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A Veiled Treasure: Redesigned Church As Intimate Concert Hall

MONTREAL – Few outsiders may be aware of a beautiful little 465-seat concert venue known as Bourgie Hall, in the heart of downtown. A gem architecturally, visually, and acoustically, it was designed for solo recitals and chamber music.

Making Surprise Debut As Murderous Medea, Naturally She Killed It

TORONTO – There were gasps when Canadian Opera Company's audience heard that favorite Sondra Radvanovsky would be replaced by an unfamiliar Italian, Chiara Isotton, as Cherubini's vengeful icon. The gasps soon became cheers.

Scaling Strauss Twice, And Matching Peaks In The ‘Alpine Symphony’

FRANKFURT – Just a few days apart, both the Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra played Strauss' monumental work at the Alte Oper. Both delivered one astonishing moment after another.

Beach’s Grand Mass Dusted Off, Cut Down, Its Fresh Vision Intact

VANCOUVER – In what was likely the work's first performance in Canada, the Vancouver Cantata Singers and Allegra Chamber Orchestra presented an effective and convincing adaptation of Amy Beach's splendorous Grand Mass in E-flat major.

All Hands On Deck: Orchestra Shares Stage With ‘Rheingold’ Singers

CALGARY – For its first go at any of Wagner's Ring dramas, Calgary Opera moved the considerably expanded orchestra from a cramped pit and onto the action space, front and center amid an uneasy flow of gods and giants and Rhinemaidens.

Canadian Orchestras Create Spate Of CDs With Uneven Results

DIGITAL REVIEW – Competition is keen for the Mahler and Strauss recorded by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal under Rafael Payare. And do we need Gustavo Gimeno's Turangalîla-Symphonie with the Toronto Symphony?

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.
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