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CRITIC'S PICKS | 11 Classical Music Shows You Should Absolutely See This Week

By Joseph So on January 23, 2017

For the week of  Jan. 23 – 29

Critic’s Picks for classical music and opera events happening in and around Toronto for the week of Jan. 23–29.
Critic’s Picks for classical music and opera events happening in and around Toronto for the week of Jan. 23–29.

Musical Toronto’s weekly Critic’s Picks are a fully curated list of some of the best concerts happening now through the end of the week. This is not to say we are the provocateurs of taste, but simply seek to provide a good weekly summary. For a look at the full breadth of what’s available in and around Toronto, check out our curated concert listings here: Musical Toronto Datebook.

The classical music scene is in full swing this week — whatever your taste, be it opera, symphony, chamber, choral, art song, or pop, there’s something for you. The Canadian Opera Company’s The Magic Flute opened last Thursday to uniform praise. It continues this week for two performances (Jan. 28, 29). At the opera house’s Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre are two noon-hour recitals — Croatian bass Goran Juric, Sarastro in Flute, sings Russian songs (Jan. 24), and members of the COC Orchestra Academy performing a chamber concert alongside their mentors (Jan. 26). The Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents a program of Dvořák and Tchaikovsky, the latter with Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear as soloist (Jan. 28).  An unusual event this week is the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s Choral Conductors’ Symposium. They are giving a free concert, featuring the TMC and Elora Festival Singers, under the baton of the five emerging conductors (Jan. 28).  St. Lawrence String Quartet returns to Toronto for a recital of Haydn, Janacek, and Jonathan Berger (Jan. 26). Czech-Canadian composer Oskar Morawetz was born a hundred years ago this month, and the U of T Faculty of Music is putting on a centenary celebration (Jan. 23). I have a soft spot for Talisker Players’ concerts of pop songs — after all, that’s only so much opera one can take — just kiddin’! This time it’s the George and Ira Gershwin Songbook (Jan. 29). There’s a lot more, be sure to consult the full listing.

Monday 23

University of Toronto Faculty of Music | Oskar Morawetz Centenary Celebration. Walter Hall. 7:30 p.m. Admission by donation, proceeds going to Oskar Morawetz Entrance Scholarship in Music.

This concert celebrates the centenary of the birth of Czech-Canadian composer Oskar Morawetz (Jan 17, 1917). The composer’s daughter, Claudia Morawetz, is the presenter. Soloists include pianists Radka Hanakova, Steven Philcox and Gary Kulesha; violinists Annalee Patipatanakoon and Timothy Ying; violist Ethan Filner, bassoonist Fraser Jackson, cellist Emmanuelle Beaulieu, and soprano Monica Whicher. Full details here.

Associates of Toronto Symphony Orchestra | Happy Birthday/Happy Anniversary. Trinity St. Paul’s Centre. 7:30 p.m. $22

ATSO presents The Small Concerts, featuring Toronto Symphony Orchestra musicians in a program of Wallenberg, Ivanovici, Heidrich, and Elgar. Info here.

Tuesday 24

Canadian Opera Company | Vocal Series: Lost in a Russian Forest. Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. 12 p.m. Free.

Croatian bass Goran Juric, currently in town as Sarastro in The Magic Flute, sings songs by Tchaikovsky and Sviridov. Former COC Ensemble pianist Anne Larlee, now based in Berlin, is the collaborative pianist. Be sure to show up an hour early for a place. Details found here.

Thursday 26

Canadian Opera Company | Chamber Music Series: Meet the Academy – Brilliant Baroque. Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. 12 p.m. Free

The COC Orchestra Academy, led by Music Director Johannes Debus, in partnership with the RCM’s Glenn Gould School and the U of T Faculty of Music, was established a couple of seasons ago. It aims to nurture and develop young orchestral musicians. In this concert, the Academy members perform alongside their mentors. Also appearing is soprano Jacqueline Woodley and harpsichordist Stéphane Mayer, in a program of Handel and Corelli.  Be sure to arrive an hour early to secure a spot. Full listing info found here.

Music Toronto | St. Lawrence String Quartet. Jane Mallett Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre. 8 p.m. $55

The St. Lawrence String Quartet returns to Toronto for a chamber concert of Haydn, Janacek and Jonathan Berger. Info here.

Friday 27

Sinfonia Toronto | Mozart and Schumann. Glenn Gould Studio 8 p.m. $42

Conductor Nurhan Arman leads Sinfonia Toronto in Schumann Piano Concerto in A Minor with pianist Karine Poghosyan, and Mozart’s String Quart No. 17 K 458.  Listing here.

Saturday 28

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir | Choral Conductor Symposium Concert. Yorkminster Park Baptist Church. 3 p.m. Free. The concert will be webcast live.

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Elora Singers will be conducted by the five aspiring conductors participating in the TMC’s Choral Conductor’s Symposium. If you can’t be there in person, you can catch the live webcast. For program details, visit here.

Canadian Opera Company | The Magic Flute. Four Seasons Centre. 7:30 p.m. $35 – $235 (Repeats on Jan. 29 2 p.m.)

The COC winter season continues this week with Mozart’s The Magic Flute. I saw opening night, and it was a big hit — terrific singing, great production, and excellent orchestral playing under the baton of Quebec conductor Bernard Labadie who is making his COC debut.  Several of the principals are double cast: Andrew Haji/Owen McCausland* (Tamino); Elena Tsallagova/Kirsten MacKinnon* (Pamina); Joshua Hopkins/Phillip Addis* (Papageno); Goran Juric/Matt Boehler* (Sarastro). (*) denotes cast for Jan. 29. Info, here.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra | Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1. Roy Thomson Hall. 8 p.m. $33.75 – $148

Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear plays Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, conducted by Peter Oundjian. Also on the program is Dvořák Symphony No. 7. There’s also a World Premiere of a TSO Commission, Eruption by Edward Top.  Full details here.

Sunday 29

Ontario Philharmonic | Masters Series: Dvořák Cello Concerto with William Molina Cestari. Koerner Hall 8 p.m. $45 – $56

As part of Canada 150 celebrations, Ontario Philharmonic presents a piece co-commissioned with Toronto Symphony Orchestra – “Launch!” by Canadian composer Vivian Fung. This concert also includes works by Liszt and Dvorak. Cellist William Molina-Cestari is the soloist in Dvorak Cello Concerto. Program details here.

Talisker Players | ‘S Wonderful: The Best of the Gershwin Songbook. Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. 3:30 p.m. $45 Repeats Jan. 31 8 p.m. Pre-concert talks at 3 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.

A chamber ensemble dedicated to collaborating with singers, Talisker Players is presenting a concert of some of the most popular and enduring songs by George and Ira Gershwin. Soloists are soprano Erin Bardua and baritone Aaron Durand. If you are a Gershwin fan like I am, you wouldn’t want to miss this. Info here.

For more events, visit our DATEBOOK CALENDAR.

#LUDWIGVAN

Joseph So

Joseph So

Joseph So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University and Associate Editor of Opera Canada.He is also a long-time contributor to La Scena Musicale and Opera (London, UK). His interest in music journalism focuses on voice, opera as well as symphonic and piano repertoires. He appears regularly as a panel member of the Big COC Podcast.He has co-edited a book, Opera in a Multicultural World: Coloniality, Culture, Performance, published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).
Joseph So
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