La Scena Musicale

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Toronto Summer Music Festival Announces its Fifth Anniversary 2010 Programme

Photo: Agnes Grossmann, Artistic Director, Toronto Summer Music Academy and Festival

I just received an exciting press release from Toronto Summer Musical Festival. Now in its Fifth Season, this festival fills a big void in Toronto's music scene. With the absence of a summer home for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and with both the National Ballet of Canada and the Canadian Opera Company in hiatus, there is a dearth of classical music activities in town. Thanks to TSMF, Torontonians don't have to travel for their music fix. I'm sorry to say that, for the second year in a row, there won't be any staged opera from TSMF. But my disappointment is assuaged by the presence of the great German baritone Matthias Goerne, who is making one of his infrequent visits to our city. He is giving a recital with pianist Andreas Haefliger on July 27. The last time I heard Goerne in Toronto was April 2004, during the sad winter and spring of SARS in Toronto. Many artists, fearing an epidemic, cancelled their appearances at the time. But to his great credit, Matthias Goerne fulfilled his obligations and showed up at Roy Thomson Hall. He sang beautifully a program of Mahler with the symphony, if memory serves. Incidentally, Goerne is giving a public masterclass on July 26, 7 - 10 pm in Walter Hall - not to be missed!

Other vocal delights this summer include an evening of German lieder with three of Canada's brightest singers- tenor Colin Ainsworth, soprano Lesley Ann Bradley and baritone Peter McGillivray. Another interesting concert is a TSMF-commissioned piece, Song of the Earth, by Canadian composer Glenn Buhr. Soloists are Romanian alto Roxana Constantinescu and tenor Gordon Gietz. This is paired with Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde (chamber version). This takes place on August 7th.

For more information, go to

See below for the complete press release:


“…a virtual oasis in the musical desert of the Toronto summer.”
—The Globe and Mail

2010 marks the fifth annual TORONTO SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVAL (TSMF), and Artistic Director Agnes Grossmann is delighted to unveil her plans for this year’s edition devoted to the theme Songs of the Earth. The Festival takes place in downtown Toronto from July 20 to August 13, and features an array of Canadian and international stars including Matthias Goerne, Andreas Haefliger, Anton Kuerti, Menahem Pressler, Connie Shih and Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi; top flight international chamber ensembles the Pacifica String Quartet, the Vienna Piano Trio, the Gryphon Trio and the Penderecki String Quartet; and four imaginative concert programmes that combinemusic with an added dimension: the Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe from the United States together with Japan’s Imada Puppet Troupe; The Art of Time Ensemble with musical transformations based on Korngold-inspired themes; a tribute to the legendary choreographer, the late Pina Bausch, with a film of her ballet set to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring projected as duo-pianists Anagnoson and Kinton perform the composer’s chamber version of this volcanic dance score; and the Gryphon Trio with James Campbell performing Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time against the backdrop of evocative paintings by Stephen Hutchings. Another highlight of the Festival will be a performance of Mahler’s masterpiece, Song of the Earth in the Schoenberg/Rhien chamber version. Landmark anniversaries of composers Schumann, Chopin and Mahler will be celebrated in concert programmes throughout the four-week Festival, which includes the world-premiere of a new Mahler-inspired work by Glenn Buhr.
“As the Toronto Summer Music Festival enters its fifth season, I am truly thrilled with the opportunity to share these 13 concerts inspired by the theme Songs of the Earth. With Mahler’s eponymous masterpiece as my cue, I have selected music that celebrates the beauties of the earth and reflects the profound love that many of the featured composers felt for nature. I am sure that audiences will find these concerts fascinating, engaging and thought-provoking,” says Agnes Grossmann.

Toronto Summer Music Festival at a Glance
Honouring two of the most inspiring piano-composers of the Romantic era
July 20, 8 pm at Koerner Hall
Anton Kuerti, piano
Master pianist and 2007 Schumann prize-winner Anton Kuerti launches the 2010 festival with a solo homage to Schumann’s 200th anniversary. Praised as “one of the truly great pianists of this century” (CD Review, London), Kuerti’s past three Festival appearances have sold out. His gala performance in the superb acoustics of Koerner Hall on a brand new Hamburg Steinway includes Schumann’s Novelettes, Op. 21, Sonata No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 11, the Fantasy in C major, Op. 17, and the Toccata in C major, Op. 7. July 27, 8 pm at Koerner Hall
Masters of Song — Matthias Goerne, baritone and Andreas Haefliger, piano
6:45 pm: pre-concert talk with Dr. Ryan McClelland
Known as “perhaps the greatest Lieder singer of our day,” (Chicago Sun-Times), baritone Matthias Goerne makes his highly anticipated Festival debut. He is joined by his long-time collaborator, the superb pianist Andreas Haefliger in a programme of Lieder including Schumann’s Three Songs to texts by Heinrich Heine, Liederkreis, Op. 24, and Brahms Lieder, Op. 32. Haefliger also performs the Three Intermezzi, Op. 117 — among the best-loved of Brahms’ music for solo piano. August 3, 8 pm at MacMillan Theatre
Piano Legends — André Laplante, piano
6:45 pm: pre-concert talk with Don Anderson
One of the great Romantic pianists of our time, André Laplante returns to the Festival to pay tribute to the Chopin bicentenary. He performs the rarely-heard chamber version of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11 with string quartet. Franz Liszt’s Book 2 Pilgrimages (Italy), which was inspired by timeless masterpieces of painting, sculpture and poetry by Raphael, Michelangelo, Petrarch and Dante, completes the programme.
August 10, 8 pm at Walter Hall
Romantic Duo — Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, cello and Connie Shih, piano
6:45 pm: pre-concert talk with Dr. Robin Elliott
Japan’s revered cellist Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi returns to share the stage with the Canadian-born,
Germany-based young pianist, Connie Shih. The programme features virtuoso Romantic cello
sonatas by Mendelssohn and Chopin and is completed by folk-flavoured selections including
Schumann’s Five Pieces in Folk Style, Op. 102 and Chopin’s Introduction and Polonaise brillante in C major, Op. 3.
Wednesday concert:
August 4, 8:00 pm at MacMillan Theatre
An Evening of German Art Song — Colin Ainsworth, tenor; Leslie Ann Bradley, soprano;
Peter McGillivray, baritone This celebration of German art song features three of Toronto’s most remarkable and accomplished young Lied-singers. The programme includes some of the most beautiful songs by Robert Schumann, and shows the evolution of German art song into the 20th century through Hugo Wolf and Richard Strauss.
Thursday series: MUSIC PLUS SERIES
Music experienced through multi-disciplinary forms
July 22, 8:00 pm at MacMillan Theatre
Music & Theatre — Buraku Bay Puppet Troupe and Imada Puppet Troupe
6:45 pm: pre-concert talk with Martin Holman
Bunraku [boon-rah-koo]: a vivid, sophisticated style of puppet theatre that originated in Japan more than 300 years ago. TSMF is thrilled to present the Toronto premiere of the only American troupe that performs traditional Japanese Bunraku puppetry. The Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe is joined by its Ina Valley, Japanbased mentors, the Imada Puppet Troupe, which was founded in 1704. Using half life-size puppets and accompanied by chanted narration and music played on traditional instruments, the two companies perform a series of delightful, inspiring short plays. Chicago Weekly praised the Bunraku Bay Troupe’s “wonder in craftsmanship and coordination,” remarking, “the entrance was enough to send chills down everyone’s spines ....”
July 29, 8:00 pm at Walter Hall
Musical Transformations — Erich Korngold: Source and Inspiration
Andrew Burashko and Art of Time Ensemble
6:45 pm: pre-concert talk with Andrew Burashko
Andrew Burashko and the Art of Time Ensemble performances have earned the reputation for being among Toronto’s most engaging concert experiences, with programs that are thought-provoking and compelling. TSMF is proud to present Art of Time’s programme inspired by Erich Korngold, the father of the classic Hollywood film score. Korngold’s Suite, Op. 23 for Two Violins, Cello and Piano anchors the evening. A performance of six contemporary songs inspired by Korngold’s Suite are performed by their composers, the singer-songwriters Martin Tielli, “who paints aural pictures from the heart” (Chart Attack), John Southworth, who is “delightfully eccentric, and seems to have emerged out of a time vacuum,” (New York Press), and Danny Michel, “one of this country’s most undiscovered musical treasures.” (Toronto Star).
August 5, 8:00 pm at Walter Hall
Music & Dance — James Anagnoson, piano and Leslie Kinton, piano
This performance is presented in memory of choreographer Pina Bausch (1940–2009)
6:45 pm: pre-concert talk with Michael Crabb
The dynamic combination of dance on film with live music promises an unforgettable experience.
The Festival honours the celebrated modern choreographer Pina Bausch, who died in 2009, with a film of her thrilling ballet set to Stravinsky’s 1912 landmark composition The Rite of Spring that forever changed the way we listen to music. Festival favourites, the piano duo Anagnoson and Kinton perform the composer’s four-hand piano transcription of the score. The programme includes cornerstones of the two-piano repertoire: Brahms’s Haydn Variations and the spectacular Suite No. 2 by Rachmaninoff.
August 12, 8:00 pm at MacMillan Theatre
Music & Painting — Gryphon Trio with James Campbell, clarinet
6:45 pm: pre-concert talk with Stephen Hutchings
One of Canada’s pre-eminent chamber ensembles, the Gryphon Trio returns to the Festival following four previous sold-out concerts. In the grand finale to the 2010 Festival, they are joined by clarinetist James Campbell to perform Olivier Messiaen’s prophetic Quartet for the End of Time. Paintings by artist Stephen Hutchings, inspired by Messiaen’s music, will be projected above them. The Trio closes the Festival with a final song of the earth, Schumann’s Piano Trio No. 2 in F major, Op. 80.
Friday concert
July 30, 8 pm at Walter Hall
New Compositions — Penderecki String Quartet
6:45 pm: pre-concert talk with Dr. Glenn Buhr
Canada’s renowned Penderecki String Quartet continuously pushes the envelope of their musical
medium with repertoire that ranges from Brahms and Britten to collaborations with a wide spectrum of contemporary musicians from trip-hop performer DJ Spooky to Chinese pipa player, Ching Wong. For this concert, the Quartet performs works by four emerging composers who are in residence at this year’s Toronto Summer Music Academy. The programme also includes Quartet No. 4 by Academy composition coach, Glenn Buhr.
Concerts created around the music of Gustav Mahler
July 24, 8:00 pm at Walter Hall
Mahler & Friends — Vienna Piano Trio with Sharon Wei, viola
6:45 pm: pre-concert talk with Dr. Robin Elliott
The Vienna Piano Trio, hailed by BBC Music Magazine for performances that are “quite simply,
stunning,” presents a programme of early works by composers who enjoyed close ties. Arnold
Schoenberg’s love poem Transfigured Night is paired with Piano Trio, Op. 3 by Alexander Zemlinsky and Mahler’s one-movement Piano Quartet in A minor.
July 31, 8:00 pm at MacMillan Theatre
Mahler’s Heroes and Admirer —Pacifica String Quartet with Menahem Pressler, piano
6:45 pm: pre-concert talk with Dr. Colin Eatock
Profound experience joins hands with youthful passion in this concert, as revered pianist Menahem Pressler – who toured the world for more than 50 years as a member of the illustrious Beaux Arts Trio – teams up with the brilliant young artists of the Grammy Award-winning Pacifica String Quartet. They salute the Mahler anniversary with music by two of the composers he most admired – Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 6 in B flat major, Op. 18, No.6, and Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44. The String Quartet No. 3 in F major, Op. 73 by Shostakovich — a composer who was deeply influenced by Mahler — completes this programme.
August 7, 8:00 pm at MacMillan Theatre
Song of the Earth — Roxana Constantinescu, mezzo-soprano, Gordon Gietz, tenor
TSM Festival Ensemble
6:45 pm: pre-concert talk with Dr. Jürgen Thym
The stunning Romanian alto Roxana Constantinescu and the outstanding tenor Gordon Gietz are
the featured artists in Song of the Earth, a TSMF-commissioned vocal work by the prominent
Canadian composer Glenn Buhr. It is paired with a chamber version of Mahler’s monumental Das Lied von der Erde, the work that provided the thematic anchor for the entire 2010 festival.
Public Master Classes Rewarding behind-the-scenes experiences, master classes offer insight into the development of exceptional musicians. Observers may attend and listen as top artists pass along their musical expertise to artists in the Toronto Summer Music Academy. $20 per master class.
Vienna Piano Trio —Friday July 23, 3:00 - 6:00 pm at Edward Johnson Building, Room 330
Matthias Goerne — Monday July 26, 7:00 - 10:00 pm at Walter Hall
Menahem Pressler — Sunday August 1, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm at Walter Hall
Pacifica String Quartet — Sunday, August 1, 2:30 - 5:30 pm at Walter Hall
Janos Starker — Sunday, August 8, 11:00 am - 1:00 pm at Remenyi House of Music
Rising Stars In Concert — FREE!
Wednesday, July 28, 7:30 pm at Walter Hall
The Festival is proud to present excellent up-and-coming musicians in a FREE concert as they
interpret some of the most moving and challenging pieces in the repertoire.
Emerging Artists in Concert at Walter Hall — FREE!
Wednesdays at 12:30 pm on July 21, July 28, August 4 and August 11
Fridays at 7:30 pm on July 23, August 6, August 13
Saturday July 31 at 2:00 pm
TSMF offers a series of FREE concerts featuring emerging artists at the threshold of their
professional careers. These exceptional musicians study with Festival performers in master classes at the Toronto Summer Music Academy.
Toronto Summer Music Festival 2010
July 20 Anton Kuerti, piano
July 22 Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe and Imada Puppet Troupe
July 24 Vienna Piano Trio
July 27 Matthias Goerne and Andreas Haefliger
July 29 Andrew Burashko and The Art of Time Ensemble
July 30 Penderecki String Quartet
July 31 Pacifica String Quartet and Menahem Pressler, piano
August 3 André Laplante, piano
August 4 Peter McGillivray, baritone, Colin Ainsworth, tenor and Leslie Ann Bradley, soprano August 5 James Anagnoson and Leslie Kinton, piano duo / Pina Bausch film
August 7 Roxana Constantinescu, alto, Gordon Gietz, tenor and TSM Festival Ensemble
August 10 Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, cello and Connie Shih, piano
August 12 Gryphon Trio and James Campbell, clarinet
Festival passes ($130 - $345) and single tickets ($30 - $75) are available at or by calling (416) 408-0208.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

This Week in Toronto (March 29 - April 4)

Yefim Bronfman (Photo: Dario Acosta)

This being Easter Week, the music scene is heavy on sacred works, in venues large and small. A good choice is Toronto Mendelssohn Choir's Sacred Music for a Sacred Place, on Good Friday, April 2, 7:30 pm at St. Paul's Basilica. Noel Edison conducts a program of more contemporary sacred pieces by Arvo Part, Eric Whitacre, Pavel Lukaszewski and Timothy Corliss. Rick Phillips presents a pre-concert chat at 6:50 pm. For ticket information, go to

If you aren't into religious music, here's the antithesis of Sacred Music - the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has TSO Goes Vegas: A Jackpot of Vegas Hits! Three shows, on March 31, 8 pm and again on April 1 at 2 pm and 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall.Taken directly from the TSO website, "Jack Everly returns with a jackpot of hip Vegas hits, include Luck Be a Lady, Big Spender, Viva Las Vegas, My Way, and Lady is a Tramp. He is joined by a cast of showgirls and high rollers, including stars from Broadway and the Vegas Strip, and Mr. Showmanship himself, Martin Preston, as the legendary Liberace. It's Vegas, Baby - Symphony Style!" Gotta hand it to the TSO for innovative programming!

Tafelmusik continues with its Enchantress program starring Quebec soprano Karina Gauvin singing selections from Handel's Alcina. It moves to the George Weston Recital Hall for a single performance on March 30, 8 pm.

Pianist Yefim Bronfman is making a welcome return to Toronto on April 1 8 pm, this time in a recital at the new Koerner Hall of the Royal Conservatory of Music. On the program are Beethoven's 32 Variations, plus sonatas by Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Schumann.

The Esprit Orchestra presents an all-Canadian concert, A 'aventure! on March 31, 8 pm at the Jane Mallett Theatre. On the program are music by Evangelista,Gougeon, and Schafer, with Robert Aitken on the flute and Erika Raum on the violin. Alex Pauk conducts.

Finally, a brief report on an interesting event - Sir Ernest MacMillan Memorial Foundation Orchestral Conducting Award for 2010 is presently being chosen March 29, Monday afternoon 3:15 - 6:00 pm at the MacMillan Theatre, Edward Johnson Building, University of Toronto. The three finalists are Ghassan Alaboud (Montreal), Genevieve Leclair (Montreal) and Matthew Otto (Toronto). They will rehearse with the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra for between 30 and 45 minutes in selections from Berlioz' Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14. Jury panel members are Victor Feldbrill, Tania Miller, Alain Trudel and David Briskin (chair). At 6:15 pm, the Tokai String Quartet, winners of the 2004 MacMillan Award in Chamber Music, will be performing Britten and MacMillan while the jury deliberates. After the winner is announced, there will be a reception open to the public. Admission is free but donations welcome.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Auspicious Concert Launch for Wish Opera

Wish Opera Launch Concert Programme Cover

Curtain call - (l. to r.) Vania Chan, Tonia Cianciulli, Sabatino Vacca, Deirdre Kelly, Sinead Sugrue, Jennifer Fina, Theodore Baerg

Auspicious Concert Launch for Wish Opera

Joseph K. So

Saturday March 27, 8 pm, Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre, York University
Ermanno Mauro, tenor; Theodore Baerg, baritone; Ambur Braid, soprano; Jennifer Fina, mezzo; Sinead Sugrue, soprano; Vanvia Chan, soprano
Orchestra conducted by Sabatino Vacca
Deirdre Kelly, Emcee

Don Giovanni Overture - Orchestra
"Non mi dir" Don Giovanni, Ambur Braid
"Non piu mesta" La Cenerentola, Jennifer Fina
"Largo al factotum" Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Theodore Baerg
"Dunge io son" Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Jennifer Fina and Theodore Baerg
"Qui la voce" I Puritani, Sinead Sugrue
"Ch'ella mi creda" La fanciulla del West, Ermanno Mauro
"Soud le dome epais" Lakme, Jennifer Fina, Vania Chan
"Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" Land of Smiles, Sinead Sugrue, Ermanno Mauro
West Side Story Medley - Orchestra
Olympia's Aria Les contes d'Hoffmann, Vania Chan
"O zittre nicht" Die Zauberfloete, Ambur Braid
"Ah fors'e lui...Sempre libera" La Traviata, Sinead Sugrue
"Di provenza" La Traviata, Theodore Baerg
"Vesti la giubba" I Pagliacci, Ermanno Mauro
"Soave sia il vento" Cosi fan tutte, Sinead Sugrue, Jennifer Fina, Theodore Baerg

The mission of the newly minted Wish Opera is to create "a modern vision of opera by fusing the existing beauty of operatic sound with contemporary fashion and design. As its Executive Director Tonia Cianciulli said to the audience at the beginning of the performance last evening, this new initiative has been a dream of hers for a long time. It came to fruition in two launch concerts at the intimate surroundings of the Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre on the York University campus this week.

I saw the second show, on Saturday. It starred a mixture of emerging singers and experience veterans, in a varied program from the opera, operetta, and musical theater genres. In addition to the orchestra, the stage was tastefully decorated with contemporary furniture and art work on the two sides, serving as staging areas for the soloists. The six women - four singers plus Cianciulli and Emcee Deirdre Kelly - appeared in a succession of smashing high fashion gowns. All four female singers sang a challenging repertoire, each brought to the stage her unique gift of a beautiful voice and lovely stage presence. There were many highlights, but I particularly enjoyed Sinead Sugrue in "Ah fors'e lui...Sempre libera", Ambur Braid in "O zittre nicht" and the crystalline tones of soubrette Vania Chan in Olympia's Aria. Jennifer Fina also impressed with her rich timbre and wide range in "Non piu mesta".

The two men of the evening are veterans of the opera stage. Tenor Ermanno Mauro proved that at the grand age of 71, he can still produce a powerful and vital sound and plenty of dramatic intensity, bringing the house down with his "Vesti la giubba." Deputizing for an indisposed James Westman, Theodore Baerg was his ebullient self in a vocally suave and dramatically vivid "Largo al factotum". The evening ended with the trio from Cosi, "Soave sia il vento", a symbolic send-off of Wish Opera to a smooth voyage into the future. Given the current economic climate and the ever-diminishing government support to the arts, any private endeavor like Wish Opera deserves the support of opera and art lovers in Toronto. This new company is planning to stage Mozart's Don Giovanni in two performances on June 24 and 26. Stay tuned!