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Prize In Hand, Recital On Hold, Singer Makes In-Person Debut At Last

VANCOUVER – Mezzo-soprano Ema Nikolovska, a winner of the annual Borletti-Buitoni Trust prize for young artists, initially had to make a virtual appearance with the Vancouver Recital Society. Her onstage performance was worth the wait.

2 Canadian Orchestras Combine In Symphony Honoring WWII French

TORONTO – The occasion brought together orchestras from Quebec City and Ottawa with a choir from Toronto, all led by Alexander Shelley, in Jacques Hétu's Fifth Symphony, a tribute to liberty modeled on Beethoven's choral Ninth.

Sets, Cast, And Chorus Were Great. Music And Libretto, Not So Much

MONTREAL – A dramatic arc to unify its assorted scenes and a score that delved beneath the surface might have pushed Opéra de Montréal's world premiere of La Reine-garçon, by Julien Bilodeau and Michel Marc Bouchard, over the top.

Women At Center Stage In Flurry Of Concerts By Ensembles Large, Small

VANCOUVER – Tianyi Lu conducted the Vancouver Symphony in the Canadian premiere of Jennifer Higdon's Mandolin Concerto (composer at right) in three venues, and the Sitkovetsky Trio offered Julia Adolphe's new Etched in Smoke and Light.

Fluid Time, Cosmic Love Meet In Rare Encounter With Epic ‘Turangalîla’ 

MONTREAL – For all its renommée, Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie is a once-in-a-while kind of piece. Rafael Payare led a brash performance by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal that bespoke the presence of 103 musicians onstage.

With Touring Berliners, Young Stand-In Maestro Stands Out In Brahms 

TORONTO – When Daniel Barenboim could not lead Staatskapelle Berlin on its North American tour, subs were summoned, two of them famous. But on the podium here was an obscure 34-year-old Lithuanian, Giedrė Šlekytė. She was brilliant.

‘Modern,’ Really Modern Works Provide Spark In Concert’s Historical Arc

VANCOUVER – In two provocative concerts, the Turning Point Ensemble, a musical collective, lived up to the mission of composer-conductor Owen Underhill to promote works by current composers while sustaining the legacy of the 20th century.

‘Walküre,’ shrunk to fit compact opera house, still an exhilarating ride

VICTORIA, British Columbia – Pacific Opera Victoria's production, using an arrangement for 43 musicians led by a stand-in conductor making his Wagner debut, parlayed solid musical leadership and a fine cast into a full-hearted, splendid event.

Presto! (Or Andante): Between Competitions, A Festival Works Magic

BANFF – In 2017, the triennial Banff International String Quartet Competition introduced a recurring string-quartet-plus festival. This year's typically surprising musical adventures drew assorted artists and full houses for eight concerts.

How Suite It Is, Or Six Flourishes For Trumpet From Master Marsalis

MONTREAL – The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and principal trumpet Paul Merkelo made a good case for Wynton Marsalis' multi-styled Trumpet Concerto, a six-movement work that scans more as a suite than a true concerto.

Mega Flourish Of Horns Lifts ‘Alpine Symphony’ At Canadian Music Fest

JOLIETTE, Quebec – The International Horn Society's annual symposium and the improbable availability of Yannick Nézet-Séguin to conduct Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain at the Festival de Lanaudière led to a memorable collaboration.

Joplin’s ‘Treemonisha’ Revived In Canada With A Freshening Makeover

TORONTO – The opera has not won a firm place in the repertoire, but the Luminato Festival and TO Live presented the premiere of an effort by a mostly Black and female creative team to broaden its musical palette and strengthen its narrative.

In The Stillness Of June, A Festival’s Bright Trio Serves Up Intimate Fare

MONTREAL – Three stellar young (or in one case, youngish) Canadians who had never performed together before relieved the city's fallow concert period in June with personal music-making that ranged from a Beethoven sonata to a Kodály duo.

Bang-Up Mahler Third Brings Montreal Season To A High-Decibel Wrap

MONTREAL – The year just past has been a veritable Mahlerpalooza for the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and first-year music director Rafael Payare, who closed their season with a clamorous account of the Third Symphony.

In This Season Farewell, An Orchestral Grab Bag Revealed A Silk Lining

VANCOUVER – On paper, music director Otto Tausk’s season ender for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra had a miscellaneous look, but it all worked in a concert highlighted by Brahms’ Violin Concerto with soloist Stefan Jackiw.

Beatrice Rana Fuses Ferocity And Beauty In ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata

TORONTO – I have heard a lot of Beethoven over the years, but never have I heard his daunting Sonata No. 29 in B-flat played with the fire and passion summoned by this Italian pianist – not to mention her almost miraculous technical mastery.

A Throwback Concert Recalls Triumvirate Of 2nd Viennese School

VANCOUVER – Soprano Robyn Driedger-Klassen sang Berg's Seven Early Songs in a concert by the Turning Point Ensemble on a program titled "Vienna, End of an Ear," spotlighting a wide range of works by Berg, Webern, and Schoenberg.

‘Fragments’ For Cello: Random Bach, New Bits All Add Up To Very Little

TORONTO – Cellist Alisa Weilerstein's project Fragments integrates Bach’s cello suites, their movements scrambled, with 27 new commissions to make six hourlong, multi-sensory programs for solo cello. Ambitious, yes, but what's the point?

A Hundred Musicians, One Glorious Sound: Chicago’s Grand Band

TORONTO – Although the Chicago Symphony Orchestra hadn't played here in 109 years, its recorded legacy was well known. Two concerts led by music director Riccardo Muti proved the current CSO remains an ensemble par excellence.

With Canadian Premiere Of ‘Jobs,’ Opera House Buffs Modernist Profile

CALGARY – Embellishing its exceptional history of Canadian premieres of works by contemporary American composers, Calgary Opera presented the country's first look at Mason Bates and Mark Campbell's The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.
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