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CRITIC’S PICKS | Classical Music Events You Absolutely Need To See This Week: April 1 – April 7

By Hye Won Cecilia Lee on April 1, 2024

L-R (clockwise): Laurie Anderson (Photo courtesy of the RCM); cellist Elinor Frey (Photo courtesy of the artist); Tafelmusik (Photo courtesy of Tafelmusik)
L-R (clockwise): Laurie Anderson (Photo courtesy of the RCM); cellist Elinor Frey (Photo courtesy of the artist); Tafelmusik (Photo courtesy of Tafelmusik)

This is a list of concerts we are attending, wishing we could attend, or thinking about attending between April 1 and April 7, 2024. For more of what’s happening around Toronto, visit our calendar here.

University of Toronto Contemporary Music Ensemble: Liquid Symmetries

Tuesday, April 2, 7:30 p.m.
Walter Hall, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. $10+

University of Toronto Contemporary Music Ensemble takes full advantage of its academic setting by presenting three challenging contemporary compositions — a risky move in the wider commercial world. Tomi Räisänen’s Abeyance (2005),an Ensemble Modern commission, Francisco Coll’s Liquid Symmetries (2013), an exploration of permanent uncertainty, and Mauricio Kagel’s Divertimento? (2006): ‘… a farce for ensemble’ (Kagel), all consisting of amazing music that possesses all the qualities of the familiar canon that we learned to love: beauty, ugliness, pathos and humour, and all things in between. A great way to wade carefully, or with gay abandon, into western classical contemporary soundscapes. Info here.

Soundstreams: TD Encounters: Recovered Voices — Piano Works of Unsung Masters

Wednesday, April 03, 7:30 p.m.
Temerty Theatre, Royal Conservatory of Music. Free, registration required.

How do we create canon and legacy, and what gets left out in the course of history? Three young pianists: Elijah Stevens, Irene Huang, and Jesse Plessis, perform solo piano works of underserved North American composers: Margaret Bonds, Ian Cusson, Robert Nathaniel Dett, and Florence Price; the performances will include a short discussion of their historic and musical context, and there will be an audience Q&A. A chance to discover new sound languages, and ponder on the eternal question: what makes something great? Info here.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra: R. Strauss’s Don Quixote

Wednesday, April 2, 8 p.m., Saturday April 06, 8 p.m.
Roy Thomson Hall, $35+

Come for Strauss and Ligeti, and stay for Wagner and Samy Moussa! Ligeti’s Lontano is a deceptively familiar work for many, as its evocative nature has been used to set psychological ground for Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island. Strauss’s Don Quixote, easily his best tone poem, depicts the complex humanity of Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and Don’s obsession, Dulcinea, in loose variation form. Expect humour, eloquence and total musical mastery from viola and cello soloists Rémi Pelletier and Joseph Johnson. Principal trombonist of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Jörgen van Rijen, who has been busy commissioning new works to stretch the stereotype and boundaries of trombone repertoire, will give the North American première of Samy Moussa’s trombone concerto, Yericho. Info here.

Tafelmusik: Making Herself Heard

Friday, April 5, 7 p.m.
Walker Court, Art Gallery of Ontario, Included with General Admission.

Free for Members and Annual Pass Holders.

In celebration of women and their contribution to European visual arts, AGO teamed up with Tafelmusik in two performance series: ‘Making Herself Heard’. A keyboard quartet (2 violins, cello, and harpsichord) from Tafelmusik will perform music of Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Isabella Leonarda, Marianne Martinez, and Mrs. Philharmonic, giving lively snippets of women’s music, which got simply left behind with no just reason. Info here.

21C Music Festival: Laurie Anderson

Friday, April 5, 8 p.m.
Koerner Hall. Currently sold out — waitlist

One of the most innovative and original performers of our time, Laurie Anderson, returns to Koerner Hall. Anderson explains that for this concert, she looked back at her older works, and deconstructed her music into solo versions, then added her visual works ranging from performances, films and virtual reality projects. It’s impossible to get a realistic sense of Anderson’s work without experiencing it firsthand; her first Koerner debut back in 2020 is vividly remembered by many as pure magic. Call and add yourself to the waiting list, and keep your fingers crossed. Info here.

Friends of Music at St. Thomas’s: Elinor Frey: Cello Suites of Bach

Saturday, April 6, 4 p.m., Sunday, April 7, 1:30 p.m.
St Thomas’s Anglican Church, 383 Huron St. Pay-what-you-wish ($40 suggested)

Bach’s six cello suites have been drawing people inward for centuries — both performers and listeners. Ranging from the deepest darkness to the most ethereal light, despite their fiendishly difficult technical requirements, the suites are probably the most famous and beloved of Western classical solo string works. Elinor Frey, cellist extraordinaire, presents all six works over two days in the intimate space of St. Thomas’s Anglican Church. It is one thing to listen to the cello suites through a speaker/earphones, making selections, skipping a movement or two, or staying in repetition with a favourite; it is a completely different experience when one stays in real-time with the performer, in their creative process, in the real physical state of listening; going beyond the pale mechanical substitute of ‘listening,’ but immersing into the space where the sound resonates through the instrument, human body and mind. Info here.

F for Flamenco Festival: F for Flamenca

Saturday, April 6, 8 p.m.,
Paradise Theatre
 1006c Bloor Street West Toronto $40.50+

The inaugural F for Flamenco Festival (April 4-7) is bringing Canadian and international flamenco artists together in three performances. Their second performance, F for Flamenca, will be a rare all-women flamenco gala, featuring the Spanish contingent: dancer Irene La Sentío (Seville), guitarist Antonia Jiménez (Madrid), percussionist Nasrine Rahmani (Madrid), and singer Laura Marchal (Barcelona), along with Toronto-based artists: dancer Lia Grainger, singer Tamar Ilana, and dancer Virginia Castro (Cordoba). The music of Flamenco simply cannot exist without the virtuosic dance that rides fast between the explosion and implosion, and this would be a great chance to experience it live. Info here.

Continuum Contemporary Music: PIVOT 2024 Showcase

Sunday, April 7, 8 p.m.
Hugh’s Room, 296 Broadview Ave. $15+

Continuum, the Canadian League of Composers, and the Canadian Music Centre, will premier five early-career Canadian composers’ works on this Sunday evening. Performance opportunities are integral in artistic development, and by creating a 6-month individual mentorship and premiere by Continuum core members, for the selected five — Alexander Bridger, Ricardo Ferro, Liberté-Anne Lymberiou, Anju Singh, and Janet Sit — the PIVOT project can be a true accelerator in so many ways. If you can, come a little early for 7:45 p.m., and see who’s won this year’s annual Teen Composer Award.
Info here.


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