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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 10, No. 9

Voices of Summer: Southern Ontario Vocal/Choral Preview

by Joseph So / August 7, 2005

Southern Ontario in the summer is no longer the vocal desert it once was. Whatever your taste, there is plenty to choose from.

From June 3 to 12, Toronto will resonate with the sounds of some of the world’s great choral groups, when Soundstreams Canada presents the Northern Voices Choral Festival and Conference. The performances ranging from multi-choral spectacles to intimate solo-choir concerts will take place at the Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen Street East in downtown Toronto, with the exception of Voices of Youth, which will be at St. Paul’s Basilica, 83 Power Street. This festival will showcase groups from Canada, Scandinavia, Baltic countries and beyond. Opening Gala on June 4 will feature the Elora Festival Singers, the Latvian National Radio Choir, the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir, and Pro Coro Canada, under the baton of Tőnu Kaljuste. The latter will premiere Schafer’s The Death of Shalana, and Sir John Tavener’s Invocation. In addition, the Conference offers choristers, conductors and educators opportunities for exchanges of ideas, cross-cultural collaborations and a chance to create new works (June 3-5; 10-12 at University of Toronto’s Trinity College). More information can be found at www.soundstreams.ca/northernvoices05.html

The venerable Elora Festival opens on July 8 with a Gala performance of Haydn’s Creation, featuring Laura Whalen, Michael Colvin, Mark Pedrotti, the Elora Festival Singers, the Mendelssohn Singers, and the Elora Festival Orchestra under Noel Edison. On July 10, Les Voix Baroques will present Alessandro Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater, with soprano Nathalie Paulin and countertenor Matthew White. The showstopper is likely to be the reprise of Verdi's Requiem on July 23, with Sally Dibblee, Krisztina Szabó, Michael Colvin, Daniel Lichti, the Elora Festival Singers, and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, conducted by Noel Edison. Those who heard last summer’s performance at the Gambrel Barn found it to be a wonderful experience. On a more intimate scale is the Aldeburgh Connection’s The Food of Love, on settings of Shakespeare by Schubert, Berlioz, Vaughan Williams, Derek Holman, and Cole Porter. Accompanying mezzo-soprano Norine Burgess and the Elora Singers will be Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata. Also noteworthy is the appearance by American baroque soprano Christine Brandes on July 30. Details at www.elorafestival.com

A relative newcomer to the summer vocal lineup is Stratford Summer Music, now in its 5th season (July 27 to August 14). This festival has previously featured excellent young artists such as Marie-Nicole Lemieux, James Westman, and of course the great Ben Heppner. This year, the headliner will be the uniquely gifted Measha Brueggergosman. Since bursting onto the scene and sweeping top prizes at Jeunesses Musicales in Montreal and the Queen Sonja Competition in Norway, Brueggergosman is now a bona fide star. She is slated for four different concerts at the City Hall Auditorium – Great Operatic Arias, Broadway Show Tunes, Great Jazz with Doug Riley, and Personal Favourites in Words and Music, all accompanied by American pianist Cameron Stowe. A closing concert, From Motown to Heaven, will star Brueggergosman and Detroit’s Brazael Dennard Chorale and special guests with host Andrew Craig. It will be recorded for future broadcast on CBC Radio Two's In Performance. Definitely not to be missed! To find out more, go to http://www.stratfordsummermusic.ca

Though information is not yet available at presstime, one can expect the annual feast of three COC Altamira Concerts at Toronto’s Harbourfront bandshell. These free concerts, always jammed to bursting, will feature visiting singers who are in town rehearsing the fall productions, as well as members of the COC Ensemble and other invited guests. This is a great opportunity to check out the stars as well as the up-and-coming Canadians. Details will be available at the Canadian Opera Company’s website, www.coc.ca at a later date.

(c) La Scena Musicale