newmusic@thewholenote.com.

June is the month in which The WholeNote releases its “Green Pages” guide to summer music festivals – and there are at least two with events coming up that are obvious picks for world music lovers.

p21The 11th annual Muhtadi International Drumming Festival takes place June 5 and 6. The festival launch event is June 3 at the Wychwood Barns (7 – 10pm), and a parade on June 5 leaves Ramsden Park at 10am ending up at Queen’s Park, where performances continue to 8pm, as well as noon to 8 on June 6. The festival will showcase around 30 different groups or performers, representing drumming traditions from around the globe, with a focus this year on “Women in Rhythm.” For more details, visit www.muhtadidrumfest.com.

The other major host of world music events over the summer is of course Harbourfront Centre, which launches its World Routes series of mini festivals on July 1, running every weekend through September 6. For the 2010 series, Harbourfront explores  a “global to local, and local to global” theme in its programming. Canada Day events include “Gypsy Melody,” Roma music from Slovakia at 1pm, and vocalist Cheryl L’Hirondelle presenting contemporary songs expressing the Cree world view at 6:30 (Redpath Stage). “Hot Spot” runs July 2 – 4; highlights include The Toronto International Flamenco Festival, featuring dancers, singers and musicians, and L’Orchestre Septentrional, an 18-piece big band from Haiti, on July 3. Visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com/worldroutes2010 for more details.

Harbourfront also launches its annual Summer Music in the Garden series of free Thursday and Sunday concerts at the Toronto Music Garden. On July 1, there’s a concert featuring traditional Mohawk songs sung by the Ahkwesasne Women Singers, and the world premiere of a new piece by Barbara Croall, performed by the composer and clarinetist Peter Stoll. For full schedule, visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com/torontomusicgarden.

Toronto’s Luminato Festival has a few free noteworthy events: June 12, “Rock the Casbah” and “An African Prom” runs from 1 – 11pm at Queen’s Park, and features performances by Montreal banjo maestro Karim Saada, the Maryem Tollar Ensemble, Algerian-born rocker Rachid Taha, Nigeria’s Tony Allen, Mali’s Bassekou Kouyate and American banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck. Kouyate, a master of the ngoni, the banjo’s African ancestor, was a contributor to Fleck’s film and recording project Throw Down Your Heart, which you can catch the same day at the Isabel Bader Theatre. Luminato also presents a World Music Celebration on June 20, the closing day of the festival, at Queen’s Park, noon – 6.
Another festival offering a taste of music outside the Western “classical” tradition is Music at Sharon, which presents Ensemble Polaris on June 13. They’re known to play a host of unusual folk instruments, performing music from Scandinavia, the Baltics, Scotland and Canada.

And there’s still plenty happening on the usual concert curcuit. The Canadian Opera Company continues its noon-hour concert series at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, with Nagata Shachu, Toronto’s Japanese Taiko ensemble that performs both traditional and newly composed works, June 3. The Toronto Children’s Chorus presents “Around the World in 80 Minutes” on June 5, featuring music from Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South America, and Europe, including a new klezmer work by Martin Van de Ven, clarinetist with guest performers Beyond the Pale klezmer ensemble.

p21_shajarianIn association with Roy Thomson Hall, Small World Music presents Persian vocalist Mohammad Reza Shajarian, with the Shahnaz Ensemble, June 6. One of the most well known performers of Iranian classical music, Shajarian has had a career spanning over 40 years, both at home and internationally. He’ll be accompanied by an ensemble of 15 instrumentalists, directed by Iranian composer and tar player Magid Derakhshani. Small World also presents Italian singer/songwriter Carmen Consoli at the Mod Club on June 20. See www.smallworldmusic.com.

As well, the Toronto Chinese Music School presents a concert of classical and contemporary Chinese music, June 25 at the P.C. Ho Theatre in north Toronto. Instruments featured include the huqin, erhu, gaohu and pipa. And last but not least, Toronto’s Shevchenko Musical Ensemble presents a feast of Ukrainian and other folk, classical and contemporary music, featuring the Shevchenko Choir, the Toronto Mandolin Orchestra, vocal and instrumental soloists and the Desna Ukrainian Dance Company, June 27 at the Isabel Bader Theatre.

Enjoy the warm weather (and the music) – and see you in July!

Karen Ages can be reached at worldmusic@thewholenote.com

p23Brass week is coming to Toronto. As mentioned in last month’s column the International Women’s Brass Conference will be held June 16-20 in Toronto at the Humber College Lakeshore Campus. All of the performances during the week are at the auditorium of that campus. While the conference itself is restricted to those four days, organizers have planned a smorgasbord of musical events from serious academic sessions to whimsical anyone-can-join romps in the park. Space considerations limit how much detail I can include here, so I’ll try to highlight events of general interest. For registrations, ticket prices for performances, directions to venues and other information visit the IWBC website, www.iwbctoronto2010.com.

The first of the public participation affairs has been billed as “The World’s Biggest Brass Event!” The plan is to make an attempt at the world’s largest brass assembly ever. This will take place on Sunday, June 13, on the grounds of the Assembly Hall at Kipling Avenue and Lakeshore Boulevard, adjacent to the Humber campus. Rehearsal will begin at 11am with the grand performance at 12 noon. This will be open to men, women and children of all ages and abilities, and music will be available ahead of time online at www.iwbctoronto2010.com.

Anyone with an instrument that’s made of brass and is capable of producing a musical scale will be eligible to participate. (Having said that, yes, most saxophones are made of brass, but you won’t be eligible to play along if that’s your chosen instrument.) Join the headliner groups, True North Brass, Canadian Brass and Hannaford Street Silver Band for this once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform in such a musical aggregation. Whether it be a French horn, Wagner tuba, mellophone, bass trumpet, contrabass trombone, helicon, saxhorn, flicorno or keyed bugle, get out your brass instrument and perform under the baton of distinguished Canadian conductor and composer, Howard Cable. (Personally, I haven’t decided yet whether to take my bass trumpet or my Soviet Army rotary valve baritone horn.) They need every able-bodied brass player in the Toronto area, as the record to beat is 596 players. Let’s all try to help set a new Brass Event record. Remember, you too could be on Youtube! A minimum donation of $2 is requested, and proceeds will go to the establishment of a music programme for underprivileged youth in the Lakeshore area, sponsored by Lakeshore Arts.

June 14 and 15 are reserved for the 2010 Susan Slaughter International Brass Competitions. Named for the founder of the IWBC, these competitions are for performers (both women and men) of all brass instruments. It’s my understanding that these are now fully booked, and that there are no further openings for competitors.

While there are a wide variety of clinics, workshops and other sessions for conference delegates, there is a plethora of concerts open to the public as long as tickets are available. Peforming ensembles hail from near and far. Local groups include the Weston Silver Band, the True North Brass, and the Hannaford Street Silver Band. From further afield we’ll have the Monarch Brass and the Viceroy Brass from the USA, the Japanese Ladies Brass Band, Bella Tromba from the UK, and more. You’ll find details on all these concerts in Section A of The WholeNote’s listings.

Another fun-for-all happening will be the “Brass Olympics,” Saturday, June 19 from 5 to 7:45pm on the east side of the Humber College grounds. If you’re frustrated with your brass playing abilities, then perhaps you should test your athletic prowess with one of these. For the muscular macho types there is the Tuba Toss to see who can throw a tuba the greatest distance out into Lake Ontario. There will be a line attached to retrieve the instrument after each competitor’s toss. For those wanting a challenge requiring more finesse, there will be the Horn Bell Frisbee Throw, the Trumpet Pin Game or the Trombone Balance competition. There will be prizes and fanfares, lots of fun, and a dinner at a nearby church.
The conference wraps up with a concert appropriately named “Brass Belles,” presented in conjunction with the Hannaford Street Silver Band at the St. Lawrence Centre. An array of brass band showpieces by international composers will be performed by an all-female cast of soloists and led by guest conductor Gillian MacKay. Soloists include Carol Jantsch, principal tubist of the Philadelphia Orchestra; Susan Rider, lead cornet soloist with the US Marine Band; Bonnie Denton, euphonium soloist with the US Coast Guard Band; Gail Robertson, euphonium soloist performing J. Scott Irvine’s Concertino; and Joan Watson, principal horn of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra.

To provide a taste of the talent level expected at these events, I was sent a CD of tuba solos by Jantsch. She’s the young lady who startled the orchestral world by winning the prestigious tuba position in Philadelphia, thereby beating out some of the finest players in the world in a normally male-dominated position. After her first performance with the orchestra in New York’s Carnegie Hall, Carol had to rush back to write her final examinations at the University of Michigan.

In her CD, entitled Cascades, she displays a virtuosity rarely heard on a tuba. From the intricacies of a tango by Piazzolla, the allegro from a Khachaturian violin concerto and the ever popular Clarinet Polka she displays a technique normally only expected of much smaller instruments. She then shifts gears to a lyrical Adagio by Shostakovich where she showcases her tone and range. She will be one of the soloists at the Brass Belles concert.

On another front, we have news from Resa Kochberg. From time to time we have mentioned Resa’s Pieces Concert Band, established a number of years ago by Kochberg. The stated philosophy of that group from the beginning has been “to provide an opportunity for people to return to playing instruments that they had not touched for years.” Now Kochberg is launching a new venture: the Resa’s Pieces Strings. The RPS will be launched in September and will be under the directorship of Ric Giorgi, who will be welcomed into the Resa’s Pieces “family.” Look for more information in a later issue of this magazine, or contact them at: strings@resaspieces.org.

In the meantime CBC Radio is producing a documentary on Resa’s Pieces Concert Band. This is scheduled to be aired as part of “Sunday Edition,” which airs on CBC Radio One (99.1 FM) on June 6 – just before the band’s concert that evening.

Please write to us: bandstand@thewholenote.com

Definition Department
This month’s lesser known musical term is: “CORAL SYMPHONY”: a large multi-movement work from Beethoven’s Caribbean Period. We invite submissions from readers.

Coming Events Please see the listings section for full details.

• Wednesday, June 16, 7:00: The Etobicoke Community Concert Band present the first of their Twilight Concerts in the Park. There will be a community BBQ, 5:00 to 7:00. Admission is free.

Down the Road
• Between July 18 and August 21: The National Band of the Naval Reserve will be performing a series of concerts in various locations throughout Southern Ontario to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Canadian Navy.

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

p24aAs usual, there’s no shortage of interest on the early music scene this month, as the 2009/10 season draws to a close and the 2010 summer season begins.
Viva BiancaLuna Biffi is a name I hadn’t heard before, until I was alerted to her presence at three different concert series in Southern Ontario this month. This engaging Italian musician has a solid grounding in medieval fiddle, renaissance viola da gamba, baroque cello and voice, and she’s a specialist in the late 15th/early 16th-century form of Italian secular song known as the frottola, a predecessor to the madrigal.

Biffi has revived a long-lost art practised by late renaissance and early baroque musicians, singing the upper line of the songs while performing her own arrangement of the other voices on the viola d’arco (no mean feat!) – and, judging from the audio files I’ve heard, she’s a consummate and I’ll bet completely delightful musical storyteller with a twinkle in her eye, a smile in her voice and an apt sense of accompaniment on her instrument.

The one-woman show she brings to Canada is Fermate il Passo (“Stay a moment, passer-by!”). She describes it as a mini- or proto-opera (opera as we know it had yet to be born), that charts the course of love from sunset to night to dawn. I thought it might be interesting to follow her around and have a look at this area’s summer festivals where she’ll be performing.

On June 19 you can hear Biffi at Knox United Church in Ayr, one of the Grand River Baroque Festival’s two venues. I think she’ll fit in well with the spirit of this festival – it really is a feast of wonderful performers and very unusual programming. Artistic directors Guy Few and Nadina Mackie Jackson have conjured up three days of celebration that include a masquerade gala with fireworks, a concert-combination of Vivaldi and Piazzolla, and another concert of music by Glenn Buhr, Mathieu Lussier, Vivaldi and the Chevalier de Saint-Georges. There’s early music mixed with pop (“Pop-Period Fusion”) and fencing demonstrations too. It all takes place from June 18 to 20, just west of Kitchener in the Buehlow Barn and a bit south of that in Ayr.

Then, after appearances at the Montreal Baroque Festival (June 25) and in Quebec City, Biffi returns to Toronto on July 4 for the Toronto Music Garden’s “Summer Music in the Garden” series, curated by Tamara Bernstein. The design of this lovely public garden was inspired by a Bach unaccompanied cello suite – an appropriate setting for early music – and Biffi’s performance there will be the first of this year’s early music lineup. (There will be more news of what’s to come in the July/August WholeNote.)
Biffi’s final appearance in this area is on July 5 at the Church of the Holy Trinity, in its “Music Mondays” series. Right in the middle of downtown Toronto, you can spend an hour or so on a Monday afternoon in this quiet setting, enveloped in intimate music-making.

Tafelmusik’s  “Baroque Summer Institute” is a comprehensive training programme in baroque performance, now in its ninth year and held at U of T’s Faculty of Music. It attracts about 85 participants from around the world – and no wonder: study includes orchestra and choir rehearsals, masterclasses, opera scene study for singers, chamber ensembles, private lessons, lectures and workshops, classes in baroque dance, and concerts. This year’s Institute takes place from June 6 to 19. During this time four concerts will be presented – June 7, 12, 16 and 19 – featuring either Institute participants or faculty, and ending in a “Grand Finale” with combined forces in a baroque extravaganza. Both faculty and students are top-notch, and one couldn’t go wrong in checking out the fruits of their labours.

A few more concerts

Helmuth Rilling came to town a few weeks ago to conduct the Toronto Symphony and collaborating artists in stunning performances of Bach’s B Minor Mass. A lot of it is still in my ear, and I remember having particular “heroes” within the performing forces – one of whom was the first cellist, whose sheer commitment to the beauty and inexorability of her line was riveting to hear and to see. Winona Zelenka was the cellist – featured in the magazine this month. She’ll be playing at the Glenn Gould Studio on June 6, to celebrate the release of her new two-CD recording of Bach’s cello suites.

About 40 kilometres north of Toronto stands the Sharon Temple, a unique architectural beauty and a testimonial to the vision of the Children of Peace, who built it in the 19th century. The “Music at Sharon” concert series takes place there on Sunday afternoons, and Ensemble Polaris (a group difficult to classify) appears there on June 13. While they seek to explore the music of northern countries and traditions, many of the members of this group are early-music specialists as well, and you can hear ancient influences in their varied and colourful soundscape.

Also on June 13, the Toronto Early Music Centre presents the last of its “Musically Speaking” series for this year. Ensemble L’indiscrète performs the Pièces de clavecin en concerts by Rameau, as well as music by Marais, Buxtehude and Telemann, on harpsichord, baroque violin and viola da gamba.

Another concert at the Sharon Temple that is clearly devoted to early music is a performance by Les Voix Baroques, on July 4. A celebrated ensemble specializing in vocal works from the Renaissance and Baroque, they will perform music by Charpentier and Carrisimi.

Simone Desilets is a long-time contributor to The WholeNote in several capacities, who plays the viola da gamba. She can be contacted at: earlymusic@thewholenote.com.

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