Around Canada

Premiere, Sibelius Point Up Canada’s Twin Celebrations

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By Richard Todd

OTTAWA – Pianist Angela Hewitt was the soloist for the premiere of Nameless Seas by Matthew Whittall on a concert with Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 that honored both the National Arts Centre’s 50th year and the 150th for Canada.

Conductor’s Debut Makes Statement With Daring Music

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By Bill Rankin

EDMONTON – Alexander Prior launched his tenure as chief conductor of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra with a late-night program of contemporary works new to the orchestra, Xenakis’ Jalons and Adams’ Harmonielehre.

A String Quartet Competition Spawns A Festival

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By Bill Rankin

BANFF, Alberta – Three laureates of the Banff International String Quartet Competition, including 2016 winner the Rolston String Quartet, anchored the inaugural festival over the Labor Day weekend.

Vivid, Theatrical St. John Passion Keys Bach Festival

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By David Gordon Duke

VANCOUVER – Local and imported artists combined under the assured direction of Alexander Weimann to create an impressive performance at the second summer Bach Festival presented by Early Music Vancouver.

Heartfelt Parsifal In Concert Setting At Lanaudière Fest

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By Arthur Kaptainis

JOLIETTE, Quebec – Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conducting the score of Wagner’s long opera for the first time, led Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain in a glorious outdoor performance with Christian Elsner as Parsifal.

Summer Festival Spotlights Music By Canada’s Own

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – R. Murray Schafer’s String Quartet No. 3 called for the St. Lawrence String Quartet to do some shouting at this year’s Toronto Summer Music Festival, which seems fitting. The 2017 edition salutes Canadian music.

Nary A Weak Link In Concert Packed With New Music

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – The Bang on a Can All-Stars performed works by a dozen contemporary composers from Canada and the United States in an eclectic program that included John Oswald’s “plunderphonic” treatment of a Motown hit.

Hoping For Spark, Vancouver Opera Becomes Festival

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By David Gordon Duke

VANCOUVER – In a bold restructuring that replaces the conventional season, the first Vancouver Opera Festival, April 28-May 13, will boast three full-scale productions as well as solo performances and a variety of special features.

Native Resistance Recalled In Opera Of Canadian West

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – In choosing Louis Riel, a rebel of the Canadian Métis people, as the subject of their 1967 opera, composer Harry Somers and libettist Mavor Moore hit on a dramatic topic that’s so Canadian it bleeds maple syrup.

Oddly Enough, Schafer Non-opera Makes Good Opera

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – Armed with a quasi-Wagnerian ethos, R. Murray Schafer’s massive, twelve-part cycle called Patria dwarfs Wagner’s Ring. Now Soundstreams has fashioned Odditorium from four excerpts, with a part for singing head.

Eloquent Sextet Stretches Bounds Of Vocal Art

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By David Gordon Duke

VANCOUVER – The ensemble Nordic Voices presented works by a trio of living Norwegian composers, including Lasse Thoresen (right), plus music by Goffredo Petrassi and György Ligeti. The performances were magisterial.

In Deft Schumann, Pianist Shows His Star Power At 21

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki has grown into a tall young man. He perches precariously on the edge of the bench and doesn’t quite know what to do with his knees. Fortunately, he knows exactly what to do with his hands.

Estonians Honor Choral Tradition In Toronto Return

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – As part of its North American tour, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir sang solemn music of Arvo Pärt, Estonia’s most famous composer, and Canadian music by composers of Estonian descent.

Toronto Symphony Salutes Own With ‘Canadian Legacy’

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Colin Eatock

TORONTO – Except for an introductory work, the evening was given over to Canadian scores not receiving premieres. The five main pieces were premiered decades ago and written by composers who are no longer living.

Coming Events: Canada Turns 150, Makes Joyful Noise

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By Colin Eatock

DATE BOOK – The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has organized Canada Mosaic in celebration of the country’s 150th year. Commissions from the nation’s many distinctive musical voices will ring out at orchestras coast to coast.

Montreal ‘Ladies’ Club Serves Up Classical Cream

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By Arthur Kaptainis

MONTREAL – Since 1892, the Ladies Morning Musical Club has sponsored concerts in Montreal, although men can now attend and recitals are later in the day. Soprano Karina Gauvin offered art song, folk and cabaret.

Joyce DiDonato Devises Inventive Recital Variation

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By David Gordon Duke

VANCOUVER – The American mezzo-soprano’s extragavant project, In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music, includes contemporary media, a period-instrument orchestra, and stage movement, along with stellar vocalism.

Trio And Soprano Serve Up Charming And Eclectic Menu

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By Bill Rankin

CALGARY – For their subtle concert at the University of Calgary, Toronto’s Gryphon Trio and Canadian soprano Patricia O’Callaghan performed works from various traditions, including classical, pop, and cabaret.

Mullova Is Special As She Mixes With Early-Music Group

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – Russian violinist Viktoria Mullova isn’t an early-music specialist, or a specialist in anything, really. But she was a first among equals with members of the Italian ensemble Accademia Bizantina.

Singular Sonorities In Four New Works Get Big Bass Boost

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By Arthur Kaptainis

MONTREAL – Reveling in a big, big way, the Montreal Symphony lauded the 50th anniversary of the city’s Metro subway and explored new sounds in Jewish music in back-to-back concerts. Also unveiled – a monster octobass.