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April 2: Toronto classical concert highlights for the next seven days

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Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio soprano Jacqueline Woodley performs in free lunchtime concerts Tuesday and Wednesday at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.


  • Pianist Adam Sherkin and soprano Jacqueline Woodley at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, noon.

This hour of free music presented by the Canadian Opera Company comes courtesy of members of the new music ensemble at the Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould Professional School and their conductor, composer Brian Current.

A big attraction is Whirlwave, a new concerto composed and premiered by pianist Adam Sherkin (the concerto gets a repeat performance at the Telus Centre on April 19). Sherkin says he was inspired by wave-like rock patterns in Arizona, as well as by Sonora-Desert Edge, a poem by Allen Ginsberg.

Sherkin’s expressive music is counterbalanced by the reserve of Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, who is represented by her violin concerto, Graal Théâtre, and the song Il pleut (It’s Raining), featuring COC Ensemble Studio soprano Jacqueline Woodley.


  • Jacqueline Woodley farewell recital, with pianist Liz Upchurch, at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, noon.

As part of the membership of the Canadian Opera Company’s young Ensemble Studio prepares to renew itself for next season, we hear the goodbye recital of McGill University graduate, soprano Jacqueline Woodley, who has chosen favourite arias as well as art songs. Woodley is also scheduled to sing the role of Iris in the Ensemble Studio’s May 23 turn on the mainstage, in Handel’s Rinaldo.

  • Ute Lemper and the Vogler Quartet at Koerner Hall, 8 p.m.

Neither love nor ready money will get you an extra ticket for what promises to be a fine balancing act between entertainment and art, as modern-day cabaret legend Ute Lemper joins forces with the Vogler String Quartet and multi-instrumentalist/arranger Stefan Malzew.

So, for those of us who won’t be at Koerner Hall, here are two clips from the Lemper-Vogler collaboration at UCLA’s Royce Hall last Thursday night:


Exceptional young collaborative pianist Christopher Mokrzewski takes a solo turn at the keyboard with two very different but equally meaty pieces, the Sonata in F Minor, Op. 5 by Johannes Brahms, and Franz Liszt’s transcription of Richard Wagner’s Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde.


  • Toronto Mendelssohn Choir at St. Paul’s Basilica, 7:30 p.m.

There are dozens of opportunities to hear fine, dramatically charged choral music during Holy Week. Among the excellent options is what has become an annual tradition for the huge Toronto Mendelssohn Choir: a  Good Friday concert of sacred pieces from a number of different traditions at he aesthetically and acoustically satisfying St. Paul’s Basilica (83 Power St, a short block east of Queen and Parliament). Noel Edison conducts.

For concert and ticket details, click here.

The main piece on the programme is Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G minor. It dates from 1921, and is notable as an attempt to capture Renaissance polyphony in a modern style — an aesthetic championed in Toronto by Healey Willan, who is also on the concert programme. The Mass is heard here in a gorgeous 1962 recording made in Canterbury Cathedral:


Scaramella founder Joëlle Morton
  • Scaramella, with countertenor Paulo Mestre at Victoria College Chapel, 8 p.m.

Scaramella founder and artistic director, gambist Joëlle Morton, is mixing new and old in the company of theorbo player Silvana Scarinci and Toronto jazz player Kirk Elliott on sitar and bouzouk. A special guest is young Brazilian countertenor Paulo Mestre.

Here is how Morton cheekily describes the programming on her last concert of the season:

Just Imagine: While My Guitar Gently Weeps we’ll Get Back to a songbook of Yesterday’s favourites from the Fairest Isle of Isles Excelling by Henry Purcell and The Beatles. We’ll give you Music for a While and explore how Man is for the Woman Made (especially if her name is Michelle), even when Help, I See, She Flies Me!

For ticket information, click here. (Victoria College Chapel is located on the second floor of the main building, behind the Isabel Bader Theatre.)

Here is Mestre in an interesting mix of Vivaldi and dance late last year:

John Terauds

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