TORONTO – Any performance of Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem is an occasion, but a concert given by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir led by Jean-Sébastien Vallée was special: a "chamber version' that was anything but chamber-like.
VANCOUVER – Jauntily dubbed “We’re Back! Gala Performance,” the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra season opener was a mixed bag: a “gala” portion of bits followed by the Tchaikovsky Fifth, all led by music director Otto Tausk.
MONTREAL – At the season opener for the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, music director-designate Rafael Payare received a huge ovation even before the downbeat, a display justified by an affirmative Shostakovich Fifth.
BANFF, Alberta – After the success of last year's streamed Banff International String Quartet Festival, the 2021 event again went digital, spurred by a “moral obligation to be hand in hand with the artists through this pandemic."
MONTREAL – The 19th Montreal International Music Competition, held April 26-May 14 under pandemic conditions no one would have imagined a year ago, figured to be very different, and it was. It was also highly successful.
MONTREAL – Listening to Dalia Stasevska lead the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a webcast was a pleasant surprise. Catching her in two video programs with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal was quite impressive.
MONTREAL – Along with his keyboard debut in a Mozart concerto, conductor Nézet-Séguin led the Orchestre Metropolitain in a downsized but convincing Brahms Third Symphony, just as the composer was often known to do.
MONTREAL – In the race to succeed Kent Nagano as music director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, François-Xavier Roth brought the right resume, but the impression from a concert he led was not strictly affirmative.
TORONTO – Robert Wilson's take on Puccini’s masterpiece, given its North American premiere in the Four Seasons Centre by the Canadian Opera Company, could leave viewers both sorry for what it was and thankful for what it was not.
QUEBEC CITY – The Festival d'opéra de Québec, as the Opéra de Québec calls its summer extension, unveiled an evocative and dramatically comprehensible new staging by François Girard, with Gregory Dahl in the title role.
VANCOUVER – In her long stint as Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's personable composer in residence, Canada's Jocelyn Morlock, who is about to turn 50, has become an eloquent example of the new "new music."
BANFF, Alberta – Adapting an ancient Greek story, Veronika Krausas and André Alexis populated their opera with humans and puppets. Giddy laughter from the audience during Act I gave way to silence for the dark ending.
MONTREAL – Observing the fifth anniversary of its Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique, the Maison symphonique showcased the 6,489-pipe colossus with a four-hand go at The Rite of Spring by Olivier Latry and Shin-Young Lee.
TORONTO – Composer Dean Burry's Shanawdithit, about the woman who was the last known member of the Beothuk, a people that lived in Newfoundland, reflected the work of a team that included many Indigenous artists.
TORONTO – Gunther Herbig, former music director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, made his first podium return since 2012 with unfinished symphonies by Schubert and Bruckner, and most of the rewards centered on the latter.
CALGARY – About 1,700 Calgarians braved bitter Arctic cold to see Joby Talbot’s 2015 Everest at Calgary Opera. The largely Canadian cast featured bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch as a climber left for dead. The staging originated in Dallas.
TORONTO – In music by Chopin and Debussy, the 2015 Chopin Competition gold medalist gave an impressive demonstration of pianistic métier while leaving room for reservations regarding his willingness to communicate.
TORONTO – Despite a story of fiery passion and a score with many highlights, Rufus Wainwright’s second opera needs a rewrite. The Canadian Opera Company brought a dream production team and a stellar cast to the premiere.
TORONTO – Can there be too much energy on the podium? Cellist-turned-conductor Han-Na Chang’s intensely kinetic approach to Mahler with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra was a nonstop spectacle but became a bit exhausting.
MONTREAL – In its season opener, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra premiered Chaakapesh, The Trickster’s Quest, a chamber opera sung in Cree about the adventures of the eponymous Aboriginal mythical hero.