TORONTO CONCERT REVIEWS

Music reviews of the finest concerts in Toronto and beyond!
- ​symphonic, choral, opera, chamber, jazz and period music​ -

A terrific weekend at Toronto Summer Music Festival!

​​by David Richards
T
oronto ON June 29th 2019

Soprano Adrianne Pieczonka, pianist Steven Wilcox and New Orford String Quartet photo credit: Sean Howard

Incoming Music Director Gustavo Gimeno and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra:  A preview of great things to come!

​​by David Richards
T
oronto ON July 4th 2019

On the eve of the first performance of the then unknown composer Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird, the famed impresario Sergei Diaghilev said, “Mark him well; he is on the eve of celebrity.” Last night at Roy Thomson Hall, there was irony in that prediction. The Firebird was the highlight of the introductory concert of Gustavo Gimeno, the new incoming Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. His celebrity will no doubt explode with such a performance.  Judging by the overwhelming reaction of the full house including a five minute standing ovation, Gimeno (like Stravinsky in 1910) is on the eve of celebrity.


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Toronto Summer Music Festival opens in spectacular fashion!

Anne of Green Gables at the Thousand Islands Playhouse: the perfect complement to summer

​​by David Richards
T
oronto ON July 12th 2019

Incoming Music Director Gustavo Gimeno and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra
​Photo credite:  Stuart Lowe

Larry Mannell (Matthew Cuthbert) and Emily Robertson (Anne Shirley) in Thousand Islands Playhouse production of Anne of Green Gables;
Photo credit: Randy deKleine-Stimpson

​​by David Richards
T
oronto ON June 20th 2019

​​by David Richards
T
oronto ON July 14th 2019

Finally, it’s “summertime…and the living is easy.” After a long, cold winter and a very wet spring, the heat of the summer has arrived and with it the summer festivals and summer theatres that occur annually throughout Ontario. What better time could there be to take in a performance of Anne of Green Gables, the musical with lyrics by Don Harron and music by Norman Campbell about PEI’s most famous endearing and enduring fictional figure.


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Brian Manker, Eric Nowlin, Andrew Wan, Jonathan Crow
​Photo credit:Sian Richards

Carmina Burana: Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s springtime secular ​(and raucous) Messiah?​

It has just been two years since the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir joined forces along with the Toronto Children’s Choir  and the Toronto Youth Choir to perform Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, the most celebrated secular choral-orchestral work of the twentieth century With four performances this week, there is no doubting its popularity. Could it become the perennial springtime favourite that Messiah is for the Christmas season? Last night at Roy Thomson Hall, a stellar group of soloists joined the orchestra and choirs to produce a stunningly mammoth production with over 300 performers on stage and in the lofts. 


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Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, soloists and
Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles in Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana
Photo credit: Nick Wons

It has been quite a weekend at Toronto Summer Music Festival with five concerts in three days. Following the fabulous opening concert (see review below), the New Orford String Quartet (NOSQ) took over the main stage on Friday evening to celebrate its 10th anniversary. In a dazzling concert to a sold-out audience at Walter Hall, the quartet displayed its artistry with works by Haydn, Beethoven and a newly commissioned work by Christos Hatzis. The quartet’s work wasn’t finished by any means, however. Each member served as a mentor and leader of four chamber music ensembles, performing in three concerts yesterday where they joined with the ‘Art of Song’ Fellows for a fabulous day of great music.


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The Toronto Summer Music Festival opened in spectacular fashion with last night’s concert at Koerner Hall. The Festival’s theme of “Beyond Borders” was evident in the outstanding performances by some of Canada’s finest artists. Host Tom Allen in his opening remarks said that although borders seem to be at the centre of international tensions in today’s world, nevertheless there are no borders in music. Western music has been influenced by cultures from every part of the world and last night gave us plenty of examples. The tradition of musical geniuses travelling the world to pursue their ambitions goes back hundreds of years.


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