The enduring high note of Handel’s Messiah returning in dual Toronto productions

John Terauds, Toronto Star. No one expects a stopgap to turn into a masterpiece. But that’s what happened to George Frideric Handel when one of his collaborators, Charles Jennens, handed him some texts to set to music. Messiah has, since its premiere in Dublin at Easter time 275 years ago, become one of the best-loved pieces of classical music in the English-speaking world. Toronto is no exception, becoming a virtual shrine to Messiah at this time every year. The city’s two flagship orchestras — the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on modern instruments, and Tafelmusik Orchestra on historical ones — present multiple performances every December. The two-hour oratorio, either in part or whole, is also heard in churches, cathedrals, schools and community concerts from the city core to rural villages.
More

Categories: 2017-2018 Season and Media Reviews.

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir marks the beginning of the holiday season with glorious sounds!

Dave Richards, Toronto Concert Reviews. For the eighteenth consecutive year, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir has begun its hectic December schedule of performances with its Festival of Carols. The cathedral-like Yorkminster Park Baptist Church was festooned with twenty-five foot high Christmas trees at either side of the chancel, lit with thousands of sparkling lights. The sounds of the TMC, organist David Briggs, the Canadian Staff Band of the Salvation Army, and the Canadian Children’s Opera Company was glorious. This was indeed the beginning of a month of great music, celebration and festivities. From the opening bars of Bob Chilcott’s arrangement of the Sussex Carol, the energy of the choir’s rhythmically charged singing was joyfully uplifting.
More

Categories: 2017-2018 Season and Media Reviews.

Performers Also Work Extra Holiday Hours: Noel Edison, Conductor

Liz Parker, Classical 96.3 Blog. Q: The holidays can be a lot of fun for the fans who love to be entertained – but it’s a lot of fatigue for the performers. What is the hardest thing about performing over the holidays? Be honest. Noel: To be honest, I actually enjoy performing over the holiday season. When you conduct so many choirs, there is so much variety in what you are doing, you never get bored! Now, all the programming that has to happen in October ….that’s tedious!
More

Categories: 2017-2018 Season and Media Reviews.

Meet a Member: Anne Longmore, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir

Mike Rowan, Chorus America. Toronto Mendelssohn Choir director of marketing and community outreach Anne Longmore has an unusual dual career—college professor and arts administrator, thanks to a big move. “I worked for a year and a half in Dubai with my family, and taught some marketing classes at Canadian University Dubai where my husband was working,” recounts Longmore. “When I came back to Toronto, I wanted to work in the arts, but also look for an opportunity to teach part-time.” She teaches at Humber College, which offers a post-graduate certificate program in public relations, in addition to her work with TMC. After obtaining her master’s in arts administration and working for some of Toronto’s large cultural institutions, Longmore was happy to combine her personal passion for singing and working for an arts organization that makes a difference in society. She also increasingly enjoys opportunities to lead seminars and webinars where she can share practical advice for those just starting out with a stretched budget or staff. Says Longmore, “I love to help other professionals understand how to make the ideas that you read about actually happen.” Longmore spoke to Chorus America president and CEO Catherine Dehoney about trends in marketing and arts administration programs in our latest edition of ‘Meet A Member.’
More

Categories: 2017-2018 Season and Media Reviews.

Toronto Dominates Classical Music Nominees At The 60th Annual Grammy Awards

Michael Vincent, Ludwig Van Toronto. The 60th annual Grammy Awards have announced the complete list of nominees. This year, three Toronto artists/presenters represent the only Canadians nominated over the 10 classical music categories. Soprano Barbara Hannigan is nominated for in the Best Classical Solo Vocal Album category for her 2017 album release, Crazy Girl Crazy featuring music by Gershwin, Berg & Berio with Orchestra Ludwig. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir are both nominated for last year's recording of Handel’s Messiah with Andrew Davis, (conductor) Noel Edison (chorus master) and soloists: Elizabeth DeShong, John Relyea, Andrew Staples & Erin Wall. TSO Messiah album producer, Blanton Alspaugh, also has a nod for producer of the year.
More

Categories: 2017-2018 Season and Media Reviews.

The Toronto Symphony Remembers…

Jeff Mitchell, Toronto Concert Reviews. (T)he Toronto premiere of an hour-long work entitled Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation, by Vancouver-based composer Jeffrey Ryan, with text by Canadian poet Suzanne Steele, who spent time with the Canadian Light Infantry in Afghanistan between 2008 and 2010.  Her “observations of a Canadian battle group’s road to war and that of their loved ones, before, during and after war”, as expressed through her vivid and graphic poetry, set the stage for the dramatic and visceral music composed by Ryan.  The work is written for orchestra, vocal soloists, as well as adult and children’s choruses. Each of the soloists were exceptional, singing music that was not as lyrical or melodic as one often hears in a requiem but that was, at turns, percussive, violent, plaintive and emotionally raw, even at its quietest moments.
More

Categories: 2017-2018 Season and Media Reviews.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra lifts war into art with Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation

John Terauds, Toronto Star. Art loves conflict and resolution, while the real world muddles along in the sludgy mass between the two. But art, carefully applied and administered as it was by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on Thursday night, can lift that sludgy mass up and turn it into something almost as beautiful as neat resolution.
More

Categories: 2017-2018 Season and Media Reviews.

Toronto Symphony Remembers Afghanistan War With Deeply Moving Tribute

John Terauds, ludwig van Toronto. The second half of the program belonged to Ryan and Steele’s 60-minute Requiem, with full orchestra and four vocal soloists augmented by the always-excellent Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and Toronto Children’s Chorus. Soprano Measha Brueggergosman, mezzo Allyson McHardy, tenor Colin Ainsworth and baritone Brett Poegato did excellent work with what was often difficult singing, bringing genuine emotion to the text.
More

Categories: 2017-2018 Season and Media Reviews.

Review: Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation

John Gilks, operaramblings. It’s a new piece by Jeffrey Ryan that sets lines from the Latin Requiem Mass combined with words by poet Suzanne Steele who joined up with the PPCLI on a tour of duty in Afghanistan.  So there are structural resemblances to the Britten work but whereas in the War Requiem we have a clear delineation between sections of the mass (for soprano and chorus) and Owen’s poetry (for the baritone and tenor), in Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation the two parts are blended and there’s an underlying narrative.  Generally, the Latin is given to the adult and children’s choruses and set quite lyrically while Steele’s words are given to the four soloists with generally more abrasive, sometimes atonal music and sometimes even, spoken.  Steele’s texts are redolent of the discomfort and danger and, sometimes, the essential pointlessness of the Afghanistan campaign.  There’s a longing for home and a sense of wonderment at Nature but never, thankfully, bogus nationalism or sentimentality.
More

Categories: 2017-2018 Season and Media Reviews.

Review: A Triple Concerto & A German Requiem with the TSO

Jenna Simeonov, Schmopera. The TMC sounded spectacular under the direction of Noel Edison, as did the solo singing by Braun and Wall - Wall in particular filled the Hall with her stunning soprano.
More

Categories: 2017-2018 Season and Media Reviews.