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CRITIC’S PICKS | Classical Music Events You Absolutely Need To See This Week: April 15 – April 21

By Hye Won Cecilia Lee on April 15, 2024

L-R (clockwise): Portrait of Dmitrie Cantemir attributed to Jean Baptiste Vanmour (1671–1737/Public domain); Violinist Jonathan Crow (Photo courtesy of Toronto Summer Music); pianist Jacqueline Leung (Photo: Shayne Gray)
L-R (clockwise): Portrait of Dmitrie Cantemir attributed to Jean Baptiste Vanmour (1671–1737/Public domain); Violinist Jonathan Crow (Photo courtesy of Toronto Summer Music); pianist Jacqueline Leung (Photo: Shayne Gray)

This is a list of concerts we are attending, wishing we could attend, or thinking about attending between April 15 and April 21, 2024. For more of what’s happening around Toronto, visit our calendar here.

Canadian Opera Company: Surrounded Spirits

CinnaMoon Collective, presented by dance IMMERSION
Wednesday, April 17, Noon. Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Four Seasons Centre. Free, tickets required.

dance Immersion brings stories stemming from diaspora — families moving across the world in search of a better life, and their children in the new world, facing new demons of racism and marginalization. What is it like for two persons to be femme, queer, black, and brown women — and to look into one another to seek to grow past their life wounds and challenges? Sometimes, our bodies speak louder than words ever could; the past is never too far from our hearts — and it lives through our time, and on towards our children’s time. A lovely lunch hour break. Info here.

The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Wednesday, April 17, 8 p.m.
Koerner Hall. Currently sold out- waitlist.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin has been busy conducting for international powerhouses including the Metropolitan Opera, Rotterdam’s Philharmonisch Orkest, Berlin Philharmonie — the list goes on. On Wednesday, he descends into town with the Philadelphia Orchestra — truly one of the best American orchestras — in his 12th season as Music and Artistic Director, to Koerner with music of Florence Price and Rachmaninov. This event sold out within days of its ticket release last year, but there’s always a waitlist — worth a shot to wait, and have your fingers crossed. A rare chance to see a visiting orchestra in their peak. Info here.

Canadian Opera Company: 2024 Toronto Summer Music Preview

Thursday, April 18, Noon.
Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Four Seasons Centre. Free, tickets required.

Summer is on its way — though hard to believe, in the midst of rain, cold spells, and the general April weather fluctuation. Jonathan Crow, artistic director or TSM, brings a preview of the 2024 season, which will bring a variety of rich programming in July and early August. A mix of international and local, young and seasoned pros, make TSM a great way to experience solo and small chamber music in a beautiful city summer. What discoveries await the audience this year? Come and find out. Info here.

Soundstreams: Variations on Goldberg Variations: Keyed Up! #1

Thursday, April 18, 7:30 p.m.
Jane Mallett Theatre, Toronto Centre for the Arts. $36.50+

This is the first day of Soundstreams’ 3-day long keyboard-centric festival. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, made familiar through Glenn Gould’s legendary recordings to Canadians and beyond, goes through a transformation, with new commissions of 30 new variations from four living Canadian composers: Taylor Brook, Dorothy Chang, Emily Doolittle, and André Ristic. This new work will be presented in alternation to Bach’s originals, from piano, harpsichord, organ, and electronic keyboard. Second half of the program features Paul Grabowsky’s creation inspired by Goldberg. Quite an event to witness what a familiar work may inspire in our own time. There are two more events linked to the festival, and a festival pass is available for keyboard fanatics. Read our interview with Paul Grabowsky here. Info here.

Soundstreams: Notations: RBC Bridges Composer Showcase: Keyed Up! #2

Friday, April 19, 7:30 p.m.
Jane Mallett Theatre, Toronto Centre for the Arts. $36.50+

Second day of the SS’s festival features more new works, along with contemporary classics — this is not an oxymoron. RBC Bridges program features six composers at the early stage of their careers, who are provided with composition mentorship, a list of seasons performers, and a concert to present new works created and honed during a week-long workshop and rehearsals. This year’s participants: Uko Abara, Alexandra Gorlin-Crenshaw, Gustav Knudson, Maria-Eduarda Mendes Martins, Prokhor Protasoff, Hsiu-Ping Patrick Wu, will offer public their new works, along with works by Alvin Singleton, Monica Pearce, Anne Southam, and Ana Sokolović. Info here.

Tafelmusik: Bohemian Rhapsody: Benda & Haydn

Friday, April 19, 8 p.m., Saturday April 20, 8 p.m., Sunday April 21, 3 p.m.
Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. $47+, Youth tickets $23.50

Bulgarian violinist Zefira Valova leads the Tafelmusik in exploration in music of Benda, Stamitz and Haydn. We often forget that there are many composers in all genres besides the big guns — an amnesia, or perhaps a product of easy consumption, where we are faced with so much information that we tend to find enough within the usual offerings. Yet, unknown or less familiar works can bring such freshness to our minds. Valova’s choice of František Benda’s violin concerto and Stamitz’ symphony are welcomed chances for new discovery. The familiar works of Haydn rounds the program, including the cello concerto in C major, an apollonian spectacle with great élan, featuring Keiran Campbell as the soloist. Info here.

Constantinople: Cantemir, The Composer Prince

Friday, April 19, 8:30 p.m. $20+
Aga Khan Museum

Moldavian polymath Dmitrie Cantemir (1673-1723), lived in a fascinating time in a fascinating place. Balancing Moldova between Russia and the Ottoman empire, he spoke 11 languages, knew his science, and his work: History of the Growth and Decay of the Ottoman Empire, became the reference for Edeward GIbbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Cantemir amassed a complex and huge collection of riches, including an amazing collection of instrumental music that illustrates the progressions of Middle Eastern music of the 16th century. Kiya Tabassian (Setar) and members of the JUNO Award winning ensemble Constantinople: Kianoush Khalilian (Ney), Didem Basar (Kanun), Tanya LaPerrière (Baroque Violin/Viola D’Amore), and Patrick Graham (Percussion) will fill the beautiful Aga Kahn space with beautiful selections from Cantemir’s collection, and the Western music of the same period by Marin Marais and Antonio Bertali. Info here.

Soundstreams: 6 Pianos 12 Hands: Keyed Up! #3

Saturday, April 20, 7:30 p.m.
Jane Mallett Theatre, Toronto Centre for the Arts. $36.50+

Third and last day of SS festival brings back Steve Reich’s Music for Six Pianos. Piano, an often solitary instrument, goes maximal this time, with six instruments and 12 hands. The last time SS mounted Reich’s Music for Six Pianos was back on 2018, at Koerner, was such a hoot — the work was inspired by Reich’s time at the Baldwin Piano Studio in New York in 1973, where he tried to create a piece for all the pianos in a piano store, and the complexity of six pianos (that’s 528 keys for 12 hands), was simply astounding. SS’s commission for six pianos for the 2018 event, André Ristic’s Variations on a Theme by A. Vivaldi, and other works including Terry Riley’s A Rainbow in Curved Air, promises an evening of rare textural beauty. Info here.

Elmer Iseler Singers: Triple Choir Splendour: Sonic Light

Saturday, April 20, 4 p.m.
Eglinton St. George’s United Church, Toronto. $25+

The Elmer Iseler Singers and Lydia Adams are joined by special VIVA chamber Singers, and Chroma Vocal Ensemble, in a performance of Frank Martin’s Mass for Double Choir, and works by MacMillan, Whitacre, Gjeilo, Janmohamed, and Daley. Human voices, en masse, can be a powerful experience — and there’s no better way to experience this than in a live performance. With the convenience of technology, it is easy to justify listening at ‘home,’ but with a choir of such caliber as Elmer Iseler Singers in the amazing acoustic of the Eglington St. George’s, a live performance of such works really is an experience that goes beyond simple listening. Info here.

Richard Goode

Sunday, April 21, 3 p.m.
Koerner Hall. $50+

Piano giant Richard Goode returns to Koerner Hall for the third time with an all-Beethoven program: 6 Bagatelles, Piano Sonata, Op. 109, and Diabelli variations. Goode’s recording of the Beethoven piano sonata cycle is legendary, and as he is at the peak of maturity, it would be a treat to see how this seasoned master would tackle the Diabelli variations, one of Beethoven’s last works with the signature late-Beethoven quirks- seriousness, emotional depth, and humour.  Info here.

Evgeny Kissin and Matthias Goerne

Sunday, April 21, 8 p.m.
Roy Thomson Hall, 51.30+

Keyboard great Evgeny Kissin and renowned baritone Matthias Goerne present music of Schumann and Brahms. Their artistry has captured the ears of millions over the years, and with a program of German art songs — a special genre where words, voice, and piano weave magical expressions, often in a perfect balance — need no more description. Considered as one of Schumann’s best works, Dichterliebe, Op. 48, will open the concert. Read our interview with Matthias Goerne here. Info here.


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