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PREVIEW: Apocryphonia Presents Silent Fright: A Horrifically Chilling Classical Cabaret

By Anya Wassenberg on November 27, 2023

Clockwise (beg top left: Simmie J. Patoka; Catharin Carew; Ivan Jovanovic; Alexander Cappellazzo; Austin Larusson
Clockwise (beg top left: Simmie J. Patoka; Catharin Carew; Ivan Jovanovic; Alexander Cappellazzo; Austin Larusson

In its mission to present works that look outside the usual repertoire, Apocryphonia looks beyond the usual holiday fare to present a concert that celebrates the art of horror via classical music. Established and emerging Toronto and area musicians come together for this unusual take on holiday music. The concert, titled Silent Fright, takes place at Heliconian Hall on December 2.

Thinking outside the box to reveal the work of rare and under-programmed composers means going way beyond the usual suspects like Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre or Bach’s Toccata in D Minor.

The Music

The programme’s music is drawn from various eras and centuries, from the Early Romantic period to the modern era. The works that have been selected have either a sparse or non-existent recording history, along with themes of the macabre, the supernatural, and monsters.

Highlights include:

  • An excerpt from Charles Wakefield Cadman’s 1926 opera, A Witch of Salem
  • A piece by Swedish composer Lars Erik-Larsson about an eerie hospital
  • Songs that chronicle the fate of sailors caught by supernatural forces, demonic journeys, rats, and other delightfully frightening subjects
  • A love story with a ghostly dimension by Pauline Viardot and ballads of murder by Carl Loewe;
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Modern Greek Song (In Dark Hell) Op. 16 No. 6
  • Two Canadian works by Harry Somers and John Mais Capel.
The composers (all public domain images): John Alden; John Nicholas Ireland; Pauline Viardot; Lars-Erik Larsson; Harry Somers; Carl Loewe
The composers (all public domain images): John Alden; John Nicholas Ireland; Pauline Viardot; Lars-Erik Larsson; Harry Somers; Carl Loewe

A bit about some of the composers:

  • John Ireland (1879 – 1962): An Englishman whose style spans Late Romanticism and Impressionism, he left a prodigious legacy of art songs and works for solo piano.
  • Pauline Viardot (1821 – 1910): A French dramatic mezzo-soprano, vocal pedagogue, and composer, Pauline Viardot had a glittering operatic career before turning to composition. Her work, admired by Liszt, included 5 operas and over 100 art songs.
  • John Alden Carpenter (1876 – 1951): An American Impressionist (as he was known in his day), he was one of the first to introduce the idioms of jazz into orchestral music, leaving three ballets, along with works for piano and art songs.
  • Harry Somers (1925 – 1999): A native Torontonian, Harry Somers was a prolific composer, and founding member of the Canadian League of Composers (CLC). He is probably best known for the opera Louis Riel, which was commissioned for the 1967 Centennial celebrations.
  • Carl Loewe (1796 – 1869): Organist, music teacher and singer, Carl Loewe found the time to composer more than 400 songs, along with two symphonies and five operas. He was known as “the north German Schubert”.
  • Lars-Erik Larsson (1908 – 1986): Swedish composer, conductor, radio producer and educator Lars-Erik Larsson was a student of Alban Berg. His compositions range from 12-tone serialism through folk music to Neo-Romanticism and Classicism.

The full list of composers includes: Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Franz Schubert, Benjamin Britten, Lars-Erik Larsson, Pauline Viardot, John Ireland, Harry Somers, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, John Alden Carpenter, Clara Wieck, Dylan Langan, Carl Loewe, John Mais Capel, Gustav Holst, Matvey Nikolaevsky, Charles Wakeman Cadman, and Richmond & Maxwell.

The Performers

Catherin Carew, mezzo-soprano

Mezzo-soprano Catharin Carew (she/they) is experienced in recital and opera performance, with a diverse repertoire. Career highlights have included the premiere of Ana Sokolovic’s The Midnight Court at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and performing Mrs. Grose in The Turn of the Screw at Aldeburgh. Recent performances include Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde and mezzo soloist in Robert Cohen’s Alzheimer Stories with Pax Christi Chorale.

Simmie J. Patoka, soprano

Soprano Simmie J. Patoka (they/them) is based on Ontario. Stage credits include singing Suor Genovieffa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, the First Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Elvira in Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri, along with musical theatre roles such as Paulette in Legally Blonde and Casey in First Date.

Austin Larusson, baritone

Baritone Austin Larusson recently starred as Hugo in Tales of the Grotesque at the historic Campbell House in Toronto. Other recent stage credits include the role of Frank in Die Fledermaus, Masetto in Don Giovanni, and the Sacristan in Tosca, along with covering Scarpia with Toronto City Opera. Career highlights include Shem and Patho in Conan and the Stone of Kellior, John Sorel in The Consul, and Conte Di Luna cover in Il Trovatore. He’ll be performing as Elder McLean in the upcoming production of Susannah with Toronto City Opera.

Alexander Cappellazzo, tenor

Tenor Alexander Cappellazzo is Toronto-based, and has performed with Voicebox: Opera in Concert, Toronto City Opera, and other companies in the city. He draws from a diverse repertoire that includes operatic and choral works from Bach to Wagner. Alexander is a graduate of McGill University with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Vocal Performance and Opera.

Alexander founded Apocryphonia in 2022.

Ivan Jovanovic, pianist

A native of Serbia Ivan Jovanovic began his music education at the Belgrade Faculty of Music, earning both a BMus and MMus in piano performance. He joined the Belgrade Opera Orchestra in 2004 as a répétiteur and concert pianist. He came to Toronto in 2013 to complete his MMus in Collaborative Piano from the University of Toronto, and he won the Gwendolyn Williams Koldofsky Prize in
Accompanying that year. He is currently a regular vocal coach and harpsichordist in UofT’s Early Music Department.

From 2014 to present, Jovanovic has been the accompanist at Toronto City Opera, and in 2017 extended his role to Music Director.

  • Tickets are PWYC with a suggested $30/20 price, and you can find tickets and more information [HERE].

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