Around Canada

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.

Period Keyboards Recast Beethoven Works With Cello

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By David Gordon Duke

VANCOUVER – How would you feel if you were brought out of 168 years of retirement? This locally owned Broadwood piano lent an authentic sound to an all-Beethoven weekend with pianist Robert Levin and cellist Steven Isserlis.

Pianist Eve Egoyan Surveys Landscape Of Modern Music

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By Holly Harris

WINNIPEG – For 24 years, the contemporary music series GroundSwell has offered a steady diet of cutting-edge artists. The latest, adventurous Canadian pianist Eve Egoyan, offered solo concerts including two of her own commissions.

‘Not For TV,’ But Lizée Work Still Prime-Time Fare

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By David Gordon Duke

VANCOUVER – In a small space called the Orpheum Annex, Nicole Lizée’s “This Will Not Be Televised” anchored a concert entitled “Displaced Emotion,” part of the Vancouver Symphony’s continuing nod to the new.

East Greets West In A Now That Sounds Like Then

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – Although five works by Canadian and Chinese composers including Fuhong Shi were premieres, a New Music Concerts event Feb. 14 seemed a throwback to high modernism and post-war avant-garde tricks of the trade.

Marionettes Bring Charm, Finesse On Trek From Austria

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By Richard Todd

OTTAWA – The Salzburg Marionette Theatre has toured North America with a playful show built around Schumann’s Papillons and Debussy’s Boîte à joujoux. Remarkably life-like puppets teamed with pianist Orion Weiss. Paris is next.

Toronto Symphony Shines Spotlight On Nielsen At 150

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – Danish composer Carl Nielsen is still on the fringes of the canon, but his music has a chance to find a wider audience this concert season, with a mini Nielsen-fest in Toronto, and more to come in the U.S. and Europe.

Les Violons du Roy Take Regal Sound To Canadian West

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By Bill Rankin

EDMONTON, Alberta – An eight-stop tour by the Quebec chamber orchestra has an early romantic flavor, with an arrangement of Schubert’s String Quartet in D Minor (Death and the Maiden), plus Mendelssohn and Schumann.

Canadians Twice Remember Fallen With War Requiem

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By David Gordon Duke

BRITISH COLUMBIA – Two cities honored Remembrance Day weekend with Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. In Vancouver, a great tradition is upheld. In Victoria, under conductor Tania Miller, a first endeavor has shining worth.

Stickboy Opera Makes Bold Case Against Bullying

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By Konstantin Bozhinov

VANCOUVER — In its world premiere by Vancouver Opera, Neil Weisensel and Shane Koyczan’s opera comes across as a brilliant depiction of librettist Koyczan’s experience as an overweight teen taunted and beaten up by peers.

New Music Band Esprit Shows Its Singular Palette

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – There aren’t many orchestras with an exclusive commitment to new music like Esprit, led by Alex Pauk. Ives’ 1906 Central Park in the Dark, on a recent bill, may be the oldest work the group has ever performed.

In Montreal’s Fine Nabucco, Thoughts Fly To Curious Set

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By Earl Arthur Love

MONTREAL – With a superb cast including Ukrainian soprano Tatiana Melnychenko in the mercilessly difficult role of Abigaille, Verdi’s ‘Nabucco’ offered a powerful beginning to the opera season despite anachronisms and tired paint.

Keyed For Europe, Toronto Symphony Crowns A Festival

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – Kicking off a European tour for the city back home, maestro Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performed a festival concert for Toronto Summer Music, now in its ninth season. Next stop, Vienna.

Intimate Brahms From Bremen At Lanaudière Fest

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By Earl Arthur Love

JOLIETTE, QUEBEC – In a bucolic setting some call “Tanglewood North,” the small but first-rate Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen under Paavo Järvi kicked off a final summer festival week of three visiting orchestras.

Twentysomething Handel Sparkles In Triumph Of Time

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By David Gordon Duke

VANCOUVER – The music of Handel has occupied a key place in the summer offerings of Early Music Vancouver for a number of seasons. This year’s festival keystone was Handel’s first oratorio, Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno of 1707.