Monday, October 24, 2011

Review - Edmonton Opera's Season Opener Speaks the Truth

From Sound and Noise, University of Alberta Music Students on Music, October 22, 2011:

Verismo operas serve to depict the truth in everyday life. To this day, audiences connect to the enduringly real quality of Puccini’s classic love story, La Bohème. Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana defined Italian verismo opera when it opened in 1890. Edmonton Opera begins its season on Saturday evening with Mascagni’s definitive masterpiece in combination with another verismo favourite, Ruggero Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci (as a duo, these two shows often receive the nickname “Cav/Pag”). If truth is the name of the game in verismo opera, Edmonton Opera’s dress rehearsal on Thursday evening did not tell a word of lie.

Although headlined by legendary tenor Richard Margison in the role of Turiddu, the story of Cavalleria Rusticana belongs to Santuzza—the unrequited lover of Turiddu. Santuzza is a notoriously difficult role that requires a mezzo-soprano or a soprano to have both a full-throated lower register and soaring high notes.

As Santuzza, Dana Beth Miller proved herself a fine actress, capturing the dramatic intensity the role requires. Her voice was equally dramatic and plenty beautiful, but I fear the difficult acoustic in the Jubilee Auditorium caused her to up her breath pressure and squeeze her high notes to compensate. Though she needed to trust that her powerful voice would carry just fine, her performance was captivating. Mia Lennox Williams was loveably annoying as Lola, the woman who steals Turiddu away from Santuzza, and Lynne McMurtry’s Mama Lucia was beautifully sung. Gregory Dahl, who has charisma for days, was a powerfully jealous Alfio. I am going to be honest: Richard Margison is, quite simply, Richard Margison. His voice is still working. That is all you need to know. Go see him.

Gregory Dahl transitioned the evening into Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci with some wonderfully timed comedy as Tonio the clown. The entrance of the villagers to see the company putting on the theatrics marked the entrance of one of our great sopranos, Laura Whalen. Her Nedda was stunning. Her voice was beautiful, as always, her dramatic intentions were clear, as always, and her glistening presence made it hard to focus on anyone else. Tonio had no chance at love with Whalen’s Nedda.

Nedda’s husband, Canio, was Mr. Margison. Again in fine form, he sang the famous “Vesti la giubba” as beautifully as ever. Aaron St. Clair Nicholson was formidable as Nedda’s lover, Silvio, and Robert Clark was quite funny as Beppe the clown.

Meastro Tyrone Paterson led the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and Edmonton Opera Chorus through the undeniably gorgeous music of both of these verismo greats. The chorus was particularly busy in the Leoncavallo, and each member remained engaging throughout. Peter J. Hall’s beautifully simple sets added to the search for emotional truth by not overdoing anything and letting the performers tell the story.

Kudos are in order for director Valerie Kuinka. She went for truth rather than fireworks, and this allowed the music to shine through. The tragic nature of these two operas, in turn, became so beautiful that you accepted the stories for exactly what they were.

This is an evening of opera not to be missed.

Edmonton Opera’s production runs on October 22, 25 and 27 at 7:30pm at the Jubilee Auditorium.

-Mark Wilkinson

Review - Raga Mala Features the heARTbeat Ensemble at the Museum

From Sound and Noise, University of Alberta Music Students on Music, October 24, 2011:
On Friday night, Raga Mala showcased a spectacular improvisational event. Raga Mala, a local society that educates and promotes the variation and excellence found in Indian music and dance, has a reputation of bringing magnificent talent, and the heARTbeat ensemble did not disappoint.

It being my first time seeing a concert at the Royal Alberta Museum theater, I was struck by the acoustic clarity of the space. The live sound engineer was a true artist in his ability to create such a luscious and balanced mix with such a dense sound. From a sound space perspective, the show was fantastic. Thank you, Mike.

Upon entering the theater, I was interested in the arrangement of the instruments on the stage. On one side was the acoustic instruments: Ghatam (a percussive clay pot), Mridangam (a double-sided percussive folk drum), and a Kanjira (a similar instrument to a tambourine), mediating the space was a silent violin (which was later anything but silent), and on the other side, the electronic instruments: a micro Korg synth, a midi Drum pad (programmed with a multitude of sounds, percussive and instrumental), an electronic keyboard, drone box, and a nature/animal sound loop. Having been to a few Raga Mala shows before, this set up was quite unique and even a little bizarre. I am a skeptic when it comes to fusing acoustic and electronic instruments in a live setting because often it morphs into something more resembling a battle or showdown of acoustic versus electronic, and it hurts my ears (and soul) a little. In any case, the heARTbeat ensemble was a rare event that shattered my expectations and not my eardrums.

From the first note, the virtuosity of each player was apparent. The concert began with a piece featuring an eighteen beats per cycle rhythmic structure, which may not phase you, but the speed and accuracy with which they played was so tight and complex as an ensemble that I was holding my breath, waiting for it to get derailed. But of course, that never happened. The third selection was called “Pulse” and it was played at 72 beats/min, the resting pulse of the average person. This piece was a lesson in the effectiveness and beauty of the pentatonic scale, and my personal favourite of the evening. The silent violin was effortlessly expressive and moving. The Korg wound itself between the violins melodic space, manipulating the pitch using such precise pitch bending functions, it became as natural a sound as any acoustic instrument. Maya (meaning illusion) was the last piece played before intermission, highlighting the heARTbeat ensemble’s essence: a series of improvisational percussive solos, getting increasingly more intricate and faster as the piece progressed. This piece showcased the marriage of classical Indian music, free form jazz and improvisation, to a degree that would be educational to all Edmonton’s percussionists of all levels. After tea, the second half consisted of two pieces: a free form, percussive improvisational virtuosity and a medley of Indian and Canadian sounds of the folk and classical lineages, flawlessly performed and executed.

The virtuosity of the players of the heARTbeat ensemble left me stunned. Their ability to mold and shape complex traditional carnatic rhythms and scales and tonalities was achieved with ease and excellence. Seamlessly, they blended improvisation, experimental free form jazz, rock, folk, western classical and Indian classical music, creating a mature fusion of acoustic and electronic, and traditional and contemporary sound. Dr ‘Ghatam’ Karthick, founder of the ensemble, integrated the right amount of story telling, humour, audience participation and education within this performance, in a way that left the audience hanging off every note, every beat and every bend. The heARTbeat ensemble is an extraordinary group of extremely talented musicians who have conceptualized a brilliant improvisational platform, creating a new sound niche nestled between tradition and experimental improvisation.

For more information on the heARTbeat ensemble click here

For Raga Mala information and upcoming performances click here

- Allison Sokil

Review - Daniel Taylor, countertenor - "unplugged"

Daniel Taylor visited Sherwood Park's Festival Place for an intimate concert of early music and Handel arias to a small but enthusiastic crowd (by the way Edmonton, where were you?)

Joined by Agnes Zsigovics, soprano and Jordan de Souza, piano, Daniel wowed the audience with not only his vocal talent but also his natural comedic wit as he told stories and described some of the music.

For anyone new to the world of countertenors, Daniel put everyone at ease by describing the countertenor voice and telling a story of a performance in Victoria where a woman in the audience remarked, "What the hell was that?!" and thought that a young countertenor student was mouthing along with a recording. If you have never heard a countertenor before, run out and buy one of Daniel Taylor's many CDs for Sony Classical - you won't be sorry.

The first half of the concert included some early music standards and folk song favourites such as “I will Give My Love an Apple” and “Down by the Sally Gardens”. It is wonderful and rare to hear these well known simple tunes receive such care and sensitivity by a seasoned artist.

Daniel Taylor shared the music with Agnes Zsigovics who supplemented the program with solos and duets with Daniel. Agnes is a promising soprano with a haunting early music style and I hope to hear much more from her in the future. In particular, the ornamentation in Agnes’ “Lascia ch’io pianga” from Handel’s Rinaldo was beautifully understated and authentic.

The second half of the performance was devoted to the music of Handel and Jordan de Souza was allowed to shine on the piano with the rousing Harmonious Blacksmith Variations. The highlights of the second half were the infrequently performed “The Pilgrim’s Home” from the oratorio Theodora which was lovingly sung by Agnes Zsigovics, Daniel Taylor’s always stellar singing of Cara Sposa (Rinaldo) which I would argue is his best role, and finally, the encore.

Daniel Taylor brought the house down (and his hair!) with the passionate and unhinged singing of one of Tolomeo’s arias from Giulio Cesare satisfyingly unleashing the full power of both his countertenor and baritone voice in the final aria of the concert.

In order to ensure that classical music remains part of Festival Place in Sherwood Park, Daniel offered that any money donated to his Theatre of Early Music would be doubled and provided to Festival Place to allow more classical music concerts to be performed. Thank you to Daniel (the philanthropist!), Agnes and Jordan for venturing out to the suburbs of Edmonton and I wish there were more people there to appreciate your work.

Daniel Taylor returns to Edmonton on Monday February 13th with the Theatre of Early Music in Dido and Aeneas at Convocation Hall at the University of Alberta.

Jordan de Souza returns to Edmonton in the spring to conduct Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict at Opera Nuova’s Vocal Arts Festival.

Concert Listings Oct 24-30

Monday October 24, 2011 FREE UofA Monday Noon Music  45 min, student concerts from western classical to world music. Don’t forget to bring your lunch! Convocation Hall, UofA.

Monday, October 24, 2011 12pm FREE Location? Noon Hour Organ Concert at the U of A sponsored by the RCCO Edmonton. Featuring works by Bruhns, Couperin, Mendelssohn and others on the gallery organ and the new Krapf Memorial Positive Organ in its first public performance with works by Frescobaldi and Zipoli.

Tuesday October 25, 2011 7:30pm Edmonton Opera Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni) and I Pagliacci (Leoncavallo). Jubilee Auditorium.

Wednesday October 26, 2011 12:10-12:50pm FREE McDougall Concert Association, Hiromi Takahashi, oboe and Jeremy Spurgeon, piano. McDougall United Church, banquet hall, 101 street and one block south of Jasper Avenue (use Macdonald Drive entrance, faces the river). Bring your friends and your bag lunch – coffee and tea are also available.

Thursday October 27 - Friday November 4, 2011 Pinocchio - Alberta Opera Musical Theatre for Young People. Fringe Festival, Westbury Theatre. Contact the theatre for showtimes.

Thursday October 27, 2011 7:30pm Edmonton Opera Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni) and I Pagliacci (Leoncavallo). Jubilee Auditorium.

Saturday October 29, 2011 6pm Annual fundraising dinner for the Anne Burrows Music Foundation. Performance by Michelle Yelin Nam, piano. Faculty Club.

Saturday, October 29, 2011 7pm The Contempo New Music ensemble presents works by Godin, Hannah, Csapo, Levy & Xenaxis. Featuring a special performance by professor Roger Admiral, piano. Admission by donation. Convocation Hall, UofA.

Sunday October 30, 2011 7:30pm Edmonton Recital Society, Ivan Zenaty, violin. Sponsored by the Czech and Slovak Society of Arts and Sciences of Alberta. Muttart Hall, Alberta College. Contact Tix on the Square.

Sunday October 30, 2011 7:30pm Sacred Music Festival – Concordia School of Music ensembles. Winspear Centre.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review - Brilliant Conductor Meets Delightful Pianist

From Sound and Noise - University of Alberta Popular-Music Students on Music

Brilliant Conductor Meets Delightful Pianist

César Franck’s first and only symphony is an undeniably passionate piece, built on an intense interplay of thematic material. It was performed last weekend by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, alongside a seemingly similar work by Mendelssohn. However, the two pieces are almost opposite in temperament: where Franck contrasts between the melancholy and the brash, Mendelssohn’s first piano concerto is cheerful and civilized. Mendelssohn’s forays into drama – a brass fanfare or plunge into percussive lower register – are more like interludes for interest.

Ilya Yakushev handled Mendelssohn with an exquisite lightness. His demeanor reflected the style. He was sweet and a bit goofy, sending the occasional smile to the audience. The kind of furrowed-brow soloist the audience gets used to is not without its benefits, but would not have suited the piece. Instead Yakushev was delicate, playing with ease and yet with a carefulness that was most affecting in the second movement. Very soft, almost without orchestra, he made each gesture sound like the most natural thing, as though the piano were playing itself.

Franck’s symphony was a different kettle of fish. From the silence before the first sound, conductor Mei-Ann Chen girded the loins of the whole room. Mendelssohn had begun with a powerful flourish, then relaxed into playfulness. Franck did the opposite. Growing from nothing, steadily building in tension, the symphony felt like a fast-approaching explosion.

Chen was dynamite. “Intensity, precision and a thorough knowledge of the score – Chen was a wonderful, full and delectable musical package to behold,” said Petar Dundjerski, conductor of Edmonton’s University Symphony Orchestra. She used the whole podium, wringing expression out of the symphony as she crouched and leapt. Her whole body seemed to be pushing the piece forward, from standing on her toes to her outstretched arms. Yet she was clear and precise. Her shoulders and elbows were loose, giving her great flexibility of motion. Somehow, she did not fall moderately between the spectrums of technique and expression, but rather conjoined them. She brought out a theme, then a countertheme, then wove them together again and again, as Franck’s elaborate composition demanded.

In the folksy, guitar-like opening of the second movement, the strings and harp plucked with a brighter energy than the melancholy wind themes or the enormous climaxes, but nonetheless with great energy. The piece lacked nothing – exciting composition, vibrant orchestra, expressive solos, and most of all a brilliant conductor.

—MaryGrace Johnstone

UPDATED - RCCO Edmonton Organ Scholarship Deadline November 7, 2011

RCCO (Royal Canadian College of Organists) Edmonton Centre has a scholarship program which provides funds for organ studies.

The three programs include:

Beginning Organists, a scholarship for pianists interested in trying out the organ with one of our local teachers.

The Farmer Memorial Scholarship is for advanced organists wishing to continue or further their studies.

The Eileen Gordon Bishop Scholarship provides funds for working organists for further studies, workshops or attendance at conventions or other educational activities related to their work as an organist.

If you have any questions, please contact us at this email address and your message will be passed on to Dr. Kloppers, our scholarship chair.

Applicants for the Farmer and the Eileen Gordon-Bishop scholarships  must be RCCO members.

The application deadline has been extended to November 7, 2011 and auditions will be in November. 

The application is now available on the RCCO web site - click on the link below.
RCCO Edmonton Centre

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review - Monday Noon Music brings the (understated) love

From Sound and Noise · University of Alberta Popular-Music Students on Music

The theme of love filled Convocation Hall in more ways than one during this week’s Monday Noon Music concert. Violinist Frédéric Bednarz and pianist Natsuki Hiratsuka chose a program of violin sonatas whose central theme was love. To add to this, University of Alberta Professor of Violin, Guillaume Tardif, introduced the concert by announcing to the audience that the duo had been recently married. This personal collaboration was immediately evident in the duo’s artistic collaboration.

Beginning with César Franck’s Violin and Piano Sonata in A Major, Bednarz and Hiratsuka exuded understated elegance and deeply sensitive playing. Neither one of them upstaged the other, nor did they create artificial fireworks for the sake of entertainment. I appreciated their simplicity, demeanour and musical approach, considering that the French style is one of more reserved expressions of emotion.

The second piece was Maurice Ravel’s Violin and Piano Sonata in G Major, which Ravel wrote as part of his marriage proposal to Hélène Jourdan-Morhange (unfortunately, Mme Jourdan-Morhange refused his offer). Ravel’s piece gave Bednarz the opportunity to show why he recently joined the renowned Molinari String Quartet, with his assured technique and versatile musicality. The second movement of the Ravel was a Blues theme, and Bednarz captured the mood well.

Hiratsuka played with beautiful colours and in perfect harmony with Bednarz, but she had to deal with several piano keys that were out of tune. She managed, however, to fill the sound with love, despite the instrument’s shortcomings. The duo programmed a third piece, Fritz Kreisler’s Gypsy Caprice, but a large group of students, in which I include myself, had to leave before hearing the Kreisler, due to the length of the concert.

Logistics aside, Frédéric Bednarz and Natsuki Hiratsuka presented Monday Noon Music with a beautifully understated concert. Everyone really did feel the love.

Monday Noon Music continues throughout the 2011-2012 season. Consult the Department of Music website at for more information.

-Mark Wilkinson

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Concert Listings Oct 18-24

Wednesday October 19, 2011 12:10-12:50pm FREE McDougall Concert Association, Kerri McGonigle, cello and Leanne Regehr, piano. McDougall United Church, banquet hall, 101 street and one block south of Jasper Avenue (use Macdonald Drive entrance, faces the river). Bring your friends and your bag lunch – coffee and tea are also available.

Friday October 21, 2011 7:30pm Raga-Mala Music Society – Carnatic Percussion. Percussion Heartbeat Ensemble, Dr. Ghatam Karthick - Ghatam, Konnakol, Vocal, Embar Kannan - Silent Violin, Poongulam Subramanian – Mridangam Keyboard Sathya – Keyboard, BS Arunkumar – Rhythm Pads, Shree Sundar – Kanjira. Royal Alberta Museum. Tickets available at the door, $20,$15 Raga-Mala Patron Members FREE.

Saturday October 22, 2011 7:30pm The Music Carries On - Edmonton Chinese Philharmonia 10th Anniversary Concert, Convocation Hall, UofA.

Saturday October 22, 2011 7:30pm Edmonton Opera Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni) and I Pagliacci (Leoncavallo). Jubilee Auditorium.

Sunday October 23, 2011 2:30pm Pro Coro - Musical Dialogue Through the Ages, Mark Bailey, guest conductor. Music by Tallis, Bach, Brahms, Vedel, Rachmaninoff, and more. McDougall United Church. $30 Adults, $25 Seniors, $20 Students. Tickets at the Winspear Box Office and at the door.

Sunday October 23, 2011 3pm Alberta Baroque Ensemble, Baroque Masters. Virginie Gagné and Hermine Gagné, violin, Mikiko Kohjitani, viola. Handel, Concerto Grosso in D, Stamitz, Concerto for Viola in G, Teleman, Don Quichotte Suite, Bach, Concerto for Two Violins in D minor. Robertson-Wesley United Church. Tix on the Square or the Gramophone.

Sunday October 23, 2011 7:30pm Daniel Taylor, countertenor. Festival Place, Sherwood Park.

Monday October 24, 2011 UofA Monday Noon Music FREE 45 min, student concerts from western classical to world music. Don’t forget to bring your lunch! Convocation Hall, UofA.

Concordia Sacred Music Festival 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

6th Annual Charity Recital for the Alberta Cancer Society

6th Annual Charity Recital presented by Alissa Cheung

Oct. 16, 2011 - 3 p.m.
Muttart Hall, Alberta College

Alissa Cheung, violin
Sarah Ho, piano

With guest, Leanne Dammann Maitland, viola

Works by Rolla, Grella-Mozejko, Tchaikovsky, Ysaye, Mozart, Poulenc

All proceeds to benefit the Alberta Cancer Foundation. Admission by donation at the door or through Tix on the Square.

Collaborative duo Alissa Cheung and Sarah Ho is presenting an eclectic program of musical works in a concert to benefit the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

Since 2005, the two Edmonton artists have made an annual tradition of using their talents to give back to the community. Edmontonian violist, Leanne Dammann Maitland, will also performing in this year’s recital.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Metropolitan Opera in HD 2011/2012 starts this weekend!

The Metropolitan Opera live in HD is back for 11 performances in 2011 - 2012 at the Cineplex Odeon theatres in north and south Edmonton and at the Scotiabank theatre at West Edmonton Mall.

Here is a list of upcoming performances -

Donizetti’s Anna Bolena – New Production

October 15, 2011, 12:55 pm ET

U.S. Encore: November 2, 2011 6:30 pm local time

Canada Encores:November 12, 2011 1 pm local time

November 21, 2011, 6:30 pm local time

Anna Netrebko opens the Met season with her portrayal of the ill-fated queen driven insane by her unfaithful king. She sings one of opera's greatest mad scenes in this Met premiere production by David McVicar. Ekaterina Gubanova is her rival, Jane Seymour, Ildar Abdrazakov sings Henry VIII, and Marco Armiliato conducts.

Mozart’s Don Giovanni – New Production

October 29, 2011, 12:55 pm ET

U.S. Encore: November 16, 2011 at 6:30 pm local time

Canada Encores: December 17, 2011 at 1 pm local time

January 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

Mariusz Kwiecien brings his youthful and sensual interpretation of Mozart’s timeless anti-hero to the Met for the first time, under the direction of Tony Award®-winning director Michael Grandage and with Fabio Luisi conducting. Also starring Marina Rebeka, Barbara Frittoli, Ramón Vargas, and Luca Pisaroni.

Wagner’s Siegfried– New Production

November 5, 2011, 12 pm ET

Encore dates to be determined

In part three of the Ring, Wagner’s cosmic vision focuses on his hero’s early conquests, while Robert Lepage’s revolutionary stage machine transforms itself from bewitched forest to mountaintop love nest. Gary Lehman sings the title role and Deborah Voigt’s Brünnhilde is his prize. Bryn Terfel is the Wanderer. Fabio Luisi conducts.

Glass’s Satyagraha

November 19, 2011, 12:55 pm ET

U.S. Encore: December 7, 2011 at 6:30 pm local time

Canada Encore: January 14, 2012 at 1 pm local time

The Met’s visually extravagant production is back for an encore engagement. Richard Croft (right) once again is Gandhi in Philip Glass’s unforgettable opera, which the Washington Post calls “a profound and beautiful work of theater.”

Handel’s Rodelinda

December 3, 2011, 12:30 pm ET

U.S. Encore: January 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

Canada Encore: January 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm local time

Sensational in the 2004 Met premiere of Stephen Wadsworth’s much-heralded production, Renée Fleming reprises the title role. She’s joined by Stephanie Blythe and countertenor Andreas Scholl, and Baroque specialist Harry Bicket conducts.

Gounod’s Faust– New Production

December 10, 2011, 12:55 pm ET

U.S. Encore: January 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

Canada Encores: February 4, 2012 at 1 pm local time

February 27, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

With Jonas Kaufmann in the title role, René Pape as the devil, and Marina Poplavskaya as Marguerite, Gounod’s classic retelling of the Faust legend couldn’t be better served. Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff updates the story to the first half of the 20th century with a production that won praise in London last season. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts on the heels of his Don Carlo success.

The Enchanted Island– New Production

January 21, 2012, 12:55 pm ET

U.S. Encore: February 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

Canada Encore: March 3, 2012 at 1 pm local time

March 26, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

In one extraordinary new work, lovers of Baroque opera have it all: the world’s best singers, glorious music of the Baroque masters, and a story drawn from Shakespeare. In The Enchanted Island, the lovers from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream are shipwrecked on his other-worldly island of The Tempest. Inspired by the musical pastiches and masques of the 18th century, the work showcases arias and ensembles by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and others, and a new libretto devised and written by Jeremy Sams. Eminent conductor William Christie leads an all-star cast with David Daniels (Prospero) and Joyce DiDonato (Sycorax) as the formidable foes, Plácido Domingo as Neptune, Danielle de Niese as Ariel, and Luca Pisaroni as Caliban. Lisette Oropesa and Anthony Roth Costanzo play Miranda and Ferdinand. The dazzling production is directed and designed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch (Satyagraha and the Met’s 125 anniversary gala).

Wagner’s Götterdämmerung – New Production

February 11, 2012, 12 pm ET

Encore dates to be determined

With its cataclysmic climax, the Met’s new Ring cycle, directed by Robert Lepage, comes to its resolution. Deborah Voigt stars as Brünnhilde and Gary Lehman is Siegfried—the star-crossed lovers doomed by fate. James Levine conducts.

Verdi’s Ernani

February 25, 2012, 12:55 pm ET

U.S. Encore: March 14, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

Canada Encore: March 31, 2012 at 1 pm local time

Angela Meade takes center stage in Verdi’s thrilling early gem. Marcello Giordani is her mismatched lover, and all-star Verdians Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Ferruccio Furlanetto round out the cast.

Massenet’s Manon– New Production

April 7, 2012, 12 pm ET

U.S. Encore: April 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

Canada Encores: April 28, 2012 at 12 pm local time

May 14, 2012 at 6 pm local time

Anna Netrebko’s dazzling portrayal of the tragic heroine in Laurent Pelly’s new production travels to the Met from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Piotr Beczala and Paulo Szot also star, with the Met’s Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi on the podium.

Verdi’s La Traviata

April 14, 2012, 12:55 pm ET

U.S. Encore: May 2, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

Canada Encores: May 26, 2012 at 1 pm local time

June 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

Natalie Dessay will put on the red dress in Willy Decker’s stunning production, in her first Violetta at the Met. Matthew Polenzani sings Alfredo, Dmitri Hvorostovsky is Germont, and Principal Guest Conductor Fabio Luisi is on the podium.

UPDATED: Concert Listings Oct 13-17

Thursday October 13, 2011 7pm Drams and Draughts, collection of whisky and beer, indulge in fine cuisine, enjoy live music, and partake in live and silent auctions. All funds raised will go to supporting the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’s trip to Carnegie Hall. Winspear Centre.

Friday, October 14, 2011 8pm Tanya Prochazka, cello, Janet Scott Hoyt, piano. Brahms Sonatas Opus 120 for Clarinet and Piano arranged for cello by Tanya Prochazka and Sonata in G (D) Major Opus 78 for Violin and Piano arranged for cello and piano by Julius Klengel. Convocation Hall, UofA. Tickets $20,$15,$10.

Friday October 14, 7pm FREE Masterclass with Pavel Steidl, guitar. Room 421 Alberta College, 10050 MacDonald Drive. For more information contact the Edmonton Classical Guitar Society at 587 708 2044.

Saturday October 15, 2011 7pm A Prairie Guy's Life in Music - So you think you can stump the Quiz Master! with Stuart Hamilton (and some audience participation!) Convocation Hall, UofA. Admission by donation to support student ensembles.

Saturday October 15, 2011 8pm Edmonton Classical Guitar Society, Pavel Steidl, guitar. Music - Bardenklänge, op.13 (selections) Johann Kaspar Mertz, Chaconne, BWV 1004, J.S. Bach, 10 Menuetts, op.11 Fernando Sor. Muttart Hall, Alberta College. Tix on the Square.

Saturday October 15, 2011 8pm Edmonton Symphony, Mei-Ann Chen, conductor, Ilya Yakushev, piano. Mendelssohn, First Piano Concerto, Franck, Symphony in D minor, Allan Gordon Bell (Calgary), Serenity. Winspear Centre.

Sunday October 16, 2011 11am brunch, 12:15pm recital. Edmonton Opera's Opera Brunch. Intimate recital by the artists starring in each of the mainstage productions. Westin Edmonton hotel 10135 100 St, $70. Call the Box Office 780 429 1000.

Sunday October 16, 2011 3pm Organigami - 6th Annual Edmonton Charity Recital for the Alberta Cancer Society. Alissa Cheung, violin, Sarah Ho, piano, Leanne Dammann Maitland, viola. Works by Rolla, Grella-Mozejko, Tchaikovsky, Ysaye, Mozart and Poulenc. Muttart Hall, Alberta College. Admission by donation.

Sunday October 16, 2011 5:30pm Opera Nuova Dinner Cabaret Series - Bountiful Bel Canto. Catherine Bergeron, Aaron Hutton, Giovanni Spanu, Amanda Hillestad, Sarah Staples and Simon Marc de Freitas, piano. Music by Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini. Oliveto Trattoria, contact for tickets.

Monday October 17, 2011 UofA Monday Noon Music FREE 45 min. Visiting artists Federic Bednarz, violin and Natsuki Hiratsuka, piano featuring works by Franck, Ravel & Kreisler. Don’t forget to bring your lunch! Convocation Hall, UofA.

Monday, October 17, 2011 8pm UofA Celebrating the Leaders of Tomorrow: Award Winning Graduate Student Performers and Composers. Performances by Wendy Niewenhuis, Chee Meng Low, Sandra Joy Friesen, Colin Labadie, Yoana Kyurkchieva and Viktoria Rieswich-Dapp. Classical to the experimental, and includes works for organ, piano, live music and painting collaboration and prototype guitar. Works by Widor, Schmitt, Kasemets, Labadie and Bartók. Winspear Centre. Tickets $20,$15,$10 from UofA Music or at door.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Application Deadline - Northern Alberta Concerto Competition

A reminder from the Alberta Registered Music Teachers Association (ARMTA):

The entry deadline for the 2012 NACC Northern Alberta Concerto Competition for piano, organ and voice is Saturday October 22, 2011.

For more information including how to enter, click HERE.

The preliminary round is Saturday November 5, 2011 at PCL Hall at Alberta College, and the final competition is Sunday January 8, 2012 in Muttart Hall at Alberta College.

The public is welcome!  Tickets are $10 at the door.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review - Violin virtuoso captivates audience

From the Edmonton Journal article October 3, 2011

Concert review - James Ehnes

With: Andrew Armstrong (piano), presented by the Edmonton Chamber Music Society
When: Saturday
Where: McDougall United Church

Church pews aren't getting any softer, but James Ehnes has this magical ability of getting a person so transfixed by violin music, they completely forget about the soreness of their behind.

Saturday night's crowd at McDougall United Church begged to sit longer so Ehnes could do two encores.

The Canadian virtuoso captivated hundreds of listeners with an intimate and generous season opener for the Edmonton Chamber Music Society. With pianist and friend Andrew Armstrong, Ehnes performed for more than two hours for a nearly sold-out house who hung on his bow's every twitch.

And how it moved, that bow. Tiring on the eyes, really, as was the blur of Ehnes' left fingers as he performed four of Paganini's Caprices, Beethoven's Spring Sonata, Frank's Sonata in A Major and Tartini's Devil's Trill, a piece he joked in his preamble might be an ill-suited opening number for a church.

One woman got thirsty on his behalf. "I think I need a drink of water," she told to her companion.

What was particularly lovely about this show was not only the popularity of the music but the cosiness of the experience. There we were, gathered in a historical downtown church with all the house lights up and the soloist down on the same level as most of us (aside from balcony folks). Ehnes was close enough that we could examine the permanent violin callus under his chin and hear his deliberate inhalations at opportune moments (which raises the question, why was someone in the front row using opera glasses?). Street noise percolated in - motorbike engines, ambulance sirens - but only coughing from spectators seemed to bother the violinist. One hardcore hacker got a stern look from Ehnes, though he didn't miss a note.

The violinist talked about each piece before performing it, something generally not done in big concert halls; this, the absence of a microphone and the venue gave the evening a dressed-down, friendly quality; quite the contrast to the stuffiness people fear at the symphony.

I liked that Ehnes didn't have a spotlight. That he wore a plain dark suit. It paired nicely with his modesty, with the notion he is a medium for the music (a gifted medium, granted). Ehnes doesn't need a spotlight. The light pours out of him, a brilliance that stills you on your rock-hard bench as the sound pours into your ears, down you, through you. It finds that tiny drop within you - your soul - and it embraces it so fiercely that you can't help but gasp.

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Concert Listings Oct 4-Oct 9

Thursday October 6, 2011 8pm Edmonton Symphony, Robert Bernhardt, conductor, Lucas Waldin, conductor, Canadian Guitar Quartet. Tchaikovsky, Capriccio Italien, Rodrigo, Concierto Andaluz for Four Guitars, Rimsky-Korsakov, Capriccio espagnole, Teehan, Dreams of Flying, Roux, Au rhythmes des quartiers latins. Winspear Centre. Carnegie Hall Info Session, Studio (enter through stage door) 6:30pm.

Saturday, October 8, 2011 7:30pm St. Albert Chamber Music Recital Series – Onyx String Quaret. Aiyana Anderson-Howatt, violin, Anna Kozak, violin, Rhonda Henshaw, viola, Colin Ryan, cello. Mozart, Haydn Quartet No.15 in D minor K.421, Beethoven, String Quartet Op. 59 No.1 in F Major, Brahms, String Quartet No.3 Op. 67 in B flat Major. Tickets $25,$20 available at Don’s Piano Warehouse (8 Riel Drive St. Albert ) or the Art Gallery of St. Albert. Each concert will be catered with fine wine and “tasty treats”.

Sunday October 9, 2011 3pm Scona Chamber Singers presents An Afternoon Madrigal. Jolaine Kerley, soprano, Sarah Schaub, soprano, John Brough countertenor, Jacques Arsenault, tenor, Mark Wilkinson, baritone, Jeremy Spurgeon, organ and harpsichord, Josephine van Lier, cello. Includes music by Monteverdi (1610 Vespers) and Gesualdo. 1 hr, no intermission. Holy Trinity Anglican Church $15,$20. 10037-84th Ave.

Scona Chamber Singers - An Afternoon Madrigal