La Scena Musicale

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This Week in Toronto (July 13 - 19)

After a brief hiatus in late June and early July, the classical music scene in Toronto and beyond has come alive again with a number of festivals that are well worth investigating. Now in its fourth season, the Toronto Summer Music Festival and Academy under music director Agnes Grossmann (July 21 to August 13) has proven singularly successful in offering high quality performances that Torontonians previously could only get by leaving the city. I remember fondly last year's production of Ariadne auf Naxos. The Festival opens on July 21, 8 pm at the Carlu with violinist James Ehnes and pianist Jon Kimura Parker, playing together for the first time in a program of Mozart, Ravel Prokofiev and Kernis. If you haven't been to the beautifully restored Carlu at the downtown College Park location, it is well worth experiencing. For information and tickets, visit or call (416) 597-7840.

Several other southern Ontario festivals are currently in full swing. The venerable Elora Festival (July 10 - August 2) opened with Berlioz Requiem, with tenor soloist Lawrence Wiliford, the Elora Festival Singers, the Mendelssohn Choir, andthe Elora Festival Orchestra under Noel Edison. Go to for more details and ticket information. Starting this week is the Festival of the Sound (July 17 - August 9) in its 30th anniversary season. Located in Parry Sound - a little farther afield from Toronto but well worth the effort. It opens on July 17 with Gold Medal Brass, a program of brass fanfares played by the Hannaford Street Silver Band under conductor Curtis Metcalf. On Saturday July 18, the Canadian Brass offers Swing that Music - A Tribute to Louis Armstrong. For more information, go to or call toll free at 1-866-364-0061 to purchase tickets.

Also of note is the Westben Concerts at the Barn in Campbellford, in the rolling countryside of eastern Ontario, a comfortable drive from Toronto. On Saturday, July 18 will be Schubertiad: Esterhazt 1809. It contains three separate segments - Segment 1 at 5 pm is Haydn Chamber Music, Segment 2 at 7 pm is Songs of Haydn, Schubert and Mendelssohn sung by soprano Virginia Hatfield, and Segment 3 at 9 pm is Mendelssohn Chamber Music. Go to for more information. Going in the other direction is the Brott Music Festival, under the artistic directorship of conductor Boris Brott. It has been under way since June 13 and will go until August 20. This week, pianist Sarah Davis Buechner plays Beethoven's Emperor Piano Concerto, with the National Aacademy Orchestra conducted by Brott. For light fare, on Saturday July 18 is Gilbert and Sullivan Go to the Proms featuring music from Priates of Penzance, plus such perennial Proms favourites as Jerusalem, Land of Hope and Glory, and Rule Britannia. For information and tickets, go to

Finally, I want to mention Digiscreen's Summer Cinema Series of productions from the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, to be shown in selected Empire Theatre locations across Canada. In Toronto, it will be at the Empire Theatres in North York. It opens on July 25 and 26, with BBC's Last Night of the Proms from the Royal Albert Hall in London. It is conducted by Sir Roger Norrington in his first Last Night at the Prom's appearance. This and other shows are pre-recorded, but the sense of occasion is still very much in evidence. Tickets are at $19.95 per adult, $16.95 senior and $9.95 per child, tax extra. For exact cinema locations and to purchase advance tickets, visit

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