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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 18, No. 7


by Joseph So / June 1, 2013

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Once again, Southern Ontario’s summer will resound with music. There was a time that Canada’s biggest city, Toronto, was a musical desert in the summer months but no more! Sadly the Black Creek Festival no longer exists, but Luminato Festival and Toronto Summer Music Festival are alive and well. Here are my personal picks – not meant to be comprehensive but rather a reflection of my own personal tastes. For complete information, go to the respective websites.

Toronto: Luminato Festival (June 14-23) The grande dame of Canadian music, Joni Mitchell, will be honored in two performances of Joni: A Portrait in Song. To celebrate her 70th birthday, a starry lineup of musicians the likes of Rufus Wainwright and Chaka Khan will be interpreting songs by Mitchell. There are two performances, on June 18-19, 7:30 pm, at Massey Hall. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra once again offers a free outdoor season-closing concert on June 21 – A Symphonic Birthday Party, to celebrate the 200th birthday of Verdi and Wagner. Expect a huge turnout at David Pecaut Square. http://luminatofestival.com   

Toronto Summer Music Festival (July 16-Aug. 3Trio Pennetier Pasquier Pidoux opens the festival, followed by such headliners as the Labeque Sisters, Brentano String Quartet, Andre Laplante, and Philippe Sly with Julius Drake. The great Elly Ameling will be in town to give masterclasses in the Art of the Song program. www.torontosummermusic.com

Ottawa: The Summer Music Institute at the NAC (June 6-29) offers instructions for young Canadian and international students under the artistic directorship of Pinchas Zukerman, through its programs for young artists, composers and conductors.  http://nac-cna.ca/en/summermusicinstitute

The Music and Beyond Festival runs July 4-15. The Opening Gala, Music and Circus, includes eminent Canadian musicians, among them violinist Marie Berard (concertmaster of the Canadian Opera Company) and pianist David Jalbert. On the program are works by Tchaikovsky, Schumann, Brahms, Kabalevsky and Stravinsky. Other headliners in the Festival include Germany’s Auryn Quartet (July 5, 6, 7); soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra (July 9-10); and the Vienna Piano Trio (July 8, 9, 10). There’s also a special emphasis on music education for children and youth, with a special Kids’ Music and Arts Day on July 7.             http://musicandbeyond.ca

Under the artistic directorship of Roman Borys, the Ottawa Chamberfest (July 25-Aug. 8) offers a program of 100 performances from baroque to contemporary. Among the artists appearing this year are soprano Measha Brueggergosman (July 26), Marc-Andre Hamelin (July 27), Wallis Giunta with the Miro Quartet (July 30), Gabriela Montero (Aug. 7) and James Ehnes (Aug. 6).  http://www.ottawachamberfest.com

Elora: Located in this picaresque village within a comfortable drive from Toronto, the Elora Festival (July 12-Aug. 4) has been a staple of summer music since 1979. It opens with the Verdi Requiem on July 12 with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Elora Festival Singers and Orchestra and soloists (not yet announced) under Noel Edison. Also of note are Carmina Burana (July 26), the 100th Anniversary of Benjamin Britten (July 28) and The Mikado (Aug. 3). Other headliners include New Zealand String Quartet, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra with soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, Moscow String Quartet, Anagnoson & Kinton, and Suzie Leblanc. www.elorafestival.com

Stratford: Stratford Summer Music (July 15-Aug. 25) opens its 13th season with fabulous fireworks at 9:15 pm at Lower Queens Park, by the Avon River. The centerpiece this summer is We Sing the World, a 4-day choral symposium starting July 18. Headliners include the Vienna Boys Choir (July 26), Jan Lisiecki (Aug. 8-10) and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (Aug. 17-18). https://stratfordsummermusic.ca

Campbellford: Westben is situated in the rolling hills of Northumberland County. Technically not just a summer festival, as events go more or less year round. There are lots of highlights this summer, including Piano Concertos with pianist Robert Silverman (June 29) and pianists Leonard Gilbert and Lisa Tahara (June 30). Vocal and Operatic concerts are particularly abundant this summer. The UBC Opera Ensemble under Nancy Hermiston and Leslie Dala travel to Westben annually to present an opera and this year’s is Carmen (July 5, 6, 7). Soprano Donna Bennett and tenor Colin Ainsworth team up for a program of Scottish music in Burns to Brigadoon (July 13). Andre Laplante gives a recital on July 20. Tenor Richard Margison and baritone John Fanning give a concert of Verdi and Wagner (July 21). Soprano Virginia Hatford, baritones Brett Polegato and James Levesque offer Broadway Rainbows, with music from The King and I, Brigadoon, Camelot, Les Miserables, Fiddler on the Roof, Oliver, and Wizard of Oz (July 25-28). Soprano Suzie LeBlanc with well known collaborative pianist Julius Drake will give The Awakened Rose, with French, English and German songs (July 30).             www.westben.ca/events/upcoming

Hamilton/Burlington: The Brott Music Festival under the artistic directorship of Boris Brott is in its 25th year, and to celebrate, it is presenting several ambitious large-scale concerts. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (June 20) at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre stars soprano Leslie Ann Bradley, mezzo Michele Bogdanowicz, tenor David Curry and baritone Geoffrey Sirett. A concert performance of Verdi’s Aida (Aug. 1) at Mohawk College’s McIntyre Performing Arts Centre features soprano Sharon Azrieli Perez, mezzo Emilia Boteva and tenor David Pomeroy. Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 8 (“Symphony of a Thousand”) takes place on Aug. 15 at Hamilton Place, with sopranos Leslie Fagan, Betty Wayne Allison and Jacqueline Woodley, mezzos Anita Krause and Mia Lennox Williams, bass Stephen Hegedus, tenor John Tiranno and bass-baritone Gordon Bintner. www.brottmusic.com

Parry Sound: Festival of the Sound (July 18-Aug. 11) under artistic director James Campbell presents Opera Gala (July 20) with tenor Mark Dubois, piano duo Anagnoson & Kinton, soprano Virginia Hatfield, baritone Peter McGillivray, tenor David Pomeroy and mezzo Gabrielle Prata. The same forces plus soprano Leslie Fagan appear the next evening in a Viennese Masked Ball Gala Dinner. The New Zealand String Quartet plays Dvorak and Brahms (July 25) and the Cecilia String Quartet plays Haydn (Aug. 1).             www.festivalofthesound.ca

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