The undoubted operatic highlight of May is the world premiere of the "The Shadow" by Omar Daniel to a libretto by Alex Poch-Goldin. The work is presented by Tapestry New Opera Works and features baritone Theodore Baerg, counter-tenor Scott Belluz, soprano Carla Huhtanen, tenor Keith Klassen and baritone Peter McGillivray.

 

Alex Poch-Goldin (above) & Omar Daniel

 

Read more: On Opera: May 09

With the myriad of spring concerts behind most community musical groups, it seemed like an opportune time to express some personal opinions which have been festering in my head for some time. Over the past two weekends, during which I have attended three concerts and one play, and played in one performance, a few pet peeves have boiled to the surface of my consciousness. This seemed like a good time to pontificate on my aversion to the many distractions to which concert goers and performers are subjected. Let's just lump these all under the heading of distractions.

Before mounting my high horse about audience decorum, I feel compelled to recall two incidents years apart that evoke laughter for me. The first happened many years ago when I attended my first symphony concert after my arrival in Toronto. It was at a time when there were regular "Prom Concerts" at Varsity Arena. These were promoted as less formal than the winter concerts at Massey Hall. Unfortunately, the interpretation of the term informality by the two elderly ladies seated directly behind me, went too far for my liking. Throughout the entire concert I was "treated" to the incessant rhythm of clicking knitting needles.

Read more: Distractions

Walk like a man, talk like a man,” or so the song goes. When people think of a man with a high voice, they often think of Frankie Valli, Neil Sedaka, Smokey Robinson, or Art Garfunkel. Michael Maniaci, a male soprano, is a 32-year old singer whose voice is being compared to that of many female sopranos. What’s the difference? Female sopranos are from Venus, and the male sopranos, from Mars, right? I’m afraid to ask.

Singing as a boy, Maniaci discovered a love for music and singing. Then, reaching puberty, his voice didn’t change, or at least, not much. To this day, as far as we know, he remains to be the only natural male soprano on the operatic stage today. I ask if his vocal range is the same as a female soprano.

More or less,” Maniaci replies, “I mean, my voice most naturally rests in sort of a high lyric mezzo tessitura. I call myself a soprano because I’m not a countertenor and the roles that I sing are substantially higher that what traditional countertenors can do.” He adds, “If people are expecting to hear a countertenor, then I will be far from what they expect.”

Read more: Early Music: April 09

Sometimes I feel like I'm wearing too many hats..... as advertising coordinator for this publication, as a freelance oboist... and then there's this column, dear to my heart, but not always given the time and depth it deserves. But there are too many things coming up this month and a “highlights in brief” summary is better than nothing!

April 3, Roy Thomson Hall presents Scotland the Brave, an extravaganza featuring over 100 performers including full orchestra, highland dancers, choir, pipe-band, drum corps, Celtic fiddlers, and young tenor Greg Moore among the soloists.

World Music photo Apr 09
Alireza Ghorbani

Small World Music presents Bajofondo, an 8-piece electronica-infused tango rock band whose members hail from Argentina and Uruguay, April 5 at the Mod Club; Small World also presents Alireza Ghorbani, one of Iran's top vocalists, and Shiraz (classical Persian music ensemble), part of the Sounds of Persia series, April 9 at Harbourfront's Enwave Theatre. Cape Verdean singer Carmen Souza performs at the Lula Lounge, April 22 (see www.myspace.com/carmensouza).

Toronto's Ensemble Polaris, so named because it performs music inspired by and features instruments from northern countries, presents a program titled Viking Vacation Destinations, April 24 at the Edward Day Gallery. Scandinavian and Mediterranean influenced music is brought to you on guitar, violin, bagpipes, cello, hurdy-gurdy, nyckelharpa, recorders, seljefløyte, etc. I've heard this ensemble and they're pretty unique! York University's Department of Music presents its World Music Festival featuring its student ensembles. The Cuban, Klezmer, Mande drumming, Ghanaian drum and dance, and Brazilian Samba groups perform on April 30, and the Caribbean Ensemble, African American Piano Players, Chinese Orchestra, Korean Drum Ensemble, and Japanese Ensemble perform May 1. The Canadian Opera Company's noon hour series of free concerts presents an Introduction to South Indian Violin, with Subhadra Vijaykumar, May 7 at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.


Beyond the GTA: the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society presents the Orchid Ensemble in contemporary arrangements of Chinese music as well as works by Vancouver area composers, April 4, 57 Young St. West in Waterloo. And last but not least, Kitchener's Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound (April 24-May 3) presents a number of world music ensembles this year: The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band performs April 25 at the King St. Theatre Centre; Safa, comprised of Sal Ferraras (percussion), Francois Houle (clarinet), and Amir Koushakni (Setar, Tar, vocals), perform both improvised and composed works, influenced by Turkish and Judeo-Arabic traditions, but mostly based on Persian repertoire, April 30 at Zion United Church; Red Chamber, a quartet performing on traditional asian instruments has a repertoire from 917 AD to the present, spanning many world cultures. They're at Church of the Good Shepherd on May 1; Nagata Shachu Japanese Taiko Ensemble performs May 2 at Your Kitchener Market; and The Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan is featured in Gamelan (and on): The Enduring Legacy of Lou Harrison, May 2 at the King St. Theatre Centre. They'll perform both contemporary and traditional works.



 

Who is 90 years old, male but known as “mother”, brought new meaning to the word vibrato, can hear a wrong note from fifty paces, has more yarns than a knitting store and still plays a sexy saxophone?

The answer is Gordon Evans, one of the great musicians in Canada who celebrated his 90th birthday last month. We had a party for Gordon and rarely has a room been more filled with love and good vibes. Musicians, friends and admirers were there - young and old - all with lives touched by Gordon Evans.

22_Gordon Evans1

Read more: Jazz Notes: April 09
Back to top