Sondra Radvanovsky, back in Toronto

There’s a new video up on our website--and it’s all about how one of the world’s great operatic talents is planning on coming back home.

WholeNote publisher David Perlman sat down with Sondra Radvanovsky last month in her Caledon home to talk about her upcoming recital at Koerner Hall, and about the growing relationship between Radvanovsky and Toronto audiences in the years to come.

At this time, Radvanovsky has just completed a run of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. She’ll be back in Toronto by December, where she has a masterclass at U of T planned for the 1st of the month, plus a Koerner Hall recital three days later on December 4 that promises some exciting repertoire. “I think nowadays the whole context of recital has changed,” she says. “I think the audience wants to see kind of a snapshot of who you are.” The show is presented by Show One Productions, and will include a mixture of art songs and arias--what Radvanovsky refers to as sticking to the art-song “language of the recital” but trying to “end it with a bit of a ‘Wow!’”

Local audiences will have many more opportunities to hear ‘wow’-worthy performances in the future. In our video Radvanovsky talks about coming back every year from now on, and about conversations in the works with Alexander Neef about Toronto as her home and a place for musical experimentation. She’s dropped some hints about an appearance in the COC’s 2016/17 season, but she’s good at keeping a secret--so we’ll have to wait until the season launch in January to find out the details.

In the meantime, we think that you should make sure you attend the recital on December 4--and we even have some tickets to help make that happen. In an exclusive contest for WholeNote readers and video-watchers, we are giving away tickets to Radvanovsky’s recital--click here or check out our ‘PRIZES, PRIZES!’ section to apply for a chance to win!

To check out the full video, click here --and to read more about the interview in David Perlman’s story for our November issue, visit our website at http://www.thewholenote.com/index.php/newsroom/musical-life/221-features/25705-sondra-radvanovsky-comes-home.


An early-bird’s guide to performances of Handel’s Messiah this year

It’s almost that time of year again. For those keeping a pulse on our local live music scene, winter means the holiday season, and the holiday season means, inevitably, the Messiah. Handel’s famous masterpiece is a timeless work, and one that is performed over and over, every year without fail. It can admittedly be a little bit of a daunting task to find a performance that suits you, at a time where it seems like everyone is performing the same type of concert.

That’s why The WholeNote has taken to writing up an annual Messiah guide each December, covering what each Messiah season has to offer and what the masterwork means to us. This year, look for Howard Dyck’s very interesting [personal take on the work in our December issue. It seems, however, like the season is creeping up earlier and earlier each year, which, believe it or not, means that waiting until December will cause you to miss a few notable productions. So, for those of you who don't want to wait any longer before deciding where, when and how often to take in Handel's Messiah this holiday season, here are some quick picks of anticipated sitings and sightings of this work that continues to confound its naysayers, delight its devotees and win over new audiences with every Halleluia.

The big ones: It wouldn’t be real coverage of Handel’s Messiah in Toronto without talking about the productions by Tafelmusik and the TSO. Both shows are annual favourites in the city--especially Tafelmusik’s ‘sing-along’ edition, which is sold out every year. Tafelmusik’s production is December 16 to 19 at Koerner Hall (sing-along on the 20th), and the TSO’s is December 19 and 20, with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Against the Grain Theatre is also putting on a major Messiah production this year at Massey Hall, which will run from December 16 to 18.

Those with a head-start: This year’s award to earliest Messiah production goes to Masterworks of Oakville Chorus & Orchestra, who will present their show this weekend on November 20 to 22. If you need to get into the Messiah spirit early, here’s where to do it. A number of presenters outside of Toronto will also host November Messiah concerts, including Oriana Singers of Northumberland (November 28) and Barrie Concerts (also November 28).

Also in November is the RCM’s concert featuring the Vienna Boys Choir, who will sing an excerpt from the Messiah as well as other choral works on November 29 at 3pm. The show is completely sold out, but rush tickets will be available, and this choir is good enough to warrant lining up the day of.

New and exciting: Two concerts that we’ll call “Messiah-themed” open on December 7 this year, and are worth checking out. The first is “Handel Foundling Hospital,” put on by the Musicians in Ordinary and St. Michael’s Schola Cantorum. The performance will feature Handel’s Foundling Hospital Anthem, a piece constructed largely from Messiah excerpts as a fundraiser for a London orphanage. Also on the program are works by Francesco Geminiani, a contemporary of Handel’s in London at the time.

Also on December 7 (and December 8) is Soundstreams’ “Ear Candy: Electric Messiah.” This will be a totally re-imagined performance of the classic, featuring an impressive list of artistic and musical collaborators--among them York University Electroacoustic Orchestra and vocalist Christine Duncan. Should be fun, and a new kind of festive.

As always, there are too many performances of this masterwork this year to name them all here--our last count put us at over 30 productions--so keep an eye on our November and December listings, as well as the December issue, for the whole story. Happy concert-hunting!


New venues and ‘new music’ in Toronto this month

November has a lot in store in the “new” category--new music, new ensembles and new concert spaces. This Saturday marks two such events. 2pm on the 21st is New Music 101, a lecture/concert/discussion presented at Northern District Public Library. We confess that we are biased--our publisher David Perlman is hosting the event--but there are other reasons why it should be on your radar. This week’s session will feature Continuum Contemporary Music in a presentation of artistic director Ryan Scott’s doctoral research in Tokyo, as well as keyboard group junctQin in a demonstration of extended piano techniques using the music of Tomi Räisänen. Later that evening at 8pm is Toy Piano Composers’ “TBA 3,” featuring all manner of brand-new works. More on there two events here, respectively: http://continuummusic.org/seasons/1516/new-music-101.php


The following weekend on November 27 and 28 marks the return of the Gryphon Trio’s multi-disciplinary show Constantinople at Toronto’s Ismaili Centre. Composed by Christos Hatzis, the Constantinople project returns to Toronto as part of The Ismaili Centre’s Cities of Arrival series. The centre, which opened in September of last year, closes its series with this show, but plans on presenting more musical offerings in the future--and is a venue to take note of. Details on the series at http://www.citiesofarrival.com/.

Finally, November 19 gets an honourable mention: this Thursday is the first-ever concert of new electroacoustic initiative TOLOrk (https://www.facebook.com/events/940316142714409/) in a program full of brand-new sound art, as well as the fall concert for U of T’s contemporary music ensemble (https://www.facebook.com/events/1666222003663048/), which will feature among other contemporary offerings bassoonist Bianca Chambul in Gubaidulina’s “Concert for Bassoon and Low Strings.” It’s a shame that audiences won’t have the option of attending both; both, however, seem like a promising choices.


Exclusive contests from The WholeNote

IN THIS ISSUE: Win tickets to Sondra Radvanovsky’s recital at Koerner Hall; Boesmans’ opera Julie at CanStage; an upcoming shows with Tafelmusik, the Toronto Jazz Orchestra and the Peterborough Singers--all up for grabs now on our website!

Follow the links below to enter. Feel free to enter as many as you like (or all five!):

Sondra Radvanovsky: In Recital at Koerner Hall, Friday, December 4

CanStage/SoundstreamsJulie (+$50 to Le Papillon on Front), Sunday, November 22

Tafelmusik: Bach Christmas Oratorio, Friday, December 4

Toronto Jazz Orchestra: The Big Band Tap Revue, Sunday, November 29

Peterborough Singers: Yuletide Cheer, Saturday, November 28



In today’s DJ-heavy culture, we hear a lot about sampling and re-sampling in music, but these techniques go way back--and though he maybe didn’t do it digitally, J.S. Bach was a sampling expert. In Scaramella’s upcoming show on Saturday November 28 at 8pm, viol performers embrace the musical sample to interpret and re-interpret a number of works by Bach. Find concert details below in our listings, or at https://m.facebook.com/events/943436542365405/?ref=106&action_history=null.

Other new/corrected November concert listings added online since our last print issue are as follows:

Nov 21 7:30: Brock UniversityNocturne: Songs of the Night. Avanti Chamber Singers. Covenant Christian Reformed Church, 278 Parnell Ave., St. Catharines. $25; $20(sr/st); $5(eyeGo); $5 discounts for some advance tickets available.

Nov 21 7:30: Toronto Concert BandFall 2015 Concert. Carmina Burana, Movements 1-4; Shenandoah; Ross Roy; Kingsmere Overture; Tir Na Nog; Quad City Stomp; Fields of Honour; and others. Glenn Gould Studio, 250 Front St. W. $15.

Nov 21 8:00: Acoustic Harvest. Noah Zacharin. Robinson Hall, St. Nicholas Anglican Church, 1512 Kingston Rd. $25/$22(adv). Wheelchair accessible, free parking.

Nov 22 4:00: Vivace VoxGoing For Baroque! Handel: The King Shall Rejoice (Coronation Anthem). Linda Eyman, musical director; Community Baroque Orchestra of Toronto. Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, 427 Bloor St. W. 416-455-9238. $20; $15(sr/st).

Nov 22 7:30: University of Waterloo Department of MusicModern & Medieval: Music by Arvo Pärt and others. University of Waterloo Chamber Choir; Grand Philharmonic Chamber Choir; GPC Youth Choir; Laurier Singers. First United Church (Waterloo), 16 William St. W., Waterloo. 519-885-0220 x24256. $10; $5(sr/st).

Nov 26 12:30: York University Department of MusicRemembering Ann Southam. Southam: Stitches in Time, Altitude Lake, Where, Rivers (excerpts), Glass Houses (excerpts). Christina Petrowska Quilico, piano. Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East Building, YU, 4700 Keele St. 647-459-0701. Free. ***correction from November issue***

Nov 26 7:00: Toronto City OperaFall Fundraiser & Season Preview. Bickford Centre Theatre, 777 Bloor St. W. Donations accepted.

Nov 27 7:30: University of Waterloo Department of MusicBalinese Gamelan Ensemble. Humanities Theatre, University of Waterloo, 200 University Ave. W., Waterloo. 519-885-0220 x24256. Free.

Nov 28 7:00: University of Waterloo Department of MusicInspiration & Peace. Vaughan Williams: Hodie; Britten: A Ceremony of Carols; Nickel: The Requiem For Peace; Quartel: Snow Angel; Celtic Mouth Music; and others. University of Waterloo Choir. First United Church (Waterloo), 16 William St. W., Waterloo. 519-885-0220 x24256. $10; $5(sr/st).

Nov 28 7:30: John Laing SingersThe Star of Bethlehem. Rheinberger: The Star of Bethlehem; and others. Roger Bergs, artistic director; Simon Walker, organ/piano; and others. St. Paul's United Church (Dundas), 29 Park St. W., Dundas. $25; $20(sr); $5(st); free(child).

Nov 28 7:30: Peterborough Singers. Yuletide Cheer. Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano; Serouj Kradjian, composer; Venabrass Quintet; Ian Sadler, organ; Sydney Birrell, conductor. George Street United Church, 534 George St. N., Peterborough. 705-745-1820. $30; $20(under 30); $10(st).

Nov 28 8:00: Canadian Children's Opera Company. A Cup of Kindness. Members of the Canadian Children's Opera Company; Teri Dunn, Lynn Janes, Emily Bird, Adine Mintz, conductors. Grace Church on-the-Hill, 300 Lonsdale Rd. 416-366-0467. $25; $15(sr/st); $5(child).

Nov 28 8:00: Ontario Pops OrchestraInaugural Concert. Rossini: William Tell Overture Finale; Adele: Skyfall; Bizet: Habanera, Carmen; Beethoven: Symphony No. 5, Mvt 1; movie soundtracks; and others. Carlos Bastidas, conductor; Shannon Butcher, voice; Stephanie Vega, voice; Marianne Zin, voice. Humber Valley United Church, 76 Anglesey Blvd., Etobicoke. $15.

Nov 28 8:00: ScaramellaBach - Alio Modo. An all-Bach program inspired by the idea of the musical sample. Elizabeth Rumsey, Joëlle Morton, tenor viols; Josephine van Lier, Debra Lonergan, bass viols; Marilyn Fung, violone; David Rumsey, harpsichord. Victoria College Chapel, 91 Charles St. W. 416-760-8610. $30; $25(sr); $20(st).

Nov 29 2:00: University of Waterloo Department of MusicJazz Ensemble. Seasonal jazz classics. UW Jazz Ensemble; Michael Wood, director. Conrad Grebel University College, 140 Westmount Rd. N., Waterloo. 519-885-0220 x24256. $10; $5(sr/st). Reception follows.

Nov 29 4:30: Christ Church Deer ParkJazz Vespers. Mike Murley, saxophone; David Occhipinti, guitar. 1570 Yonge St. 416-920-5211. Free. ***correction from November issue***

Nov 29 6:00: Canadian Music Centre/Musica ReflectaOpus Testing: (De)Collage Workshop/Concert Featuring the Hybridity Ensemble. A collaborative project between the Hybridity Ensemble and local composers. Canadian Music Centre, 20 St. Joseph St. 416-961-6601 x202. PWYC.

Nov 29 7:00: University of Waterloo Department of MusicInstrumental Chamber Ensembles. Conrad Grebel University College, 140 Westmount Rd. N., Waterloo. 519-885-0220 x24256. Also Nov 30. Reception follows.

Dec 04 7:30: Church of the Holy TrinityThe Christmas Story. In a Toronto tradition since 1938, this Nativity play celebrates its 78th season. 10 Trinity Sq. 416-598-4521 x301. Suggested donation $20/$5(child). Advance ticket reservations available. The church is wheelchair accessible; ASL interpretation at selected performances. Also Dec 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20(mat) and Dec 11, 12, 18, 19 and 20(eve).


The next issue of HalfTones, Vol 3 No 4, will be out on Wednesday, December 16, 2015. The next print issue is a DOUBLE ISSUE, covering December 1-February 7 -- it’ll be on the stands at the end of November.

Please contact halftones@thewholenote.com with any HalfTones inquiries.

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