La Scena Musicale

Friday, 25 September 2009

Cette semaine à Montréal (26 sept au 1re oct ) / This Week in Montreal (September 26 to October 1)

Musique, danse, théâtre, etarts plastiques à Montréal cette semaine


Music, dance, theatre, and fine arts in Montreal this week

Jazz Sam. 26 Auguste Quartet (Alain Bédard. Frank Lozano, Alex Grogg et Michel Lambert). Jazz bar le dièse onze. 20 h. —Marc Chénard

Art Visuel On le sait, la tendance est à l’environnement et la scène des arts visuels n’y échappe pas. C’est d’ailleurs une des préoccupations du Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal qui présente actuellement Grandeur nature, une exposition verte et écolo consacrée aux plus beaux paysages américains et canadiens. Photographies et peinture se côtoient dans un parcours scénographique et un catalogue de type « écodesign » qui met en valeur tant une exploration qu’une analyse de la peinture et de la photographie de paysage réalisées entre 1860 et 1918. C’est-à-dire entre le début de la guerre de Sécession, épisode tragique et incontournable de l’histoire des États-Unis, la Confédération canadienne, moment charnière de notre histoire, et la fin de la Première Guerre mondiale, qui marque une ère nouvelle caractérisée par une période de transformation. Plus qu’une simple exposition sur le paysage, cette rencontre avec la nature est aussi l’occasion d’explorer plus en profondeur ces deux nations. Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, jusqu’au 27 septembre 2009.



Art visuel En parallèle à l’événement Grandeur Nature et en collaboration avec la Cinémathèque québécoise et Radio-Canada, le musée présente l’exposition Frédéric Back, une nature témoin, qui commémore l’œuvre d’un artiste talentueux, visionnaire et sensible à la cause de l’environnement. L’œuvre de Frédéric Back, à la fois artiste, peintre, illustrateur et cinéaste, invite le public à contempler la beauté de la nature, mais aussi et surtout à la protéger. Carnets de dessins, gouaches et dessins, montages en séquence d’acétates originaux du célèbre film L’homme qui plantait des arbres (1987) constituent cette rétrospective inédite de l’artiste. Entrée libre, Montréal, Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, jusqu’au 27 septembre 2009. —Julie Beaulieu

Jazz Mer. 30 Duo des saxophonistes Evan Parker (de Londres) et Ned Rothenberg (de New York) (Musique improvisée) Casa del Popolo 21 h. —Marc Chénard

Orchestral music Orchestre symphonique de Laval www.osl.qc.ca September 30 : A respected authority on Ludwig van Beethoven’s piano repertoire, Anton Kuerti takes on the majestic Emperor Concerto. Conductor Alain Trudell and the OSL then perform the public’s coup de cœur, Tchaikovsky’s poignant Fifth Symphony. The horn solo in the second movement is sure to warm your heart! —Laura Bates

Jazz octobre Jeu. 1er Ensemble Denis Chang – Jazz manouche. Église Jean XXIII (493-8200). (En reprise le 26 oct. au centre culturel de Pierrefonds.) —Marc Chénard

Danse Et puis, Catherine Lalonde, ma collègue éclectique du Devoir, poétesse talentueuse, Prix Nelligan 2009 et danseuse elle-même, nous présente sa chorégraphie Musica Nocturna avec la danseuse Geneviève La et le comédien Jean-François Casabonne dans le cadre du Festival International de la Littérature, lequel fête ses 15 ans. À voir à l’Usine C dans une coproduction avec Danse Cité du jusqu’au 3 octobre. —Aline Apostolska

Theatre Imago Theatre presents Down from Heaven, by Colleen Wagner, until October 3 at Monument National. This unsettling play is set during a global pandemic and a food crisis. Civil society has collapsed and a wealthy family is forced into quarantine in the basement of their mansion, relying entirely on their former gardener for survival. —Jessica Hill

Vocal music Opera de Montreal opens the season with the double bill of I Pagliacci and Gianni Schicchi, a rather unconventional pairing (five performances from Sept. 26 to Oct. 8, Salle Wilfrid Pelletier). Marc Hervieux takes on the juicy dramatic tenor role of Canio, while soprano Marie-Josee Lord sings Nedda – these two are sure to generate sparks. Gregory Dahl is the spurned Tonio, and Etienne Dupuis sings Nedda's love interest, Silvio. After the heavy verismo of Leoncavallo, the audience will welcome the broadly comic Gianni Schicchi, with Dahl doing double duty in the title role. Fast-rising soprano Marianne Fiset promises to be a delicious Lauretta, and Marie-Nicole Lemieux gets to show off her comic flair as Zita. —Joseph So*

*Join La Scena Musicale on October 3's performance of Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, presented by the Opéra de Montréal. Don't miss this unforgettable performance! All funds raised from this exceptional weekend will go towards the non-profit charitable activities of La Scena Musicale. Order now at (514) 948-2520 or operaweekend@scena.org

Théâtre Une truite pour Ernestine Shuswap : La problématique des relations entre Blancs et autochtones est rarement abordée sur les scènes montréalaises. Écrite par le grand dramaturge Tomson Highway, un Cri du Manitoba, cette pièce campée en 1910 revisite sur un mode tragi-comique un siècle d’histoire. Le spectacle marque aussi le retour d’André Brassard à la mise en scène, un an après Oh les beaux jours. Jusqu’au 10 octobre, à l’Espace GO —Marie Labrecque

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COC Ensemble Studio launches the 2009-10 Free Concert Series

2009-10 COC Ensemble Studio
(front: l. to r.) Ileana Montalbetti, soprano; Laura Albino, soprano; Simone Osborne, soprano; Erin Fisher, soprano; Teiya Kasahara, soprano; Anne Larlee, intern music coach; Liz Upchurch, director; Wallis Giunta, mezzo; (back: l. to r.) Michael Barrett, tenor; Adam Luther, tenor; Alistair Newton, intern director; Neil Craighead, bass; Michael Uloth, bass; Adrian Kramer, baritone
Photo: Chris Hutcheson


Meet the Young Artists
Artists of the COC Ensemble Studio
Anne Larlee, piano

Program
"Gavotte" from Manon - Laura Albino, soprano
"Batti, batti" from Don Giovanni - Erin Fisher, soprano
"Una furtiva lagrima" from L'elisir d'amore - Michael Barrett, tenor
"Arise, yet subterranean winds" from Tempest - Neil Craighead, bass-baritone
"When I am laid in earth" from Dido and Aeneas - Wallis Giunta, mezzo
"Se vuol ballare" from Le nozze di Figaro - Michael Uloth, bass
"Come in quest'ora bruna" - from Simon Boccanegra - Ileana Montalbetti, soprano
"En fermant les yeux" - from Manon - Adam Luther, tenor
"Der Holle Rache" - from Die Zauberfloete - Teiya Kasahara, soprano
Marenka's Aria - from Bartered Bride - Simone Osborne, soprano
"Largo al factotum" from Il barbiere di Siviglia - Adrian Kramer, baritone


The 2009-10 edition of the Canadian Opera Ensemble Studio kicked off the popular COC Free Concert Series today at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Four Seasons Centre. This was the first of ten concerts of the Vocal Series involving the COC Ensemble, scattered throughout the year. Since we generally don't get to hear these fine young singers on the mainstage in principal roles, these concerts represent good opportunities to get acquainted with their voices in more substantial repertoire. I should mention that the Vocal Series is but one of six Free Concert Series at the COC, others are series on Chamber Music, Dance, Jazz, Piano Virtuoso, and World Music. Voice fans will get a chance to hear up and coming singers, in a great venue with excellent acoustics. It is just too bad that the space is really too small to meet the huge demand - there is always a long lineup before each show and inevitably some unhappy opera lovers would have to be turned away. So remember to show up early!

Given that opera is about voices first and foremost, it was fitting that the first concert involved the Ensemble singers. There are four new singers in the Ensemble this year - soprano Simone Osborne, mezzo Wallis Giunta, baritone Adrian Kramer, and bass Neil Craighead, joining returning members sopranos Laura Albino, Ileana Montalbetti, Erin Fisher and Teiya Kasahara, tenors Adam Luther and Michael Barrett, and bass Michael Uloth. All of them participated in today's concert. They are all highly talented, well schooled, expertly prepared by the COC musical staff. Each brings his/her own unique gifts of voice, musicality, personality, and stage presence to their performance. After a lengthy introduction by Ensemble director Liz Upchurch, each singer offered a brief word or two about their aria before plunging in. As is typical with this type of concerts, where there is no costume and scenery to help set the mood, a singer has precious little time to make an impression and do justice to the set piece he/she is singing. It can't be easy to do this "cold", and as a result, some of the singers came across as a little tentative. Others were able to throw caution to the wind and gave riveting performances.

Of the returning Ensemble Studio singers, I particularly enjoyed soprano Teiya Kasahara, who sang and acted Queen of the Night's Act Two Aria beautifully and with great energy, nailing the staccato runs accurately and with focused tone. It was about the best I've heard her. Also noteworthy was soprano Laura Albino who sang the Gavotte from Manon with bright, attractive tone. It must have been difficult to be the first onstage, and she was not helped by an overly enthusiastic - some would say gauche - audience rudely interrupting her with applause after just the first verse. (Incidentally I think one of the verses was cut to begin with) It was to Albino's credit that she handled the interruption graciously.

All four new Ensemble Studio members acquitted themselves well. I was particularly impressed with baritone Adrian Kramer, who made a strong debut with a scintillating and uninhibited "Largo al factotum" Not only was he the biggest ham among the eleven singers, he also used his compact, high baritone with style and intelligence. His hamming it up was all in fun of course, as it would be unwise to push his lyric instrument like this on a regular basis. Also of note is Simone Osborne, who sang Marenka's Aria from Bartered Bride with great feeling and musicality - and according to my Czech friend, excellent diction. The glamorous mezzo Wallis Giunta offered a deeply felt Dido's Lament. Overall, the singing was enjoyable, even if there was a curious dearth of mezza voce and high piano singing, even when the scores indicate. These quibbles aside, the concert amply demonstrated a strong group of young artists and it bodes well for the new opera season.

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Thursday, 24 September 2009

Canada Council for the Arts announces 14 winners in Musical Instrument Bank Competition


I just returned from the Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank Competition press conference at the Glenn Gould Studio. The slate of fourteen winners of this year's competition was announced, and all except one were there to formally receive their instruments for a three-year loan. There are twelve women and two men among the winners. Among the collection of instruments (all violins and cellos) include four Stradivari, the most valuable is the 1696 Bonjour Stradivari cello, insured for $8 million. This has been awarded to cellist Rachel Mercer. The 1689 Baumgartner Stradivari violin, valued at $4.3 million, has been awarded to Judy Kang.

The Instrument Bank was established in 1985, through donations and loans from private individuals and anonymous donors. It is designed to help young Canadian musicians to further their international solo or chamber music careers. Luthier Ric Heinl and his team at Geo. Heinl & Company Ltd are responsible for the restoration and maintenance of the instruments.

A free concert will be given this evening at 8 pm at the Glenn Gould Studio. Tickets are limited so be sure to secure a ticket before you go. The concert will be recorded for broadcast on CBC Radio 2's In Concert with Bill Richardson on Sunday, Oct. 4, and on Tempo with Julie Nesrallah at a later date. They will also be broadcast on Espace musique on tuesday, Oct. 27 at 8 pm on Soirees classiques, hosted by Michel Keable.

Below is the press release on the winners:


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The Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank loans three‑hundred‑year ‑old instruments to exceptional young musicians
Toronto, September 24, 2009The Canada Council for the Arts is pleased to announce the winners of the Musical Instrument Bank competition (MIB). The 14 instruments loaned to gifted young Canadian musicians are worth more than $28 million.

Please find below the list of instruments and the winners of the 2009 competition.

The 1689 Baumgartner Stradivari violin, valued at $4.3 million, is awarded to Judy Kang. In 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2006, she won the loan of an instrument from the MIB. Born inEdmonton, she currently lives in New York.

The ca. 1696 Bonjour Stradivari cello, valued at $8 million, is awarded to Rachel Mercer. In 2006, she won the loan of an instrument from the MIB. Born in Edmonton, she currently lives in Toronto.

The ca. 1700 Bell Giovanni Tononi violin, valued at $188,000, is awarded to Marie-Ève Poupart. Originally from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (QC), she currently lives in Baltimore,Maryland.

The ca. 1700 Taft Stradivari violin, valued at an estimated $4.3 million, is awarded to Renée‑Paule Gauthier. Originally from Jonquière (QC), she currently lives in Calgary.

The 1715 Dominicus Montagnana violin, valued at $858,000, is awarded to Véronique Mathieu. Also a winner in 2006, Ms. Mathieu has selected this violin for the second time.Born in Montreal and raised in Quebec City, she now lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

The 1717 Windsor-Weinstein Stradivari violin, valued at $4.3 million, is awarded to Caroline Chéhadé of Montreal. In 2006, she won the loan of an instrument from the MIB.

The 1729 Guarneri del Gesù violin, valued at $4.3 million, is awarded to Nikki Chooi. A native of Victoria (BC), he currently studies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The 1747 Palmason Januarius Gagliano violin, valued at $322,000, is awarded to Andréa Tyniec. Originally from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (QC), she currently lives Munich, Germany.

The ca. 1767 Joannes Baptista Guadagnini, valued at $536,000, is awarded to Min-Jeong Koh. Born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in Toronto, she currently lives in Montreal.

The 1820 Joannes Franciscus Pressenda violin, valued at $375,000, is awarded to Kerry DuWors. In 2003 and 2006, she won the loan of an instrument from the MIB. Originally from Saskatoon, she currently lives in Brandon (MB).

The 1824 McConnell Nicolaus Gagliano cello, valued at $375,000, is awarded to Chloé Dominguez, of Montreal.

The ca. 1830 Shaw Adam cello bow, valued at $43,000, is awarded to Emmanuelle Beaulieu Bergeron. Also a MIB winner in 2006, Ms. Beaulieu Bergeron has selected this cello bow for the second time. She was born in Roberval (QC), and currently lives in Toronto.

1869 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin with its Vuillaume model bow, valued at $172,000, is awarded to Jessica Linnebach. In 2003 and 2006, she won the loan of an instrument from the MIB. Born in Edmonton, she currently lives in Ottawa.

1902 Enrico Rocca violin, valued at $214,000, is awarded to Jing Wang. Born in China and raised in Sainte-Foy (QC), he currently lives in Texas.

Instrument descriptions, biographical notes and downloadable photographs of the winners and instruments are available on the Canada Council’s website at www.canadacouncil.ca.

Competition
Since last Sunday, talented Canadian musicians have competed for a three-year loan of one of the thirteen fine stringed instruments and the one cello bow created between 1689 and 1902. The winners had the opportunity to choose the instrument they would like to have on loan in order of their placement in the competition.

The peer assessment committee evaluated all applications – which included recordings of the applicants’ playing – and selected finalists. Finalists were then invited to come to Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto for auditions and interviews. The winners were selected by a committee consisting of Peter Gardner, violinist and director of Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra (St. John’s, NL); Uri Mayer, violist and conductor (Toronto); and Sophie Rolland, cellist (London, England).

Musical Instrument Bank
Created in 1985, the Musical Instrument Bank acquires through donations and loans fine stringed instruments to be loaned to gifted young Canadian musicians to help further their international solo or chamber music careers. Luthier Ric Heinl and his team at Geo. Heinl & Co. Limited are responsible for the restoration and maintenance of the instruments.

Free concert
Tonight at 8 p.m., the 14 winners will perform in a free concert before a full house at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto.

The musicians’ performances will be recorded for broadcast on CBC Radio 2’s In Concertwith Bill Richardson on Sunday, October 4th and on Tempo with Julie Nesrallah at a later date. They will also be broadcast on Espace musique, Radio-Canada’s music network, on Tuesday, October 27th at 8 p.m. on Soirées classiques, hosted by Michel Keable.

General information
In addition to its principal role of promoting and fostering the arts, the Canada Council for the Arts administers and awards many prizes and fellowships in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural and health sciences, engineering, and arts management. These prizes and fellowships recognize the achievements of outstanding Canadian artists, scholars, and administrators. The Canada Council for the Arts is committed to raising public awareness and celebration of these exceptional people and organizations on both a national and international level.

Please visit our website (www.canadacouncil.ca) for a complete listing of these awards.


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Monday, 21 September 2009

This Week in Toronto (Sept. 21 - 27)


The fall music season swings into action this week, now that the Toronto International Film Festival is over and our main concert venues are once again free. For voice fans, a major event is the start of the Canadian Opera Company season, with Puccini's warhorse, Madama Butterfly, at the Four Seasons Centre beginning Saturday, Sept. 26 7:30 pm. This revival of the serviceable if slightly frayed Brian Macdonald production will receive an unprecedented run of fifteen performances. The principal roles are double cast - Butterfly (sopranos Adina Nitescu and Yannick-Muriel Noah), Pinkerton (tenors David Pomeroy and Bryan Hymel), Sharpless (baritones James Westman and Brett Polegato), Suzuki (mezzos Allyson McHardy and Anita Krause). With the exception of Romanian Nitescu, it is an all-Canadian cast. Westman is particularly well known as Sharpless, having sung it many times, including the COC about ten years ago. Tenor David Pomeroy is rapidly becoming a COC mainstay. Coached by retired Canadian tenor Ermanno Mauro, Pomeroy sings with a pleasing, Italianate timbre. The conducting duties are shared by Carlo Montanaro and Derek Bate.

A second major event is the opening of the new Koerner Hall of the Royal Conservatory of Music. The opening concert takes place on Friday Sept. 25 at 8:30 pm, with Jean-Philippe Tremblay conducting the Royal Conservatory Orchestra. It features Beethoven's Choral Fantasy and a video tribute to RCM graduate Glenn Gould on the anniversary of his birthday. On the program are pianist Anton Kuerti, Toronto Mendelssohn choir, soprano Erin Wall, mezzo Wallis Giunta, tenor Richard Margison, and bass Robert Pomakov. The tariff at $100 to $250 is not exactly cheap, with the less expensive seats all sold out at this point. But this is a special occasion and well worth attending. A more affordable alternative ($35 to $125) is the concert the next evening, with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. For me, a must-see concert is the great Frederica von Stade in a Farewell Tour Concert on Saturday, Oct. 10. This will be our last chance to hear this great mezzo.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra launches its new season on Thursday Sept. 24, with violinist Joshua Bell playing Brahms Violin Concerto in D Major. Peter Oundjian conducts this and the Brahms Symphony No. 2. Also on the program is Canadian composer John Estacio's Frenergy. The program is repeated on Saturday Sept. 26 at Roy Thomson Hall.

On Thursday morning, the Canada Council for the Arts Instrument Bank Competition will announce its results in a press conference at the Glenn Gould Studio. Fourteen winners will get the use of 13 instruments plus a cello bow valued at a total of more than $26 million USD. This program is designed to aid promising young Canadian musicians in their careers by making available to them world-class instruments for performance. I will attend the press conference and will have more to report. In the evening at 8 pm, there will be a free concert given by the winners at the Glenn Gould Studio. Seating is limited so be sure to arrive early.

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