La Scena Musicale

Monday, 25 November 2013

This Week in Toronto (Nov. 25 - Dec. 1)

This Week in Toronto (Nov. 25 - Dec. 1)

- Joseph So

Pinchas Zukerman (Photo: Paul Labelle)

The National Arts Centre Orchestra, under its artistic directorship of Pinchas Zukerman, is making one of it frequent visits to Toronto on Saturday Nov. 30 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall. It was announced not too long ago that Zukerman will be leaving his position in 2015, so this is a good opportunity to catch him before he departs. He is playing the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3, and conducting the Shostakovich Symphony No. 10

British conductor Edward Gardner, currently conducting Der Rosenkavalier at the Met a performance of which I saw last Friday, is guesting with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Mahler's Symphony No. 1 on Wednesday at 8 pm and Thursday at 2 pm. Also on the program is trumpeter Alison Balsom playing Hummel's Trumpet Concerto.  Rounding out the program is the Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.  Gardner is the conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra as well as the English National Opera.

Trumpeter Alison Balsom

One of the pleasures of attending performances of the Canadian Opera Company is the opportunity to hear young Canadian artists, the "singers of tomorrow" and to follow their development.  On Tuesday, opera fans will get to participate (as audience members, that is!) in Centre Stage - the COC Ensemble Studio Competition. The name is a little confusing - the current ensemble members are not in the competition, but aspiring young artists from outside are competing for a place in next year's Ensemble Studio. It should be said that in the past, there had been competitions where the incumbent Ensemble members did participate, but as I understand from this point on, only outside singers will be competing.  Unlike previous competitions that were with piano accompaniment and took place at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, this time it will be in the opera house and with full orchestra conducted by Johannes Debus. This is also a fund-raising effort by the COC, so ticket prices reflect that. The MC is Canadian singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright. Candidates in the competition are sopranos Karine Boucher and Lara Secord-Haid, mezzos Emma Chair, Francesca Carrado and Rachel Wood, tenors Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure and Jean-Michel Richer, and bass-baritone Nathan Keoughan and Iain MacNeil. Tickets are still available, so do check the COC website at

University of Toronto Faculty of Music Opera Division is presenting its annual production, this time it's Donizetti's comic Don Pasquale, sung by voice students. Sandra Horst conducts and Michael Albano is the stage director. An interesting twist is that it's set in Toronto's Little Italy! Nov. 28, 29, 30 at 7:30 pm and Dec. 1 at 2:30 pm, all performances at the McMillan Theatre, Edward Johnson Building on the campus of the University of Toronto.

Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848)

One of the newest initiatives in classical voice is the new series, Recitals at Rosedale. It is the brainchild of collaborative pianist Rachel Andrist and composer John Greer. I went to their season preview last spring and it was very enjoyable. On Dec. 1 at 2:30 pm at the Rosedale Presbyterian Church, this group is presenting Opera della Chiesa, with selections from Theodora, Manon, and Amahl and the Night Visitors.  Soloists include soprano Laura Albino, mezzo Laura Tucker, tenor Adam Luther, baritone Anthony Cleverton and bass-baritone Neil Craighead plus voice students from the University of Toronto. For details, go to

Toronto's premiere chamber music presenter, Music Toronto, is presenting Canadian pianist Eve Egoyan in a recital of works by contemporary composers James Tenney, Piers Hellawell, Linda C Smith and Michael Finnissy.  Performance on Nov. 26 8 pm at the Jane Mallett Theatre.

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