This Week in Toronto (Dec. 10 - 23)
Well, it's that time of year again! The next two weeks can best be described as the 'home stretch' of Christmas programming when it comes to classical music. On any given year in the GTA, we can expect at least dozen or so presentations of Messiah - plus the occasional French alternative, Berlioz's L'enfant du Christ among them - in venues big and small. There are more events than I can cover here, so this are just my personal favourites. This week, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is programming an evening of popular Christmas-themed music with Canadian comedian Colin Mochrie narrating the Twelve Days of Christmas and 'Twas the night before Christmas. American pops conductor Jeff Tyzik leads the TS forces and the Etobicoke School of the Arts Chorus. Performances at Roy Thomson Hall on Tuesday Dec. 11 at 8 pm, and Wednesday Dec. 12 at 2 and 8 pm. Next week is the "serious" programming of Handel's Messiah, with conductor Nicholas McGegan returning to lead three well known Canadians, tenor Michael Schade, baritone Russell Braun and counter-tenor Daniel Taylor, plus a soprano new to me, Yulia van Doren as the quartet of soloists. The venerable Toronto Mendelssohn Choir lends their collective voice to the proceedings. Five shows altogether - Dec. 18, 19, 21, 22 at 8 pm, with Dec 23 at 3 pm. http://tso.ca/Home.aspx
If you favour a more intimate approach to the Handel masterpiece, the ever-popular Tafelmusik Messiah is always a great choice. Ivars Taurins leads soprano Joanne Lunn, mezzo Allyson McHardy, tenor Aaron Sheehan and bass-baritone Douglas Williams. Four performances at Koerner Hall - Dec. 19, 20, 21, 22 7:30 pm, with the last one already sold out. The Sing Along Messiah on Sunday Dec. 23 at Massey Hall is an extremely popular tradition and as usual it takes place in Massey Hall. There's something about everybody joining in for the Hallelujah chorus that unfailingly puts one in the Christmas spirit. http://www.tafelmusik.org/
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is presenting A Festival of Carols on Dec. 12 7:30 pm at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church. Noel Edison leads the Mendelssohn Singers and the Elora Singers. http://www.tmchoir.org/
Other RCM/Koerner/Mazzoleni Hall events of note include the celebrated conductor Philippe Herreweghe leading a performance of Bach's sublime Christmas Oratorio, with Collegium Vocal Gent choir and orchestra. Performance on Friday Dec. 14 8 pm. The inimitable Quartetto Gelato is giving its Christmas Concert the next day, Dec. 15 8 pm, also at Koerner Hall. RCM faculty members and piano duo Agnagnoson and Kinton are giving an all-Beethoven program at Mazzoleni Hall on Sunday Dec. 16 at 2 pm. The following Sunday at 3 pm, the Canadian Brass is appearing there in a program of Dowland, Bach Brahms, with a heavy dose of Christmas flavour.