Toronto’s Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata are calling it quits.

I just received a suprising and saddening piece of news: Co-founders and co-artistic directors Stephen ralls and Bruce Ubukata have decided that this season will be the last for the Aldeburgh Connection.

Just this past Feburary, the duo organized what turned out to be one of the happiest, most talked-about musical events in a long time, when they celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Aldeburgh Connection at Koerner Hall with a parade of alumni that include a who’s who of this country’s great voices.

Since the early 1980s, the Aldeburgh Connection has been Toronto’s one consistent presenter of art song — always in clever, thematic packages, and focused on the finest of the city’s younger singers.

Losing this series and the audience and performer mentorship that it has represented is a huge blow. I wrote about how great this concert series and its founders are here.

The person who shared this news with me said that Ralls and Ubukata are healthy, but have decided it’s time to say goodbye to performing and presenting concerts, both here and at their country retreat in Bayfield, on Lake Huron.

This year’s season — as fine-looking as any — begins with a programme inspired by the late Robertson Davies on Oct. 21, and ends with a three-concert “Britten Festival of Song” in May, 2013. (All the details here.)

I won’t have a chance to speak to either Ralls or Ubukata for a day or two. I will update this post as soon as I hear anything more.

John Terauds

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6 Responses to Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata decide this season will be Aldeburgh Connection’s last

  1. Catherine Robbin says:

    Of all people, I ought to understand this decision, to retire before people start saying you should, but I have to admit, this hurts my heart. Bruce and Stephen as individuals have been close friends for all these 30+ years and the Aldeburgh Connection has been central to my musical life for my entire career. My husband and I have been subscribers since my own retirement 10 years ago and we never cease to marvel at the bottomless creative juices these two men have continued to produce. It leaves a huge hole in the musical life of Toronto and that of oh-so-many long-time devotees of the Aldeburgh Connection. God bless Bruce and Stephen wherever their large hearts and brilliant minds take them next.

  2. Congratulations to Stephen and Bruce for all of their contributions to Toronto’s classical music community. Certainly they have been unfailingly loyal to their audience, and diligent in showcasing both young Canadian singers who have passed through the University of Toronto and other training programmes, and those who have achieved professional success abroad, and their elegance and artistry will be sorely missed. A particular knack of theirs is to construct novel and ingenious concert programmes, and I can recall many pleasurable hours spent listening, being entertained and enlighted by the Aldeburgh connection…

    What I do wonder is, “Why stop the Aldeburgh Connection”? Why not hand it off to the next generation of artistic leadership? Stuart Hamilton’s Opera in Concert didn’t retire when he did, nor did the Canadian Opera Company stop producing operas with the death of Richard Bradshaw; why should their wonderful series? I cannot believe, in a country and city as fertile artistically as Canada and Toronto, that new artistic directors could not be found to allow this wonderful exploration to continue… certainly the real legacy of their years of leadership should be seen in the sensibilities and artistic intelligence of all those young artists they mentored, thus producing numerous candidates well equipped to take over the reigns…

  3. I agree with Matthew however it would be so difficult to step into the unique shoes that Bruce and Stephen created. Perhaps it is time to see what the next generation of musicians have to offer. With the collective wisdom of generations of wonderful performers infused in our blood, I have no doubt that the void will be filled quite rapidly with something as equally unique and distinctive.

    Congratulations to Stephen and Bruce for inspiring generations of us to work harder, listen better and achieve more!

  4. Andrew Ager says:

    They were Earl Gray and Sencha…refined and vaguely naughty all at once, refreshing…

  5. I have to confess I was as shocked as you were, John, to hear this news. A tremendous gaping hole will be left with the departure of Aldeburgh Connection. The profound musicianship and deep intellectual probing of both of their natures provided us all with food for our ears over these many years (and not only in Aldeburgh Connection concerts, but in so many other places as well).