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CRITIC’S PICKS | Classical Music Events You Absolutely Need To See This Week: June 17 – June 23

By Hye Won Cecilia Lee on June 17, 2024

Conductor/Composer Joe Hishaishi in Paris, June 23, 2011 (Photo: CityKane/Cropped/CC by 2.0); The IndigiDivas (L-R): Michelle Lafferty; Melody Courage; Rebecca Cuddy (Photo courtesy of Harbourfront Centre); Cellist Rachel Mercer (Photo: Bo Huang)
Conductor/Composer Joe Hishaishi in Paris, June 23, 2011 (Photo: CityKane/Cropped/CC by 2.0); The IndigiDivas (L-R): Michelle Lafferty; Melody Courage; Rebecca Cuddy (Photo courtesy of Harbourfront Centre); Cellist Rachel Mercer (Photo: Bo Huang)

This is a list of concerts we are attending, wishing we could attend, or thinking about attending between June 17 and June 23, 2024. For more of what’s happening around Toronto, visit our calendar here.

Music Mondays: A Nest of Byrds

Monday, June 17, 12:15 p.m.
Church of Holy Trinity, 19 Trinity Sq. Pay-What-You-Can, $20 suggested.

The hustle and bustle of Downtown can use a cool, quiet break. Church of Holy Trinity, a small sanctuary located in a nook of the Eaton Centre, runs summer Monday noon concerts. For this week, the Cardinal Consort of Viols and countertenor Daniel Cabena celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Byrd. Wonder what a viol is? How does it sound? This is your chance to learn about the viol, the chosen instrument of the Renaissance! Info here.

Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Festival: TBSI Orchestras and Choirs

Wednesday, June 19, 1 p.m.
Walter Hall, University of Toronto. Open to the public, no registration required.

TBSI enters its second week — the participants will bring their honed skills to the stage for two occasions; the first one with smaller ensemble works, followed by a grand finale on Saturday evening at the Grace Church on-the-Hill. The finale is nearly at capacity, and requires direct contact to the box office for last-minute availability, so interested parties should flock to this Wednesday afternoon concert. Info here.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra: Hisaishi Conducts Hisaishi

Thursday, June 20, 8 p.m., Friday, June 21, 8 p.m., Saturday, June 22, 8 p.m.
Roy Thomson Hall. Limited seating available, $105+

Joe Hisaishi is a legend among anime fans — especially of renowned Japanese animation Studio Ghibli, scoring all but one of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated works. Hisashi is back in Toronto, conducting TSO in Ravel’s La Valse, his own Suite from Spirited Away, and his Symphony No. 3, Metaphisica. Very few seats remain open — they sold quickly once his return was announced last year, and just like in 2022, expect sell-outs for all three dates. A great chance to hear Hisaishi live. Info here.

Freesounds Presents: Vortex Temporum

Thursday, June 20, 8 p.m, Friday, June 21, 8 p.m.
Arraymusic, 155 Walnut Ave. $15

For this week, Freesound is featuring music of Gérard Grisey, the pioneer of the French Spectralist school. Continuing from the trajectory of composers such as Debussy, Varèse, Messiaen, and Xenakis, the Spectralist school emerged from acoustics, sound analysis, and synthesis by way of complex calculations using the computer, in two centres: Darmstadt, Germany, and IRCAM, France. Moving away from the melodic construction of music, opting to build music solely based on the physical properties of the sound itself, where pitch and timbre are no longer separate but two faces of a singular coin, it may sound complicated upon first hearing, until one realizes that it’s been used in so many things: the exploration of texture and progression in time can become incredibly evocative and emotionally impacting. Keyboardist Wesley Shen will also present his new composition in this bill. Info here.

Summer Music in the Garden: The IndigiDivas

Friday, June 21, 7 p.m.
Toronto Music Garden, Harbourfront Centre. Free

A showcase of female-identifying Indigenous singers presenting music from Indigenous traditions and the operatic realm. Three singers, Melody Courage, Rebecca Cuddy, and Michelle Lafferty, will collaborate with Allegra Chamber Orchestra, an all-female orchestra — a chance to experience femme power in the open summer air. Info here.

Nagata Shachu: Possibilities

Friday, June 21, 8 p.m.
Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Center. $25+

A thundering Taiko wonder, Nagata Shachu ends 23/24 with another banger, with several brand new works from its members. One of the major advantages of living in Toronto is the easy access to authentic cultural experiences, and NS always delivers the goods. Info here.

North York Concert Orchestra: Elixir of Love

Saturday, June 22, 8 p.m., Sunday, June 23, 3 p.m.
East End United, 310 Danforth Ave. $20+

Often recommended as the best choice for the first opera experience, Donizetti’s Elixir of Love is written in a bel canto style, where the foremost aim is on creating a long, beautiful vocal line. The plot, essentially a rom-com, involves a young man interested in his lady boss, then meeting a doctor, who conveniently has a love portion, just in time. Throw in a new alpha male who is determined to take the lady’s hand, and we’ve got a typical young man in distress, quackery for sale, and oh so many chances for mishaps. NYCO’s production will be semi-staged with a full orchestra. Do join in by suspending your belief and enjoying the fun, albeit frivolous. Info here.

Summer Music in the Garden: Cello Revel, Rachel Mercer

Sunday, June 23, 4 p.m.
Toronto Music Garden, Harbourfront Centre. Free

Cellist Rachel Mercer returns to the Toronto Music Garden with an old classic: Bach’s first cello suite, the piece that drew the design inspiration for the garden itself, and four works from our time, including two world premieres by India Gailey and John B Hedges. Keep your fingers crossed for the weather — may it be as gorgeous as the music! Info here.


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