La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 22 January 2012

This Week in Toronto (Jan. 23 - 29)

Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham returns to Toronto for a Koerner Hall Recital on January 28 at 8 p.m.

The Canadian Opera Company's Tosca opened to rave reviews last weekend, and with thirteen performances to go, there are plenty of opportunities to catch this excellent show starring Canada's reigning prima donna Adrianne Pieczonka in the title role. Partnering her is Carlo Ventre as Cavaradossi. Mark Delavan is the evil Roman chief of police Scarpia. Paolo Carignani conducts. The traditional production - a rarity for the COC - is a revival from just a few short years ago. Performances on Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m.

For those who caught the fabulous Iphigenie of Susan Graham last fall at the COC, you'll be happy to know she is back in town to give a recital with the great collaborative pianist Malcolm Martineau, in a program of Mendelssohn, Schubert, Schumann, Liszt and Duparc. Jan. 28 8 p.m. at Koerner Hall. I also heard a rumour, as yet unconfirmed, that Graham will give a masterclass while in town. If I get more information, I will update this blog.

For ten days, the University of Toronto Faculty of Music is presenting a New Music Festival. The Festival opened last Sunday with the world premiere of Rob Ford: The Opera - a U of T students work that wowed the capacity audience - including yours truly - at McMillan Theatre. The centerpiece of the Festival is the music Swedish composer Anders Hillborg, who will be interviewed on Monday noon at Walter Hall. That evening at 7:30 p.m. in Walter Hall, the Gryphon Trio will play his music as well as several Canadian composers including Alexina Louie and Andrew Staniland. For details of the many activities of the Festival, consult

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, having just concluded its Mozart@256 celebrations, is offering an eclectic pairing of Bartok's inimitable The Miraculous Mandarin with the more traditional Brahms and Haydn. TSO's Principal Trumpet Andrew McCandless plays the Haydn Trumpet Concerto, complemented by Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Haydn. James Gaffigan is the guest conductor. Performances on Jan. 25 and 28 at 8 p.m. The show on Thursday Jan. 26 7:30 p.m. is without an intermission and features only the Bartok.

RCM's Royal Conservatory Orchestra under conductor Julian Kuerti is presenting Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 as well as Liszt Piano Concerto No. 2, played by Minjoo Jo, the winner of the GGS Concerto Competition. Also on the program is R. Murray Schafer's Dream-e-scape. The concert takes place on Jan. 27 8 p.m. at Koerner Hall.

Uri Mayer, the director of the Orchestral Program and the Resident Conductor of the RCM Glenn Gould School, is the new Artistic Director of the Toronto Philharmonia. He will lead his Orchestra in a concert celebrating Mozart at the George Weston Recital Hall on Jan. 25 8 p.m. Pianist Andre Laplante plays Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 K.467 in C Major. Also on the program is Symphony No. 40. For details, go to

An intriguing event is Amici Chamber Ensemble's Fashionista: Fashion as Art on Jan. 29 3 p.m. at the Glenn Gould Studio. It features the fashion of Canadian designer Rosemary Umetsu, who is well known for the concert gowns she has designed for many Canadian artists, including Isabel Bayrakdarian and Nathalie Paulin. Joaquin Valdepenas, Joey Hetherington and Serouj Kradjian are joined by accordionist Joseph Petric in a program featuring the music of Chausson as well as a newly commissioned piece by Alice Ping Yee Ho.

Last but not least is Wagner's Lohengrin, put on by Opera by Request. When's the last time Torontonians saw a fully staged Lohengrin? I think you'll have to go back to the mid 1980's COC production with Siegfried Jerusalem, Ellen Shade, Leif Roar and Janis Martin! Thanks to the audacious programming of Opera by Request, we'll get to hear it live, albeit with piano accompaniment, on Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. The soloists are local Canadian singers the likes of Rachel Cleland (Elsa) and Andrew Tees (Telramund). William Shookhoff at the piano. If you love this opera - as I do - it's worth investigating. It takes place at the College Street United Church on 452 College in downtown Toronto. Tickets are very affordable at $20.



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