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CRITIC'S PICKS | Eight Classical Music Shows You Should Absolutely See This Week

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For the week of January 9–15

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. 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 our curated concert listings here: Musical Toronto Datebook.

One piece of news that caught my eye is Mozart@261, the annual Mozart celebrations put on by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Jan 11 – 14), featuring the great pianist Emanuel Ax and others. What makes these concerts extra special this year is the venue — not the usual Roy Thomson Hall which is a bit cavernous for Mozart, but at the more intimate and acoustically friendlier Koerner Hall. I thought this was a first for the TSO, until their publicist Francine Labelle reminds me that the orchestra played in Koerner back in August 2014, as part of the Toronto Summer Musical Festival.  American pianist and Van Cliburn Competition laureate Sean Chen makes his Toronto debut (Jan. 10) in a program of Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, and Ligeti. Windermere String Quartet plays a program of Haydn and Ignace Pleyel, with guest artist soprano Meredith Hall (Jan. 15).  Tafelmusik is giving a free concert, The String Orchestra in Baroque Italy, featuring musicians from their Winter Institute (Jan. 11). For something a little different, catch the Tony Award-winning musical, The Secret Garden, presented in concert with orchestra at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre (Jan. 13–15).

Tuesday 10

Canadian Opera Company | Vocal Series: Across the Channel, at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. Noon. Free!

As part of the COC’s free noon hour Vocal Series, singers from the Rebanks Family Fellowship at the Glenn Gould School give a recital including selections from Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne and Samuel Barber’s Dover Beach, accompanied by a string quartet. Be sure to show up early to line up to get in. Program details, here.

Music Toronto | Sean Chen, piano. Jane Mallett Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre. 8 p.m. $55

American pianist and Van Cliburn Competition Laureate Sean Chen makes his Toronto debut in this recital of works by Ligeti, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, and Beethoven, under the auspices of Music Toronto. Details, here.

Wednesday 11

Tafelmusik | The Orchestra in Baroque Italy, at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre. 7:30 p.m. Free (Donations welcome)

Participants from the Tafelmusik Winter Institute present a concert of works by Caldara, Corelli, Cazzati, Locatelli, Torelli, and others. Info, here.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra/Royal Conservatory | Mozart@261 Festival, at Koerner Hall. 8 p.m. $39+(Repeats Jan 12)

TSO, in partnership with the Royal Conservatory of Music, presents Magnificent Mozart, a concert featuring 14-year old Canadian pianist Leonid Nediak in Piano Concerto No.27 K595. Also on the program is Rondo for Violin K373 and Symphony No.40 K550. Kerson Leong is the violin soloist, conducted by Peter Oundjian. More details, here.

Friday 13

Toronto Symphony Orchestra/Royal Conservatory | Mozart@261 Festival, at Koerner Hall. 7:30 p.m. From $39 (Repeats Jan. 14 8 p.m.)

Toronto Symphony Orchestra/Royal Conservatory of Music presents Emanuel Ax Plays Mozart. The great pianist plays two Mozart Piano Concertos – No. 14 and 22, paired with Symphony No. 33, K. 319. Michael Francis conducts. Info, here.

Podium Concert Productions | The Secret Garden, at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre. 7:30 p.m. $39 –79. (Repeats Jan 14–15)

We don’t cover musicals very often, but here’s one! Podium Concert Productions presents the Tony Award-winning musical, The Secret Garden, in concert for three performances. Music by Lucy Simon, lyrics and book by Marsha Norman, based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. See here, for more details.

Sunday 15

Royal Conservatory | Mazzoleni Masters, at Mazzoleni Concert Hall, Telus Centre. 2 p.m. $25

Diana Doherty, Principal Oboe with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and Canadian violinist Dennis Kim, recently appointed Concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic, join forces in Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe, Mozart’s Oboe Quartet, Dorati’s Duo Concertante, and “Winter” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. Info, here.

Windermere String Quartet | Heard in the Hanover Rooms, at St. Olaf’s Anglican Church, 360 Windermere Ave. 3 p.m. $25

The period instrument ensemble, Windermere String Quartet, presents a concert featuring the works of Haydn and Ignace Pleyel, with soloist Meredith Hall (soprano). Details, here.


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Joseph So

Joseph So

Joseph So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University and Associate Editor of Opera Canada.He is also a long-time contributor to La Scena Musicale and Opera (London, UK). His interest in music journalism focuses on voice, opera as well as symphonic and piano repertoires. He appears regularly as a panel member of the Big COC Podcast.He has co-edited a book, Opera in a Multicultural World: Coloniality, Culture, Performance, published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).
Joseph So
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