La Scena Musicale

Monday, 30 May 2011

This Week in Toronto (May 30 - June 5)

Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky and tenor Placido Domingo star in the Inaugural Gala Concert of the Black Creek Summer Music Festival Saturday June 4 8 pm at the Rexall Centre

To be sure, the biggest news for classical music fan this week is the opening gala concert of the Black Creek Summer Music Festival. This high profile festival is giving the Toronto summer music scene a much needed boost. Unlike many other major cities in Europe and the States, Toronto for years did not have a summer classical music festival starring top-ranked international artists. Things started to change for the better with the establishment of the Toronto Summer Music Festival a few years ago, and now with the Black Creek Festival, Toronto is definitely on the map of summer music destinations. Of the seventeen concerts spread out over three months, seven are classical music events featuring top-class international artists. The opening gala is a blockbuster, starring the great tenor Placido Domingo in his first visit to Toronto in more than ten years. Joining him will be American soprano/GTA resident Sondra Radvanovsky. She of course wowed the TO opera public with her first Aida at the COC last fall - any opportunity to hear this wonderful singer is not to be missed. The concerts are all being held at the Rexall Centre on the grounds of York University. It is of course known for tennis tournaments, but a stage will be set up with amplification for this and each subsequent concerts. For ticket information and directions, go to

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting the queen of classical improvisation Gabriela Montero in her TSO debut. She will be interpreting Rachmaninoff's famous Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini. Joining her is TSO principal clarinet Joaquin Valdepenas in Debussy. Also on the programs are works by Dukas and Messaien. Peter Oundjian conducts. Two performances on Wednesday June 1 and Thursday June 2 at 8 pm. On Saturday June 4 8 pm for a single performance, Russian pianist Ilya Poletaev is playing Medtner's Piano Concerto No. 3. A much underrated Russian composer, Medtner's works typify the super-virtuoso school of "finger breakers" that Canadian pianist Marc Andre Hamelin used to favour. Medtner dedicated this concerto to his friend Rachmaninoff. Also on the program is Debussy's very familiar Prelude to L'apres-midi d'une faune. Once again Peter Oundjian is on the podium.

With the COC spring season just concluded, those opera fans who still want more can try something a little different. Against the Grain Theatre, a Toronto-based operatic and theatrical initiative under director Joel Ivany is presenting Puccini's La boheme in a new English translation. The directorial team of Ivany, Camellia Koo and Jason Hand came third recently in the 6th European Opera-directing Prize that took place on the stage of Covent Garden. So you can be sure his Boheme will be edgy and provocative. For more information, go to the press release I posted some time ago - Four performances June 2-5 nightly 8 pm at the Tranzac Club on 292 Brunswick Avenue. The singers include former COC Ensemble Studio members soprano Laura Albino and tenor Adam Luther as Mimi and Rodolfo.

Derek Holman, one of Canada's best known composers, is turning eighty. A group of his friends and colleagues have come together to produce an event marking the composer's many contributions to Canadian music, and to celebrate his 80th birthday. On Wednesday June 1st 7:30 pm at Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, there will be a concert of his music, featuring some of Toronto’s leading musicians. The concert is free to the public.



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