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

Colin Ainsworth (Jason) and Peggy Kriha Dye (Medea). Photo by Bruce Zinger

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON April 27 2017

James Gelfand of the James Gelfand Trio

Music Director Peter Oundjian and TSO; Photo credit:  Jag Gundu

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON May 6th 2017

Christian McBride and Tip City

TD Jazz Trio Series Wraps Up at Koerner Hall in Spectacular Fashion!

A preview of TSO’s Tour of Israel, Austria, Germany and Czech Republic!

COC’s TOSCA: a fitting star-studded finale to a great COC season!​

The Royal Conservatory of Music completed its 5-concert TD Jazz: The Art of the Trio series Saturday night, May 13th at Koerner Hall, sponsored by TD Bank Group and Tom’s Place, with media partners NOW and JazzFM91. In keeping with the format of this series, the Canadian content on this night was provided by the James Gelfand Trio, while the international flavour was served up by American bassist Christian McBride and Tip City. ​

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Russell Braun as Louis Riel in the COC's new production of Louis Riel, 2017

 Photo credit: Sophie I'anson

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

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON April 26 2017

It’s an exciting time for the TSO. Tomorrow, the orchestra will leave for Israel and Europe. This past week, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has been gearing up for its upcoming major tour by giving Toronto audiences a preview of the music it has planned. 

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Music Director Lydia Adams and The Elmer Iseler Singers

It has been a long time since I have heard the Elmer Iseler Singers in concert without the company of the Toronto Symphony or the Amadeus Choir. I recently attended their Messiah and a performance of the Fauré Requiem with the TSO. However, last night at Jeanne Lamon Hall in the Trinity St. Paul Centre, the choir presented its own concert, O Canada! 150th Celebration!

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Review by David Richards
Toronto ON May 25th 2017

The Canadian Opera Company’s season is ending in the same manner as it began – with a popular opera featuring an internationally celebrated Canadian soprano in the title role. In October, Sondra Radvanovsky sang the role of Norma in the opera by Vincenzo Bellini. Yesterday, the COC’s final opera of the season opened a run of twelve performances, this time with Adrianne Pieczonka in the title role of Puccini’s Tosca

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Throughout the history of western music, contemporary music has been at the forefront of musical performance. Bach’s cantatas were always fresh when he performed them in Leipzig. Beethoven’s new sonatas, string quartets and symphonies were eagerly awaited by the musical public of Vienna. In today’s popular music, there is a continual search for new sounds. The latest Justin Bieber tune becomes the next sensation. Although in the 20th century, classical music tastes generally espoused the music of the previous centuries, new music is again coming to the fore. Increasingly, the classical music loving public is becoming more and more familiar with contemporary composers and is demanding to hear their music.

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​Adrianne Pieczonka as Tosca and Markus Marquardt as Scarpia in the Canadian Opera Company's production of Tosca, 2017 

Photo credit:  Michael Cooper 

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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Harry Somers’ opera Louis Riel, currently playing at the Four Seasons Centre, has been much anticipated. Indeed, the New York Times was writing about the Canadian Opera Company’s production even before it opened. In my own anticipation of the opera, I have sensed for some time that I might find writing a review of this production a challenge. I was in the chorus of the opera in 1969 when it was recorded by CBC for television with the same cast that had premiered the work in the original COC production two years earlier. I knew something of its complexities. I had played the role of a Métis in the Buffalo hunt scene, an ‘Orangeman’ in the Toronto rally, and a member of the gallery at Riel’s trial. Nonetheless, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw on stage last night.

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COC’s Louis Riel: a heroic Canadian tragedy shines light on a dark part of history while pointing a finger at contemporary issues!

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON May 27th 2017

COC Orchestra headlines the opening concert of Royal Conservatory’s 21C Festival!

Opera Atelier delivers a heart wrenching Medea in its elaborate new production!

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON May 7th 2017

Johannes Debus, Richard Van Camp, Elmer Iseler Singers and Canadian Opera Company Orchestra; Photo Credit: Lisa Sakulensky

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON May 1st 2017

Have you ever felt betrayal to the extent that rage and vengeance are all that is on your mind and in your heart? The anger that can come from an infidelity, especially after one has given one's all to a relationship, can be one of life’s most overwhelming moments. Such a betrayal and its consequent acts of vengeance are at the centre of the powerful story of Medea, the opera by Marc-Antoine Charpentier mounted this week by Opera Atelier, Canada’s internationally renowned theatrical company specializing in opera, ballet and drama from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

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Review by Jeff Mitchell
Toronto ON May 13th 2017

Sir Andrew Davis and TSO; Photo Credit: Jug Gundu