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Critic’s picks: Toronto classical concerts and opera from April 29 to May 5

By John Terauds on April 29, 2013

The Canadian Children's Opera Company reprises Errol Gay charming opera Laura's Cow: The Legend of Laura Secord at the Enwave Theatre later this week (Michael Cooper photo).
The Canadian Children’s Opera Company reprises Errol Gay and Michael Patrick Albano’s charming opera Laura’s Cow: The Legend of Laura Secord at the Enwave Theatre later this week (Michael Cooper photo).

MONDAY

  • Introduction to new music at Chalmers House, 7 p.m. Free admission.

The Canadian Music Centre has been using its new performance space in all sorts of creative ways. Today’s event has some fine artists performing and commenting on new music. Pianist Roland Starr will give Toronto music critic and composer Colin Eatock’s Book of Saints, a collection of largely meditative pieces, its official premiere.

Also on the programme are Joseph Macerollo performing an accordion concerto written for him by R. Murray Schafer. There is also a new piece by composer-pianist Adam Sherkin. The concert includes commentary and a chance to chat with the artists. Details here.

MONDAY, WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY

  • Opera 5 at Gallery 345, 7:30 p.m.

The clever people at upstart Opera 5 have brought opera to an intimate space, interspersing short works we would not normally see or hear in Toronto with themed munchies and beverages. This week’s featured libation is sangria, which pairs very nicely with Manuel de Falla’s 1923 one-act puppet opera, El retablo de maese Pedro (Master Pedro’s Puppet Show) and Enrique Granados’ 1911 three-scene opera Goyescas. I’ll hopefully have a review on Monday night. Details here.

TUESDAY

  • A premiere and the end for Queen of Puddings Music Theatre at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, noon. Free admission.
Krisztina Szabó
Krisztina Szabó

Before they fold their shutters closed for the last time, Queen of Puddings co-artistic directors Dáirine Ní Mheadhra and John Hess present one final premiere with mezzo Krisztina Szabó: La selva de los relojes (The Forest of Clocks) by Toronto composer Chris Paul Harman — for free in the glorious openness of the Four Seasons Centre’s second-floor performance space. Details here.

WEDNESDAY TO SUNDAY

  • Tafelmusik Orchestra and Chamber Choir at Trinity-St Paul’s Centre, 7 p.m. (Wed.), 8 p.m. (Thu.-Sat.), 3:30 p.m. (Sun.) + 8 p.m. on May 7 at George Weston Recital Hall

Soprano Sophie Daneman and the brilliant tenor Rufus Müller join conductor Ivars Taurins and the gang for a heaping feast of arias and choruses from the oratorios and operas of George Frideric Handel. Details here.

WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY & SATURDAY

  • Conductor Stéphane Denève and pianists Eric Le Sage and Frank Braley join the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall, 8 p.m.

This is nothing short of a French invasion — of the very best kind. Denève brings his vivid approach to an already colour-saturated programme featuring Hector Berlioz Symphonie fantastique, the brilliant Concerto for Two Pianos by Francis Poulenc, and the evocative Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune by Claude Debussy. Details here.

THURSDAY

  • The Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, noon. Free admission.

It’s an all-French hour of art song and opera aria from the young voices of the COC. Details here.

Russell Braun and acocmpanist wife Carolyn Maule.
Russell Braun and acocmpanist wife Carolyn Maule.
  • Violinist James Ehnes, baritone Russell Braun and pianist Carolyn Maule celebrate the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto’s 115th birthday at Koerner Hall, 1:30 p.m.

The programme for this concert is one of the most exquisitely wrought I’ve seen in a long time, as these remarkable artists weave together a tapestry that includes Bach, Beethoven, Paganini, settings of A.E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad poems for voice as well as violin and a new song cycle by Canadian composer John Estacio. Details here.

FRIDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY

  • The Canadian Children’s Opera Company presents the opera Laura’s Cow: The Legend of Laura Secord at the Enwave Theatre, Harbourfront, 7:30 p.m.

Present and past collide in this wonderful, 75-minute work premiered by these very talented kids last year. The costumes are excellent and the staging tight. Ann Cooper Gay conducts the small orchestra. Details here (there are school shows on Thursday and Friday during the day, as well).

FRIDAY

  • Aradia Ensemble presents Baroque Idol at the Music Gallery, 8 p.m.

This period-instrument ensemble founded and led by Kevin Mallon, with the participation of young music students, presents the second edition of a little competition for new pieces of music. It promises to be a lot of fun. Details here.

FRIDAY & SATURDAY

  • TorQ Percussion Quartet at the Dancemakers studio, Distillery District, 8 p.m.

Two premieres and two new-music classics by Steve Reich and John Cage are performed by Toronto’s hot young percussion quartet — and given four choreographic interpretations. This is very promising. Details here.

SATURDAY

  • Pianist Chris Donnelly and clarinetist Kornel Wolak at Paul Hahn & Co, 2 p.m.

These talented young musicians have blended jazz and classical in their début duo album, which gets its launch this week with a little concert at this intimate piano emporium at the corner of Yonge and Gibson Ave., across from the Rosedale subway station. (There is an earlier launch for people comfortable with the wilds north of the 401 at the local Steinway piano store in Markham — 2651 John St, Unit 8 — on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.)

  • Tapestry Opera presents Jeffrey Ryan’s Ruth in worshop at the Ernest Ballmer Studio, Distillery District, 7:30 p.m.

Composer Jeffrey Ryan and librettist Michael Lewis MacLennan are working on a new “one-act choral opera” that juxtaposes the Biblical Ruth with what her life might look like in the modern day. It is a work in progress — a Tapestry specialty. You’ll find much more descriptive detail here.

  • Toronto Chamber Choir with the Grand Philhramonic Choir Chamber Singers at Grace Church-on-the-Hill, 8 p.m.

Conductor Mark Vuorinen brings together the two choirs he conducts so we can experience some tempting complexities — the most tantalizing being Thomas Tallis’s Spem in alium, otherwise known as the 40-part motet. Also on the programme is Maurice Duruflé’s wonderful Requiem. There’s a pre-concert chat at 7:15. Details here.

SUNDAY

  • Amici Chamber Ensemble at the Glenn Gould Studio, 3 p.m.

The group closes its season with a mix of 20th and 21st century pieces. There are two made-in-Toronto works on the programme: Parlour Music by Christos Hatzis and Three Cadenzas for clarinet and percussion by Alexina Louie. Amici core members David Hetherington, Joaquin Valdepeñas and Serouj Kradjian are joined by percussionists Ryan Scott and Berverley Johnston and pianist Jamie Parker. Details here.

  • Peter and the Dinosaurs presented by Musica Reflecta and the Madeleine Collective at St Barnabas Anglican Church, 361 Danforth Ave. — workshop at 5:30 p.m., concert at 6:30 p.m.

In what looks like brilliant programming in a family-friendly part of the city, Musica Reflecta presents music not just for kids, but involving them as well. The programme features Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf as well as Toronto composer Dean Burry’s new Carnival of the Dinosaurs. Both get visual art support from the Madeleine Collective. Then there is a premiere of Mini Piano Concerto No. 1 by Toy Piano Composers collective member Chris Thornborrow, performed by young people, including the Mississauga Festival Youth Choir.

Children’s admission is free. You’ll find all the details here.

CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY

Despite some directorial fussing with the original material, the Canadian Opera Company’s two current productions are gorgeously performed. You can read my reviews by clicking on the titles:

-Salome performances this week are Wednesday & Saturday. Details here.
-There is a performance of Lucia di Lammermoor on Tuesday. Details here.

John Terauds

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