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Scaled Back, Brahms’ ‘German Requiem’ Still Makes Its Grand Effect

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.

In Gala-Salad Program, Orchestra Dishes Up Return To Concert Life

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.

New Montreal Maestro Shows Flair For Basics (But Maybe Not French)

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. 

Far-Flung String Players Converge (Virtually) For A Festival Homecoming

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."

In Virtual Competition, 26 Pianists Vie From Keyboards Flung Afar

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.

At Each New Hearing, Young Conductor’s Art, Promise Shine Brighter

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.

Nézet-Séguin Flashes Piano Skills In Concert Scaled For Pandemic

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 Looking. Conductor Arrives, Ready But Rough

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.

‘Turandot’ Frocked In Minimal Look: Near Nothingness

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.

Under Fresh Sail, ‘Flying Dutchman’ Displays A Heart

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.

Crusader, Curator: Attuned Composer Reaches Milestone

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."

Wacky Yet Morbid ‘Ghost Opera’ With Cast Of Puppets

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.

Pulling Out Stops To Spotlight Organ In Rollicking ‘Rite’

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.

First Nations Tale Falls Short Of Its Operatic Promise

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.

Herbig Illuminates Inner Landscape Of Bruckner Ninth

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.

Hardy Opera Buffs Cheer Climbers In Harrowing ‘Everest’

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.

Warsaw Winner Seong-Jin Cho Poetic, Virtuosic

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.

In Wainwright’s ‘Hadrian’, Musical Merit, Iffy Libretto

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.

Chang’s Ferocious Mahler Fifth Pulls Out All The Stops

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.

Orchestra Brings First Nations Culture To Stage

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.
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