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Critic's picks: Toronto classical concerts and opera from April 22 to 28

By John Terauds on April 22, 2013

Duo Concertante -- Nancy Dahn and Timothy Steeves -- perform in Toronto on Monday and Saturday.
Duo Concertante — Nancy Dahn and Timothy Steeves — perform in Toronto on Monday and Saturday.


  • New Music 101 at the Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium, Toronto Reference Library, 7 p.m.

I’ll be hosting the third of four sessions that introduce people to the people who make new music in Toronto. Tonight’s star guest is Toronto Symphony Orchestra assistant principal cello David Hetherington, who leads multiple other musical lives, including being a huge new music advocate. He is joined by members of the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, which is turning 40 this year. The informal sessions last about an hour, and the artists are all available for informal chats afterward.

Newfoundland-based husband-and-wife team of violinist Nancy Dahn and pianist Timothy Steeves are in town to celebrate last month’s release of a 3-CD box set of all 10 sonatas for violin and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven. There will be music as well as refreshments. Besides Beethoven, the couple promises some Bach as well as new music — likely recently commissioned pieces by Vancouver composer Jocelyn Morlock and Toronto-based former CBC Radio producer David Yaeger. Details here.

The duo is staying in these parts until Saturday, when they perform their new works at Chalmers House at a Canadian Music Centre benefit concert to help pay for the venue’s new grand piano, at 7:30 p.m. Details here.


  • COC Ensemble Studio alumni Adam Luther and brothers Michael and Peter Barrett at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, noon. Free admission.
Gary graham accompanies Alycia Budden at the 2009 Corner Brook Rotary Music Festival (Western Star phtoo).
Gary graham accompanies Alycia Budden at the 2009 Corner Brook Rotary Music Festival (Western Star phtoo).

These two tenors and baritone — two of them in the cast of the Canadian Opera Company’s current production of Salome — all hail from Corner Brook, Newfoundland, an unprepossessing paper mill town on the province’s picturesque west coast. All were inspired by the same music teacher, Gary Graham, who is still living and working and inspiring kids to fall in love with music. This happy trio revisits their Newfie days in a tour of the province’s rich folksong tradition, with the help of the COC’s Sandra Horst. Details here.

  • Unruly Music of the Present at Gallery 345, 8 p.m.

Blue-haired bassoon virtuoso Nadina Mackie Jackson leads a large (and hopefully ruly) band of blythe spirits in an evening of 20th and 21st century music covering many styles and attitudes. This should be especially exciting given the intimacy of the venue. Details here.


  • ballsPianist Philip Thomas at Gallery 345, 8 p.m.

You may as well ask Gallery 345 owner Edward Epstein for permission to camp out on the floor so that you can stay for this visit by this British new music champion who graciously commissioned new works by Cassandra Miller, Linda Catlin Smith, Michael Oesterle and Martin Arnold for his Canadian tour. This concert is presented in cooperation with Continuum Contemporary Music. Details here.


  • Continuum Contemporary Music at the Music Gallery, 8 p.m.

Visiting pianist Philip Thomas moves from Parkdale to Grange Park as he joins the Continuum Contemporary Music ensemble in a concert of new Canadian and British music. The concert blurb describes the range of music as “covering the gamut from drolly minimal to frenetically maxed out.” Details here.


It’s an embarrassment of riches tonight — and the rest of the weekend:

  • Aldeburgh Connection at the Glenn Gould Studio, 8 p.m.

The beginning of the Britten Festival of Song should be a spectacular evening of music featuring a selection of Benjamin Britten’s Canticles, interspersed with his magical settings of songs by Henry Purcell and other settings for male voices. The singers are countertenor Daniel Taylor, tenor Benjamin Butterfield, baritone Alexander Dobson and the men of the Choir of St Thomas’s Church, Huron Street. The accompanists are Aldeburgh Connection co-artistic directors Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata. Concert details here. More about Ralls and Ubukata here.

  • Soundstreams presents music for multiple pianos at Koerner Hall, 8 p.m.

In a clear and shining example of Oscar Wilde’s quip about nothing exceeding like excess, Soundstreams has invited nine pianists to share six pianos on the Koerner Hall stage. The programme skews modern and includes the premiere of Two Pieces for Three Pianos by Glenn Buhr. I’ll have more on this later in the week. Details here.

  • Ensemble Polaris at Trinity-St Paul’s Centre, 8 p.m.

This little band of clever-boots musicians goes to the movies with their own newly created soundtracks to accompany silent art movies by Man Ray and Georges Méliès. Details here.


  • Tallis Choir and friends at St James Cathedral, 7:30 p.m.

The choir is billing this as A Grand Concert to mark the 1813 Battle of York. It certainly looks promising, featuring Joseph Haydn’s Mass in the Time of War and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory. The excellent choir led by Peter Mahon is joined by members of the cathedral choir as well as soloists and the Talisker Players. Details here.



  • Garrick Ohlsson, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and conductor Thomas Dausgaard at Koerner Hall, 3 p.m.

How special to hear one of the world’s great pianists perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with one of the world’s great conductors in an unusually (for us) intimate setting. There is much more Beethoven on the programme being presented by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra. This could easily turn out to be one of this season’s most memorable concerts. Details here.


Despite some directorial fussing with the original material, the Canadian Opera Company’s two current productions are gorgeously performed. You can read my reviews by clicking on the titles:

Salome performances this week are Wednesday & Saturday. Details here.
-There is a performance of Lucia di Lammermoor on Friday. Details here.

John Terauds


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