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PRIMER | 10 Concerts We’re Looking Forward To The Most At Toronto Summer Music

By Ludwig Van on July 10, 2019

The top ten shows you can’t miss this summer at Toronto Summer Music — July 11 to August 3, 2019.

Presented by Toronto Summer Music

From July 11 to August 3, 2019, Toronto Summer Music (TSM) invites audiences to experience classical music through a global lens. The theme of this year’s festival is Beyond Borders — an expansive and diverse musical celebration. Toronto Summer Music explores the global and cross-cultural influences that have pervaded Western classical music across centuries, and extending through to the work of today’s composers.

Through the TSM Festival and especially its TSM Connect events, music lovers can take their concert experience further with opportunities to add to their musical education through lectures and masterclasses featuring the same international and emerging artists they see and hear on some of Toronto’s finest concert stages. Young music students enjoy Toronto’s only summer professional mentoring series while audiences enjoy the fruits on stage at Koerner Hall, Walter Hall, Lula Lounge, Heliconian Hall, Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, and the Church of the Redeemer.

TSM is helmed by Artistic Director Jonathan Crow, an acclaimed violinist who serves as both the concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and a founding member of the New Orford String Quartet. Under Crow’s watch, and former Artistic Director Douglas McNabney before him, the festival has experienced rapid growth of 68% in attendance over the last five years.

“Toronto is one of the most diverse cities on the planet. I am thrilled that this year’s theme, Beyond Borders, reflects the cross-cultural dialogue we all value so highly. We welcome the world to our festival!”

Our list of the 10 concerts we’re looking forward to the most at Toronto Summer Music includes a cornucopia of concerts that explore the international influences in classical music and beyond.

1. Crossings: In the Footsteps of the Griot

Ablaye Cissoko
Ablaye Cissoko (Photo courtesy of the artist)

This is a concert that cuts to the heart of the Beyond Borders theme with a performance of music that fuses Persia with Senegal, and modern sounds with ancient traditions. Featuring Ensemble Constantinople with Ablaye Cissoko (July 15, 2019, 7:30 pm-9:30 pm, Walter Hall) | Details

2. Dover Quartet

Dover Quartet
Dover Quartet (Photo: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco)

This celebrated American string quartet plays a program of music from Europe with strong connections to the United States, including works from Britten, Bartók, and Dvořák. Dvořák composed his “American” Quartet in 15 days as a homesick Czech spending the summer in small-town Iowa. (July 17, 2019, 7:30 pm-9:30 pm Koerner Hall) | Details

3. Charles Richard-Hamelin

Charles Richard-Hamelin
Charles Richard-Hamelin (Photo: Elizabeth Delage)

Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin plays the Chopin Andante spianato et grande polonaise brillante in E-flat Major, a piece where the composer mines his Polish roots, along with selections by Rachmaninoff, and the Romani-tinged Brahms: Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor with members of the Dover Quartet. (July 19, 2019, 7:30 pm-9:30 pm Walter Hall) | Details

4. reGENERATION concerts

2019 Toronto Summer Music Academy Fellows
2019 Toronto Summer Music Academy Fellows (Photo courtesy of Toronto Summer Music)

The reGENERATION concert series spotlights the pairing of Academy Fellows and TSM Academy Artist Mentors with a wealth of offerings, including Dvořák, Mendelssohn, and a concert of art songs that were inspired by folkloric melodies. (July 13, 2019 1:00 pm-2:30 pm, 4:00 pm-5:30 pm, 7:30 pm-9:00 pm Walter Hall; July 20, 2019 1:00 pm-2:30 pm, 4:00 pm-5:30 pm, 7:30 pm-9:00 pm Walter Hall; July 27, 2019 — 1:00 pm-2:30 pm, 4:00 pm-5:30 pm, 7:30 pm-9:00 pm Walter Hall) August 3, 2019 TSM Finale. | Details


KLEZTORY (Photo courtesy of Toronto Summer Music)

Based in Jewish traditions, KLEZTORY has brought their eclectic take on klezmer music to audiences across the globe for almost two decades. Infused with jazz, classical, and blues, this band brings the klezmer tradition into the 21st-century. (July 22, 2019, 7:30 pm-9:30 pm Walter Hall) | Details

6. Voices Across the Atlantic with countertenor and conductor Daniel Taylor

Daniel Taylor
Daniel Taylor (Photo courtesy of the artist)

Harpsichordist Steven Philcox, acclaimed tenor Charles Daniels, and TSM Academy Fellows join Daniel Taylor in a program that spans several centuries of music, from 17th-century Italian composer Monteverdi to Benjamin Britten’s Canticles, written between 1947 to 1974. Taylor is renowned for the beauty of his voice and is a sought-after countertenor worldwide. (July 18, 2019, 7:30 pm-9:30 pm Church of the Redeemer) | Details

7. Collectìf

Collectìf (Photo courtesy of Toronto Summer Music)

The Toronto-based ensemble Collectìf will perform an artist-curated show based on ghost stories gleaned from around the world. Selections include Mahler’s song cycle Kindertotenlieder — or, “Songs on the Death of Children” — along with new arrangements of Canadian folk songs, and more. (July 24, 2019, 7:30 pm-9:30 pm Walter Hall) | Details

8. From Franz Schubert to Freddie Mercury, with the Art of Time Ensemble

Sarah Slean
Sarah Slean (Photo courtesy of Toronto Summer Music)

Singer-songwriters Sarah Slean and John Southworth join Andrew Burashko’s Art of Time Ensemble for an evening of music that crosses genres and styles. (July 25, 2019, 7:30 pm-9:30 pm Koerner Hall) | Details

9. Angela Hewitt (July 30) feat. talk with Madeleine Thien

Angela Hewitt
Angela Hewitt (Photo courtesy of Toronto Summer Music)

Renowned Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt plays J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 in a treat for all Bach and Baroque music lovers. You’ll want to get there early for the pre-concert chat with author Madeleine Thien at 6:30pm, on her Giller-Prize-winning book Do Not Say We Have Nothing and its literary and thematic relations to this monumental music. (July 30, 2019, 7:30 pm-9:30 pm Koerner Hall) | Details

10. Song of the Earth

Rihab Chaieb
Rihab Chaieb (Photo: Jeff MacNab)

Jonathan Crow performs Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219 “Turkish”.  Gemma New conducts, with tenor Mario Bahg, mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb, and the TSM Festival Orchestra, a performance of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (arranged by Schoenberg/Riehn,) which uses German translations of Chinese poetry from the 8th century.  (August 1, 2019, 7:30 pm-9:30 pm Koerner Hall) | Details



TSM has added a free children’s concert specially designed for families with children on the autism spectrum, and/or with accessibility issues. XENIA Concerts and TSM: Beyond Borders team up with Ensemble Made In Canada for this fun and casual hour-long event.  (July 28, 2019, 11:00 am Sony Centre for Performing Arts — Register online with Eventbrite XENIA Concerts and TSM here.)

Kids Concerts

These family-friendly one-hour concerts, hosted by Joanna Kellam (Rainbow Songs, Love Notes, Solar Stage) are geared toward kids age 5 to 12. Presented in a relaxed and interactive format on Thursday mornings during the festival — July 18, 25, and August 1 — all at 11:00 am in Walter Hall. Performers include the Dover Quartet, Art of Time Ensemble, and Ensemble Made In Canada.

Trip Planning:

Staying downtown lets you absorb the friendly vibe of the city, while allowing convenient access to the Festival events – in some cases, within walking distance. Here are our suggestions:

  • Hotel InterContinental Toronto Yorkville: puts you within steps of trendy restaurants, unique shops and art galleries, as well as the University of Toronto and Canadas largest Museum, The Royal Ontario Museum.
  • Windsor Arms: A boutique hotel decked in jewel tones and lush fabrics for the feel of an opulent 19th-century tearoom.
  • The Madison Manor Boutique Hotel: Stay near the main Festival venues in what was once a Victorian home, with a busy British style pub downstairs as a bonus.
  • Kimpton Saint George: A modern design-oriented boutique hotel with stylish — and pet-friendly — rooms and amenities.


Single tickets available at www.torontosummermusic.comor by phone at 416-408-0208
In-Person: Visit the RCM Box Office, 273 Bloor Street West, Toronto (Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm | Sat 12pm-6pm)
Passes are not available online. Please call or visit the box office in person for All-Access Passes, Flex Pass 5 and Flex Pass 10.

[Update – July 11, 2019. A previous version stated Jonathan Crow was attributed with increasing the audience by 68% over the past five years. Since Crow started in 2017, both he a former Artistic Director Douglas McNabney contributed to the period of growth.]


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Ludwig Van
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