La Scena Musicale

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Centre Stage: 2014 COC Ensemble Competition Crowns New Winners

Centre Stage: COC Ensemble Competition Crowns New Winners (Review)

Joseph So

COC Ensemble Competition Program Cover


Michelle Siemens, mezzo / "All'afflitto e dolce il pianto" (Roberto Devereux) / "Voi che sapete" (Nozze di Figaro)

Nathan Keoughan, bass-baritone / "La calunnia" (Il barbiere) / "Se vuol ballare" (Nozze)

Zoe Band, mezzo / "Parto, parto" (Tito) / "Must the winter come so soon? (Vanessa)

Charles Sy, tenor / "Dies Bildnis" (Zauberfloete) / Una furtiva larima (L'Elisir d'amore)

Dimitri Katotakis, baritone / "Hai gia vinta la causa" (Nozze) / "Mag, la reine des mensonges" (Romeo et Juliette)

Aaron Sheppard, tenor / "Vainement, ma bien aimee" (Le roi d'Y's) / "Un'aura amorosa" (Cosi)

Eliza Johnson, soprano / "Padre, germani, addio" (Tito) / Juliette's Waltz (Romeo et Juliette)

Jury Panel: Alexander Neef, General Director / Roberto Mauro, Artistic Administrator / Sandra Gavinchuk, Music Administrator / Liz Upchurch, Head of COC Ensemble Studio / Wendy Nielsen, Ensemble Studio Alumna, soprano and teacher

COC Orchestra
Johannes Debus, conductor

Four Seasons Centre, November 25th 2014

One of the joys of being an opera lover is discovering voices of tomorrow, identifying young artists with the potential of greatness. Often the best place to find these vocal gems is in the competition arena.  Many singers have gotten a jump start to their careers through winning important competitions. There's also something about a contest that excites the senses and makes one sit up and take notice. I've been attending competitions for almost fifty years, and it still captures my imagination every time.  One gets to hear promising young artists with solid training and beautiful instruments, ready, willing and able to strive for a career in music. 

There are relatively few singing competitions in Canada - I can only think of the Montreal International Music Competition where the voice edition rotates with piano and violin. The Eckhardt-Gramatte Competition in Brandon, Manitoba also has a voice component in addition to violin and cello. The Mozart Competition that used to take place in Toronto back in the 80's under the sponsorship of the late Peter Sandor is no more with the passing of Mr. Sandor. Currently, there's the annual Christina and Louis Quilico Competition for the COC Ensemble Studio singers, to take place later this year.  Centre Stage is relatively new as competitions go. Through an auditioning process in several cities in Canada and in New York, aspiring singers are invited to compete on the stage of the Four Seasons Centre, with cash prizes as well as the possibility of becoming a member of the COC Ensemble Studio. In three short years, it has blossomed into a major event, with a fund-raising gala component. The last two competitions had some major voices the likes of soprano Karine Boucher, tenor Andrew Haji, baritone Gordon Bintner, and mezzo Charlotte Burrage, all are now valuable members of the Ensemble Studio roster as a result of their strong performances. This year, seven finalists hope to do the same.  

Tenor Charles Sy (Photo: Michael Cooper)

The attendance has grown substantially since moving from the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre to the mainstage of the Four Seasons, with full orchestra under the direction of COC Music Director Johannes Debus. For a cool $1500, one gets to have a gourmet dinner on the stage of the opera house after the conclusion of the event. The tariff for the competition itself including a pre-performance reception is a more modest $100 per ticket. Given the gala component, the Four Seasons lobby last evening took on a festive atmosphere, where well dressed audience members sampled the fancy cheeses and the assortment of drinks. But of course the main event was the competition itself. Unlike last year when there was a private session where the finalists sang in front of the jury panel without a public audience, this year all of it was open to the public.  

Tenor Aaron Sheppard (Photo: Michael Cooper)

The event started a few minutes after 6:30 pm, with Canadian tenor Ben Heppner as the MC. After a few brief comments by him and General Director Alexander Neef, the competition started in earnest with Victoria BC native mezzo-soprano Michelle Siemens. In Sara's aria from Roberto Devereux, Siemens showed off an impressively big, rich, resonant voice. This aria represents Donizetti at his best, and Siemens sang this short aria with its Bellini-like cantilena very well, if without much chiaroscuro. If I were to quibble, she used repeated and generalized hand gestures throughout. A more thought out, judicious use of hand and facial expressions to truly illuminate the text would have been better. Still, I feel it's an aria that showed off her strength. Her second piece, "Voi che sapete" was not so suited to her, as I don't really see her as a convincing Cherubino.  She sang it rather blandly, without much variation in expression vocally or dramatically. That said, Siemens has a quality "true" mezzo voice that's well worth hearing.  
Baritone Dimitri Katotakis (Photo: Michael Cooper)

Next up was PEI baritone Nathan Keoughan. If memory serves, he sang at the FSC last year.  Both La calunnia and Se vuoi ballare showed off his sturdy baritone to advantage. He sang with quite nice expression and looked good on stage.  I was unfamiliar with the voice of Toronto mezzo Zoe Band, so it was a pleasure to hear her high mezzo. Sesto's aria, Parto, parto, is one of the most challenging in her voice category.  She sang with a beautiful timbre, very nice legato, excellent sense of pitch, a fast but unobtrusive vibrato, and overall she did very well in this piece. A fly in the ointment was the less than sparkling coloratura with some smudged attacks in the presto section near the end of the long aria.  A very nice and highly promising voice that is a work in progress.  Another issue is the rather compact size of her instrument, perhaps a bit small given the size of the opera houses today. But with time it may likely grow in strength and volume. Erika's "Must the Winter Come So Soon?" is a very beautiful aria and often sung in competitions, something that I've always found a little curious, as it's not exactly a showy piece. I would have preferred something like the Composer's Aria from Ariadne. To be sure, Zoe Band's is a voice to watch.        

The finalists with master of ceremonies tenor Ben Heppner (Photo: Michael Cooper)

For those of us who attend U of T Faculty of Music presentations, tenor Charles Sy is a familiar presence. Over the last two or three years, his development has been amazing. Most recently I heard him sing in the Ben Heppner masterclass and he acquitted himself beautifully.  Tonight, he sang two pieces that served his predecessor, fellow U of T tenor Andrew Haji well two years ago and in the recent competition in Holland - Dies Bildnis and Una furtiva lagrima.  Sy sang with lovely, warm tone that was a pleasure to the ear.  He offered perfect expression and a surfeit of elegance in both arias, and negotiated the treacherous final minute of Nemorino's aria beautifully. An excellent performance.

Conductor Johannes Debus applauds the finalists (Photo: Michael Cooper)

Baritone Dimitri Katotakis followed with the Count's aria from Nozze, singing with ingratiating tone and nice stage presence. His high register was impressive, and he sang a very strong high note at the end. A very interesting voice, one that almost make me want to say he is a tenor, not a true baritone, or perhaps a baryton martin?  In any case, I would be really curious to hear him as Pelleas.  Next up was Newfoundland tenor Aaron Sheppard in the beautiful aria from Le roi d'Y's, a piece that served tenor Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure so well last year in the competition. Sheppard had a bit of a tentative start with minor pitch issues, but he recovered quickly and sang with beautiful mezza voce and lovely piano notes where it counted. Perhaps it's a bit of nervous tension, I detected some flatness here and there, but over all, it was a very nice performance, executed with poise.  The final competitor was Stratford native soprano Eliza Johnson. The Ilia's aria and Juliette's Waltz are both well suited to her lyric soprano.   Nice tone, albeit with some excess flutter. I also detected some pitch issues here and a general rushing of tempo perhaps due to nerves.  A firmer, more defined trill would serve her well, as it's very important in Juliette's aria. 

With the jury went off to deliberate, the surprise guest came on to - as Ben Heppner quipped - "show how it's done!"   It was none other than Adrianne Pieczonka, who sang three pieces, Wally's aria "Ebben, ne andro lontana," "Pace, pace" and the Strauss Lied "Zueignung."  And she indeed showed how it's done!  What gorgeous, big voiced singing.  Perhaps it's unfair to say that one can hear a real difference between the contestants and Pieczonka, but that's calling a spade a spade.  Here you have a world class singer at the height of her powers - of course she's better!  But you know what?  All the contestants can aspire to reach that level, and who knows, perhaps some of them will. 

After a short deliberation of about 15 minutes, Alexander Neef came on to announce the winners - tenor Charles Sy won First Prize of $5000 and the Audience Prize; baritone Dmitri Katotakis won Second Prize of $3000, and tenor Aaron Sheppard was Third with $1500.  Congratulations to the winners and all the contestants for a job well done!  I wish them all the best in their pursuit of a career, and offer them the following words from the sublime trio "Soave sia il vento" from Cosi fan tutte -

Soave sia il vento
Tranquilla sia l'onda
Ed ogni elemento
Benigno risponda
Ai nostri desir     

(l. to r.) Aaron Sheppard, Dmitri Katotakis, Alexander Neef, Charles Sy (Photo: Michael Cooper)

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Monday, 24 November 2014

This Week in Toronto (Nov. 24 - 30)

My Toronto Concert Picks for the week of Nov. 24 to 30  - Joseph So 

Conductor Andrey Boreyko (Photo: Christoph Rattger)

At the Toronto Symphony Orchestra this week, Russian conductor Andrey Boreyko makes a welcome return to conduct an interesting program of Stravinsky - Petrouchka and Pulcinella - juxtaposed with the classical Haydn. Guest soloist is Argentinean pianist Ingrid Fliter. Since she burst onto the scene winning second prize - to Yundi Li's first - at the 2000 Warsaw Competition, she has built an enviable career on the stages of the major concert halls of the world. If you missed her appearance here last season, here's your chance. To prepare for this week's blog, I visited her website and to my pleasant surprise, I discovered the collection of her paintings that are well worth checking out.  Performances on Nov. 26 and 27 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall. 

Pianist Ingrid Fliter (Photo:

For those of you with a taste for the unusual and the eclectic in classical music - especially Second City fans! - the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting the Second City Guide to the Symphony on Nov. 28 and 30.  It promises to be, uh, different, and entertaining for sure. I had to laugh when I saw this statement in bold print on the TSO website - "This presentation includes adult language and situations and is intended for mature audiences."  I think in 2014, even the most sheltered classical music lover wouldn't be shocked by the comedic antics of Second City. TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian conducts.

Poster for The Second City Guide to the Symphony (Photo:

A frequent guest of Music Toronto, Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski is making a welcome return this season for a recital on Tuesday Nov. 25 at the Jane Mallett Theatre, in a program of Schubert, Brahms, Ravel and Poulenc. For more information on this terrific pianist whom I've had the pleasure of hearing several times in recent years, go to   For more information on his Toronto recital, go to

Pianist Simon Trpceski (Photo: Music Toronto)

The Canadian Opera Company is in hiatus at the moment, but that doesn't mean there's no fine singing to be had.  Here's CentreStage: the Second Annual COC Ensemble Studio Competition.  It is advertised as a competition and a gala event, where for a cool $1500 you can have a gourmet dining experience on the stage of the Four Seasons Centre!  I do believe the gala dinner part of it is all sold out, but there might be tickets still available for the public competition. Do visit their website for details.  Retired Canadian tenor Ben Heppner is the MC.  Long time opera fans will know that Heppner burst onto the scene after winning the 1988 Metropolitan Opera Auditions as well as the Birgit Nilsson Prize. Competitions are a great way to get noticed, and in this case, it may lead to a spot on the COC Ensemble Studio roster. There are seven finalists this year, and I am familiar with the voices of only two of them. They are soprano Eliza Johnson, mezzos Michelle Siemens and Zoe Band, tenors Aaron Sheppard and Charles Sy, and baritone Dimitri Katotakis and bass-baritone Nathan Keoughan. They will be accompanied by the full COC Orchestra under  the direction of COC Music Director Johannes Debus. I look forward to hearing them tomorrow!

The University of Toronto Faculty of Music (Opera Division) puts on fully staged productions to showcase it talented students every year, and this year it's HMS Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan. Hard to believe but this is the first time in 25 years that a G&S work has been staged by the Faculty. Four performances Nov. 27 to 30 at the MacMillan Theatre on the campus of University of Toronto. Michael Patrick Albano directs and Sandra Horst conducts.

HMS Pinafore at University of Toronto 

Leon Fleisher, pianist and pedagogue, has been a vital force in the training of the next generation of musicians at the Royal Conservatory of Music. He holds the Ihnatowycz Chair in Piano at the RCM. On Friday Nov. 28 8 pm at Koerner Hall, he is the guest conductor with the Royal Conservatory Orchestra  in a program of Mozart, Brahms and William Walton.

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Cette semaine à Montréal : le 24 au 30 novembre

La soprano Marie-Ève Munger

Le Festival Bach Montréal – du 23 novembre au 7 décembre
La 8e édition du Festival Bach de Montréal présentera 21 spectacles dans neuf salles. Dans la foisonnante programmation, mentionnons en novembre :
• le quintette à vent Pentaèdre et le pianiste Mathieu Gaudet, qui interpréteront en primeur l'Hommage à Bach du compositeur Éric Champagne (24);
• le Concerto Melante, formé de membres de l'Orchestre Philharmonique de Berlin, qui interprétera l'Offrande musicale de Bach (27);
• l'Orchestre baroque Arion, en formation de quatuor, dans l'ambiance de la salle de musique du prince Frédéric (28);
• I Musici di Roma, orchestre baroque de grande réputation, fondé en 1951, qui nous réserve une surprise inattendue (30).
- Renée Banville

Les découvertes chorales de Voces Boreales
Sous la direction artistique de Michael Zaugg, l’ensemble choral Voces Boreales fait découvrir au public des œuvres a capella de compositeurs nord-américains, scandinaves ou originaires des Balkans. Au programme de ce concert dirigé exceptionnellement par le chef invité Andrew Gray, des œuvres de Thomas Jennefelt, Aaron Copland, Carl Rütti, Antonín Tučapský, Bob Chilcott, James McMillan, Z. Randall Stroope et Francis Poulenc. Avec la participation de la soliste Meagan Zantingh, mezzo-soprano. En collaboration avec l’Institut choral de Montréal. Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours – 25 novembre, 19 h 30.
- Justin Bernard

Quatuor Quasar au Chapelle Historique
Le Quatuor Quasar prépare une soirée pleine de surprises pour souligner le 20e anniversaire de sa fondation. 27 novembre, 20 h.
- Renée Banville

Concert en hommage à Franz-Paul Decker
L'Orchestre symphonique de McGill, sous la direction d'Alexis Hauser, présente un concert en hommage à Franz-Paul Decker. Au programme : des œuvres de Richard Strauss, dont on célèbre cette année le 150e anniversaire de naissance. Avec Jane Archibald, soprano. Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste, 29 novembre, 19 h 30.
- Renée Banville

L’intégrale des cantates de Bach se poursuit à la Salle Bourgie
La Fondation Arte Musica poursuit son intégrale des cantates de Bach en ce mois de novembre. La soprano Aline Kutan, la mezzo Julie Boulianne et le ténor Jacques-Olivier Chartier, accompagnés par le chœur et ensemble instrumental dirigé par Luc Beauséjour, interpréteront trois cantates du cantor de Leipzig : Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 62, Was frag’ ich nach der Welt, BWV 94, et Ich freue mich in dir, BWV 133. Salle Bourgie du Musée des Beaux-Arts – 30 novembre, à 14 h
- Justin Bernard

Marie-Ève Munger à la Société d’art vocal
La Société d’art vocal recevra la soprano Marie-Ève Munger, accompagnée au piano par Louise-Andrée Baril, pour son deuxième récital de la saison. Au programme, des airs et mélodies pour colorature de Beydts, Debussy et Milhaud. Salle du Conservatoire de musique de Montréal – 30 novembre, à 15 h.
- Justin Bernard

Ladies' Morning Musical Club – débuts en novembre
Solistes et chambristes accomplis, Jon Kimura Parker, Martin Beaver et Clive Greensmith unissent leurs forces pour offrir au public un nouveau trio captivant : le Trio Montrose. Jon Kimura Parker est un vétéran de la scène internationale. Martin Beaver et Clive Greensmith étaient tous deux membres du prestigieux Tokyo String Quartet. Débuts au LMMC dans cette formation. Salle Pollack, 30 novembre, 15 h 30.
- Renée Banville

Les adieux d’Iwan Edwards
Le dimanche 30 novembre, Concerto Della Donna présente son dernier concert, intitulé Encore une fois, une célébration et un hommage au chef bien-aimé, avec la collaboration d’anciens choristes et de musiciens invités. Le maestro est particulièrement enthousiasmé par le Magnificat de la jeune compositrice Christine Donkin. « L’ambiance sonore dans ce morceau est magnifique, fait-il remarquer. Sa musique est fondamentalement tonale, mais elle produit un effet unique. » Il mentionne également la compositrice Marie-Claire Saindon, aussi membre de CDD.
Avec le départ de son chef, c’est aussi le dernier concert de CDD. « Il renaîtra [malgré cela] de ses cendres comme un phénix sous une nouvelle appellation et sera un nouveau type d’ensemble. Elles ont beaucoup d’affinités et sont très fières de l’image projetée par CDD. »
- Kristine Berey

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This Week in Montreal: November 24 to 30

Soprano Marie-Ève Munger

The Montreal Bach Festival: Nov 23 to Dec 7
The 8th edition of the Montreal Bach Festival presents 21 concerts in nine venues. Among the abundance of events planned, here are some noteworthy ones in November:
• The Pentaèdre wind quartet and pianist Mathieu Gaudet premiere composer Éric Champagne’s Hommage à Bach (24)
• The Concerto Melante, composed of members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, perform Bach’s The Musical Offering (27)
• Arion Baroque Orchestra recreates the ambience of Prince Frederick of Prussia’s music room for a performance as a quartet (28)
• I Musici di Roma, a renowned baroque orchestra founded in 1951, has a surprise in store … (30)
- Renée Banville

Choral Discoveries with Voces Boreales
Under the artistic direction of Michael Zaugg, choral ensemble Voces Boreales will introduce audiences to a capella works by North American, Scandinavian, and Balkan composers. Featured in this concert directed by guest conductor Andrew Gray are works by Thomas Jennefelt, Aaron Copland, Carl Rütti, Antonín Tučapský, Bob Chilcott, James McMillan, Z. Randall Stroope and Francis Poulenc. With mezzo-soprano Meagan Zantingh and in collaboration with the Montreal Choral Institute. Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, Nov 25 at 7:30 pm.
- Justin Bernard

Chapelle historique: Quasar Quartet
The Quasar Quartet has prepared a number of surprises for its 20th anniversary program. Nov 27, 8 pm.
- Renée Banville

A Concert in Honour of Franz-Paul Decker
The McGill Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alexis Hauser, presents a concert in tribute to Franz-Paul Decker. The program includes works by Richard Strauss, whose 150th birthday is being celebrated. With soprano Jane Archibald at Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Nov 29, 7:30 pm.
- Renée Banville

The Complete Bach Cantatas Continue at Bourgie Hall
The Arte Musica Foundation continues its presentation of Bach cantatas this Nov. Soprano Aline Kutan, mezzo Julie Boulianne, and tenor Jacques-Olivier Chartier, accompanied by a choir and instrumental ensemble conducted by Luc Beauséjour, perform three cantatas by the Cantor of Leipzig:
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 62, Was frag’ ich nach der Welt, BWV 94, and Ich freue mich in dir, BWV 133. Bourgie Hall, Nov 30, at 2 pm.
- Justin Bernard

Marie-Ève Munger at the Société d’art vocal
The Sociétét d’art vocal hosts soprano Marie-Ève Munger, accompanied on the piano by Louise-Andrée Baril, for her second recital of the season. On the program are arias and melodies for coloratura by Beydts, Debussy, and Milhaud. Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, Nov 30 at 3 pm.
 - Justin Bernard

Ladies’ Morning Musical Club: November Debuts
Jon Kimura Parker, Martin Beaver, and Clive Greensmith, all successful soloists and chamber musicians, come together to offer the public a new and captivating trio called the Montrose Trio. Jon Kimura Parker is a veteran of the international scene. Martin Beaver and Clive Greensmith were both members of the prestigious Tokyo String Quartet. Debut with LMMC. Pollack Hall, Nov 30, 3:30 pm.
- Renée Banville
Iwan Edwards’ Farewells
On Sunday, November 30, Concerto Della Donna performs its final concert entitled “Once and for All”, a celebration and tribute to their beloved conductor that will feature alumni and guest musicians. Edwards is particularly excited about young composer Christine Donkin’s Magnificat. “The soundscape she creates in that piece is just unbelievable,” he notes, mentioning CDD member and composer Marie-Claire Saindon as well. “Her music is basically tonal but has a sound that’s completely different.”
Although this is CDD’s final concert, coinciding with Edwards’ retirement, he says “The CDD will cease to exist but the group will rise like a phoenix under a new name, and they will make a new kind of ensemble. There is a very strong affinity between them and they realize that CDD has an image of which they are very proud.”
- Kristine Berey

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Monday, 17 November 2014

Cette semaine à Montréal : le 17 au 23 novembre

le Quatuor Debussy

Chapelle Historique – première présence au Québec du Quatuor Debussy
En prélude à la participation du Quatuor Debussy au spectacle Opus présenté à la TOHU du 20 au 26 novembre, la Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur reçoit le quatuor à cordes français qui jouera le monumental Quatuor à cordes en sol mineur de Claude Debussy. 17 novembre, 20 h.
- Renée Banville

Une explosion musicale avec Appassionata
Dans le décor somptueux du Cinéma Impérial, l'Orchestre de chambre Appassionata convie le public à une expérience multimédia autour de la Symphonie no 3 « Eroica » de Beethoven. Initiée par le directeur artistique Daniel Myssyk, La révolution Beethoven débute par un spectacle qui retrace l'homme, sa musique et son temps. Appuyé par des projections sur grand écran de dessins de l'artiste visuel et bédéiste Christian Quesnel, le texte est narré par Patrice Dubois sur un collage de textes que la dramaturge Jennifer Tremblay a puisés dans l'histoire du compositeur, écrite par A.F. Schindler. Cinéma Impérial, 18 novembre, 19 h 30.
- Renée Banville

Un ensemble vocal à la Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur
Un vent venu d’Europe de l’Est soufflera sur la Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur à l’occasion d’un concert mettant en vedette le Cantus Ensemble de Zagreb, en collaboration avec Les Amis Concerts. Seront interprétées des œuvres de Ruben Radica, Franco Parać, Anđelko Klobučaret et Mladen Tarbuk. La Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur – 19 novembre, à 20 h.
- Justin Bernard

L’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal reçoit Miah Persson
Sous la direction de Kent Nagano, l’OSM présentera une série de deux concerts intitulés Lieder romantiques et accueillera pour l’occasion la soprano suédoise Miah Persson. La soliste interprétera notamment les Quatre derniers lieder de Richard Strauss. Le prélude et le « Liebestod », extraits de Tristan et Isolde de Wagner, La nuit transfigurée de Schoenberg et la Symphonie no 8 en si mineur de Schubert complètent le programme. Maison symphonique de Montréal – 19 et 20 novembre, à 20 h
- Justin Bernard

Daniel-Clarke Bouchard dans le Jardin anglais de I Musici
Jeune musicien talentueux de 12 ans, Daniel-Clarke Bouchard n'a certes pas froid aux yeux. De la télévision à la scène, il a tâté de nombreux terrains et essayé plusieurs styles. On l'entendra cette fois jouer Bach « dans un jardin anglais » avec I Musici, sous la direction de Jean-Michel Malouf. Il en interprétera le Concerto pour piano no 5. On entendra aussi Eclogue pour piano et cordes, opus 10 de Gerald Finzi. En complément de programme : Warlock, Delius et Elgar. Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, 20 au 22 novembre.
- Renée Banville

Le laboratoire de création du NEM
Pour la 12e année, le NEM présente son Forum international qui donne la parole aux jeunes compositeurs du monde entier. Entre le 1er et le 21 novembre, 72 répétitions publiques, huit lunchs-causeries, deux conférences et une table ronde donneront lieu à des échanges entre musiciens, compositeurs de la relève et mélomanes. Le point culminant de l'événement sera les deux concerts qui présenteront les œuvres achevées des 8 compositeurs sélectionnés. Salle Claude-Champagne, 20 et 21 novembre, 19 h 30.
- Renée Banville

La jeune fille et la mort avec les musiciens de L'OSM
Le célèbre quatuor de Schubert est au programme du prochain concert de la série Tableaux en musique de la Fondation Arte Musica. Vienne rapproche cette grande figure du romantisme de l'un des principaux représentants de l'expressionnisme en musique, Alban Berg, dont on entendra le Quatuor à cordes, opus 3. Avec les violonistes Brigitte Rolland et Alexander Read, l'altiste Natalie Racine et la violoncelliste Anna Burden. Salle Bourgie, 21 novembre, 18 h 30.
- Renée Banville

Le Festival Bach Montréal – du 23 novembre au 7 décembre
La 8e édition du Festival Bach de Montréal présentera 21 spectacles dans neuf salles. C'est à la Maison symphonique qu'aura lieu le concert d'ouverture avec le Freiburger Barockorchester d'Allemagne, le 23 novembre.
- Renée Banville

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This Week in Montreal: November 17 to 23

The Debussy Quartet
Musical Explosion with Appassionata
In the sumptuous décor of Cinéma Impérial, the Appassionata Chamber Orchestra welcomes the public to a multimedia experience related to Beethoven’s Third “Eroica” Symphony (in French only). The Beethoven Revolution, devised by Artistic Director Daniel Myssyk, begins with highlights of the composer, his music, and his life. With the support of large-screen projections by visual artist and cartoonist Christian Quesnel, Patrice Dubois narrates the text through a collage sourced by playwright Jennifer Tremblay. The text related to the composer’s biography was written by A.F. Schindler. Cinéma Impérial, Nov 18, 7:30 pm.
- Renée Banville

Chapelle Historique: First Appearance of Debussy Quartet in Quebec
Leading up to the Debussy Quartet’s appearance in TOHU’s Opus from Nov 20 to 26, the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur welcomes France’s string quartet in a performance of Debussy’s monumental String Quartet in G minor. Nov 17, 8 pm.
- Renée Banville

A Vocal Ensemble at Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur
An Eastern European wind will blow on the city’s Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur with a concert starring Zagreb’s Cantus Ensemble, in collaboration with Les Amis Concerts. Works by Ruben Radica, Franco Parać, Anđelko Klobučaret, and Mladen Tarbuk will be performed. Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, November 19, 8:00 p.m. Justin Bernard

The OSM Hosts Miah Persson
Under the baton of Kent Nagano, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal presents two concerts titled The Voice of Romanticism with Swedish soprano Miah Persson. The soloist performs Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs as well as the prelude and “Liebestod” from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night, and Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B-minor. Maison symphonique, Nov 19 and 20 at 8 pm.
- Justin Bernard

NEM’s Creation Laboratory
The Nouvel Ensemble Modern presents its 12th International Forum, featuring the voices of young composers from all over the world. From Nov 1st to 21, 72 public rehearsals, eight luncheon-chats, two lectures and a round table will create the opportunity for discourse between musicians, upcoming composers, and music lovers. The event culminates in two concerts that will present the finished works of eight selected composers. Salle Claude-Champagne, Nov 20 and 21 at 7:30 pm.
- Renée Banville

Daniel Clarke-Bouchard in I Musici’s English Garden
Talented 12-year-old Daniel Clarke-Bouchard is a fearless musician. From the TV screen to the stage, he has tested many different fields and explored various styles. This time, he’s performing Bach “in an English garden” with I Musici, conducted by Jean-Michel Maloud. He will play the Piano Concerto No. 5 and Gerald Finzi’s Eclogue for Piano and Strings, op. 10. Warlock, Delius, and Elgar complete the program. Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, Nov 20 and 22.
- Renée Banville

Death and the Maiden with the Musicians of the OSM
The renowned Schubert Quartet is on the program for the next concert of the Arte Musica Foundation’s “Musical Canvases” series. Vienna brings this major figure in Romanticism together with one of the key players in Expressionism in music, Alan Berg, whose String Quartet, op. 3, will be performed. With violinists Brigitte Rolland and Alexander Read, violist Natalie Racine, and cellist Anna Burden. Bourgie Hall, Nov 21, 6:30 pm.
- Renée Banville

The Montreal Bach Festival: Nov 23 to Dec 7
The 8th edition of the Montreal Bach Festival presents 21 concerts in nine venues. The opening concert takes place at the Maison Symphonique and features Germany’s Freiburger Barockorchester on Nov 23. The closing concert takes place in the same hall on Dec 3, 4, and 7, with the OSM under the baton of Masaaki Suzuki.
Among the abundance of events planned, here are some noteworthy ones in November:
• The Pentaèdre wind quartet and pianist Mathieu Gaudet premiere composer Éric Champagne’s Hommage à Bach (24)
• The Concerto Melante, composed of members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, perform Bach’s The Musical Offering (27)
• Arion Baroque Orchestra recreates the ambience of Prince Frederick of Prussia’s music room for a performance as a quartet (28)
• I Musici di Roma, a renowned baroque orchestra founded in 1951, has a surprise in store … (30)
- Renée Banville

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Barbier de Séville à Montréal - Un barbier qui vous fera rire

Par Marc-Olivier Laramée
Photo: Yves Renaud

Étienne Dupuis dans le role de Figaro

Le Barbier de Séville de Rossini est un opéra bouffe, une comédie romantique où ruse et folie côtoient récitatifs et ornements vocaux rossiniens. Le comte Almaviva est éperdu d’amour pour Rosina. Aidé par le barbier Figaro, le jeune amoureux devra, par tous les moyens, surmonter les embûches du vieux Bartolo lui-même prétendant de Rosina.

Souvent dans les productions d’opéra, des chanteurs excellent tandis que d’autres peinent à livrer une performance acceptable. L’Opéra de Montréal présente ici une distribution de chanteurs exempte de corps morts. Pas de diva, mais une distribution bien équilibrée.

Dans le rôle principal de Figaro, le baryton Canadien Étienne Dupuis. Il a un talent indéniable pour la comédie. Son entrée par une porte du parterre est réussie. Accompagné de quatre demoiselles sur scène, ce barbier séducteur est le bouffon idéal pour cet opéra. Coté vocal, rien de surprenant, un bon travail sans plus.

Le ténor Bogdan Mihai de Roumanie fera des prouesses à travers les multiples récitatifs et mille et un ornements. Il a une agilité vocale pertinente pour ce rôle exigeant. Quoique bien rendues, toutes ses interventions comportant d’interminables ornements requièrent un lourd travail perceptible pour l’auditeur. Chaque note donne lieu à un mouvement de tête. Son timbre de voix de ténor lyrique est un peu sombre et reculé. Dans son rôle d’Almaviva, un comte à la conquête du cœur de Rosina, il réussit merveilleusement à établir le lien amoureux. Son double rôle en tant qu’Alonso, le maître de musique remplaçant, est un bijou de jeu scénique. Il est drôle, juste assez. Sans aller dans l’excès comme peut le faire Étienne Dupuis.

La mezzo-soprano espagnole Carol Garcia dans le rôle de Rosina et la basse italienne Carlo Lepore dans le rôle de Bartolo livrent tous deux une bonne prestation. Rosina joue bien la jeune amoureuse. Elle a une voix assez claire pour une mezzo. Bartolo quant à lui est une voix rafraîchissante. Claire dans l’ensemble de son registre vocal, sa voix redore le blason de la basse sombre. Mention spéciale à la révélation vocale dans cette production, la basse italienne Paolo Pecchioli, dans le rôle de Basilo. Il a un registre très étendu, mais surtout de qualité.

Les décors sont ici assez simples. Une maison est ouverte et fermée par les personnages, faits par Robert Prévost et Guy Neveu, grands contributeurs aux arts scéniques québécois.

Côté instrumental, le travail de l’Orchestre Métropolitain est remarquable. L’ouverture de l’opéra, grandement applaudie, était à point avec la finesse du jeu des violons. Dirigé par le chef autrichien expérimenté Christoph Campestrini, l’orchestre est à son meilleur. Complétée par le clavecin et la guitare, la partie instrumentale est sans contredit de très haute qualité.

Le Barbier de Séville, Rossini
Opéra de Montréal
8, 11, 13, 15 et 17 novembre 2014, 19 h 30, salle Wilfrid-Pelletier de la Place des Arts

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Monday, 10 November 2014

Cette semaine à Montréal : le 10 au 16 novembre

Violoniste chinois Lu Siqing
Unique concert à Montréal de l'orchestre le plus prestigieux de Chine
L'Orchestre du Centre national des arts de la scène de Chine présente un programme où se mêlent les traditions de l'Orient et de l'Occident. Le concerto Les Amants papillons, qui évoque une vieille légende d'amants maudits, sera interprété par le violoniste Lu Siqing, sous la direction de Lu Jia. Aussi au programme : une Suite pour orchestre de Chen Qigang et la Symphonie no 8 de Dvořák. Maison symphonique, 13 novembre, 20 h.
- Renée Banville

Quatuor Alcan - La grande séduction
Depuis sa fondation, le Quatuor Alcan a donné des centaines de concerts ici comme ailleurs et, bien qu'il ne se restreindra pas au répertoire beethovénien, la sortie de l'intégrale permettra à l'ensemble de rajouter de nombreux concerts sur la route dans les mois qui viennent. On retrouvera l'ensemble à la salle Bourgie, à Montréal, le 12 novembre, puis le 16 à la salle Rolland-Brunelle à Joliette. La série de concerts se poursuivra en 2015, comme la parution des autres volumes de cette grande aventure musicale.
- Réjean Beaucage

20e anniversaire du projet génération de L'ECM+
L’ECM+ présente la 8e édition de son projet Génération, qui a contribué à lancer la carrière de 53 compositeurs québécois et canadiens. Cette édition sera dirigée par Véronique Lacroix et animée par le compositeur Gabriel Dharmoo. Neuf villes canadiennes accueilleront l'ECM+, qui convie les passionnés de création à découvrir les œuvres de Marie-Pierre Brasset (Qc), Evelin Ramon (Qc-Cuba), Alec Hall (Ont-NY) et Anthony Tan (AB-Berlin). Salle de concert du Conservatoire, 13 novembre, 19 h 30.
- Renée Banville

Étienne Dupuis dans le Barbier de Séville à l’Opéra de Montréal
Le baryton Étienne Dupuis tiendra le rôle-titre dans Le Barbier de Séville de Rossini à l’Opéra de Montréal cette saison. À ses côtés : Mireille Lebel, Carlo Lepore, Bogdan Mihai ou encore Paolo Pecchioli. La mise en scène a été confiée à Oriol Tomas et la direction artistique, à Christoph Campestrini. L’accompagnement sera assuré par l’Orchestre Métropolitain et le Chœur de l’Opéra de Montréal. Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts – 8, 11, 13 et 15 novembre, à 19 h 30.
- Justin Bernard

Le Requiem de Mozart par l’orchestre I Musici
Pour son troisième concert vocal de la saison, l’Orchestre de chambre I Musici interprétera le Quatuor à cordes no 11 en fa mineur de Beethoven (orchestration de Gustav Mahler) ainsi que le Requiem en ré mineur de Mozart dans la version achevée par Robert Levin. Les musiciens accompagneront le chœur du Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal et les solistes annoncés : Charlotte Corwin, soprano, Emma Char, mezzo-soprano, et Antonio Figueroa, ténor, sous la direction de Jean-Marie Zeitouni. Maison symphonique – 14 novembre, à 20 h.
- Justin Bernard

Les rebelles baroques Telemann et Quantz chez Arion
Arion nous apprend que Telemann se destinait au droit et Quantz à la forge. Heureusement pour nous, les deux ont persévéré en musique. Ces compositeurs ont contribué à donner ses lettres de noblesse à la flûte traversière. Sous la direction du claveciniste Alexander Weimann, les flûtistes Claire Guimond et Alexa Raine-Wright nous feront découvrir une musique galante et imaginative. Salle Bourgie, 14 au 16 novembre.
- Renée Banville

Le Festival Bach Montréal – Nuit des Chœurs
La 8e édition du Festival Bach de Montréal présentera 21 spectacles dans neuf salles. Après le succès rencontré l'an dernier, la Nuit des Chœurs est de retour, présentée cette fois en prélude au festival, le 15 novembre. Animée par Mario Paquet d'Espace Musique et destinée à la famille, la soirée se déroulera à l'église Saint Andrew et Saint Paul, à partir de 15 h 30.
- Renée Banville

L’Opéra Bouffe du Québec chantera Offenbach
La compagnie lyrique lavalloise lance sa première production de la saison : Orphée aux enfers de Jacques Offenbach, avec Véronique Gauthier, Martin Pilon, Charles Prévost-Linton, Frédérike Bédard, Éric Thériault, Chantal Scott et Étienne Cousineau. Simon Fournier dirigera l’Orchestre et le Chœur de l’Opéra bouffe du Québec, dans une mise en scène de Richard Fréchette. Maison des arts de Laval – 7, 8, et 14 novembre à 20 h, 9, 15 et 16 novembre à 15 h.
- Justin Bernard

Concert gala des Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques
Dans le cadre de sa 21e saison, le programme international Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques du Théâtre Lyrichorégra 20 présentera son concert gala annuel, rassemblant les 24 lauréats de cette édition 2014, la relève de l’art lyrique au Canada, devant un comité de sélection constitué notamment de directeurs de maisons d’opéra européennes et nord-américaines. Martin Dubé sera le pianiste accompagnateur. Avec la participation du Chœur Classique de Montréal, sous la direction de Louis Lavigueur. Église du Gesù – 16 novembre, à 14 h 30.
- Justin Bernard

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This Week in Montreal: November 10 to 16

Chinese violinist Lu Siqing
China’s Most Prestigious Orchestra in Their Only Montreal Concert
China’s National Center for the Performing Arts Orchestra presents a concert featuring Eastern and Western traditions. The Butterfly Lovers concerto, evoking an old legend of cursed lovers, will be performed by violinist Lu Siqing and conducted by Lu Jia. Chen Qigang’s The Five Elements and Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony are also programmed. Maison symphonique, Nov 13, 8 pm.
- Renée Banville

Étienne Dupuis in Opéra de Montréal’s Barbiere di Siviglia
Baritone Étienne Dupuis plays the main role in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Opéra de Montréal this season. He is joined by Mireille Lebel, Carlo Lepore, Bogdan Mihai, and Paolo Pecchioli. Oriol Tomas is in charge of staging, and Christoph Campestrini is the artistic director. The Orchestre Métropolitain and the Opéra de Montréal Chorus accompany the singers. Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts, November 8, 11, 13, and 15, 7:30 p.m.
- Justin Bernard

The Alcan Quartet’s Upcoming Concerts
Since its creation, the Alcan Quartet has given hundreds of concerts at home and abroad, and although it doesn’t limit itself to the Beethoven repertoire, the release of the complete cycle will allow the ensemble to add many more concerts on the road in the coming months. On November 12, the ensemble will appear in Montreal at Bourgie Hall, and on the 16, at Salle Rolland-Brunelle, in Joliette. The concert series continues until 2015, as with the releases of the other volumes of this great musical adventure.
- Réjean Beaucage

ECM+’s Génération: 20th Anniversary
ECM+ presents its eighth edition of Génération, which kickstarted the career of 53 Canadian composers. This edition, under the baton of Véronique Lacroix, is hosted by composer Gabriel Dharmoo. Nine Canadian cities will welcome ECM+. The ensemble invites music creation enthusiasts to discover works by Quebec’s Marie-Pierre Brasset, Cuba’s Evelin Ramon (Quebec), Ontario’s Alec Hall (New York), and Alberta’s Anthony Tan (Berlin). Conservatoire concert hall, Nov 13, 7:30 pm.
- Renée Banville

I Musici and Mozart’s Requiem
As part of its third vocal concert of the season, the I Musici Chamber Orchestra performs Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 11 in F minor (orchestration: Gustav Mahler) and Mozart’s Requiem in D minor (completed version by Robert Levin). The musicians will accompany the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal’s chorus, along with soprano Charlotte Corwin, mezzo-soprano Emma Char, tenor Yann Beuron, and baritone Aleksey Bodganov. Jean-Marie Zeitouni conducts. Maison symphonique, Nov 14, 8 pm.
- Justin Bernard

Telemann and Quantz: Baroque Rebels with Arion
Arion teaches us that Telemann was committed to a career in law and Quantz was committed to a career in foundry. Luckily for us, both composers persevered with music. They both helped in giving the flute its fame. Under the direction of harpsichordist Alexander Weimann, flutists Claire Guimond and Alexa Raine-Wright will lead the public in discovering discover romantic and imaginative music. Bourgie Hall, Nov 14 to 16.
- Renée Banville

The Montreal Bach Festival: Night of Choirs
The 8th edition of the Montreal Bach Festival presents 21 concerts in nine venues. After last year’s success, the Night of Choirs is back as a prelude to the festival on Nov 15. Hosted by Espace Musique’s Mario Paquet and geared towards families, the event takes place at the Church of Saint Andrew and Saint Paul beginning at 3:30 pm.
- Renée Banville

Opéra Bouffe du Québec Sings Offenbach
The Laval-based opera company presents Jacques Offenbach’s Orphée aux enfers, its first season production. The performance stars Véronique Gauthier, Martin Pilon, Charles Prévost-Linton, Frédérike Bédard, Éric Thériault, Chantal Scott, and Étienne Cousineau. Simon Fournier conducts the Opéra Bouffe’s orchestra and choir while Richard Fréchette oversees staging. Maison des arts de Laval, Nov 7, 8, and 14, 8 pm; Nov 15 and 16, 3 pm.
- Justin Bernard

Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques’ Gala Concert
As part of its twenty-first season, the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques’ international program by Théâtre Lyrichorégra 20 presents its annual gala concert, bringing together 24 winners this year—rising stars in Canada’s vocal art. They will perform before a selection panel of European and North American opera house managers. Martin Dubé will be the accompanist. Collaboration with the Chœur classique de Montréal, conductor: Louis Lavigueur. Église du Gesù, Nov 16, 2:30 pm.
- Justin Bernard

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Sunday, 9 November 2014

This Week in Toronto (Nov. 10 - 16)

My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of Nov. 10 to 16 - Joseph So

Jan Lisiecki (Photo: IMG Artists)

Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki certainly has one of the highest profiles among Canadian classical artists today, and he's still only 19 years old!  I remember sitting in on a recording session of his at Koerner Hall in January of 2013 and interviewing the young man afterwards. His maturity towards his art was remarkable, yet he was still at the time very playful with people dear to him, and naturally a fun-loving teenager. You can read my interview with him here - He is the soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, playing Beethoven Piano Concertos 3, 4, and 5 over the span of two weeks. The guest maestro is Thomas Dausgaard making a welcome return to the TSO.

Pianist Yuja Wang and violinist Leonidas Kavakos 

Pianist Yuja Wang and violinist Leonidas Kavakos are both flamboyant virtuoso in their respective instruments. Now they join forces in recital on Nov. 13 8 pm at Koerner Hall. On the program are four violin sonatas by Brahms, Schumann, Ravel, and Respighi.

On the vocal front, the big news this week is the appearance of Verdi soprano Aprile Millo in Toronto after an absence of many years. The last time I recall her singing here was as Maddalena in Andrea Chenier at the COC in 1989, and a Roy Thomson Hall recital shortly after.  About two years ago, Millo gave a very interesting masterclass at Walter Hall for students of the opera program at the University of Toronto. When Millo first burst onto the scene in the early 80's, I became an instant fan. I recall a Don Carlo Met broadcast - her voice bore an uncanny resemblance to the great Renata Tebaldi. I would travel to the Met to hear her, including a marvelous Aida around 1987. Last winter, Millo sang a performance of Giorgetta in Puccini's Il Tabarro in Italy that was video-streamed on the internet. I was lucky to have seen/heard it and it really brought back memories. Well, for Millo fans, this is your chance to hear this great artist in two events this week. First on Thursday Nov. 13, she is joined by students of the Mary-Lou Vetere Studio in recital, with Linda Ippolito as the collaborative pianist. It takes place at the Jeanne Lamon Hall of the Trinity St. Paul's Centre, the home base of Tafelmusik.  A second event is a recital on Saturday Nov. 15 7:30 pm.  With her are other guest artists including baritone Gustavo Ahaulli, soprano Mary-Lou Vetere, and tenor Giacomo Folinazzo.

Tenor Adrian Kramer and soprano Lucia Cesaroni are partners in art and in life. If the name of the tenor is familiar, it's because he was a member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio a few years ago - as a baritone!  After his tenure at the COC Ensemble, Kramer reworked his voice to the tenor fach.  Lucia Cesaroni's lyric soprano is also well known to Toronto audiences. I recall hearing her as Susanna at Opera York a few seasons back, and she has appeared with Opera in Concert. You can find out more about her at  The two singers are giving a concert, Extensions of Us: Melody and Movement in collaboration with choreographer Jennifer Nichols and pianist Maika'i Nash on Nov. 13 at 8 pm in the Extension Room on Eastern Avenue (see poster above). The program includes songs and arias by Verdi and Mascagni, Neapolitan Songs, and selections from West Side Story.

Pianist Dmitri Levkovich

Ukrainian-Canadian pianist Dmitri Levkovich is giving a recital of Rachmaninoff, Mozart. Stravinsky, Bach and Chopin on Nov. 11  7 pm in Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building, on the campus of the University of Toronto.

NCPA Orchestra of China 

The Chinese NCPA Orchestra under conductor Lu Jia gives a concert on Nov. 11 8 pm at Koerner Hall. Program includes Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major and Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 in E Minor.

Dover Quartet (Photo: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco)

One of the oldest concert presenters in the country, the Women's Musical Club of Toronto, is featuring the Dover Quartet as part of its Music in the Afternoon Series. This chamber group is the winner of 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition. You can learn more about them by going to their website   You can also find video clips of their performances there. The recital is in Walter Hall Nov. 13 1:30 pm.

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Monday, 3 November 2014

This Week in Toronto (Nov. 3 - 9)

My Toronto Concert Picks for the week of Nov. 3 to 9 - Joseph So

American pianist Jeremy Denk (Photo: Jennifer Taylor)

Toronto piano fans are truly blessed this fall, with the appearances of a string of pianists of the top rank.  A couple of weeks ago, we had the brilliant Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz, and this week it's the visit of the terrific American Jeremy Denk at Koerner Hall on Nov. 9 3 pm. The program includes works by Haydn, Schubert, Janacek, Mozart and Schumann's Carnaval Op. 9.

 First Prize winner Chinese pianist Yang Liu (Photo: Andrew Lee)

(l. to r.) Rachel Yudo(USA/Japan), Rodolfo Leone (Italy), Yang Liu (China) (Photo: Andrew Lee)

While on the subject of pianists, I can report that the Second Toronto International Piano Competition ended with the awarding of the top three prizes to three deserving competitors. First Prize went to 23 year old Chinese pianist Yang Liu,Second Prize to Italian Rodolfo Leone, and Third Prize to American/Japanese pianist Rachel Kudo.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra's offerings this week is unusually light, with just one performance of the What Makes it Great? Series. It features violinist Chee Yun in the Autumn and Winter concertos of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, conducted by Rob Kapilow. Saturday Nov. 8 8 pm.

On the vocal front, a noteworthy event this week is Recitals at Rosedale's presentation of A Walk on the Dark Side: Myths, Legends and Fairytales on Nov. 9 2:30 pm at the Rosedale Presbyterian Church. Three excellent Canadian singers - soprano Lesley Ann Bradley, mezzo Allyson McHardy and baritone Geoff Sirett join forces to present a program of works by Ravel, Quilter, Szmanowski and Zemlinsky. At the piano are Robert Kortgaard and Rachel Andrist.

(l. to r.) Lesley Ann Bradley, Allyson McHardy, Geoff Sirett 

Every fall, the University of Toronto Faculty of Music brings a well known singer to be a resident artist giving masterclasses to the voice students. The guest is under the auspices of the John Stratton Visitor in Music. I recall the wonderful residencies of soprano Adrianne Pieczonka and mezzo Stephanie Blythe. This time it is British mezzo Catherine Wyn Rogers, who was in town last week for The Dream of Gerontius. She's giving an opera masterclass on Monday Oct. 3 7 pm at Walter Hall. Tomorrow (Tues. Nov. 4), is the art song masterclass at noon, also in Walter Hall. On Wednesday 7  pm, there'll be a full recital with the students plus Wyn Rogers herself,

Art of Time Ensemble is well known for its eclectic, boundary-stretching, always thoughtful programming. This concert is called The Poem/The Song. It focuses on music inspired by words. Featured texts set to music include those of T,S, Eliot, Margaret Atwood, Walt Whitman, Johnny Mercer, Leonard Cohen and others. Carla Huhtanen, Thom Allison and Gregory Hoskins are the singers. Nov. 7 8 pm  It takes place at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre at 235 Queens Quay.

Canadian bass Gary Relyea (Photo: Opera York)

Opera York, the opera company of the York Region performing at the acoustically friendly Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, is presenting Donizetti's  Lucia di Lammermoor, on Nov. 6 an 8 at 7:30 pm.  Lucia is soprano Allison Arends and Edgardo is Paul Williamson. Baritone Jeffrey Carl is Enrico.  The best known name is veteran bass Gary Relyea as Raimondo. Giuseppe Macina comes out of retirement to direct, and Sabatino Vacca conducts.

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