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CRITIC’S PICKS | Classical Music Events You Absolutely Need To See This Week: February 26 – March 3

By Hye Won Cecilia Lee on February 26, 2024

L-R (clockwise): Wesley Shen (Photo courtesy of the artist); Measha Brueggergosman-Lee (Photo courtesy of the artist); Amahl Arulanandam (Photo courtesy of the artist)
L-R (clockwise): Wesley Shen (Photo courtesy of the artist); Measha Brueggergosman-Lee (Photo courtesy of the artist); Amahl Arulanandam (Photo courtesy of the artist)

This is a list of concerts we are attending, wishing we could attend, or thinking about attending between February 26 and March 03, 2024. For more of what’s happening around Toronto, visit our calendar here.https://www.ludwig-van.com/toronto/events

Cathedral Church of St. James: Organ Recital: Manuel Piazza

Tuesday Feb. 08 at 1p.m.
Cathedral Church of St. James. Free

The Cathedral of St. James’s organ was first built in 1863-89 by S.R. Warren, and went through a few transformations since, including a few major uphaul by the internationally celebrated Casavant Frères company, based in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec. Featuring 87 ranks, 67 speaking stops over four manuals and six divisions, it has 5,101 pipes: the instrument, in the glorious acoustics of St. James is quite something to behold. This Tuesday’s concert features Manuel Piazza, a Toronto native and winner of the Royal Canadian College of Organists’ National Competition, bringing his musicality and incredible dexterity, to resonate this beautiful building with the music of French master Durufle, and English composer Herbert Howell. Info here.

Canadian Opera Company: Vocal Series: The Colour of Joy

Wednesday Feb. 28 at Noon
Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Free

With deep commitment in reviving and creating new art song repertoire by Canadian composers and artists, Canadian Art Song Project presents music of Black Canadian Composers in celebration of the Black History Month. Local favourite Jonelle Sills- a familiar face (you may have seen her at La bohème at the COC, and the Against the Grain Theatre), and American baritone Jorell Williams, will be joined by Steven Philcox at the piano, featuring music of R. Nathaniel Dett, and a new CASP commission premiere: The Colour of Joy by Maria Thompson Corley. Info here.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra: Spanish Reflections

Wednesday Feb. 28 at 8 p.m., Thursday Feb. 29 at 8 p.m.
Roy Thomson Hall. $46+

Gustavo Gimeno and TSO present music of de Falla and Francisco Coll. Coll, a Spanish composer-conductor, writes fiendishly difficult, yet luminous and dramatic music, and his works have been featured by major international orchestras and chamber ensembles, including a double concerto commission for Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Sol Gabetta. Both of Coll’s works featured in this week’s program, Ciudad sin sueño (Sleepless City), with Spanish piano giant Javier Perianes, and Fantasia Baetica- de Falla’s piano work arranged for symphony orchestra- are receiving their North American premieres. Perianes opens the concert with de Falla’s original piano solo version of Baetica. The familiar classic, de Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat, promises an exciting evening of pulsing rhythms and brilliant harmonies from Spain. Info here.

Freesound: Patterns in a Chromatic Field

Thursday Feb. 29 at 8 p.m., Friday Mar.01 at 8 p.m.
Array Music, 155 Walnut Avenue, Toronto. $20.

Morton Feldman, a key figure in the indeterminate music of the New York School, expanded the boundaries of contemporary music through nonstandard notations, the introduction of chance and indetermination and arrhythmic and asymmetric rhythmic patterns. His works, often stretching over extreme durations, require a different listening and performing experience for both the audience and performers. Freesound presents his one-hour-long work, Patterns in a Chromatic Field (1981) for cello and piano, featuring Amahl Arulanandam and Wesley Shen, familiar faces in both traditional and contemporary classical music scenes in-town. This is a rare chance to experience Feldman’s music live, and tickets are selling fast with Feldman fans. Info here.

NACO+ OSQ: Two Orchestras, One Symphony

Saturday Mar.02 at 8 p.m.,
Roy Thomson Hall. $43+.

Two out-of-town orchestras, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and Orchestre symphonique de Québec, step into Roy Thomson Hall, presenting music of Kelly-Marie Murphy, Jacques Hétu, and Saint-Saëns. A good chance to see how the ‘other’ Canadian orchestras play, without lengthy travel. Toronto Mendelssohn Choir will grace the ending of Hétu’s last work, Symphony No. 5, in the symphonic-choral setting of Paul Éluard’s poem, Liberté- à la Beethoven’s 9th. 18-year-old soloist Kevin Chen, who’s been busy winning numerous international competitions including Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition (2023), Concours de Genève (2022), and Franz Liszt International Competition (2021), promises to dazzle the audience with Saint-Saëns’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Info here.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra: Young People’s Concert: Dan Brown’s Wild Symphony

Sunday Mar. 03 at 1:30 p.m., and 4 p.m.
Roy Thomson Hall. $30+

Dan Brown, the writer of the Da Vinci Code, surprises us with his new musical and literary work: Wild Symphony, a proper adventure where the audience will follow a lovely mouse through an exploration in an animal menagerie. Designed for young audience members, (age 4-8), the work’s companion book, Wild Symphony, will be available for purchase. There’s a slew of pre-concert experiences planned, starting an hour before each show, featuring a real-life bird of prey and experts from the University of Guelph’s ‘Wild Ontario’, and a performance of an arrangement of Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals by Brampton’s youth orchestra, the Rosebuds. Info here.

Hannaford Street Silver Band/Measha Brueggergosman-Lee: Zombie Blizzard

Sunday Mar. 03 at 3 p.m.
Jane Mallett Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. $35+

Zombie Blizzard: a new song-cycle for soprano, brass ensemble, and rhythm section, receives its premiere by HSSB and Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman-Lee. Using Margaret Atwood’s texts, Torontonian pianist-composer Aaron Davis focuses on issues of sexism, humour, gender inequality, and grief. This long-awaited project will be released on March 01 — be there to see it come live on stage this Sunday afternoon. Read our interview with Measha and Aaron here. Info here.


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