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Critic's picks: Toronto concerts and opera for April 8 to 14

By John Terauds on April 8, 2013

Measha Brueggergosman joins the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on Thursday and saturday nights (Alex Gardner photo).
Measha Brueggergosman joins the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on Thursday and Saturday nights (Alex Gardner photo).


Let’s call this get-up-close-and-personal day. Thank Classical Revolution, which has corralled this week’s Toronto Symphony guest conductor James Gaffigan into leading an impromptu music reading at the Tranzac, and the Toronto New Music Alliance, which begins its third annual New Music 101 lecture-concert series at the Toronto Reference Library.

  • Classical Revolution at the Tranzac, 292 Brunswick Ave. Doors at 9 p.m. Free admission.

Violinist Edwin Huizinga — our local cheerleader for Classical Revolution, a movement born in San Francisco that wants to connect art music with new audience in intimate and informal ways — convinced Gaffigan to conduct readings of Mozart’s Symphony No. 36 and Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 tonight with the help of bar snacks and beer.

It’s a game of musical pot-luck, which adds to the excitement. Best of all, this evening, like the Classical Social nights that happen at Fionn MacCoull’s Pub on University Ave. every Sunday night, are a chance to engage with music and musicians in a one-to-one way in a setting without physical or psychological barriers.

You’ll find the details of tonight’s reading here.

And here four members of Classical Revolution Toronto having a moment of Haydn:

  • New Music 101, Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium, Toronto reference Library, 7 p.m. Free admission.

I was thrilled when the Toronto New Music Alliance asked me to host this third annual series of Monday-evening lecture-concerts that are like a tasting menu for upcoming performances.

Tonight’s first installment of these hour-long sessions features pianist Eve Egoyan and Arraymusic. It’s a great opportunity to get some insight into programming choices, styles of new music and, best of all, to get to meet some of the great performers in our midst. The sessions are chatty, informal and, based on my experiences as host the first year, fun.

You can find out more here.


  • Pianist Christopher Mokrzewski at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Noon. Free admission.

This fantastic young artist, who only a few days ago was named Calgary Opera’s new resident conductor, has crafted a fascinating programme that traces the influence of Ravel, Poulenc and Messiaen on the music of jazz legend Bill Evans. Details here.

  • Pianist Julia Sherriff at Array Space, 155 Walnut Ave, 8 p.m.

Fledgling Toronto new music collective Fawn Opera has invited young American pianist Julia Sheriff and visual artist Dermot Mac Cormack to present a programme of new music by American composers connected to a visual show. You’ll find the details here.

Here is the introduction video for the programme, which has been touring the university circuit this season:


Toronto has so much classical music that it’s even hard to figure out which free lunchtime concert to go to, some days:

  • Members of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, noon. Free admission. The Italian composer’s bicentennial is a fine excuse to dust off Giuseppe Verdi’s lone string quartet. It is joined on this hour-long programme by Mozart’s Duo for Violin and Viola, K423.
  • Tafelmusik violinists Christopher Verrette, Julia Wedman and Patricia Ahern are joined by gamba player Felix Deak and organist Philip Fournier in a baroque lunchtime programme at the Oratory of St Philip Neri, 1372 King St W., at 12:30 p.m. By donation.
  • Cellist Frances-Marie Uitti at the Music Gallery, 8 p.m.

Billed as “the most interesting cellist on the planet,” this Holland-based artist will show us how to play her instrument with two bows. I’ll have more on this fascinating person later in the week. Concert details here.


  • Soprano Measha Brueggergosman joins the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall, 8 p.m.

Conductor James Gaffigan, a very talented 33-year-old native New Yorker, has the honour of standing on the podium while Canadian glam-diva Measha Brueggergosman sings one of her old favourites (one of my desert island pieces) Knoxville: Summer of 1915, by Samuel Barber. She will also sing four songs by Henri Duparc. The orchestral part of the programme includes Igor Stravinsky’s suite from The Firebird, which should make for a hot concert. You’ll find the details here.


Violinist Alexandre Da Costa
Violinist Alexandre Da Costa

Three great choices — all starting at 8 p.m.:

  • Lovers of piano music willing to venture north of Steeles Ave. should check out the hot husband-and-wife duo of Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung at the Aurora Cultural Centre at 8 p.m. They will play separately (Scriabin, Rachmaninov and Ligeti) as well as together (Stravinsky’s Petrouchka suite). Details here.
  • String aficionados need to check out hot Montreal violinist Alexandre Da Costa in concert with Sinfonia Toronto at the Glenn Gould Studio — details here. Meanwhile, the Seiler Quartet has an intense programme of Schubert and Kenins to offer a Via Salzburg audience at Rosedale United Church — details here.


Two concerts featuring new music at unusual times:

  • The Larkin Singers pair up with the TorQ Percussion Quartet at the Church of the Holy Trinity, behind the Eaton Centre, at 4 p.m. There are pieces on the programme by two well-loved contemporary composers: Arvo Pärt and Eric Whitacre, as well as the world premiere of a new work by very promising young Toronto composer Riho Maimets. Details here.
  • Pianists Adam Sherkin and Ryan MacEvoy McCullough are joined by clarinettist Anthony Thompson in the April edition of the 13th Street Winery Piano Series at Chalmers House (20 St Joseph St), at 5:30 p.m. These concerts, held on the 13th of each month, are meant to highlight music by Canadian composers.


Will it be piano or voice?

  • Seductive operatic mezzo Allyson McHardy closes Roy Thomson Hall’s Canadian Voices series at the Glenn Gould Studio at 2 p.m. with a recital accompanied by Stephen Ralls. Unfortunately, there are no programme details posted here.
  • If there is one solo-piano recital to catch in Toronto this spring, it is young Russian piano phenomenon Daniil Trifonov makes his Toronto début at Koerner Hall with a substantial recital programme featuring the big B minor Piano Sonata of Franz Liszt, Alexander Scriabin’s Piano Sonata No. 2 and a gorgeous rarity, Sergei Rachmaninov’s half-hour-long Variations on a Theme of Chopin. Details here. (It looks like there is a handful of seats still available — on the wrong side of the auditorium, though.)

This recent concert encore of Liszt’s take on Robert Schumann’s “Widmung” gives a tidy portait of this captivating artist:

John Terauds


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