Around Canada

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.

Magic Of Mozart, In A Staging Both Novel, Traditional

QUEBEC CITY – The Festival d’opéra de Québec’s marquee production affirms stage director Robert Lepage’s status as a leading conservative of our time. Mozart’s humanistic message shines through Ex Machina’s dazzling visuals.

Banff Goes Gluck One Better With Modernized ‘Orphée’

BANFF, Alberta – Joel Ivany directed an enhanced take on the 1859 Berlioz version of Gluck’s French rethinking of Orphée et Eurydice, now newly retitled Orphée+. Like Gluck in his day, Ivany said he wanted to add innovative touches.

In Beethoven Trek, Kent Nagano Hews To Middle Of Road

MONTREAL – In leading the Montreal Symphony through the nine symphonies, music director Kent Nagano brought a contemporary golden mean of interpretation: neither old-fashioned tempo manipulator nor neo-Baroque martinet.

It’s Hockey Opera Hat Trick: Music, Libretto, Graphics

MONTREAL – The Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal marks its 30 years as a purveyor of newness by mounting and touring Hockey Noir, an 80-minute chamber opera set in sporting, gritty Montreal of the 1950s.

Handel’s Depths Diminished By Urge To Entertain

VICTORIA, B.C. – Pacific Opera Victoria closed its season with a mainstream production of Rinaldo, stylish but eclectic. It set out to charm. But did the storybook staging square with the intensity of Handel’s music?

Toronto Creations Fest Winds Down After 14 Seasons

TORONTO – There was a sense of hail-and-farewell at the opening of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's 14th New Creations Festival, the final new-music showcase established by outgoing music director Peter Oundjian. 

Computer Science Embellishes Trek To ‘Les Planètes’

MONTREAL – Technology vaults irrevocably forward. Does concert music pay heed? Among attempts to link the two we can now count (and probably discount) Les Planètes, an experimental recital in the Satosphère.

Nagano, Montreal Play New Work For One of Their Own

By Arthur Kaptainis
MONTREAL – A new concerto commissioned and performed by Ali Kian Yazdanfar, who is principal bass of the Montreal Symphony, comes from Tehran-born composer Behzad Ranjbaran. It is inspired by poetry of a Persian mystic.

Didactic, Sanitized Staging Abducts Mozart’s ‘Seraglio’

By Arthur Kaptainis
TORONTO – Wajdi Mouawad’s politically proper staging revisions and Emannuel Clolus’ dreary set design hamper the Canadian Opera Company’s production of The Abduction from the Seraglio. Vocal satisfactions are partial.

Symphony Shines In Rich, Rewarding New Music Festival

By David Gordon Duke
VANCOUVER – Music director Bramwell Tovey teamed with composer-in-residence Jocelyn Morlock to bring a flair for programming and a spirit of exploration to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s fifth annual New Music Festival.

Solemn Memorial Concert Reflects Afghanistan War

By Colin Eatock
TORONTO – In its ambitious Remembrance Day program, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra featured Jeffrey Ryan’s Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation, with a libretto by Canada's first official “war poet,” Suzanne Steele.

Premiere, Sibelius Point Up Canada’s Twin Celebrations

By Richard Todd
OTTAWA - Pianist Angela Hewitt was the soloist for the premiere of Nameless Seas by Matthew Whittall on a concert with Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 that honored both the National Arts Centre's 50th year and the 150th for Canada.

Conductor’s Debut Makes Statement With Daring Music

By Bill Rankin
EDMONTON – Alexander Prior launched his tenure as chief conductor of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra with a late-night program of contemporary works new to the orchestra, Xenakis’ Jalons and Adams’ Harmonielehre.

A String Quartet Competition Spawns A Festival

By Bill Rankin
BANFF, Alberta – Three laureates of the Banff International String Quartet Competition, including 2016 winner the Rolston String Quartet, anchored the inaugural festival over the Labor Day weekend.

Vivid, Theatrical ‘St. John Passion’ Keys Bach Festival

By David Gordon Duke
VANCOUVER – Local and imported artists combined under the assured direction of Alexander Weimann to create an impressive performance at the second summer Bach Festival presented by Early Music Vancouver.

Heartfelt ‘Parsifal’ In Concert Setting At Lanaudière Fest

By Arthur Kaptainis
JOLIETTE, Quebec – Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conducting the score of Wagner’s long opera for the first time, led Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain in a glorious outdoor performance with Christian Elsner as Parsifal.

Summer Festival Spotlights Music By Canada’s Own

By Colin Eatock
TORONTO – R. Murray Schafer's String Quartet No. 3 called for the St. Lawrence String Quartet to do some shouting at this year's Toronto Summer Music Festival, which seems fitting. The 2017 edition salutes Canadian music.

Nary A Weak Link In Concert Packed With New Music

By Colin Eatock
TORONTO – The Bang on a Can All-Stars performed works by a dozen contemporary composers from Canada and the United States in an eclectic program that included John Oswald’s “plunderphonic” treatment of a Motown hit.

Hoping For Spark, Vancouver Opera Becomes Festival

By David Gordon Duke
VANCOUVER – In a bold restructuring that replaces the conventional season, the first Vancouver Opera Festival, April 28-May 13, will boast three full-scale productions as well as solo performances and a variety of special features.
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