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CRITIC’S PICKS | Ten Musical Outings You Should Do This Week

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Photo: Alexandra Bellink (via Flickr)
Photo: Alexandra Bellink (via Flickr)

Musical Toronto’s Weekly Critic’s Picks are a fully curated list of some of the best concerts happening now through the end of the week. Of course, this is not to say we are the provocateurs of taste, but simply seek to provide a good weekly summary. For a look at the full breadth of what’s available in and around Toronto, check out the comprehensive concert listings from our friends at Wholenote Magazine.

Wednesday 20

Canadian Opera Company | Vocal Series: The Diary of One Who Disappeared at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. 12:00 p.m. Free!

COC Ensemble Studio members Owen McCausland (tenor) and Charlotte Burrage (mezzo-soprano) take the stage to perform Janáček’s forcefully vivid song cycle, The Diary of One Who Disappeared. Also features chorus members, Aviva Fortunata, Karine Boucher and Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure, with Jennifer Szeto on the ivories. Make sure to come early, as seats fill up fast! | DETAILS

Royal Conservatory | 21C Music Festival: Off the Score at Koerner Hall. 8:00 p.m. $35-60

After last year’s inaugural 21C Music Festival, it looks like Toronto can count on a second major contemporary music festival to call its own. The weeklong events start tonight with Stewart Copeland (The Police) and pianist Jon Kimura Parker performing the world premiere of Birds of Prey; Coincidence or Convergence? – a quintet that is at home in the classical world and beyond. The opening night also includes works by Ravel, Prokofiev, Schoenfield, Garson, Stravinsky and many others. Not-to-be-missed. | DETAILS

Thursday 21

Against the Grain Theatre/COC | Vocal Series: Death & Desire at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. 12:00 p.m. Free!

Indie Opera fans will want to cancel their plans and run down to the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre to check out the exclusive preview of Against the Grain Theatre’s production of Death & Desire. It’s described as a merging of two song cycles by Franz Schubert Olivier Messiaen. The cast is strong (as per usual) and includes Krisztina Szabó and Stephen Hegedus with piano accompaniment by Topher Mokrzewski. Seating is first come first served – so come early to avoid missing out. | DETAILS

Toronto Symphony Orchestra | Masterworks Series: Verdi: Requiem at Roy Thomson Hall. 8:00 p.m. $38.75–169 (repeats May 22-23)

As part of the 40th anniversary of Sir Andrew Davis’ association with the TSO, they present the intensely dramatic and brooding masterpiece, Verdi’s Requiem. Hans von Bülow described it as “Verdi’s latest opera, albeit in ecclesiastical garb.” The bill includes the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, soprano Amber Wagner, mezzo Jamie Barton, tenor Frank Lopardo and bass Eric Owens. | DETAILS

Friday 22

Art of Time Ensemble | Songbook 8: Brent Carver at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre. 8:00 p.m. $25-59

The Art of Time Ensemble are back with an promising “Songbook” series show featuring Brent Carver – an actor best known for his performances on Broadway in Kiss of the Spider Woman, Fiddler on the Roof and many others. He’ll be shaking it up with a selection twelve songs fashioned into new arrangements by some of the brightest composers and arrangers in Canada. The band includes the usual suspects: Andrew Burashko, Phil Dwyer, Amanda Goodburn, Rachel Mercer, Joseph Phillips and Rob Piltch. | DETAILS

Royal Conservatory | 21C Music Festival: Illusions at Koerner Hall. 8:00 p.m. $21-60

As part of the five days of contemporary music going on at the RCM, Illusions is a multimedia tour de force that immerses audiences in the spectacle of early twentieth-century Burlesque and American carnival. The 70-minute work includes three new pieces by composers Nicole Lizée, Simon Martin and Gabriel Dharmoo, which are sequenced with trios by Charles Ives. There will be accompanying visuals by Kara Blake and Corinne Merrell, as well as projections designed by Jacques Collin. This massive feast for the senses will be performed by Gryphon Trio, Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, and singer Vincent Ranallo. Tickets selling fast | DETAILS

Toronto Consort | The Play of Daniel at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, Jeanne Lamon Hall. 8:00 p.m. $10-61 (repeats May 23-24)

The Toronto Consort has something very special in store this week. Concluding the season in style (with a cast of 40 performers!) they present The Play of Daniel – an operatic telling of Daniel in the lions’ den. The 70-minute work is performed with no intermission and includes a full-on theatrical production with the Consort Medieval players and singers joined by Kevin Skelton in the role of Daniel, and the young voices of the VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto. You’ll not want to miss this. | DETAILS

Saturday 23

Opera by Request | Mozart: Idomeneo at the College Street United Church. 7:30 p.m. $20

Opera by Request presents one of the earliest of Mozart’s operas: Idomeneo. For one day only, you can catch this fascinating opera performed by tenor Avery Krisman (Idomeneo); soprano Hannah Coleman(Ilia); mezzo Stephanie Code (Idamante); Annex Singers with Maria Case, conductor; William Shookhoff, piano/conductor. | DETAILS

Royal Conservatory | 21C Music Festival: Spin Cycle at Mazzoleni Concert Hall. 8:00 p.m. $21-136

For our third recommendation of this week’s 21C Music Festival, check out Spin Cycle. You’ll hear 12 premières performed by the Afiara Quartet and Skratch Bastid, scratch DJ. (Yes – you read that right – “Skratch Bastid”). While mixing a DJ and string quartet is hardly new (i.e. Nicole Lizée, Mason Bates, and Gabriel Prokofiev) this show will get you right up to speed in the exciting and unique dialogue between contemporary turntablism and classical string quartets. See you there. | DETAILS

Sunday 24

Amadeus Choir | Earth Songs, Love Songs: 40th Anniversary Season Gala at the George Weston Recital Hall. 4:00 p.m. $20-45

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 40 years since the Amadeus Choir burst onto the scene bringing their extraordinary voices to the forefront of Canada’s choral community. The Gala will feature many of their closest friends, including the Bach Children’s Chorus, Linda Beaupré, conductor; percussionist Ed Reifel, pianists Ruth Watson Henderson and Shawn Grenke, and pianist/organist Eleanor Daley. | DETAILS


What do you plan on seeing this week?

  • Toronto Symphony Orchestra | Verdi: Requiem (56%, 10 Votes)
  • Against the Grain Theatre/COC | Vocal Series: Death & Desire (44%, 8 Votes)
  • Toronto Consort | The Play of Daniel (28%, 5 Votes)
  • Royal Conservatory | 21C Music Festival: Spin Cycle (17%, 3 Votes)
  • Royal Conservatory | 21C Music Festival: Illusions (11%, 2 Votes)
  • Art of Time Ensemble | Songbook 8: Brent Carver (11%, 2 Votes)
  • Royal Conservatory | 21C Music Festival: Off the Score (6%, 1 Votes)
  • Opera by Request | Mozart: Idomeneo (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Canadian Opera Company | Vocal Series: The Diary of One Who Disappeared (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Amadeus Choir | Earth Songs, Love Songs (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 18

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Michael Vincent
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Michael Vincent

Editor at Musical Toronto
Michael Vincent has worked as a senior editor for La Scena Musicale and web editor for Norman Lebrecht. On January 21, 2014, he went to lunch and left as the publisher of Musical Toronto. Later that year he found himself as a freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star, the former employer of his favourite author Ernest Hemingway. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
Michael Vincent
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