Around Canada

Toronto Festival Yields Gamut Of New Compositions

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Colin Eatock

TORONTO – The third annual Twenty-First Century Music Festival at the Royal Conservatory of Music presented scores ranging from here-today-gone-tomorrow works to pieces that could have some staying power.

Artistry Afresh At National Arts Centre Orchestra

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By Richard Todd

OTTAWA, Canada – It wasn’t the last concert of the season or even a regular subscription concert. But the orchestra’s “Life Reflected” program was an impressive climax to Alexander Shelley’s first year as artistic director.

Coming Events: Small-Scale Gems Dot Northern Fests

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By Colin Eatock

DATE BOOK – Haitian born Canadian soprano Marie-Josée Lord’s small-ensemble homage Femmes, with archetypes from Delilah to Piaf, embodies the vibrant spirit of Canadian summer festivals in historic venues and scenic locales.

Patrician, Populist Impulses Compete In New Music Fest

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By David Gordon Duke

VANCOUVER – Chamber groups Kronos Quartet and Standing Wave joined the Vancouver Symphony in a four-day fest of the new, shaped by conductor Bramwell Tovey and quirky choices of composer Jocelyn Morlock.

Long Estranged, Dutoit, Montreal Reignite Old Fire

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By Earl Arthur Love

MONTREAL — After slamming the door on the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in 2002, Charles Dutoit, who is 79, returned for the first time to conduct two concerts, and a brilliant Petrouchka recaptured their storied rapport.

A Baroque Band Stretches To Make Beethoven Modern

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – The Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, under the German maestro Bruno Weil, completed its cycle of all the Beethoven symphonies with a Ninth that – like Nos. 1-8 – was permeated by a sense of striving and struggling.

Calgary Conjures Surreal Isolation Of ‘Die tote Stadt’

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By Bill Rankin

CALGARY, Alberta – Erich Korngold’s 1920 opera, about a grieving husband who thinks his dead wife has come back to life, received a potent revival at Calgary Opera, conducted by Bramwell Tovey and directed by Kelly Robinson.

Dark Sisters Sheds Light On Muhly’s High Opera Profile

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By David Gordon Duke

VANCOUVER – A revival of Nico Muhly’s opera about the aftermath of a police raid on a fundamentalist Mormon compound, at the Vancouver Opera, showcases his flair for music-drama. The company has been new-opera friendly.

New Orford Proves Poised Quartet In Beethoven Concert

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – The top-notch New Orford String Quartet is comprised of two players each in the Toronto and Montreal Symphonies. They’re unlikely to leave their day jobs any time soon, so New Orford concerts are rare, special occasions.

Opera’s Premiere Links Modernism With Monteverdi

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – The Canadian Opera Company displayed some outside-the-box thinking in pairing Monteverdi and Barbara Monk Feldman. Despite the gulf separating these two composers, there are some striking similarities.

Versatile Soprano Does Double Duty With Toronto SO

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan made her North American conducting debut with the Toronto Symphony in works by Haydn, Ligeti, and Stravinsky, and singing while leading a Mozart concert aria.

Bartók Marathon All In Day’s Work For Borromeo

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – The Borromeo Quartet has been presenting complete Bartók cycles for more than a decade, and their
ingrained knowledge was apparent in a polished and exhilarating marathon event at Toronto Summer Music.

Brass Group Sets Spark To Ottawa Chamber Festival

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By Charles Pope, Jr.

OTTAWA, Ontario – High-decibel intensity marked the onset of Chamberfest, an annual two-week event that’s getting bigger and better. The Canadian National Brass Project launched it with classic fanfares and a world premiere.

Sigiswald Kuijken Shoulders J.S. Bach On Cello Outrider

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By Alan Conter

MONTREAL – An odd new-old instrument, the violoncello da spalla, made its Canadian debut at the 13th Montreal Baroque Festival, where an affinity between Vivaldi and little-known eastern European gypsy music was also explored.

Classical-Jazz Mix Is Obsessive Lure For Alberta Eight

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By Bill Rankin

EDMONTON, Alberta – What do you get when you blend a string quartet with a jazz quartet? Kent Sangster’s Obsessions Octet, which has been exploring fresh sonic terrain since the musicians began grooving a decade ago.

Schafer Envisions Fire, Brimstone For End Of Time

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – It’s unlikely that composer R. Murray Schafer has ever been accused of smallness of vision. One of his largest works, the 1980 Apocalypsis, for close to 1,000 performers, is being revived at the 2015 Luminato Festival.

Tafelmusik Salutes Bach’s Leipzig In Circle of Creation

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – The admired Canadian baroque orchestra has come around to thinking that modernity isn’t all bad. J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation is its third multimedia blend of a well-honed HIP ethos with cutting-edge technology.

Paired Dark Tales: Vintage Lepage At Canadian Opera

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – It was in the early 1990s that director Robert Lepage and designer Michael Levine twinned Bluebeard’s Castle and Erwartung with a boldness that has aged well – or perhaps it’s better to say that it hasn’t aged at all.

Toronto Symphony Salutes Armenian Music And Artists

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – A packed house heard the orchestra give a concert featuring such musicians of Armenian descent as violinist Sergey Khachatryan, soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, and music director Peter Oundjian.

Nézet-Séguin Triumphant In Montreal Return

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By Robert Markow

MONTREAL – The Canadian music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra could have told the Orchestre Métropolitain he no longer had time for them. Yet he returns each season to conduct, and the results are remarkable.