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

It seems too long since the curtain came down on Otello and La Bohème last spring. Last night at the Four Seasons Centre, the Canadian Opera Company’s first offering of the new season was a brilliant and daring new production of Giacomo Puccini’s final opera, Turandot


Review by David Richards
Toronto ON November 25th 2019

Chick Corea; Photo credit:

​​Review by Paul Merkley F.RS.C.
oronto ON October 13th 2019

Sir Andrew Davis conducts TorontoSymphony Orchestra soloists, and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in Massenet’s Thaïs; Photo credit: Jag Gundu

Review by Paul Merkley F.R.S.C.
Toronto ON November 24th 2019

An American in Paris in Toronto: TSO plays Gershwin

Rarely does a concert leave me breathless as it did last night at Roy Thomson Hall. A pared-down Toronto Symphony Orchestra performed three works that all had linkages to nature. The meticulous attention to detail was clear from beginning to end in music that was as transparent as it was emotionally engaging.


Review by David Richards
Toronto ON November 17th 2019

Singing through Centuries celebrates 125 years of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir!

Concertmaster Jonathan Crow and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra
​Photo credit: Jag Gundu

Chick Corea Trio: Trilogy

Adrianne Pieczonka
​Photo credit: Bo Huang, courtesy of the Royal  Conservatory of Music 

On Friday, October 18th, Koerner Hall kicked off this season’s TD Jazz Series with the man who performed the second ever concert at Koerner Hall – 22-time Grammy Award winning pianist Chick Corea, joined by the phenomenal bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade.  These virtuosos have performed frequently together as Trilogy since 2013, and much of last night’s stunning program of multi-faceted jazz music was drawn from two recordings released in 2014 and 2018. Executive Director, Performing Arts, Mervon Mehta thanked Next Pathway for sponsoring this evening’s performance, as well as BMO Financial and the Toronto Star for their sponsorship of Koerner Hall’s 11th season.


Adrianne Pieczonka lights up the room in a program of mostly German lieder

Big Band Holidays: Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

Guest Conductor Andrei Feher and RCM Orchestra​

Photo credit: The Royal Conservatory of Music/Koerner Hall; Lisa Sakulensky

Last night’s amazing concert by the Royal Conservatory Orchestra at Koerner Hall must have been one of those life-altering moments for many of the Glenn Gould School’s aspiring professional musicians when the young conducting phenom, Andrei Feher came to lead the orchestra.


COC's Turandot: a stunning new production to begin an exciting new season!

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON November 10th 2019

Gustavo Gimeno brings attention to detail and fresh energy to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra!

Dvořák’s Fairy-Tale Tragedy: COC Mounts Rusalka with appropriate Gloom and Doom

Tamara Wilson (foreground) as Turandot in the Canadian Opera Company
​Production of Turandot, 2019; Photo credit: Michael Cooper

Opera Atelier has grasped the essence of Don Giovanni as an opera buffa. Artistic director Marshall Pynkoski furnished a facsimile of a note (on the cover of the program) in the hand of Mozart, who designated this in the title as “opera Buffa in two acts.” The music-dramatic choices that flowed from this (the right ones) propelled the cast to an excellent, evocative performance. In addition to the light-hearted music and the farsical (sometimes dark-farsical) repartée, there are also serious, beautiful arias in Don Giovanni, and these stood out in relief against the comedic background. Colin Ainsworth’s (Don Ottavio) aria “Da la sua pace…” was lovely and serene.


Review by Paul Merkley, F.R.S.C.
Toronto ON November 1st 2019

Guest Conductor Leonard Slatkin, Pianist Jon Kimura Parker and TSO
Photo Credit: Jag Gundu

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON November 23rd 2019

Sondra Radvanovsky as Rusalka in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Rusalka, 2019; Photo credit: Michael Cooper

Cast of Don Giovanni – Opera Atelier 2019; Photo credit: Bruce Zinger

Incoming Music Director and Conductor Gustavo Gimeno and the Toronto
​Symphony Orchestra; Photo credit: Jag Gundu

​​Review by David Richards
oronto ON October 5th 2019

Last night’s foréee into Grand Opera by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall was indeed very special. It is rare to attend concert versions of grand opera with full orchestra. (I haven’t been a fan of the scaled-down piano accompanied versions). TSO’s Interim Music Director Sir Andrew Davis led an outstanding cast in a dramatically and musically charged performance of Massenet’s Thaïs that kept me riveted for the full two and a half hours. That the performance was being recorded for the Chandos recording label meant that orchestra, soloists and chorus were all fully prepared to make it a memorable night.


The Toronto Symphony Orchestra demonstrated unequivocally last night at Roy Thomson Hall that it is a superb orchestra and in the hands of its new maestro, Gustavo Gimeno, the future of its artistic excellence is assured. 


Vocalists Alexis Morrast and Denzal Sinclaire perform Silent Night 
​with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
​Photo credit: The Royal Conservatory of Music/Koerner Hall; Lisa Sakulensky

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in
Andrew Balfour’s Mamachimowin; Photo credit: John Hryniuk

It was quite a Sunday for great music in Toronto. I was left wishing I could be in four places at once. I could have attended Uof T’s Opera School production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Moordale’s recital by Wallis Giunta, Koerner Hall’s presentation of pianist Yefim Bronfman, or as I ultimately and happily decided on, An Afternoon with Adrianne Pieczonka in the Royal Conservatory’s Mazzoleni Hall.


Review by Jeff Mitchell
Toronto ON December 2nd 2019

A stellar cast and brilliant orchestral playing result in a remarkable performance by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra!

​​Review by David Richards
oronto ON October 10th 2019

On Saturday, November 30th,  Dr. Peter Simon, President and CEO of the Royal Conservatory, welcomed patrons to this gala concert celebrating Koerner Hall’s 11th season. He thanked season sponsors BMO Financial and the Toronto Star, as well as concert sponsor, TD Bank Group and broadcasting supporter, Telus. He noted that proceeds of the concert go to Resounding! The Campaign for the Royal Conservatory, which helps to fund the many spectacular concerts hosted by Koerner Hall. Simon then introduced Executive Director of Performing Arts, Mervon Mehta, who acknowledged the traditional lands of 1st nations peoples on which Koerner Hall is built and the 15,000 years that people have been coming together to make music in this area. Before welcoming Wynton Marsalis and the 15-piece Jazz atLincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) to the stage, he noted that this would be the 1000th concert performed at Koerner Hall, a milestone worthy of one of the most anticipated jazz events of the year in Toronto.


​​Review by Jeff Mitchell
oronto ON October 19th 2019

​​Review by David Richards
oronto ON October 22nd 2019

Conductor Andrei Feher brings youthful vitality to the Royal Conservatory Orchestra

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Concertmaster Jonathan Crow combine for chamber music at its finest!

Last night’s amazing concert by the Royal Conservatory Orchestra at Koerner Hall must have been one of those life-altering moments for many of the Glenn Gould School’s aspiring professional musicians when the young conducting phenom, Andrei Feher came to lead the orchestra.


The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir turned its fall concert into a gala celebration yesterday. With the help of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and sublime, diverse music of exaltation, it celebrated the 125th anniversary of its founding in 1894. An extensive social media campaign no doubt boosted ticket sales resulting in a full house at the Royal Conservatory’s Koerner Hall


The voices were strong, the orchestra expressive, and the staging complex and effective in yesterday evening’s excellent production of Rusalka. The sets and props travelled from the Chicago Lyric Opera to the Four Seasons Centre for this production, another successful operatic collaboration between Toronto and Chicago. Dvořák’s second-last opera, first performed in Prague in 1901, is a musical masterpiece with the libretto by Jaroslav Kvapil based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid (no happy ending this time) and more directly influenced by Friedrich de la Motte Fouquée’s Undine of 1811 (the title character Rusalka is a water sprite, or a “wave”). 


Opera Atelier performs Mozart’s Don Giovanni: Music, Mores, and Morals