March is the month for Toronto’s new music warhorses, with our concert recommendations coming from New Music Concerts, Tapestry Opera and Continuum Contemporary music. From the intrigue of unusual collaborations including unusual percussion and organ group Duo Szathmáry/Tzschoppe and “opera singer/DJ” pairing Carla Huhtanen and Nicole Lizée, to the 30th anniversary concert of Continuum Music, this month’s concert recommendations celebrates both the unfamiliar and the established in Toronto’s new music community, as well as one lone pianist who communicates with her fists and arms rather than her fingers.
Continuum: 30 More!
Sunday March 8th at The Music Gallery. 8:00 p.m. $20-30
One of Toronto’s most accomplished new music organizations celebrates its 30th anniversary, with a concert of new and commissioned music by Richard Ayres, Joe Cutler, Jason Doell, Anna Höstman, and Mithatcan Öcal. Continuum pushes its stylistic boundaries in multiple directions, contrasting the hyper-complex music of Ayres and Öcal with the understated fragility of Höstman and Doell’s music. A celebration of both Continuum’s accomplishments and the work of Toronto emerging composers, this concert should set a qualitative precedent for Continuum’s future work in new music.
New Music Concerts and Organix presents: Duo Szathmáry/Tzschoppe
Saturday March 14 at Church of the Holy Trinity. 8:00 p.m. $30-35
Alas, no instrument is more frequently maligned than the mighty organ with its perceived stodginess, clerical association and physical inflexibility. The lifestyle of an organist is often confined to keeping the flame of tradition alive, but occasionally the organ makes a foray into new music, with its vast array of colour and timbre offering exciting possibilities for contemporary composers. Organix organ series pairs up with New Music Concerts to present organ and percussion duo Zsigmond Szathmáry and Olaf Tzschoppe, who will be playing a concert of spiky, unfamiliar music by Andreas Paparousos, Johann Christian Schulz, Annette Schlünz, Julio Estrada, and pieces penned by the performers. A concert worth attending in order to experience the organ’s rare foray into new music.
Tapestry Opera presents: Tap:Ex Tables
Friday March 20 at the Ernest Balmer Studio.8:00 p.m. $35
Described as “opera singer meets DJ”, Tapestry Opera’s newest collaboration Tap:Ex Tables Turned actually involves new music soprano Carla Huhtanen and Montréal composer Nicole Lizée as they collaborate on a new concert-length work combining turntables, classic film fragments of Maria Callas, and vocal acrobatics. As a composer, Lizée’s work often involves the fragmentation and recontextualization of outdated technology and the collision of “high” and “low” art, and my source of intrigue for this concert is how Huhtanen and Lizée will pull off this collaboration with their usual professionalism and artistry.
Stephanie Chua: Hands, Fists, Arms
Saturday March 21 at The Music Gallery. 8:00 p.m. $15-25
Pianist Stephanie Chua performs a programme of exciting and dangerous piano music that probes the playing techniques that your childhood piano teacher chastised you about: playing with the fist, palm and arms and other “improper” methods that have come to define the practice of 20th and 21st century piano music. Music by Cowell, Lachenmann, Ristic, Saunders and Ustvolskaya.
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