|Southern Ontario Overview by Tamara Bernstein Tuesday, October 22, 2002|
After its six-month closure and $20 million of long-awaited
renovations designed to improve its dreary acoustics (and warm up its
depression-inducing interior), all eyes and ears will be on the Sept. 21
re-opening of Roy Thomson Hall. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra will perform a
program that includes Walton''s Belshazzar''s Feast, with soprano Measha
Bruggergosman and baritone Nathan Berg.
But one of the biggest tests of the hall--and one of the
most anticipated events of the season--will be the return of superstar mezzo
Cecilia Bartoli, whose superhumanly agile and breathtakingly colourful voice is
best suited to intimate venues. (Oct. 1, with the British period instrument
Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment.)
Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky checks out the hall on Nov. 17. (Note 7
p.m. start.); other highlights of Thomson Hall''s fall season include an
appearance by the Philip Glass Ensemble, accompanying short films (Nov. 4). If
you want to see Yo-Yo Ma go ethnic with his Silk Road Ensemble (Jan. 4, 5 and
7), best to order tickets in good time; the superstar cellist''s concerts almost
always sell out. 416-872-4255; www.roythomson.com
The Canadian Opera Company''s season kicks off with a Welsh
National Opera production of Tchaikovsky''s Queen of Spades (opens Sept.
26) and a remount of the COC''s production of Stravinsky''s Oedipus Rex,
directed by cineaste Fran?ois Girard (opens Sept. 27).
The COC''s Ensemble Studio productions are often more daring,
than its mainstage season; this year''s production is Britten''s setting of Henry
James'' tale of innocence and corruption, The Turn of the Screw (opens
Dec. 3). 416-363-8231; www.coc.ca.
Opera Atelier, known for its visually alluring productions
of baroque opera, presents Charpentier''s M?d?e (Opens Nov.1), with
Tafelmusik in the pit. 416-872-5555; www.operaatelier.com.
vocal events this fall include "Tell Me the Truth About Love" ? an engaging
recital that mezzo-soprano Kimberly Barber presents on the Faculty of Music''s
noon-hour series (Oct. 2; tel.: 416-978-3744) ? and a recital by the young,
rich-voiced Canadian mezzo Susan Platts, for the Aldeburgh Connection''s Glenn
Gould Studio series Oct. 23; 416-205-5555; www.aldeburghconnection.org/
Opera in Concert presents a gala of Canadian opera music,
organized by pianist John Hess, and featuring soprano Jane Archibald and other
gifted young soloists. Oct. 27; 416-366-7723, www.operainconcert.com.
The superb Canadian baritone Russell Braun sings arias from
Mozart''s da Ponte operas with the TSO under Bernard Labadie, who supposedly will
inject some period sensibility into the band. Nov. 21 etc.; 416-598-3375;
Legendary contralto Marilyn Horne gives two public master
classes at the U. of T.''s Faculty of Music, Nov. 19 and 20; free but tickets
required; 416-978-3744; the inspiring vocal coach Martin Isepp holds forth at
the same venue on Oct. 4.
As TSO struggles to rebuild following several seasons in
hell, audiences will see a parade of conductors; it''s probably safe to assume
that they''re all in the running for the artistic director''s
Top concert billing goes to pianist Martha Argerich, who''s
slated to tear through one of her signature pieces--Prokofiev''s Piano
Concerto No. 3--on Nov. 8. In case that''s not enough for you (or more
likely: in case the untameable Argerich cancels), Oscar Peterson will also
The TSO''s annual performance of Handel''s
Messiah--long considered the most bloated and Victorian in town--should
take a sharp turn in the period direction when British baroque specialist
Nicholas Kraemer directs the old chestnut with a quartet of experienced period
performance soloists (Dec. 19, etc.).
Music Toronto is the only major chamber music series still
standing, now that the George Weston Recital Hall and the TSO have packed theirs
in. MT''s pockets aren''t as deep as we''d like them to be, but its fall-early
winter lineup includes the city''s top chamber music picks:
The Emerson String Quartet pairs Shostakovich''s final, bleak
Quartet No.15 with Beethoven''s Op. 130, with the harrowingly violent
Grosse Fugue (Oct. 14);
French pianist Michel Dalberto, whose integrity and
individuality has won over MT audiences, returns on Oct. 15;
The incandescent St. Lawrence String Quartet performs Berg''s
Quartet Op. 3 and gives the world premiere of a new work by Canadian
composer Melissa Hui. This concert will introduce the group''s new cellist,
Alberto Parrini, to MT''s audiences. But Marina Hoover, who left the group this
summer, returns in Schubert''s sublime Quintet in C Major. 416-366-7723;
music series include OnStage at the Glenn Gould Studio 416-205-5555; and the
Women''s Musical Club 416-923-7052; www.wmct.on.ca
Toronto''s ever-fractious new music community has abandoned
the one event that tried to bring them together: the Massey Hall New Music
Festival. They were encouraged to do so by the Canada Council, which pulled the
plug on its funding ? perhaps having noticed that the week-long event tended to
bring out the mediocre side of the participating groups.
But don''t miss the Nov. 14 appearance of the splendid
Ensemble Contemporain de Montreal, directed by Veronique Lacroix, who will
perform recent works by young Quebecois composers rarely heard in Toronto (Music
Gallery, Nov. 14).
The TSO''s has programmed an exceptionally conservative
season, but the superb U.S. clarinetist Richard Stoltzman will perform
Rautavaara''s Clarinet Concerto with them (Jan. 9 etc.).
The main new music groups in town include the Esprit
Orchestra which celebrates their 20th season, 416-366-7723; www.espritorchestra.com,
Music Gallery www.musicgallery.org, Arraymusic www.arraymusic.com/Metcalfe/Announcement.html,
New Music Concerts www.newmusicconcerts.com;
416-961-9594 and Continuum 416-767-0609; www.interlog.com/~jwaring/continuum/
remains the main baroque game in town; their most innovative program this fall
celebrates the seasons with Innuit and Chinese music, and Vivaldi''s
You-Know-What. Dec. 1 etc. 416-964-6337; www.tafelmusik.org
Given its size--and the presence of the Pontifical Institute
for Medieval Studies--Toronto has lamentably few Medieval and Renaissance
ensembles. The Toronto Consort pretty much has the scene sewn up; though their
performances aren''t the sexiest in the world, they do have some interesting
programming. This fall they dedicate a program to Sir Gawain and the Green
Knight (Oct. 4-5); watch for Monteverdi''s Orfeo in February, and a guest appearance by the hot
violinist David Greenberg (April 4-5. 416-964-6337; www.torontoconsort.org
). Greenberg is also sure to light a fire under the
Baltimore Consort on the CBC''s OnStage series (Jan. 21).
Outside Toronto, the best bet for classical music in
Southern Ontario is Kitchener-Waterloo. The eponymous symphony is probably the
finest regional symphony orchestra in Canada, combining the freshness and
commitment one often finds in small towns with high professional
In his first full season as principal conductor, Martin
Fischer-Dieskau (yes, he''s Dietrich''s son) has pretty much stuck to standard
German classics for the main season. But the New Orchestra series offers a
lively lineup of contemporary music, and will take part in the Open Ears new
music festival in May.
The 16-member Canadian Chamber Ensemble, comprised of KWS''s
excellent principal players, presents a 5-concert series centred on
Beethoven--his predecessors and influence--on their home turf, and a
four-version in Guelph. Tel: 519-578-1570 or 1-800-265-8977
Laurier University''s School of Music has many excellent musicians on its applied
faculty. Do keep an eye out for on-campus concerts by trumpeter and pianist Guy
Few, violinists Annalee Patipatanakoon and Julie Baumgartel, oboist James Mason,
the Penderecki String Quartet and mezzo-soprano Kimberly Barber. Tel:
(519)-884-0710 ext. 3554. www.wlu.ca/
The Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society, a one-man show
run by philosophy professor Jan Narveson, presents concerts in an intimate,
85-seat room that Narveson had built onto his house. (519-886-1673).
Opera Ontario''s productions, which play in K-W and Hamilton,
tend to be uneven and the programming is light. But they''re often a good chance
to hear strong young Canadian talent. This fall they present La Boh?me
and Ontario''s first fully-staged production of Delibes'' Lakm?. In
March-April, the fabulous Canadian soprano Tracy Dahl stars in Donizetti''s La
Fille du r?giment
<www.operaontario.com/ >. Hamilton tickets:
1-800-575-1381 or 905-526-6556. Kitchener-Waterloo tickets: 1-800-265-8977 or
Philharmonic is a regional orchestra of unexceptional quality, but it boasts a
strong lineup of Canadian soloists this season: superpianist Marc-Andre Hamelin
(Oct. 4), cellist Denise Djokic (March 16), violinist Jasper Wood (Jan. 12),
Heather Schmidt (Sept. 15). www.hamiltonphilharmonic.org
; tel. 905-526-1677.
Schmidt--a highly talented young composer and pianist--also
performs at Wilfred Laurier U. on Oct. 30, and the University of Western Ontario
(London) on November 9.
Conservatory for the Arts''s four-concert chamber music series picks up several
artists performing for Music Toronto: the Prague-based Prazak Quartet (Nov. 10),
Canada''s popular Gryphon Trio (March 2) and the Tokyo String Quartet (April 11).
905-528-4020. or on www.hc4arts.on.ca
University of Western Ontario offers a minor recital series
www.music.uwo.ca/resources/concert_schedule.html, or 519-661-3767; symphonic
music is in the hands of Orchestra London, Ont. tel.: 519-679-8778 www.orchestra.london.on.ca
The best chamber music series--Aeolian Concerts--is
decamping from the funky Aeolian Town Hall to somewhat larger, better appointed
digs in the new Wolf Performance Hall of the London Public Library''s new
building. The 10-concert series includes an appearance by the vibrant Canadian
pianist Angela Cheng (Jan, 31) ? but don''t get your hopes up: the season has
been sold out by subscription for the past five years.
the deep south, the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, under John Morris Russell,
presents a solid, conventional series www.windsorsymphony.com/home.htm
Tamara Bernstein is a correspondent for The National
Post. The above are her personal opinionated choices.