TORONTO CONCERT REVIEWS

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

Nestled on the edge of a river gorge northwest of Guelph and not far from the Mennonite communities of St. Jacob’s and Elmira, the village of Elora has been home to some of the finest of summer music festivals for the past 38 years; 2017 is no exception. In this first weekend of the Elora Festival that extends to the end of the July, some of Canada’s finest musicians have made Elora the perfect escape destination from the bustle of Toronto. Yesterday afternoon, two fabulous performances took place at St. John’s Church.


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Review by David Richards
Toronto ON May 27th 2017

Vladimir Spivakov and Moscow Virtuosi; Photos by Vladimir Kevorkov for Show One Productions

Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra introduces soprano diva Hibla Gerzmava and young cellist Danielle Atka to Toronto

Sir Andrew Davis and TSO; Photo Credit: Nick Wons

Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt

Sir Andrew Davis and TSO; Photo Credit: Jag Gundu

TSO's The Seven Deadly Sins; Photo credit: Jag Gundu

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON June 22nd 2017

Toronto Bach Festival brings reconstructed St. Mark Passion to life in a rare performance!

Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast rocks the house as the TSO teams up with the Mendelssohn Choir and Huddersfield Choral Society!

Benjamin Britten's Saint Nicholas Cantata

Geoff Nuttal, Owen Dalby, Christopher Costanza and Lesley Robertson
Photo credit: James Ireland

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON May 29th 2017

Music Director Peter Oundjian, Phillip Addis, Daniel Taylor, Aline Kutan, TMC, TCC
Photo credit: Jag Gundu

TSO knocks it out of the park with Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins!

After a splendid day at the Elora Festival on Saturday, a second day in a row with promising performances made staying over to Sunday irresistible as there were three enticing performances scheduled for the afternoon and evening: soprano Karina Gauvin in recital, Benjamin Britten’s Saint Nicolas Cantata directed by Noel Edison, and finally the young Canadian cellist Cameron Crozman in recital.  


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The Toronto Symphony Orchestra returned home from its seven city and four country tour of Israel and Europe on Monday of this past week. Last night, the orchestra was already back in its usual position on the stage of Roy Thomson Hall with its famed Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis. This was a very apt reunion with its former conductor because it was also a farewell to its long-time Principal Flute, Nora Shulman. With well-known works by Grieg and Beethoven on the program and with guest French pianist Jean Efflam-Bavouzet, this promised to be a program that everyone could enjoy.


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It wasn’t just the Industrial Revolution in nineteenth century Britain that changed the fabric of society; there was also a musical renaissance happening in England. Public concerts there featured celebrated musicians and composers from across Europe. Throughout the Victorian era, choral societies sprang up in every town, village and city spawning new composers and an unprecedented period of great choral singing that continues today in many British communities. In northern England, the Huddersfield Choral Society was formed in 1836. Choral fever spread to Canada and resulted in the formation of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in 1894.


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Toronto Symphony returns home for both a reunion and a farewell!

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON July 16th 2017

The Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra stopped in at Roy Thomson Hall last night for its only Canadian stop on its current North American Tour. Toronto was the fifth of seven cities being visited including Boston, New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The 25 strings and 4 winds led by Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, Vladimir Spivakov were joined by the 14 year-old Israeli cellist Danielle Akta and the Russian soprano Hibla Gerzmava


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The Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s successful season is coming to an end this week with four performances of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. The orchestra has been on a whirlwind for the final six weeks of its schedule with a four country tour of Israel and Europe, two brilliant weeks with Sir Andrew Davis conducting, and the Decades Project concerts that have already included riveting performances of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast and Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins. Of course in early June, Sir Andrew Davis was announced as Interim Music Director for two years following Peter Oundjian’s departure in June 2018. All this activity has led to a climactic finale with four performances from last night through to Saturday.


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If a day in Elora is a pleasant escape, a weekend makes the trip truly fulfilling!

In the most stunningly creative undertaking of the season, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra mounted a performance of Kurt Weill’s “sung-ballet”, Die sieben Todsünden (The Seven Deadly Sins). Led by Music Director Peter Oundjian, the orchestra moved upstage, took off their formal jackets and fittingly looked the part of a German cabaret band of the 1930s. This was not just a homerun for the TSO, it had the drama of a walk-off in the ninth inning of a playoff game.​


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TSO’s CARMINA BURANA is a memorable conclusion to its 16/17 season!

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON July 17th 2017

ELORA FESTIVAL brings the finest of music to the picturesque Ontario town!

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and Huddersfield Choral Society combine to create choral ecstasy!

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON June 15th 2017

The 1930s was if nothing else a decade of dichotomies. There was both the rise of Hitler and the Great Depression. At the same time, these years encompassed great artistic and scientific achievements: Picasso, Salvador Dali and Georgia O’Keefe were redefining art; penicillin was being developed; the planet Pluto was discovered; and Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman, Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald were all turning popular American music on its ear. 


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Review by David Richards
Toronto ON July 14d 2017

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON June 3rd 2017

ST. LAWRENCE STRING QUARTET lights up opening night at Toronto Summer Music Festival

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Huddersfield Choral Society

The Toronto Bach Festival 2017 concluded its weekend of performances yesterday afternoon with a rare performance of J.S. Bach’s reconstructed St. Mark Passion. If you missed the three performances comprising the festival, you missed an opportunity to hear some of Bach’s great music that is performed all too infrequently. The festival, the brain-child of Artistic Director John Abberger, is in its second year. Dates have already been set for a third season. According to Abberger, although there are many familiar works of Bach, probably 70 percent of his output is rarely heard. It is Abberger’s intent to bring to light Bach’s rich legacy of music.


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I had been beginning to suffer withdrawal symptoms with the void in live music in Toronto since the end of the 2016/17 season for the city’s musical organizations. The withdrawal came to an abrupt halt last night with the spectacular performance by the St Lawrence String Quartet at Koerner Hall marking the beginning of the Toronto Summer Music Festival, and for that matter the beginning of the summer music festival season in Ontario.


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Toronto Bach Festival, 2017; Photo Credit: Emily Ding

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON June 5th 2017

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON June 9th 2017